A Novice's View: Morgan Park vs. Mount Carmel

On Saturday afternoon, IlliniBoard.com made the trip down to Soldier Field to watch Morgan Park take on Mount Carmel. The Mount Carmel Caravan, led by their junior quarterback Carter Kopach, took over the game in the second half and defeated Morgan Park 26-6. In his report of the game, Brumby takes a more detailed look at the three Morgan Park stars: OL Ramone Johnson, QB Demetrius Jones, and Illinois commit WR Chris James.

The Morgan Park / Mount Carmel contest started out with the makings of a shoot out as both teams scored on their first possession. To open up the game, Morgan Park drove 88-yards down the field and scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Demetrius Jones to Illinois commitment Chris James in what turned out to be Morgan Park's only score of the game. On the ensuing possession, Mount Carmel went on a 68-yard drive, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Kopach, to tie the score at 6.

The rest of the first half was a battle of field position, with Morgan Park being on the short end of the stick. Mount Carmel squandered an opportunity to get the lead in the second quarter by fumbling the ball over to the Mustangs at the one-yard line. After that fumble, Demetrius Jones threw an interception after getting hit as he was trying to throw the ball. Mount Carmel could not take advantage of their field position, though, and missed a field goal after being stopped by Morgan Park on three consecutive downs. Neither team would be able to get into the end zone for the rest of the half, so they entered the Soldier Field locker rooms tied at 6 a piece with just one half of football left to play.

Mount Carmel received the second half kickoff, and then proceeded to go on a 73-yard drive for what turned out to be the game-winning score. For the rest of the game, Mount Carmel used its ball control option attack to keep Morgan Park's explosive offense off the field, and it worked. Whenever Morgan Park had the ball outside of the first possession of the game, their offense was lacking fluidity and was unable to sustain a long drive due to a combination of bad passes, sacks, fumbles, and the Mount Carmel defensive pressure. There were flashes of how good the offense could be, but for the most part Morgan Park's offense was completely ineffective on Saturday afternoon.

This was the first time that I have been able to see Chris James, Demetrius Jones, and Ramone Johnson play a football game after hearing a bunch about them. While this is by no where near a definitive scouting report, especially because it was my first time viewing any of these players, I figured it would be a good thing to give Illini fans an impression on three recruits that they have been reading about since February (including two of them that have posted on the IlliniBoard.com message board).

WR Chris James
  • The first thing I noticed about Chris was that he was smaller that I expected. Yes, I knew he measurements according to Scout.com were 6'0" 185-pounds, but he just looked smaller than I was expecting.
  • The one thing that shocked me was that Chris was already good at running passing routes. He ran some great curls to get open for passes. I also saw him run a skinny post, and then a post corner that had him wide open, but the pass sailed over his head.
  • There was one point when Morgan Park was driving for the end zone that Chris ran a fade. He had the defender beat, but the throw was short. He had to come back to the ball, and jump over the defender to tap the ball up, which he did, but he was unable to come down with the pass. If it was thrown better, he definitely would have caught the ball.
  • One bad sign from Saturday's game was on one play in the first quarter, Chris streaked down the middle of the field, and Demetrius threw a strike to him, but sensing the defense closing in on him, Chris alligator armed the pass, and it went for an incompletion.
OL Ramone Johnson
  • It is really hard to watch an offensive lineman and figure out what exactly they are doing for a novice like me that normally watches the on the ball action in a football game, so I often did not watch Ramone closely. He was lined up as the left tackle for Morgan Park, and he would often knock his man off the line of scrimmage, and then just rest for the remainder of the play.
  • I did see one time when a speed rush around the corner worked against Ramone, and the Mount Carmel defender got through for the sack on Demetrius.
  • The one thing you could tell was that the skill, athleticism, and size were definitely there for Ramone.
QB Demetrius Jones
  • The speed and athleticism were obvious when watching Demetrius on the field. The Morgan Park offense relied on him to do almost everything: run the option, run sweeps, pass the ball, and scramble. Not only was he the Morgan Park passing attack, he was also their rushing attack. In fact, I don't believe Morgan Park called a run to a running back until the second half.
  • Demetrius has a stronger arm than I expected him to have from what I read. He had a good zip on his passes, and was able to throw the deep ball. The problem was that Demetrius did not really have a lot of touch on his throws, and he often overthrew his receivers on Saturday afternoon. On the one pass where a lot of touch was needed, he underthrew James on a fade in the end zone.
  • The two biggest problems that hampered Demetrius on Saturday afternoon was a lack of a real pocket presence and his inability to hold on to the football. Often times, at the first sign of a rush, Demetrius would tuck the ball in and run with it from one side of the field to another like you would see on a video game. When he was running with the ball, he was often careless with it, and that lead to what I think was three fumbles.
  • I don't know if he will be a quarterback at the next level, but Notre Dame definitely got a player that will be a weapon on the field for them as he matures.

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