Illinois High School Football: Class 8A Championship Preview

By Andy Schmidt
Game of the Week

The final game of the Illinois High School football season comes on Saturday night at 7 p.m. with the Class 8A championship game at the University of Illinois in Champaign. The title game features a matchup between the 12-1 Glenbard North Panthers and the 12-1 Chicago Mt. Carmel Caravan.

Chicago Mt. Carmel comes into this game off a 26-21 victory against Neuqua Valley in the semifinals. The Caravan are led by running back Matt Domer, who has 1,290 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns while Drago Smith has 799 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Don Butkus has 1,071 passing yards along with 508 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Jason Gusser is the leading receiver for the Caravan with 30 catches for 492 yards and nine touchdowns. Mt. Carmel has scored 511 points this season while giving up 104 points.

Glenbard North upset Loyola Academy 27-24 in a rematch of last season’s semifinal. The Panthers love to run the ball with Justin Jackson, who has 2,539 yards this season with 35 touchdowns. Jackson also has 19 catches for 284 yards and three touchdowns receiving. Brian Murphy has thrown for 1,307 yards for Glenbard North and has found Ryan Storto 26 times for 532 yards and four touchdowns. Glenbard North has to keep the running game going to get the win and has scored 402 points during the 2012 season.

This would be a game that features one of the best running backs in the state with Jackson and a Glenbard North team that is on a mission right now while Mt. Carmel has been cruising along again. While Mt. Carmel has the tradition of winning titles, I don’t see how the Panthers end up being stopped in this game with this much on the line. I’ll take Glenbard North 34-26.

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