CHICAGO -- Forty years from now, St. Rita’s 2012 senior class may also be brought back to be remembered for its own feats.
On a night where St. Rita’s 1971 nationally-ranked football team was honored, the Mustangs’ 2012 senior class completed its perfect reign over Mount Carmel. No. 5 St. Rita defeated the No. 6 Caravan 17-7 Friday for its fourth consecutive win in the Chicago South Side rivalry.
“It feels great to me,” St. Rita senior Charles Elmore said. “Going to school here, it’s always marked on our calendars. We know what they’re doing, and they know what we’re doing. It comes down to who has more heart, who can execute. Tonight, I guess all of our hard work paid off.”
To add to the sweetness of the evening, the victory also set up what will basically be a Catholic League Blue title game next week. St. Rita and Loyola are both undefeated in conference and will meet in Wilmette on Saturday, Oct. 22, to decide who will be conference champs.
A year ago, Loyola won at St. Rita, and both teams along with Mount Carmel shared the conference crown.
“The Loyola is a huge match up for me because they’ve beaten us the last three years,” St. Rita senior linebacker Will McNamara said. “We got to come back and beat them.”
McNamara, defensive back Ryan Leonard (two tackles for loss) and the rest of St. Rita’s defense proved to be the difference against Mount Carmel (6-2). The Mustang (7-1) recovered three Mount Carmel fumbles, intercepted one pass and allowed Mount Carmel to score just once on 10 possessions.
“I always say we got to win the turnover battle,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We turned the ball ourselves over here in the second half, and I thought we lost some momentum. But our defense has been doing it all year long getting us the ball back here and there, and they did it tonight.”
On the other side, Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti was displeased with team’s offensive execution. All three of the Caravan’s fumbles were by their own doing.
“You can’t turn the ball over against good teams,” Lenti said. “We made it easy for them. We weren’t playing the defenses that were called, and we weren’t executing on offense. Give them credit, but I don’t think a single turnover was caused by a big hit.”
St. Rita’s offense had its own troubles against Mount Carmel, but did enough to get the win.
The Mustangs went ahead 7-0 in the first quarter on a 19-yard halfback option pass from Zach Soria to Kenny Golladay. After Mount Carmel tied the game, St. Rita quarterback Scott Thomas hooked up with Mike Zunica for an eight-yard touchdown with 5:14 remaining in the first half.
St. Rita kicker John Kelly finalized the score with a 23-yard field goal with 1;55 left in the game.
Mount Carmel running back Brandon Greer accounted for his team’s lone touchdown with a seven-yard score in the second quarter. Greer finished with 54 rushing yards.
St. Rita running back Tim Lombard rushed for 79 yards on 26 carries. Thomas was 8-of-14 passing for 102 yards.