Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Predictions, as they say, are...

...difficult to make -- especially about the future. But mine have been particularly awful lately. (I hope you're not using this blog as a tout sheet!)

I was 0-for-2 this past weekend and 0-for-2 the previous week. The weekend before I was out of town (phew!) and the weekend before that I was 1-for-2 at best or 0-for-2 depending on how you read this post. Oh, well; sue me.

On Friday I went down to Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1) to see the Vikings host the Raiders of Bolingbrook (7-0).

I was feeling pretty smart when the Vikings got off to an early 21-7 lead over the Brook. Even at the half, when it was 21-10, I thought it was H-F's game to lose. (Turns out it was.) But after intermission, when the Raiders forced a fumble deep in H-F territory and ran it in for the touchdown, I began to feel a little worried about my pick for the night. (In hindsight, that was the turning point.) Bolingbrook eventually won the contest in overtime, 31-24, after outscoring H-F, 21-3, in the second half.

My biggest takeaway from the evening was that, like EdgyTim, I thought these two teams may very well have been the fastest I've seen all year. It will be interesting to see how other 8A squads react in the postseason to the speed of the Brook's John Hall and the Huff brothers, Julian and Jaden, and H-F's Vashon Nutt, Nicholas Atoyebi and sophomore Deante Harley-Hampton, to name just a few.

On Saturday I drove out to Concordia University in River Forest to see my dad's alma mater, Fenwick (6-1), host Providence (4-3) for Homecoming. (Homecoming took place somewhere besides home, but no matter.)

I thought about my father a lot during the game; he graduated in 1937, just 76 short years ago. Seems like only yesterday he was playing basketball for head coach Tony Lawless. Here's an excerpt from Lawless's page in the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame:

In 47 years at Fenwick he became a true legend. Hired over 250 other applicants for the brand new Chicago school that opened in 1929, he would be athletic director for his entire career while coaching football, basketball, swimming, golf, tennis and track.

He was best known as a molder of great football teams. Fenwick went 177-43-8 with him at the helm and an amazing 142-17 in the rugged Chicago Catholic League.

He coached many all-staters including Notre Dame All-American and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner. When he gave up coaching to become athletic director in 1947, he never had a team lose more than two games in a season.

Speaking of Johnny Lattner, I was in luck: the great running back was in attendance as Fenwick was retiring his jersey that day. Also, you could get your picture taken with his Heisman Trophy if you stuck around for the end of the game. (I couldn't.)

And I thought, Lattner graduated in 1950 and they're only getting around to retiring his jersey now, 63 years later? What, did the Dominican fathers think somebody else was going to wear No. 34 and win two Heismans?

But then I found this article in the Tribune from 2007:

Fenwick will retire an athletic jersey number for the first time when it honors Johnny Lattner at halftime of the 3:30 p.m. Fenwick-Hubbard game Sunday at Soldier Field. Lattner, who wore No. 34 at Fenwick, graduated in 1950 and went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1953 at Notre Dame.

So who knows? Maybe Fenwick retires Lattner's jersey every few years just to generate interest.

But there was no lack of interest on Saturday as the faithful turned out in full force to cheer on the undefeated Friars. It was the first time since 1995 that Fenwick began a season 6-0; that squad advanced to the semifinals. And on Saturday the current Friars didn't disappoint on the gridiron as the game was tied at 7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter (when I had to leave).

Providence ultimately prevailed, however, 21-13, as the Catholic League Blue extended its record to 12-1 over White and Red division teams. (The one loss? Fenwick over Brother Rice, 28-20.)

So, what? You might ask. Well, it just underscores for me how the Blue division is rapidly pulling away from the other divisions in the Catholic League. (In fact, Loyola and Mount Carmel may be, in turn, pulling away from the rest of the Blue division. We'll see how well St. Rita does against the Ramblers in Week Nine.) Does this matter? Well, for how long can the Catholic League continue playing cross-over games if they're not competitive?

But, in the meantime, I really enjoyed watching Providence and Fenwick play on Saturday. I wish I could have stayed for the whole game.

Even if only one player on the Friars was from my father's parish, Ascension.

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