Dalton Tevis is aware of the history. No one needs to tell the Normal Community High School senior defensive end about Chicago Mount Carmel's 12 state football championships.
He gets it, respects it.
"We're focused on this year," Tevis said prior to Friday's practice. "Yeah, they're a good team in the past. But I think we're a good team now and they're a good team now, so we're going to see how it plays out."
Tevis said the No,. 4 state-ranked and second-seeded Ironmen (10-0) are eager to "show everybody where we stand" in Saturday's Class 7A second-round playoff game at Chicago's Gately Stadium.
Mount Carmel (7-3) is seeded 18th heading into the noon contest.
"We're very excited," Tevis said. "I think it's a big game for our program. We have a chip on our shoulder. I don't think we get the credit we deserve.
"Everybody up north ... I don't think they think there's much down here south of I-80. We're ready to show them that there really is."
NCHS is coming off a 42-0 first-round win over Downers Grove North, while Mount Carmel rolled to a 52-7 victory at Moline.
Ironmen coach Wes Temples said veteran coach Frank Lenti's Caravan "are who they are" in terms of style.
That is, a "downhill option attack."
"They're big and they're physical," Temples said. "They're the type of team where if you can't get a stop it makes for a long afternoon. At the same time, when we do get stops we have to be able to capitalize on the other side of the ball."
Mount Carmel's marquee player is senior Alek Thomas, a TCU recruit for baseball and football. He missed the first three games while playing for Team USA in the U18 World Baseball Championships in Canada.
The Caravan lost to 8A power Loyola Academy in week three (31-7). The other losses were to St. Rita in week five (38-21) and De La Salle in week seven (21-14).
They closed the regular season with wins over traditional powers Montini (35-18) and Providence (35-34).
Mount Carmel has used three players at quarterback, including Thomas, but has settled on junior Radomir Premovic. Thomas is now used as a runner and pass catching threat.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Tevis will try to add to his team-leading 11 tackles-for-loss. He also has 35 solo tackles, 17 assists, five sacks and recovered a fumble in last week's win.
The offense received three touchdowns from senior Nick Hesse, two on passes from quarterback Daylen Boddie and one rushing.
Hesse scored five touchdowns the previous week at Champaign Central. He said patience may be important Saturday if Mount Carmel has some success running the ball.
"Coach talked about how our offense might be on the sideline for a while because their team likes to chew clock and run the ball up the middle," Hesse said. "We just need to stay focused and do our jobs.
"I'm pretty sure there's not one high school person who thinks that we can beat them. I think our team is trying to prove people wrong."
Boddie ran for three touchdowns and threw for two last week, boosting his season total to 34 (17 rushing, 17 passing). He has run for 1,098 yards and thrown for 1,044 behind a big and talented offensive line.
Senior running back Varshaun Dixon has rushed for 1,018 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Hesse has run for 579 yards and eight TDs.
"The biggest thing for these guys is the opportunity to keep playing," Temples said. "They enjoy their time together and enjoy playing with each other. I think everybody here is doing everything they can to extend this thing as long as we can."
Tevis called the Ironmen "a great group of brothers."
"We don't want this to be the last time we play together," he said.
Saturday's winner meets either seventh-seeded East St. Louis (9-1) or 10th-seeded Buffalo Grove (9-1) in next week's quarterfinals.