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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Michael O'Brien

Chicago Sun-Times High School Football Player of the Year: Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree

Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree (6) runs the ball against Batavia. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

Numbers can tell a story. Statistics are true and they help show what happens on the field. But the special moments in a football game cannot be conveyed by digits. 

JJ McCarthy’s passes were elite. High school receivers couldn’t always catch them, and no statistic properly conveyed watching the best arm the area has seen in recent memory. 

AJ Henning’s unique ability to be the fastest in the exact moment he might get caught won Lincoln-Way East a state championship and was another quality that had to be described, that numbers couldn’t portray. 

Mount Carmel senior Darrion Dupree, the Sun-Times Player of the Year, has spent a high school career stacking up highlight reel plays that phrases like “74-yard touchdown reception” don’t properly describe. 

“Older alumni can argue with me all they want and I know there was some great talent here with Nate Turner and Donovan McNabb back in the day. But I want to see if some of those guys can do what Darrion Dupree does,” Caravan coach Jordan Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2013, said.

Dupree, a 5-11, 200-pound running back, had 151 carries for 1,136 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He caught 20 passes for 764 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Those are excellent stats and led the Class 7A state champions. But many running backs around the area posted more impressive numbers. 

“The only person that can hold [Dupree] under 100 yards is me,” Lynch said. “He could have carried the workload if we needed him to and when the game needed to be won we gave him the ball. But he’s going to play some big-time football one day. I wasn’t going to wear him out. That is only going to help him in the future.”

Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree (6) reacts during the game against Batavia. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

That’s not something high school coaches often say. Star running backs generally carry huge workloads. 

“Of course Darrion wanted to carry the ball all the time,” Dupree’s stepdad, Ivory McCoy, who played football at Michigan State, said. “But we talked before the season and he understood that he would get a lot of hockey assists this season. He was the focal point of the defense. They lined up where he was. That allowed his teammates to succeed. And spending some time lined up at receiver decreased the amount of hits he was going to take.”

McCoy said he first realized that Dupree was special when he was eight. 

“He showed those flashes at a very young age,” McCoy said. “He has always had the ability to break tackles. And I think his best quality is that he’s a team-oriented kid. I noticed this year that he seemed to run faster when he was blocking for his teammates than when he had the ball in his hands.”

Dupree started as a sophomore and played nine games last season. He was injured in the regular season finale at Loyola and missed all of the playoffs. 

“We won the state championship last year without the best player in the Midwest,” Lynch said. 

That’s how highly everyone at Mount Carmel speaks of Dupree’s ability. Quarterback Jack Elliott called Dupree, a Wisconsin recruit, the best player in the country. 

“Whenever we need an answer on our team, it could be place kicker or quarterback, the answer is Darrion Dupree,” Lynch said. 

Dupree is Mount Carmel’s first Player of the Year since Tony Furjanic in 1981. Dupree played youth football with the Hyde Park Junior Spartans and thought he would attend Simeon, Morgan Park or Kenwood. 

“But everything changed when I went to shadow at Mount Carmel,” Dupree said. “The brotherhood here was different. And I thought it would be a challenge.”

Missing the playoffs last season was devastating for the 17-year-old. 

“He was depressed,” Linda McCoy, Dupree’s mom, said. “He sat in his room a lot with the lights out. I told him sometimes things happen for a reason and that he still had another year to shine. That there was time.”

Dupree was able to win a state title with his teammates this season. He was in the game, not on the sidelines, finishing with 155 total yards in the Caravan’s 35-10 win against Downers Grove North. 

“Everything happened so fast,” Dupree said. “I couldn’t even cry.”

The complete list of Sun-Times Football Players of the Year

1951 - Bob McKeiver, Evanston

1952 - Frank Pinn, Mount Carmel

1953 - John Carroll, Fenwick

1954 - Jack Delveaux, Fenger

1955 - John Swain, Vocational

1956 - Ed Ryan, Leo

1957 - Mike Lind, Calumet

1958 - Jack Strobel, Fenwick

1959 - Dick Butkus, Vocational

1960 - Al MacFarlane, Taft

1961 - Jim Grabowski, Taft

1962 - Jim DiLullo, Fenwick

1963 - John Byrne, St. Rita

1964 - Chico Kurzawski, Weber

1965 - LaMarr Thomas, Thornton

1966 - Randy Marks, Loyola

1967 - Tom Spotts, Maine South

1968 - Carlos Matthews, Evanston

1969 - Barry Cernoch, Downers Grove

1970 - Ken Ferguson, Lane Tech

1971 - Bill Marek, St. Rita

1972 - Jeff Stewart, Elk Grove

1973 - Kevin King, St. Laurence

1974 - Frank Shellenback, Barrington

1975 - Mark Carlson, Deerfield

1976 - Rich Weiss, New Trier

1977 - Chris Boskey, St. Francis de Sales

1978 - Marty Finan, Fenwick

1979 - Tim Marshall, Weber

1980 - Mike Tomczak, Thornton F. North

1981 - Tony Furjanic, Mount Carmel

1982 - Eric Kumerow, Oak Park-R. Forest

1983 - Dempsey Norman, Tilden

1984 - Chuck McCree, Romeoville

1985 - John Foley, St. Rita

1986 - Kent Graham, Wheaton North

1987 - Jeff Lesniewicz, Homewood-Flossmoor

1988 - Brian Dunlavy, St. Viator

1989 - Alex Rodriguez, Lane

1990 - Corey Rogers, Leo

1991 - Mike Alstott, Joliet Catholic

1992 - Broc Kreitz, Waubonsie Valley

1993 - Greg Williams, Bolingbrook

1994 - Jason Loerzel, Maine South

1995 - Tim Lavery, Naperville Central

1996 - Mark Floersch, New Trier

1997 - Rocky Harvey, Dunbar

1998 - Philip Macklin, Proviso East

1999 - Ryan Clifford, Naperville Central

2000 - Brett Basanez, St. Viator

2001 - Tim Brasic, Riverside-Brookfield

2002 - Tom Zbikowski, Buffalo Grove

2003 - Sean Price, Maine South

2004 - Chris Jeske, Joliet Catholic

2005 - John Dergo, Morris

2006 - Dan Dierking, Wheaton Warrenville South

2007 - Jordan Tassio, Naperville North

2008 - Charlie Goro, Maine South

2009 - Matt Perez, Maine South

2010 - Reilly O’Toole, Wheaton Warrenville South

2011 - Ty Isaac, Joliet Catholic

2012 - Laquon Treadwell, Crete-Monee

2013 - Justin Jackson, Glenbard North

2014 - Dewayne Collins, Phillips

2015 - Julian Love, Nazareth

2016 - Jake Marwede, Loyola

2017 - Samson Evans, Prairie Ridge

2018 - Payton Thorne, Naperville Central

2019 - AJ Henning, Lincoln-Way East

2020 - Vaughn Pemberton, Loyola

2021 - Jack Lausch, Brother Rice

2022 - Tyler Vasey, Prairie Ridge

2023 - Darrion Dupree, Mount Carmel

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