There were three possible outcomes in the Summit Athletic Conference’s deciding week, and two of them involved Carroll winning its first ever SAC championship. With the Chargers dominating Wayne 59-0 and Snider staving off undefeated Bishop Luers 27-15, the three teams finished in a three-way tie atop the conference Friday night.
“Week 1, Luers beat us, and deservedly so, but the kids continually battled all year long and did all we asked them to do and continually put themselves in a position to be where they’re at, and that is to be a conference champion. Sharing it or not sharing it, you’re still conference champions,” Carroll Head Coach Doug Dinan said.
Having lost their Week 1 matchup with Luers 38-31, the Chargers knew there was no margin for error for the rest of the season. That attitude propelled the Chargers to an 8-1 finish, their best regular-season record since joining the conference in 2015.
“After that loss, the coaches, we had a lot of talks about what we were going to do if we go 8-1, but it’s just a great feeling because our team came together as one and our defense picked up and our offense picked up, our special teams picked up,” Carroll quarterback Jeff Becker said. “Everyone in the locker room had a great attitude about that loss, and I think it helped us get to where we are today. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.”
Carroll’s offense played lights out Friday at home, but the defense helped get things going, positioning the Chargers for their first pair of touchdowns in the first half thanks to an interception by senior linebacker Alex Smith and a forced fumble and recovery by senior Tucker Steely. Running back Luke Carmody capitalized both times, scoring back-to-back touchdown runs of 15 and 10 yards, respectively, giving the Chargers an early 17-0 lead following a 23-yard field goal by Sebastian Lopez on Carroll’s first drive of the night.
The Chargers went into the locker room with a 31-0 lead over Wayne, adding a 27-yard touchdown pass by Becker to sophomore Hansen Haffner and a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Carmody — his third on the night.
The Chargers put the game on ice on the first play of the second half with a 69-yard touchdown pass by Becker to senior Jameson Coverstone, followed by a 1-yard rushing touchdown by Nate Starks, a pick six by linebacker Dylan Bennett and another 10-yard rushing touchdown by Starks, to give Carroll its eighth straight win of the season.
“The offensive line has been doing a tremendous job,” Dinan said. “Our quarterback is outstanding. We’ve got receivers and running backs that do their job. I’m very proud of all of them … I’m very proud of those 18 seniors that have invested in each other and put themselves in this situation.”
Becker finished his final regular-season game on 5-of-10 passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns while tacking on 48 rushing yards for a pair of first downs. Carmody grabbed 100 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and Coverstone led the receiver corps with 69 yards and a touchdown through the air. Sophomore lineman Ashton Pesetski earned three tackles for a loss of yards, and Smith pulled in two interceptions on the night.
It was Carroll’s third shutout of the year, holding their opponents to an average of just 14 points through nine games.
“We’re going to paint part of that bell,” Dinan said. “I don’t know how long we have it. It doesn’t really matter because forever is a long time, but forever you’re going to be conference champs.”
The Chargers have the bye this week before taking on rival Homestead at home Oct. 29 in the first round of 6A sectional games.
“We’ve got to get healthy, we’ve got to rest up, and it’s all about preparation for Homestead,” Dinan said. “It’s our rival, it’s going to be a big game, it’s here. We’re fortunate to host and we’ve just got to play as well as we can. We’ve got to play hard, we’ve got to play physical, we’ve got to control the line of scrimmage on both sides, we’ve got to take care of the football. You do those things and you’ve got a chance, and that’s all we want every week.”
When the two teams last met, the Chargers walked away with a 17-0 victory over the Spartans — Carroll’s first win over Homestead since the 2015 regular season. The Spartans finished 6-3 in conference play Friday, defeating South Side 48-0.
“We play ourselves every week,” Becker said. “We don’t worry about the hype, who we’re playing. We’re playing ourselves. It’s another stepping stone in the ladder.”