There was a faraway din, and Bishop Carroll quarterback Colton Howell could see where it was coming from — right in front of him, across the field at Cessna Stadium and emanating from the thousands of fans filling up the west-side bleachers on Friday night.
And he could hear it. And he could feel it.
But he and his teammates, tucked away on the opposite sideline, with only empty bleachers on one side of the stadium to keep them company, didn’t feel like they were part of it, necessarily.
And they kind of liked that.
“It was quiet, except for us,” said Howell, a junior. “And you get to see (the crowd) the whole game. We were happy to be over there.”
With that, Class 5A No. 2 Carroll steamrolled No. 1 Kapaun Mount Carmel 42-10 for a City League championship, its 19th straight victory and a big dose of momentum headed into district play.
“I really thought we handled the day well,” Carroll coach Alan Schuckman said. “The kids were as focused as they’ve been all year. These guys are used to playing on the biggest stage in high school football. This was still a regular-season game and we’ve got a lot more games ahead of us.”
Those games will most assuredly be played with Howell guiding the offense after Friday — making his first start, he ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns and threw for two more touchdowns.
“No pressure, right?” Howell said, laughing. “Our defense was great and our scout team gave us a great look all week. When I got out there, I knew exactly what to be looking for and it just came to me. Once we got the momentum we never let up. We’ve had some problems in the second half this year but that didn’t happen tonight.”
The Golden Eagles played a complete game on both sides of the ball — pressuring Kapaun (5-1) into three first-half turnovers that all turned into touchdowns for Carroll, which hasn’t lost in the series since 1999.
Two of those came off interceptions by Kapaun quarterback Brock Monty. The first interception was by Mark Quaney and led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Howell. The second came on an interception by Zac Green that led to a 4-yard touchdown pass from Howell to Scott Linnebur.
“We did such a good job of taking care of the ball through the first five games,” Kapaun coach Dan Adelhardt said. “I always tell our guys there are a lot worse things than punting ... and that’s where Carroll really gets their mojo. From those turnovers.”
The third turnover came on an ill-advised pitch from Monty to Ethan Harp that was recovered by Carroll linebacker Tommy Marquez and led to a 13-yard touchdown run by Howell and a 21-3 halftime lead.
“We knew (Monty) was really mobile, but once we started to get some pressure on him in the pocket he started making some mistakes,” Marquez said. “I thought we played really good defensively. And now we’re City League champs.”
Carroll kept turning up the heat in the second half, and turning to running back Tory Smith to eat up the clock. Howell found Linnebur from 18 yards to make the score 28-3. When Kapaun cut the lead to 28-10 on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Monty to tight end Jack McGrath with 2:52 left in the third quarter, Carroll closed with a five-yard Howell run and an 80-yard run by Smith where he went virtually untouched.
Monty finished with 245 passing yards and three interceptions. McGrath had five catches for 107 yards.
“The focus was really there tonight,” said Smith, who finished with 168 rushing yards on 14 carries. “We knew what was going to open up in the running game, we just had to be patient.”
And now, it’s time to focus on bigger things. Carroll opens district play next Friday at Eisenhower trying for a second straight state title.
“What’s our goal?” Schuckman asked his team after congratulating them on another City League title and a 6-0 start.
They all answered at once: “STATE CHAMPIONS.”
KMC—Wells 23 FG
BC—Howell 5 run (Lopez kick)
BC—Linnebur 4 pass from Howell (Lopez kick)
BC—Howell 13 run (Lopez kick)
BC—Linnebur 18 pass from Howell (Lopez kick)
KMC—McGrath 41 pass from Monty (Wells kick)
BC—Howell 5 run (Lopez kick)
BC—Smith 80 run (Lopez kick)