By David Gross ’22

After a dominant win over Chicago Bulls Academy in their season opener and a one-score loss to Marian Catholic in Week 2, the Leo Lions played what was probably their best game of the season on Friday, Sept. 10.

But the end result was another one-score loss, 35-32 to Carmel Catholic on Senior Night before an estimated 2,000 fans in Mundelein. Carmel’s coach is Jason McKie, the former Chicago Bears fullback.

Each team scored five touchdowns, but the Corsairs were 5-for-5 on conversion kicks while the Lions were just 1-for-5 on two-point tries, accounting for the three-point differential.

Turnovers and minor mistakes that added up also contributed to the Lions’ undoing.

A 70-yard pass play on the game’s first series set up a Carmel touchdown, and the Corsairs never trailed in improving to 2-1. Leo fell to 1-2. 

Senior quarterback James E’Akels threw two interceptions and lost the ball on a strip sack but still enjoyed his most productive night of the season, running for two touchdowns and throwing for two while accumulating a career-high 282 passing yards and 21 rushing yards. 

Junior Kevin Jackson enjoyed a coming-out party with five receptions for 152 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch that brought the Lions within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jackson also caught a two-point conversion pass and made an interception. 

Junior Merrick Sample had two catches for 65 yards, while senior Austin Ford’s lone reception went for 30 yards. 

Senior Marcus Ray was Leo’s leading rusher with 78 yards on 17 carries. Junior linebacker Isaiah Knox led the defense with 10 tackles. Junior cornerback Tim Durr had seven tackles and an interception.

Next up for the Lions is their Homecoming game against DePaul Prep (2-1) at St. Rita’s Cronin Field on Saturday at 7 p.m.

David Gross is a Leo senior who will graduate with the Class of 2022 in May.