The Curie Condors (9-5) weren’t one of the top picks to win the city title before the season began or going into the playoffs, but the Condors are flying high as Public League champions after outlasting Morgan Park 40-34 in a double overtime thrille
The Curie Condors (9-5) weren’t one of the top picks to win the city title before the season began or going into the playoffs, but the Condors are flying high as Public League champions after outlasting Morgan Park 40-34 in a double overtime thriller at Gately Stadium.
Curie peaked in the post-season and defeated conference champions’ Hubbard, Robeson and Orr, en-route to the CPL championship contest against Morgan Park.
Curie head coach Tyson LeBlanc wasn’t among the doubters, and he was confident his team would perform well in the state and city playoffs after making it through a tough regular season where they faced several quality opponents.
“That’s why we play those good teams in the regular season, so when we get to the city and state playoffs we’re battle tested. And the fact that we are battle tested has shown over the run we’ve had over the last few games,” LeBlanc said.
In the title game both teams’ wills and stamina were put to the test. Curie had its hands full trying to contain Morgan Park quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley (17 carries for 77 yards and four TD’s, 5-for-11 passing for 76 yards) and running back Brandon Peppers (20 carries for 104 yards). Morgan Park struggled to stop Curie running back Kevonta McIntire (21 carries for 104 yards), and QB Reese Flemming (13 rushes for 75 yards, TD, 11-for-20 passing for 92 yards).
Stellar performances were turned in by players on both teams, but the inspired running of McIntire was the difference for the Condors offensively.
“My team told me that they needed me, and I had to step it up for them, and for “LT” up top,” McIntire said.
Quaashi Chandler, known as “LT,” is the Curie player who tragically passed away last year after an asthma attack during a game against Bolingbrook. The entire Curie team was driven to win for their fallen comrade, and with that extra motivation they were destined to have a good year said wide receiver Brandon Barker, who scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime with a fumble recovery in the end zone.
“We did it with great coaching, excess film study, and just hard work … and we did it for “LT,” said Barker.
Winning a city championship always gives the players involved a feeling of pride and jubilation, but this win was even sweeter for the Condors, because they played under the radar most of the 2010 season and weren’t given much attention around the city.
“A lot of people doubted us. We wanted to prove to the city that we could do it because a lot of people on this team got overlooked,” McIntire said.
Joining the ranks of the powerhouse CPL teams is also something fourth-year coach LeBlanc is feeling pretty good about.
“Coming in as a young coach to the CPL you want to be like the Morgan Parks, you want to be like the Simeons, you want to be like the Hubbards,” LeBlanc said. “And to have an opportunity this year to beat two of those teams is awesome.”
None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the calm, heady play of Flemming, as he remained poised under the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the overtime sessions.
“I was nervous but my coaches and teammates said just let the game come to me and be calm,” Flemming said. “My grandmother and my moms taught me to just take a deep breath and let the game come to me.”
The advice paid off, and now the talented junior and his teammates can take their place in the annals of CPL football.
“We just made history and I’m proud of it. We’re city champions and we did it,” Flemming said.
Curie has one more test to pass as they prepare to face Catholic League foe Fenwick in the Prep Bowl at Soldier Field the day after Thanksgiving.
“As much as I want to celebrate this victory, we’ve still got unfinished business to take care of next week in the Prep Bowl,” LeBlanc said.
Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender