St. Viator wraps up ESCC/CCL Purple title with big win over Carmel
St. Viator senior Joe Laterza summed up an emotional end to the unprecedented 2021 IHSA spring football season Friday night at Carmel Catholic when he said, "We're Lions for life."
After getting eliminated from playoff contention by the Corsairs in overtime in October of 2019, St. Viator got some long-awaited revenge with a decisive 47-8 victory over Carmel at Baker Stadium in Mundelein.
In the process, the Lions (4-1, 2-0) won the CCL/ESCC Purple Division championship in resounding fashion as they capitalized on numerous turnovers by the Corsairs (1-4, 0-2) from start to finish.
A bad snap over the punter's head and into the end zone was a bad omen for Carmel just 56 seconds into the contest as St. Viator took a 2-0 lead on the safety.
But that was only the tip of the iceberg as St. Viator senior quarterback Jack Ziebka (6-for-14, 67 yards passing) would connect with Laterza on touchdown passes of 5, 14, 9, and 13 yards along with a 27-yard field goal by Sebastian Howarth for a commanding 33-0 halftime lead.
"Jack makes great reads and he makes them quickly, and you've got receivers that go up and get the football for him when him gives them a chance," said elated St. Viator coach Dave Archibald. "We have 24 seniors who are really a fantastic group. They worked so hard through the quarantine with their lifting. We were not even sure we were going to play football, and this group just kept after it."
One of 3 St. Viator interceptions spoiled a Carmel scoring drive on the Lions' 4-yard-line before a 1-yard keeper by Ziebka boosted the lead to 40-0 and a running clock with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
Carmel's Jalen Burton caught a 12-yard TD pass from Ashton Gondeck to break up the shutout before Laterza raced 46 yards for his fifth touchdown on an onside kick attempt to account for the final score.
"I don't really care how much I scored, I'm just happy I did it with these boys, I couldn't have done it without them, and there's no one else I would want to do it with," said Laterza on his dramatic career finale. "It's something I'm never going to forget, the memories that I've made with these boys, I'm always going to hold these guys close to my heart, and I'm glad we went out with a bang."
Carmel coach Jason McKie was disappointed with the turnovers, but he is optimistic about the future with only eight seniors graduating.
"All of the credit goes to (St. Viator). They came out and played well and they were the better team today," said McKie, whose team was led by Gabe Lynch's 86 yards rushing on 16 carries. "We have to look at ourselves and see where we can improve. We have a lot of young guys who came out and got experience. I wish we could have sent our seniors out a better way, but there will be more brighter days for Carmel football, best believe that."