Notre Dame ends Carmel's season in CCL/ESCC semifinals
The Chicago Prep Bowl allows teams from either the Chicago Public Schools or their Catholic counterparts whose seasons ended with a first or second round playoff loss an opportunity to continue their gridiron campaigns that didn't get off to great start.
As they gathered at Legends Field in Niles for their CCL/ESCC playoff semifinal Saturday, Carmel came into the game having won two-straight after enduring a five-game losing streak, while host Notre Dame came into the afternoon having won 4 out of its last 6 after an 0-4 start.
Thanks in large part to its ability to control and dominate the line of scrimmage, Notre Dame posted a 31-7 victory over the visitors from Mundelein earning a third straight home postseason date Friday night when reigning CCL/ESCC and Prep Bowl champion St. Laurence visits.
The Vikings (5-5) had a semifinal bye as a result of a pair of teams (St. Ignatius and Marmion) choosing not to continue their seasons after losing in round two IHSA playoff action last weekend.
"A lot of things didn't go our way," an upbeat Carmel coach Jason McKie said after Saturday's loss. "(Our team) they stood there, they stared adversity in the face. They're going to be good Corsair men moving forward. We had a lot of young guys playing. It was good to get them (bonus) varsity experience."
The key to game came with the Dons' opening possession in which they established the tempo and tenor of the game by marching 68 yards on 12 plays with all but one of those coming on the ground as junior Francisco Ricciardi (8 carries, 73 yards) took it in from the 4-yard line for a 7-0 lead.
From that opening scoring drive, Notre Dame (5-6) would outgain Carmel 173-16 in total offense during the first 24 minutes of play. Nathan Garnhart's pick-six of a Johnny Weber pass (20 yards) and a 2-yard scoring toss to Adam Gallagher from Francisco's twin brother Vincenzo (7-for-9, 80 yards) that bookended an A.J. Shinnick 30-yard field goal left the Dons up 24-0 at the break.
Colin Randazzo's 13-yard scoring jaunt on their opening drive of the second half closed out the scoring for the home team. He finished with 78 yards on 18 carries.
The Corsairs (4-7) scored their lone points as Johnny Weber (7-for-27, 141 yards) found Austin Gondeck for a 29-yard scoring pass with 4:30 left.
McKie paid homage to his 11 seniors who dressed for Saturday's game.
"They never gave up despite what hurdle or obstacle was thrown at them," McKie said. "I'm really proud of the guys, I'm really gonna miss them. They laid it all on the field."
One of those 11, wide receiver Jon Buckley who caught 2 passes for 30 yards, spoke of his four years in the program, the last two with McKie as his head coach.
"Even though this wasn't the outcome we wanted, I've grown so close to this team and my teammates," Buckley said. "I'm so grateful for all the coaches and everything they've done. I just love the society and brotherhood we have at Carmel."