Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My new No. 1 team is...

...Loyola. (I'm finally in sync with the news services!)

After they beat previously undefeated Mount Carmel, and Naperville Central fell to Wheaton Warrenville South, it only makes sense to put the Ramblers at the top of my list.

But when I was sitting out the lightning delay on Saturday, my brother in Minnesota asked me if Mount Carmel and Loyola were "clearly" the two best teams I'd seen all year. And my response was, honestly, any one of my top four teams (and you could throw in Benet and Lake Zurich) could probably beat each other.

And that's why we have playoffs.

This was the first week that I didn't see a new team play. My two games for this coming week will be Bolingbrook (6-0) at Homewood-Flossmoor (6-0) on Friday and either Providence (3-3) at Fenwick (6-0) or Benet (6-0) at Nazareth (4-2) on Saturday (I haven't decided yet).

As for the 22 teams I've seen so far, here's how I would rank them. (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 (6-0); Trib No. 1, Sun-Times No. 1, MaxPreps No. 1.

The Ramblers have now won five of their last six games against Mount Carmel. They had better not let up at De La Salle (5-1) this weekend. The Meteors are not to be taken lightly.

2. Wheaton Warrenville South (5-1); Tribune No. 10, Sun-Times No. 9, MaxPreps No. 4.

The Tigers have now beaten Glenbard West (5-1), Maine South (4-2), Wheaton North (5-1) and my previous No. 1 team, Naperville Central (5-1). If they were undefeated I'd rank them above Loyola.

South should improve to 6-1 after playing Lake Park (1-5) this week. But, just like Loyola and De La Salle, they can't take the Lancers lightly as they almost defeated Naperville North (3-3) on Friday.

3. Mount Carmel (5-1); Trib No. 2, Sun-Times No. 2, MaxPreps No. 5.

The Caravan should get back on track this week against St. Laurence (3-3).

4. Naperville Central (5-1); Trib No. 11, Sun-Times No. 15, MaxPreps No. 13.

The Redhawks host Glenbard North (5-1) this Friday in another great DuPage Valley matchup. If  Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor weren't both undefeated, I'd be at this game.

5. Benet (6-0); Trib No. 6, Sun-Times No. 7, MaxPreps No. 7.

I'm in sync with the Tribune again! The Redwings beat St. Viator (3-3) and now have to travel to Nazareth (4-2). The Roadrunners just handed Notre Dame (5-1) its first loss of the season. Like Loyola and Wheaton Warrenville South, Benet can't afford to let up this weekend.

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

The Bears beat Antioch (2-4) and should be 7-0 after Zion-Benton (1-5) this week. Lake Zurich could be undefeated when they travel to Stevenson (4-2) in Week Nine.

7. St. Rita (5-1); Trib No. 9, Sun-Times No. 11, MaxPreps No. 15.

The Mustangs beat a good Providence (3-3) team decisively on Friday. Next is St. Ignatius (1-5).

That Week Nine game against Loyola is looking better and better. Could we end up with a three-way tie in the Catholic League Blue?

8. Wheaton North (5-1); Trib No. 15, Sun-Times No. 14, MaxPreps No. 14.

The Falcons beat Glenbard East (2-4) and now face Aurora West (1-5). If Naperville Central wins this week, both teams will be 6-1 for their Week Eight showdown. Sounds like a Game of the Week to me.

9. Notre Dame (5-1); MaxPreps No. 50.

The Dons were stunned at Nazareth (4-2) on Saturday and host Marist (4-2) this week. This matchup could tell us whether or not the Niles squad is for real.

10. Marist (4-2); Trib "On the verge," MaxPreps No. 20.

The RedHawks beat Carmel (1-5) and now face Notre Dame (5-1). This is a big test for both programs.

11. Neuqua Valley (5-1) Trib "On the verge," Sun-Times No. 18, MaxPreps No. 28.

The Wildcats rolled over Metea Valley (3-3) this week and now have to face their archrival, Waubonsie Valley (5-1). In 2012 this was arguably the Game of the Year as both teams entered the contest undefeated. This week's could be every bit as exciting.

12. Providence (3-3); Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 40.

The Celtics bowed to St. Rita (5-1) and now play Fenwick (6-0). We know Providence is good; now we'll find out if the Friars are as good as their record.

13. Warren (4-2); MaxPreps No. 35.

The Blue Devils fell to Stevenson (4-2) but should get back on track against North Chicago (3-3) this week.

14. De La Salle (5-1); MaxPreps No. 99.

After beating St. Laurence (3-3), the Meteors host Loyola on the South Side. Can they sneak up on the Ramblers after the Wilmette squad upset Mount Carmel?

15. Niles West (6-0); MaxPreps No. 88.

The Wolves remained perfect as they defeated Waukegan (2-4). But will their Cinderella season come to a screeching halt against Maine South (4-2) this weekend? (There go all my retweets from Niles West.)

16. St. Patrick (3-3); MaxPreps No. 46.

The Shamrocks edged Joliet Catholic (5-1) in the Upset of the Week. St. Pat's should improve to 4-3 against Marian Catholic (2-4). If they can beat Carmel (1-5) and St. Viator (3-3) they could enter the postseason at 6-3. Not bad for a team that started out 1-3!

17. Phillips (3-3); MaxPreps No. 251.

My favorite 4A team lost narrowly to King (4-2). The Wildcats face another good test this week against Al Raby (5-1).

18. Crete-Monee (5-1); Trib No. 19, Sun-Times No. 22, MaxPreps No. 29.

The Warriors beat Kankakee (3-3) and now host Bloom (4-2). I was at the last meeting of these two teams and Crete blew them out. Will this year's contest be any better?

19. Niles North (3-3); MaxPreps No. 275.

The Vikings shut out Maine East (2-4) and now host a Glenbrook North (3-3) team that may be hitting its stride.

20. Bartlett (2-4); MaxPreps No. 249.

The Hawks kept their playoff hopes alive against West Chicago (0-6) but could see them dashed this week against Larkin (3-3).

Smaller schools:

1. IC Catholic Prep (3-3); MaxPreps No. 104.

The Knights lost to Montini (6-0) and now host Aurora Christian (5-1). In a tweet by Kane County Preps this weekend, "Marmion coach Dan Thorpe says Aurora Christian QB Austin Bray has strongest arm he's seen in his 33 years of coaching." Wow.

2. Aurora Central Catholic (4-2); MaxPreps No. 191.

The Chargers beat Walther Lutheran (1-4) and should improve to 5-2 against Guerin (2-4). So why do I have them ranked behind IC? Because the Knights beat ACC in a head-to-head matchup.

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