Friday, November 23, 2012

All right, here's the deal with 8A.

The top bracket is the only one in which I didn't pick either team, Mount Carmel or Glenbard North, to make it to the final. (I had Bolingbrook beating Loyola again.) What's more, I spent the better part of the season trashing Carmel only to pick them to win earlier this week. Now, I don't know if star quarterback Don Butkus will be healthy enough to direct the Caravan offense. (He looked like he really hurt his ankle at the end of last week's game against Neuqua Valley.) But Panther running back Justin Jackson, above, who scored four touchdowns against Loyola last Saturday, may or may not be able to repeat that performance against Mount Carmel. (Neuqua's Joey Rhattigan, a similar runner, was held to only 79 yards rushing by the Caravan defense last week.) Finally, you've got the runner up of the state's Best Conference, the Catholic League Blue, facing off against the winner of the other Best Conference in Illinois, the DuPage Valley.

So what's a (boring old white) guy to do?

First of all, let's look at what each school did this year against their one common opponent, Loyola.

Week Six: Loyola 30, MOUNT CARMEL 27, OT
Week Thirteen: Glenbard North 27, LOYOLA 24

I saw those games, and it could be argued that both teams outplayed the Ramblers.

What about a head-to-head history? As far as I can tell, the two programs have only played each other once in recent years.

2007: Glenbard North 28, MOUNT CARMEL 21

Now five years may seem like a long time ago, but it's worth noting that both coaches, Frank Lenti of Carmel and Ryan Wilkens of GBN, were still at the helm back then.

As for me, I saw each team play twice this year. And while they both struggled in the first game, they definitely outplayed their opponents in the second.

Week Eight: GLENBARD NORTH 17, Wheaton North 15
Week Thirteen: Glenbard North 27, LOYOLA 24

Week Six: Loyola 30, MOUNT CARMEL 27, OT (on TV)
Week Thirteen: Mount Carmel 26, NEUQUA VALLEY 21.

The Caravan haven't won a championship since they shut out Bloomington, 31-0, in 2002. Their last appearance in Champaign was in 2010, when they were beaten handily by Maine South, 28-7. (I was there.) GBN, for its part, has never won a title game and last appeared in 2007, on the losing end of a 46-19 thrashing by Naperville North

So where does all this leave us? Beats me. I'll say Carmel wins if Butkus is healthy. If not, the Panthers take state. Don't like that answer? Okay, try this:

BOWG prediction: Glenbard North 21, Mount Carmel 17.

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