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No. 1 Loyola beats No. 2 Mount Carmel: ‘This was our state championship’

High School Sports Weekly
Thank you for subscribing to the High School Sports Weekly newsletter! Here’s the latest coverage from our staff after the second week of the football season.

Good morning,
Public League football kicked off in Week 2 and more than 50 teams played games. A handful should also start up in Week 3, which will begin on Thursday all around the area due to the holiday this weekend. 
I’ve been doing football rankings for a few years now and probably the most striking thing about them is how easy they are to do compared to basketball. Every team plays once a week and there are usually just a handful of big games that jostle things around a little. When a team loses it gets dropped down or often dropped out altogether because there are always plenty of undefeated teams waiting in the wings. 
This week was a lot more difficult than usual. There are ranked teams that haven’t played at all (Phillips) and ranked teams that started the season well but now have to sit out for two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols (Neuqua Valley and more). 
I haven’t developed any policy about what exactly to do with teams that are in the Super 25 but aren’t playing. Phillips was dropped for now since they haven’t played, but all the one-game teams that are on hold stuck around. It’s possible they drop out next week when so many teams have three wins. Who knows, we are all handling things on the fly this season. 
— Michael O'Brien, high school sports editor (@michaelsobrien)
Top story
Loyola’s Vaughn Pemberton (21) scores a touchdown against Mount Carmel. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Loyola’s Vaughn Pemberton (21) scores a touchdown against Mount Carmel. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
No. 1 vs. No. 2 is always special, but it takes on even more importance in a season with just six games and no state playoffs.
“This was our state championship,” Loyola senior Marty Auer said after the top-ranked Ramblers beat Mount Carmel 35-17 on Saturday in Wilmette.
The Caravan had beaten Loyola the past two seasons. And the Loyola seniors had lost to Mount Carmel at the sophomore level the year before.
“All the seniors had this game marked for the past year,” Auer said.
Auer and his defensive backfield mate Artist Benjamin helped limit Mount Carmel quarterback Justin Lynch, who excels at creating big plays out of chaos.
“We knew we couldn’t let Lynch make any plays scrambling,” Auer said. “And they have good receivers. Artist did a great job locking down [Caravan receiver Jaali Parker].”
Loyola (2-0, 1-0 CCL/ESCC Blue) seemed set to take a 21-3 lead into halftime after Auer returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown and JT Thomas connected with Roger Simon for an 87-yard touchdown pass.
But Lynch showed how dangerous he is in the final two minutes of the first half, rushing for a 40-yard touchdown and throwing a 48-yard touchdown pass to senior Kyheim Schooler to cut the deficit to 21-17.
The Caravan (1-1, 0-1) didn’t score in the second half.
“This week we corrected a lot of mistakes,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “You always say from Week 1 to Week 2 you have to clean up all those things that are just mental. We did that to a degree.”
Super 25 update
Things are getting a bit awkward now that some teams have played two games, some just one and others none at all, but the very top of the Super 25 still looks the same as it did the last two weeks. It’s the rest of the rankings where we see a shakeup after three teams in the top eight lost over the weekend.
Check out the full Super 25 below:
Super 25 high school football rankings for March 28, 2021
Week 2 news and notes: Dynamic St. Rita
St. Rita has developed into one of the most fascinating football teams around.
The Mustangs feature junior running back Kaleb Brown, possibly the most dynamic and exciting player in the Chicago area. Brown has scholarship offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and a dozen more powerhouse schools. He’s a top-50 national talent in the Class of 2022.
St. Rita has a handful of other college-bound players, including receiver Henry Wilson, a Western Michigan recruit. The Mustangs almost knocked off top-ranked Loyola in Week 1. They led most of the way and lost 7-3. They routed Montini 51-13 on Saturday.
‘‘St. Rita, I don’t know who is going to touch them in their conference play,’’ Loyola coach John Holecek said Saturday. ‘‘They are a special team. . . . [St. Rita] just had so many athletes and so many disrupters on the front line.’’
The Mustangs host Providence on Friday and round out the season against Marian Catholic, Benet and Notre Dame.
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What to watch this week
With fewer games on the schedule and no big postseason to look forward to, every game takes on some added importance for teams trying to make their mark this season. Here’s a look at some of the key games on the Week 3 schedule, which you can check out in its entirety here.
Key matchups set for Thursday:
  • No. 1 Loyola vs. No. 9 Brother Rice
  • No. 10 Warren vs. Waukegan
  • Glenbrook North vs. No. 12 Maine South
Key matchups set for Friday:
  • Lincoln-Way Central vs. No. 2 Lincoln-Way East
  • Geneva vs. No. 4 Batavia
  • West Aurora vs. No. 17 Oswego
Key matchups set for Saturday:
  • No. 3 Marist vs. No. 8 Mount Carmel
  • No. 7 Naperville Central vs. Naperville North
  • No. 16 Wheaton Warrenville South vs. Wheaton North
Both Loyola and Mount Carmel don’t get a chance to rest after their big game last weekend as each team faces another top-10 opponent later this week.
Team of the week
Thornridge Falcons
DuVaughn Williams. | Provided
DuVaughn Williams. | Provided
Thornridge is off to a fantastic start this season after beating Bloom, 20-6, and District 205 rival neighbor Thornton, 50-28 (first time since 2009).
Second-year head coach Stafford Owens started slow with a very young team last year, losing its first six games before finishing with two wins in three games. Those first few losses last year included Bloom, 44-6, and Thornton, 61-0. 
After putting in work this offseason the Falcons have entered the season hungry with a senior-led team. QB/DE DuVaughn Williams has thrown for over 500 yards and has 7 TD and 0 INT — he also had 2 rushing TDs. Jaha Jackson has 13 catches for 314 yards and 6 TDs including a 78-yard kickoff return. 
The offense is clicking on all cylinders after putting up 50 this week against Thornton but the defense has been just as impressive this year so far. After letting up 45 points per game last year, the defense has trimmed that to 17 per game and has forced five turnovers in two games.
— Scott Schulz, Thornridge Offensive Coordinator
Want your school featured in Team of the Week? Send us an update on your team’s season, your name and hometown, and (if possible) a photo to newsletters@suntimes.com.
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