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Matthew Harris’ high school season ended with a spot on the sideline and his right knee heavily wrapped with an ice bag.
It wasn’t supposed to end that way for Lyons’ Northwestern-bound wide receiver-defensive back, who was part of all three Lyons teams to reach the Class 8A quarterfinals.
With four losses, Lyons needed to win its last three games of the regular season just to make the playoffs. By Saturday night, Lyons was the only four-loss team remaining in the playoffs after West Suburban Silver rival Downers Grove North lost earlier in the day to Benet and after Notre Dame loss to Lake Forest on Friday night.
Harris was involved in a third quarter to forget at Bennett Field when third-seeded Mount Carmel scored 21 points during a 45-10 victory over 15th-seeded Lyons (7-5).
After the game, Harris needed help from family members to be assisted off the field toward the Lyons locker room. He was able to walk on his own later and said he did not need to see a doctor days after the game.
Harris’ season ended with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter when Lyons’ next drive ended with a Harris fumble after Mount Carmel took a 24-10 lead. On third-and-6 from the Caravan 46, Harris took the center snap out of the Wildcat formation and ran to his right. He was hit by a Mount Carmel defender at the end of a four-yard gain and lost the ball.
Harris scored Lyons’ only touchdown of the game in the second quarter when he scored out of the Wildcat for a 1-yard touchdown run.
The fumble resulted in Lyons’ third turnover in the first three minutes of the quarter. Mount Carmel (11-1) then went 58 yards in 14 plays to score on Don Butkus’ quarterback sneak. The Caravan led 31-10.
“We should have had it, but we couldn’t get it done,” Harris said.
Harris was involved in the second turnover of the quarter when the defending Class 3A state runner-up in the long jump could not field a kickoff after Mount Carmel scored off the first kickoff to open the second half. The Caravan kicked into a stiff wind, but the ball glanced off Harris, who was attempting to return the kickoff. Justin Sanchez recovered the muffed return and the Caravan scored on one play on Jason Domer’s 13-yard touchdown run.
“You can’t blame it on the wind. We did it to ourselves,” Harris said of the two turnovers on two kickoffs.
Before getting injured, Harris caught three passes for 48 yards, but his biggest role was shutting down Mount Carmel’s leading receiver, Jason Gasser, as a starting cornerback. Gasser caught only three passes for 19 yards in the first half. Gasser’s only score came without Harris on the field when he caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Butkus in the fourth quarter.
Harris was a major influence on both sides of the ball for Lyons. One of the highlights of the season was the emergence of senior receiver Jemari Burks after Harris missed three games midway through the season due to a chest injury.
“(Harris) was like a big brother to all of us,” Burks said. “He helped us out. He helped us out with everything.”
Harris was among several key seniors to play their final game, including quarterback Zach Mahoney, safety Connor Onion and linemen Nick Demes and Jimmy Mitchell.
“It’s hard to reflect (on the end) right now,” Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. “I like this group. I like being their coach and working with them. They deserve better than this.”
This senior class was the first to play all four years while Weinberg was coach.