The very public breakup between Mount Carmel and legendary football coach Frank Lenti has taken another turn. Lenti has joined the coaching staff at Catholic League rival St. Laurence. He will be a “Special Advisor to the Football Program.”
“I am very excited to take on this role with the St. Laurence football program,” Lenti said in a statement. “A lot of success has come out of this program in the last few years, and I am driven to be a part of the staff that sees this team reach the next level. There are many great things going on at St. Laurence, both on and off the field, and I am eager to be a part of this community.”
Mount Carmel fired Lenti in December. The school initially framed it as Lenti retiring, but he denied that immediately. The Caravan hired Jordan Lynch, a Mount Carmel graduate and Heisman Trophy finalist at NIU, as head coach. He invited reporters to his home in late January to tell his side of what happened.
‘‘They told me [Lynch] was in, and I was out,’’ Lenti said. ‘‘I looked at the [news] release and said: ‘I’m not retiring. You are in charge of the school. If you want to fire me, that is your prerogative.’ ’’
At that point Lenti wasn’t sure what the future would bring. It’s likely he had several offers to join schools around the area.
Lenti, a 1969 Mount Carmel graduate, is the winningest football coach in Illinois history (374-77). He has won 11 state championships, had a streak of 11 consecutive Catholic League championships and won six Prep Bowl titles. He was hired in 1984.
“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Lenti to our staff,” St. Laurence coach Harold Blackmon said. “This is an outstanding opportunity for everyone in our program – players and coaches – to receive valuable insight from a person with [Lenti’s] pedigree. As head football coach, it’s my job to make decisions for the long term improvement of the program; adding a coach like Frank only reinforces my vision for St. Laurence football. Frank has an amazing track record of creating sustained success in his program, which is something that we are in the early stages of here at St. Laurence. I look forward to learning from his wealth of experience as he helps us continue to build on the foundation we have laid in recent years.”
The Vikings advanced to the state quarterfinals in 2017 and the semifinals in 2015 and 2016. They have won three consecutive conference championships.
Mount Carmel plays at St. Laurence on Oct. 12.