Monday, October 14, 2013

In seven weeks I've been... fifteen games and seen a total of 25 teams, five of them twice, including Mount CarmelNaperville Central, Wheaton Warrenville South, Loyola and Providence.

In the next two weeks I'll probably see two more games but only one new team, Glenbard North.

My Game of the Week this Friday will be Wheaton Warrenville South at GBN and next week will probably be Loyola at St. Rita.

(I can't find a good game for either of the next two Saturdays, especially now that everyone on Aurora Christian seems to be injured. So I'll use those two days to rest up for the playoffs.)

Before I get to how I would rank the 25 teams I've seen so far, it's worth mentioning that MaxPreps has Montini No. 1 and Loyola No. 2. Also, Notre Dame leaped up to No. 22 from No. 51 after beating Marist and IC Prep moved up 37 spots to No. 69 after upsetting Aurora Christian. 

Here are my rankings. (Each team's individual rank after its name is in the following order: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and MaxPreps. You can click on each of those links to see their entire rankings.)

1. Loyola (7-0); Trib No. 1, Sun-Times No. 1, MaxPreps No. 2.

The Ramblers beat De La Salle (6-1) decisively on the road. The Wilmette squad should improve to 8-0 against Lake Forest Academy (3-4) this week which should set up a great Week Nine finale at St. Rita (6-1).

2. Wheaton Warrenville South (6-1); Tribune No. 9, Sun-Times No. 9, MaxPreps No. 5.

The Tigers shut out Lake Park (1-6) in preparation for this week's Game of the Week at Glenbard North (6-1).

3. Mount Carmel (6-1); Trib No. 2, Sun-Times No. 2, MaxPreps No. 6.

The Caravan also shut out its opponent, St. Laurence (3-4). The Woodlawn squad hosts Providence (4-3) this week and Leo (7-0) in Week Nine. (Even though the Lions are undefeated, they have fewer than 300 students and are classified as 1A.) Carmel should be 8-1 entering the postseason.

4. Bolingbrook (7-0); Trib No. 6, Sun-Times No. 6, MaxPreps No. 17.

I could rank the Brook No. 2 or even No. 1 but I'll wait to see how they do against rival Lincoln-Way East (6-1) this week. Might they be headed for a rematch of that 2011 8A final with Loyola?

5. Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1); Trib No. 10, Sun-Times No. 8, MaxPreps No. 20.

The Vikings lost in overtime to Bolingbrook so I have to rank them next to each other. With two remaining games against Lockport (2-5) and Stagg (4-3), H-F could enter the playoffs at 8-1 and get another crack at Bolingbrook.

6. Lake Zurich (7-0); Trib No. 3, Sun-Times No. 3, MaxPreps No. 4.

As expected, the Bears beat Zion-Benton (1-6). After playing at Libertyville (3-4) this week, Lake Zurich should be undefeated when they travel to Stevenson (5-2) in Week Nine.

7. St. Rita (6-1); Trib No. 7, Sun-Times No. 10, MaxPreps No. 12.

The Mustangs beat St. Ignatius (1-6) but must avoid looking past Brother Rice (3-4) this week. If they defeat the Crusaders, as they should, their Week Nine showdown with Loyola should be my Game of the Week.

8. Naperville Central (5-2); Trib "On the verge," Sun-Times No. 17, MaxPreps No. 18.

The Redhawks came back against Glenbard North (6-1) on Friday but still lost by a touchdown. They've now dropped two close games in a row going into another tough DVC contest against Wheaton North (6-1). Things won't get a whole lot easier for Central in Week Nine as they have to play crosstown rival Naperville North (4-3). The Redhawks are pretty much guaranteed a playoff bid, but they don't want to limp in to the postseason with four consecutive losses.

9. Benet (6-1); Trib No. 17, Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 15.

For the second week in a row, Nazareth (5-2) knocked off an undefeated team, in this case Benet. (What's with these Roadrunners anyway?) The Redwings need to get back on track this week against Marist (4-3), who also lost, and Joliet Catholic (6-1) in Week Nine. Like Naperville Central, Benet needs to enter the playoffs on an up note.

10. Wheaton North (6-1); Trib No. 14, Sun-Times No. 12, MaxPreps No. 13.

The Falcons beat Aurora West (1-6) and now host Naperville Central and then Glenbard North. Wheaton North will need to use its home field advantage to win at least one of those two contests.

11. Notre Dame (6-1); Trib "On the verge," MaxPreps No. 22.

The Dons got back on track by defeating Marist (4-3) on Saturday. But Notre Dame has to travel to Joliet Catholic this week. If they can beat the Hilltoppers they could enter the playoffs at 8-1 after Week Nine's game against Carmel (1-6).

12. Neuqua Valley (6-1) Trib No. 13, Sun-Times No. 14, MaxPreps No. 27.

The Wildcats beat their archrival, Waubonsie Valley (5-2) on Friday night and face two losing teams in the next two weeks, West Chicago (0-7) and Bartlett (3-4). This means that Neuqua could be 8-1 at the end of the regular season. Should I have them ranked higher?

13. Providence (4-3); Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 30.

The Celtics pulled out a victory at Fenwick (6-1) this Saturday but still have to play Mount Carmel and Brother Rice (3-4). If they can take one out of those two (probably Brother Rice) Providence could be the best 5-4 team in the playoffs.

14. Warren (5-2); MaxPreps No. 46.

The Blue Devils defeated North Chicago (3-3) on Friday in a shootout, 61-38. This week they should improve to 6-2 against Mundelein (1-6) before traveling to Lake Forest (6-1) in Week Nine.

15. Fenwick (6-1); MaxPreps No. 47.

Providence put an end to the Friars' undefeated season, but Fenwick proved it could play with the big boys in the Catholic League Blue. If they can beat De La Salle (5-2) and St. Laurence (3-4) they will draw a good seed for the playoffs.

16. Marist (4-3); Trib "On the verge," MaxPreps No. 29.

The RedHawks fell to Notre Dame (6-1) and now have to face a Benet team coming off its first loss. Good thing they have Moline (1-6) scheduled for Week Nine or they could miss the playoffs altogether.

17. De La Salle (5-2); MaxPreps No. 91.

The Meteors need to pick themselves up after getting beaten soundly by Loyola on Friday. The next two weeks won't be much easier with Fenwick and Bishop McNamara (4-3) on the docket.

18. St. Patrick (4-3); MaxPreps No. 60.

The Shamrocks continued their winning ways by beating Marian Catholic (2-4). Next comes Carmel and St. Viator (4-3). Could St. Pat's enter the postseason at 6-3?

19. Niles West (6-1); MaxPreps No. 82.

Reality intruded on the Wolves perfect season as they ran into Maine South (5-2) this weekend. New Trier (3-4) and Glenbrook South (5-2) should be good tests for the Skokie squad in the next two weeks. Are the Wolves an 8-1 or a 6-3 team?

20. Phillips (4-3); MaxPreps No. 197.

The Wildcats beat Al Raby (5-2) by almost 20 points and now travel to winless Westinghouse (0-6). Why don't I see a game scheduled for Week Nine?

21. Crete-Monee (6-1); Trib No. 19, Sun-Times No. 23, MaxPreps No. 38.

The Warriors beat Bloom (4-3) by only five points after crushing them last year, 41-6. This week brings Rich South (1-6) and then it's on to undefeated Rich Central (7-0). That last game should tell us a lot about both teams.

22. Niles North (3-4); MaxPreps No. 306.

The Vikings lost to Glenbrook North (4-3) and now host Highland Park (6-1) on Friday. This week could end the other Skokie squad's playoff dreams.

23. Bartlett (3-4); MaxPreps No. 219.

The Hawks kept their postseason hopes alive against Larkin (3-4) on Friday and play South Elgin (2-5) this week. But is the universe just toying with Bartlett? After all, the Hawks still have to host Neuqua Valley in Week Nine.

Smaller schools:

1. IC Catholic Prep (4-3); MaxPreps No. 69.

The Knights upset Aurora Christian (5-2) as the Eagles were without eleven starters, including star quarterback Austin Bray. (What was that all about?) With remaining games against Walther Lutheran (2-5) and Chicago Christian (2-5), IC could enter the postseason at 6-3.

2. Aurora Central Catholic (5-2); MaxPreps No. 176.

The Chargers beat Guerin (2-5) and now host Marmion (6-1) and Montini (7-0). Yikes!

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