By Patrice Nkrumah
It is something that has never happened before in the history of the school. But try telling that to the 1,200 students at Hillcrest High School in Country Club Hills. Their football team advanced to the Class 5A football semifinals last weekend after defeating Cahokia 27-0. They will play perennial powerhouse Joliet Catholic on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Joliet for a chance to
advance to the state championship game in Champaign/Urbana Thanks- giving weekend.
The Hawks (12-0) took a 7-0 lead on their first possession in their quarterfinal matchup when Montez Garrett scored on a 1-yard run. They never looked back. Mar- ’Kiese Irving added three touchdown runs and the Hillcrest defense posted their seventh shutout of the season. The Hawks have outscored their opponents 510-63 this season and coach Morgan Weaver believes his team has a chance to go all the way.
“It’s exciting to be in this position but we can’t look past anyone,” Weaver said. “We have a tough game on the road next week. We’ll be well prepared.”
In other games of interest, Simeon lost 34-27 to Nazareth. The Wolverines had a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds of regulation but were stopped twice on running plays inside the five-yard line by the Nazareth defense. Time then expired before the Wolverines could get another play off. The Roadrunners celebrated as they advanced to the class 7A semifinals.
Our defense has pulled through all season,” Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. “Stopping that run on the goal line really demonstrated the grit they have. It helped that our offense milked quite a bit off the clock before we scored.”
Defending champion Phillips was also eliminated in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats, who jumped to 6A this year after winning the 5A title last year, were defeated 34-24 by Cary. It is the first time in four seasons the Wildcats did not make it to at least the semifinal round.
The Mt. Carmel Caravan kept rolling along as they defeated East St. Louis 29-19. It was déjà vu for Mount Carmel (11-1) as they ended the Flyers season last year as well in the quarterfinals at Gately Stadium. The key this year for Mt. Carmel was patience.
“That’s a team that always wants to throw deep, always wants the big play right?” said Mt. Carmel coach Jordan Lynch. “We made them not live on the big play and take four yards at a time. They’re not happy with that.”
Mt. Carmel will travel to St. Charles North for a scheduled 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday against the Stars. For first year coach Lynch, reaching this level of the playoffs after replacing legendary coach Frank Lenti is an accomplishment in and of itself. But you won’t hear the 27-year old coach even broach the topic.
In Class 8A, Marist defeated Homewood-Flossmoor 21-7 while their volleyball team was winning the state Class 4A title in volleyball. The Redhawks will play their Catholic League rival Brother Rice at home at 1 p.m.