DEKALB—It seemed like the perfect setup: new Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch making his debut at NIU’s Huskie Stadium. This is where he played his college football, where he became a Heisman trophy finalist.
But Lynch didn’t have time for all that sentimentality after the No. 19 Caravan beat Hope Academy 42-7 in Kick Off Classic on Saturday.
“It is a football field to me,” Lynch said. “I try not to think too much about it. Obviously I was geeked up for my first game.”
Lynch took over for legendary Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti, the state’s all-time winningest football coach, in December. Lenti was pushed out against his will, leading to all kinds of controversy and debate.
On the actual football field it seems to have been a very smooth transition.
“Honestly you can’t tell the difference [between Lenti and Lynch],” Mount Carmel senior Eddie McGee said. “We know the expectations we have to live up to. It was sad to see coach Frank go but we know we all have one goal and that is to be great every game. Nothing has really changed.
“[Lynch] told us from the beginning he knows what it takes to win. He stays on us because we get lazy sometimes.”
McGee had a breakout performance. He returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and also grabbed an interception, one of four by the Caravan (1-0).
Mount Carmel quarterback Rad Premovic was rock solid in his debut running Lynch’s new offense. He was 11-for-17 passing for 80 yards with one interception. He had 13 carries for 95 yards with two touchdown runs.
“It is a new offense, new things and Rad adjusted well,” Lynch said. “The future looks bright for him.”
Premovic said the players weren’t caught up in all the coaching change drama that had taken place over the past eight months.
“A game is a game,” Premovic said. “The first game of the season is always the most nerve racking one. It felt pretty good.”
Lynch’s younger brother, sophomore quarterback Justin Lynch, played a series in the fourth quarter. He busted loose for a 20-yard run and then capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Senior running back Kyle Davis finished with 18 carries for 95 yards and and one touchdown.
“It’s kind of what you expect the first game, a lot of mistakes,” Lynch said. “But the kids played hard. We ran a lot of plays and the score didn’t show it for us. We got inside the red zone and turned it over twice.”
Hope Academy (0-1) pulled within 14-7 of Mount Carmel in the second quarter on a 73-yard touchdown pass from junior Trevor Land to senior Eric Mullin.
“We really believed we could hang with them,” Hope Academy coach Matt Kelly said. “I think if we had 11 different players on offense and defense it is a different game. We were just kind of worn out, scrambling to find guys to play. And the heat didn’t help. We are a [Class 2A] school playing a [Class 7A] school and it showed on the field. We just don’t have the numbers to plug a fresh body in there.”
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