Thursday, June 27, 2013

If Reggie Jackson was...

...known as "Mr. October," could Lyons Township coach Kurt Weinberg, above, be thought of as "Mr. November?"

Or, to put it another way, while some teams choke in the postseason, Lyons only seems to turn it up a notch.

In the three years he's been at the helm, Weinberg is 24-12 (by my count). But, interestingly (to me at least), the Lions have gone into the third round of the playoffs in each of those seasons.

Last year, for example, Weinberg brought a 5-4 team into the postseason and beat Marist and O'Fallon before falling to the eventual 8A champions Mount Carmel. In 2011, Lyons was also 5-4 after the regular season and lost in the third round to Loyola, the 8A runner-up. And the year before, Weinberg's team went 8-1 before losing to runner-up Mount Carmel.

So is this the year that Mr. November takes the Lions all the way to DeKalb? I don't know, but there seems to be a paucity of contenders to the 8A crown.

After Mount Carmel, which Edgy Tim rightfully says is the odds-on favorite, you have Glenbard North and ... who else?

Maine South, Loyola, Bolingbrook, Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley (more on them later) all seem to be in rebuilding years. So whom does that leave?

I'd say any one of the following teams: Naperville Central, Stevenson, Marist or Hinsdale Central could end up in the 8A final against the Caravan if Glenbard North stumbles (or if Justin Jackson gets injured).

Oh, and what the heck, why not Lyons?

The La Grange squad has a talented running back in junior Leonard Ross, who already has an offer from Illinois. And if the Lions can get past their bruising schedule, they should be more than prepared for the postseason. Even if they go 5-4, Weinberg has a way of getting the most out of his athletes in the month of November, when it really counts.

So let's get to that 2013 schedule, shall we? (Last year's records in parentheses.)

Aug. 30 Warren (5-5)
Don't let that record fool you; the Blue Devils are always tough. And this year they have a highly-touted junior at tight end named Caleb Reams.

Sept. 6 Willowbrook (6-4)
The Warriors were a big surprise last year following four consecutive losing seasons, including a winless 2011. Was last year just a fluke?

Sept. 13 @ Leyden (7-3)
Another fluke?

Sept. 20 Glenbard West (15-0)
Yikes! Mr. November runs into Chad Hetlet -- Mr. August, September, October and November.

Sept. 27 @ Downers Grove North (7-5)
More on them later.

Oct. 5 @ Hinsdale Central (7-3)
With center Brian Allen (who just committed to Michigan State) providing the pass blocking and Michigan-bound Ian Bunting at tight end and junior Jimmy Thompson at wide receiver, the Red Devils could have quite an air attack this year. (Watch for that opening game against Bolingbrook and cornerback Parrker Westphal.)

Oct. 12 Oak Park River Forest (7-4)
The Huskies graduated star running back Jakari Cammon, but the defense could be strong this year with Xavier Rowe at cornerback and Jamal Baggett at safety.

Oct. 18 @ York (0-9)
0-9? Would somebody please explain to me what in the world is going on in Elmhurst? The Dukes were 9-2 as recently as 2010!

Oct. 25 Proviso West (6-4)
The Panthers have been coming on in recent years. Watch out for Denzel Tolliver at tight end.

That's a tough schedule in a tough conference, the West Suburban Silver. But, remember, the Lions only have to be 5-4 to make the playoffs. And then in November, everybody starts over at 0-0.

Next: Downers Grove North.

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