Carmel downs St. Viator to take CCL/ESCC Purple Division lead
The most anticipated game of the CCL/ESCC Purple Division season thus far took place Friday in Mundelein.
Carmel and St. Viator were the two teams in the four-school league to win their conference openers, so conference control was on the line. The Corsairs will be able to boast that after a 25-14 win.
The Corsairs (5-1, 2-0) scored the first half's lone touchdown on the game's first possession. That came on a 7-yard run from Donovan Dey (134 yards on 30 carries), although he was set up nicely on a 29-yard pass from Johnny Weber (16 of 24, 230 yards) to Torey French (four receptions for 71 yards).
Cooper Kmet, the younger brother of Bears tight end Cole Kmet, paced the Lions (3-3, 1-1) by completing 14 of 27 passes for 146 yards. He also was the victim of a strip sack in the first quarter that led to a 44-yard field goal by Carmel's Ashton Lutz. That capped the scoring for the first half.
St. Viator came out running to begin the second half when Dayvion Ellis returned the kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown. That momentum proved short-lived when Carmel immediately put together a solid drive that ended in Dey's second touchdown, this one from 12 yards out.
Dey then ran in for a two-point conversion after Lutz was injured on a failed point-after kick. The run was made possible because of a Lions penalty on the kick. Given new life, the Corsairs opted to send their offense back out for the conversion attempt.
By the fourth quarter, it appeared only a matter of time before the Corsairs put St. Viator away. It happened with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Weber to Jack Greiber.
The Lions' offense finally broke through when Kmet hit Jaylan Szlachetka for a 32-yard touchdown with 3:12 left in game. However, it was too little, too late.
Corsairs offensive lineman Will Meier suffered a left leg injury midway through the first quarter and walked off the field without putting any pressure on the leg. Soon after, his ankle was wrapped in ice, and he took off his pads, indicating that his night was over early.
Homecoming meant a celebratory mood. Carmel recognized its 2023 athletic Hall of Fame inductees as well as the 20th anniversary of its 2003 state championship team, of which several members were in attendance.
There also was a somber moment as Carmel honored former football player and coach Luke Laidley, a 1997 graduate who drowned in Lake Michigan over the summer while trying to help children who were tubing.
Laidley also was a survivor of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. His family was invited to take part in the pregame coin toss along with Carmel's homecoming court.