Carmel 29, Marian Catholic 7
In three weeks, what was a young and inexperienced Carmel squad has possibly come of age.
During Friday night's 28-7 win over Marian Catholic at Baker Stadium in Mundelein, the Corsairs controlled the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. They forced 4 turnovers, scored 4 touchdowns, and effectively shut down the Marian offensive attack.
The win was a far cry from the opening-night loss to Morgan Park.
"We started the season with nine guys who never played varsity start the season on offense," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "Against Morgan Park, we were in the red zone four times and didn't score. Against Libertyville, we were in the red zone and didn't finish it."
The Corsairs (2-1, 1-0 East Suburban Catholic) methodically moved the ball against Marian Catholic (2-1, 0-1 ESCC). Carmel was 4-for-4 in red zone scoring opportunities.
Carmel's defense also grew up some in the first three weeks of the season. The defensive front held Marian Catholic to 92 rushing yards, and pressured quarterback Evan Watson all night. Watson was sacked twice, once by senior Daniel Michael and once by Steven Lester. Watson's passing game was also hampered. He was picked off three times, twice by senior Aaron Kwasigroch, who had the assignment of covering Spartans receiver Julian Williams, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior.
Williams caught 4 passes for 28 yards, but drew tight coverage consistently.
"I don't think they had a receiver open all night," Bitto said.
The Carmel defense was led not only by Kwasigroch, Michael and Lester, but also by Ryan Williams, who came up with at least five open-field tackles and forced a fumble; linebacker Mike Hiestand, who recovered a fumble that led to a touchdown; and Tim Cook, who intercepted another pass.
"Our defensive staff could tell from the formations they had, what they were going to run," Bitto said.
Kwasigroch first interception came early in the second quarter. With Marian just inside Carmel territory, Watson threw a pass toward Williams.
"He was running a corner route, and another guy ran in, so I just jumped in there," Kwasigroch said.
The second interception came with 3:40 in the game and it seemingly sealed a shutout. Senior Daniel Mumm batted a Watson pass in the air, and Kwasigroch came up with the interception.
Marian Catholic scored a touchdown with less than two minutes left when Arthur Riley returned a Carmel fumble 70 yards for a touchdown.
"The defense threw a shutout," he said. "They haven't given up a touchdown in two games."
Offensively, Carmel's Geoffery Fields led the Carmel attack with 90 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Mike Taylor also gained 56 yards and scored a touchdown on 8 carries. David Venegoni played an error-free game, gaining 57 yards and scoring a touchdown on the ground while completing 3 of 6 passes for 75 yard and a touchdown.