Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gastone Moschin, who played...

...Don Fanucci in The Godfather Part II, died at age 88.

That's him on the wrong end of a gun, above. Watch the famous scene here.

My Game of the Week...

...will be Fenwick at Loyola on Saturday afternoon. (According to my iPhone the temperature will be 86 degrees in Wilmette; a little different from last year's meeting, above.)

My older brother, who went to Loyola, will be flying in tomorrow to see the Ramblers host our father's alma mater, Fenwick. (We did this last year, remember?) But do the Friars have a chance against big, bad Loyola? On paper one would have to say "no."

Loyola (3-1) is ranked No. 5 in the Sun-Times and No. 9 in both the Tribune and MaxPreps. The Wilmette squad won the 8A title in 2015 and were runners-up last year.

Fenwick (also 3-1), is ranked only No. 124 in MaxPreps but is coming off an 11-2 season in which they defeated such formidable teams as Phillips, Montini and Lake Zurich. Did they graduate a bunch of guys? I don't know. But I do know Fenwick has a wily coach in Gene Nudo, who is more than capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat.

To refresh your memory, Fenwick won its first game this year by forfeit. Here's the full schedule (home team in CAPS):

FENWICK 1, Bowen 0
FENWICK 24, Moline 7
MONTINI 28, Fenwick 7
FENWICK 28, Leo 0

Bowen is 0-2 and has since dropped football, Moline is 2-2 and Leo is 1-3. The only team with a winning record here is Montini (3-1) and they handled Fenwick rather easily. This doesn't bode well for the Oak Parkers.

Loyola, meanwhile, dropped a close one to Phillips before "taking care of business":

PHILLIPS 20, Loyola 14
LOYOLA 13, Bishop Amat (CA) 6
LOYOLA 31, Mount Carmel 7
Loyola 42, ST. FRANCIS 7

Now, it turns out that this schedule isn't exactly a "Murderers' Row" either. With the exception of Phillips (4-0), the rest of these teams have been less than impressive this year. Bishop Amat is 0-4, Mount Carmel is 3-1 and St. Francis is 1-3. (The Caravan's three victories came over teams with a combined record of 5-7, but a deeper dive would reveal that those five victories were against teams with a combined record of 5-15.)

Oh, well. Let's look at the recent history between these two Catholic League programs. As I mentioned last year, the Friars haven't bested Loyola since 2006:

2016: Loyola 52, FENWICK 14
2015: Loyola 54, FENWICK 16
2014: LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
2013: N/A
2012: LOYOLA 49, Fenwick 28
2011: Loyola 47, FENWICK 7
2010: LOYOLA 45, Fenwick 7
2009: Loyola 31, FENWICK 7
2008: N/A
2007: N/A
2006: FENWICK 20, Loyola 0
2005: LOYOLA 31, Fenwick 7
          Fenwick 10, Loyola 7 (Catholic League tournament)
2004: Loyola 7, FENWICK 6

So do the Friars have a chance this week? Sure, upsets happen all the time in football. But it would be an upset, a big one.

As always, I'll be live-tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.

P. S. My brother and I will be reliving the action at Hackney's on Lake after the game. (We'll probably be in Circe's Circle.) Come join us and I'll even buy you a beer. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trigger warning!

Here are six programs that are in serious danger of missing the playoffs after making it last year. (I know I said I wouldn't do this. Sue me.)

Fremd (0-4)
2016 Record: 7-4

Thornwood (0-4)
2016 Record: 5-5

Bradley-Bourbonnais (1-3)
2016 Record: 10-1

Vernon Hills (1-3)
2016 Record: 10-4

Highland Park (1-3)
2016 Record: 7-3

Waubonsie Valley (1-3)
2016 Record: 6-5

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

While I'm at it, here's...

Image result for naperville central metea
...a list of some other schools that are on track to reach the postseason after missing it in 2016.

Naperville Central (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

Eisenhower (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

South Elgin (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

Wheaton North (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Schaumburg (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Warren (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Bolingbrook (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Hinsdale South (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

I'm watching "The Vietnam...

...War," Ken Burns's excellent new film on PBS. I just finished Episode Two, “Riding the Tiger” (1961-1963), and at the very end journalist Neil Sheehan says:

We thought we were the exceptions to history, the Americans. History didn't apply to us. We could never fight a bad war. We could never represent the wrong cause. We were Americans. Well, in Vietnam we had proved that we were not an exception to history.

That reminds me of a post I wrote a while back. Since November I've been thinking that Donald Trump's election is somewhat analogous in our time to the American experience in Vietnam for my parents' time. They thought that not only could the U. S. not lose a war, but that the U. S. couldn't possibly be on the "wrong" side. And for all my life I've assumed America could never elect someone as unqualified and unfit for the presidency as Donald Trump. For crying out loud, it's not like we're some kind of Latin American banana republic, or even Italy, which seemed to change its government as often as I change my underwear.

But I guess it turns out that maybe we're not so special after all.

I also read a piece in The Atlantic this morning, "How the GOP Prompted the Decay of Political Norms," and it made me think that "norms" are only "norms" until they aren't. Either President Trump's behavior becomes the new "norm" or the old norms are written into law. And I would bet more on the former than the latter.

Unlike the authors of that piece, I think Democrats should stop whining and just plain get used to the new norms. And fight back. And maybe establish some new norms. Maybe New Gingrich was right when he told a group of college Republicans in 1978:

You’re fighting a war. It is a war for power. Don’t try to educate. That is not your job. What is the primary purpose of a political leader? To build a majority.

I actually think Democrats should "try to educate," because they have the better policies. But as for the rest of it, I think Gingrich is spot-on. Maybe all this current polarization isn't such a bad thing. It gives people a real choice between two world views. Let's just hope the better one prevails. But after Trump's election, that's not a sure thing.

Yesterday I promised...

...to look at some of the programs that are under- or over-performing in 2017 versus last year. In the interest of keeping things positive (these are just kids, remember?), I'll focus on seven over-achievers in particular. But where do you begin?

How about Stagg, which is 3-1, compared with last year's 0-9? What's going on down there in Palos Hills? The Chargers haven't finished with a winning season since 2005, when they went 9-2! Will this be the year they return to the playoffs?

Oh, sure, you might be thinking, Stagg's three victories came over teams with a combined 1-11 record. But so what? If they can defeat Sandburg (1-3) and Moline (2-2) they might just qualify for the postseason.*

Or Glenbrook South, which is also 3-1? Last year the Titans were 1-8 under first-year head coach David Schoenwetter. The last time the Glenview squad finished with a winning record was in 2014 (6-4).

The Titans' victories so far came over three opponents with a combined record of 5-7. If they can beat Niles North (2-2) and Niles West (0-4) they too can make the playoffs.

Crystal Lake Central is 3-1, after finishing last year at 2-7. But as recently as 2014 the Tigers were 7-3.

CLC's three wins were over teams with a combined record of 2-10. But if they can beat Hampshire and Dundee-Crown (both 1-3) they may also be headed for the postseason.

Buffalo Grove is undefeated, at 4-0, after last year's dismal 3-6 finish. The Bison were 5-4 in 2014.

Buffalo Grove's opponents are 5-11, and all they have to do is defeat Prospect (1-3), Elk Grove Village (0-4) and/or Wheeling (1-3) and they have a ticket to the Dance.

Hersey is another team off to a 3-1 start after last year's 3-6 finish. The Huskies were 6-4 as recently as 2014.

The Arlington Heights squad has beaten three schools with a combined 3-9 record. If they get past two of those same three teams I just mentioned, Elk Grove Village, Wheeling and/or Prospect, then they may also be playing in November.

Thornton is the other undefeated team in this list, at 4-0, after finishing 2016 at 3-6. In 2015 the Wildcats were 9-2.

Thornton's opponents so far have gone a combined 6-10. If the Harvey school can beat either Sandburg (1-3) or Thornwood (0-4) they could be back in the playoffs.

Finally, there's one of my favorites, LaSalle-Peru. The Cavaliers are 3-1 after last year's 3-6 finish. You have to go all the way back to 2009, when L-P was 7-3, to find the last time they had a winning record.

The Cavaliers beat three teams with a combined 2-10 record, but they still face Sycamore, Ottawa and Yorkville (all 1-3). Not hard to imagine them finding two more victories in that schedule.

Why do I like L-P? Well, I've never actually seen the Cavaliers play but I've always wanted to visit Howard Fellows Stadium, at the top of this post. It's supposed to be one of the best in the state. I wrote about it a few years ago here.

* Most, but not all, teams that finish 5-4 go on to the playoffs. (It's sort of a complicated formula, which I won't go into right now.)

Monday, September 18, 2017

The rankings are in...

...and the only significant change in the three news outlets I follow is in MaxPreps, where Homewood-Flossmoor vaulted 13 spots to No. 3 after its decisive 48-20 win over Bolingbrook.
___

In his column in the Sun-Times, Michael O'Brien mentions Brother Rice:

The Crusaders are now 1-3 after losing to Montini on Friday. 

The path to the playoffs looks very difficult for Brother Rice. The Crusaders have home games remaining against Providence and St. Rita and travels to Mount Carmel, St. Joseph and Loyola.

Brother Rice was 9-3 last year. Who else is under- or over-performing versus 2016? I'll take a look at that tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are the rankings this week (undefeated unless otherwise noted):

WEEK FIVE

Tribune:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Maine South (3-1)
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Naperville Central
5. Phillips
6. Homewood-Flossmoor
7. Lyons
8. Glenbard West (3-1)
9. Loyola (3-1)
10. Lake Zurich

Sun-Times:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (3-1)
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (3-1)
6. Lyons
7. Homewood-Flossmoor
8. Marist
9. Lake Zurich
10. Naperville Central

MaxPreps:

1. Prairie Ridge
2. Lincoln-Way East
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Naperville Central
5. Maine South (3-1)
6. Cary-Grove (3-1)
7. Marist
8. Phillips
9. Loyola (3-1)
10. East St. Louis (3-1)