Scouting Mt. Carmel at Willowbrook in the Class 7A semifinals
Class 7A semifinals
No. 1 Mt. Carmel (12-0) at No. 5 Willowbrook (11-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Road to the semifinals
Mt. Carmel beat No. 32 Eisenhower 61-14, No. 16 Glenbard North 34-14 and No. 8 Phillips 24-8; Willowbrook beat No. 28 Moline 48-21, No. 12 Yorkville 33-24 and No. 20 Lake Zurich 28-10.
Mt. Carmel, making its 35th playoff appearance, has won 12 state titles and finished second five other times. The Caravan last claimed a state title in 2013. Willowbrook is making its 22nd playoff appearance and third trip to the semifinals. The Warriors last advanced this far in 1975 and seek their first appearance in the final.
When Willowbrook has the ball
It's all about all-state quarterback Sam Tumilty.
Perhaps the best dual-threat quarterback in Illinois, he's accounted for 2,364 passing yards at a completion rate of 70 percent.
He's thrown for 23 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions and rushed for 1,423 yards and 18 scores.
Behind a Ryan Ranieri-led line, Tumilty's main targets are Everett Stubblefield III and Deandre Holliday, who have combined for 99 catches, 1,901 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
The key will be adding in just enough of running back Ta'Vion Geanes, who has 689 rushing yards, to keep Mt. Carmel's defense honest.
It's a big-play unit that last week got an interception return for a touchdown from Lance Swain, who's second on the team to fellow linebacker Austin Maciel-Haygood with 98 tackles.
The Caravan allowed more than 300 yards of offense to Phillips, a week after surrendering about the same to Glenbard North.
The Warriors must take advantage when they move the ball against a Mt. Carmel defense that's been able to stiffen when its back is against the end zone.
When Mt. Carmel has the ball
Like Willowbrook and Tumilty, Caravan junior quarterback Justin Lynch, who already holds an offer from Temple, is a dual-threat talent.
He's thrown for 1,534 yards and rushed for 636 while accounting for 29 total touchdowns.
Running back Kenenna Odeluga, also a tremendous linebacker who's been offered by Northern Illinois, leads the ground game with 917 rushing yards.
The Caravan still leans on the run, but it's more of a spread attack than the power option game during Frank Lenti's tenure.
Under Jordan Lynch the Caravan has opened up the offense more.
Receiver Jerry Livermore, another two-way player, leads the corps with 46 catches and 534 yards.
Willowbrook's defense also leans on two-way play, including from Tumilty as a safety.
Lineman Elijah Brockie has done a nice job creating pressure up front and notched a key sack last week against Lake Zurich.
Sergio Ayala and Travis Moore have been solid at the linebacker level.
The secondary snagged 5 interceptions last week. Look for Holliday, Haven Pryor and others to make an impact.
History is obviously on Mt. Carmel's side.
The Caravan will come to Villa Park expecting to return to the final and win another title.
There's no substitute for that kind of swagger.
Willowbrook, though, is gearing up to challenge the Caravan.
The community is making a big deal of this moment. Keep in mind this is the first time the Warriors are playing host to a semifinal football game. It'll be on the Caravan to match that energy.
The winner advances to the Class 7A final to face the winner between No. 2 Nazareth (12-0) at No. 3 Rolling Meadows (12-0).