Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My two Games of the Week...

...were easy to pick: No. 3 St. Rita (8-1) at No. 2 Mount Carmel (8-1) on Friday night and No. 6 Stevenson (7-2) at No. 2 Glenbard North (8-1) on Saturday afternoon. (What about Saturday night? Don't think I can swing it this week.)

Before I get to those games, though, I'd like to share a conversation I had in the stands of the Warren - Glenbrook South game on Saturday night. I stood next to a guy I used to know and mentioned that it was my first GBS game of the year. "Really?" he said incredulously. "Why?"

"Well, the truth is, they don't play the best schedule in the world." He looked at me like I was nuts. "I've been to a couple Loyola games though."

"Oh," he said. "Those can be good too."

Gee, do ya think? I wanted to say. The Ramblers were ranked No. 1 by both local newspapers and MaxPreps for several weeks.

When I got home that night I went over the results for the weekend and realized that six of the seven schools that made it to the playoffs from the Central Suburban Conference lost. Only one, Maine South, got past the first round. Why? Because the Hawks played Niles West, another member of the conference. In other words, at least one team was assured of advancing to the second round. At that's exactly how many made it -- one.

Niles West, Glenbrook South, Evanston, New Trier, Highland Park and Glenbrook North all lost in the first round. Is there another conference in the state that fared so poorly?

Maine South (7-2) now has to play at No. 4 Oak Park River Forest (8-1) on Saturday. The reputation of the Central Suburban Conference is on the line. Should be a good game.

But I'll be out in Carol Stream to see the Panthers host Stevenson in what should be the Game of the Day. GBN, you may recall, lost to Batavia (8-1) in Week One before rolling the table in the DuPage Valley Conference. The Panthers beat Naperville North (5-4), Naperville Central (6-3), Wheaton Warrenville South (7-2) and Wheaton North (7-2). (Those last three, by the way, are all still in the playoffs.)

Stevenson, after losing its first two games -- to a team from Wisconsin no one had ever heard of and Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1) -- defeated Warren (6-3), Lake Forest (7-2) and Lake Zurich (8-1), all of whom are still alive in the postseason.

Have these two schools ever met before? Yes, at least twice in recent years (home team in CAPS):

2012: GLENBARD NORTH 23, Stevenson 14
2011: Glenbard North 28, Stevenson 0 (home team not given)

So what happens on Saturday? I think it all depends on whether or not Stevenson can contain Panther running back Justin Jackson. And I'll guess not a whole lot better than anyone else has this year. If Jackson scores his usual three touchdowns or so the final score should look a lot like the two above.

Working backward, we also have St. Rita at Mount Carmel on Friday night in the second meeting of the year between these two storied South Side Catholic League programs. The Caravan was able to stop Mustang quarterback Tommy Mister, above, in a 24-3 Week Five victory at St. Rita. Can they do it again?

Let's look at the two teams' recent history first:

2012: MOUNT CARMEL 27, St. Rita 0
2011: ST. RITA 17, Mount Carmel 7
2010: ST. RITA 35, Mount Carmel 14
2009: St. Rita 54, MOUNT CARMEL 18
2008: ST. RITA 35, Mount Carmel 21
2007: MOUNT CARMEL 35, St. Rita 19
2006: ST. RITA 7, Mount Carmel 6
2005: MOUNT CARMEL 21, St. Rita 20; MOUNT CARMEL 32, St. Rita 21 (twice)
2004: Mount Carmel 42, ST. RITA 35 ; Mount Carmel 20, St. Rita 14 (twice, home team not given)

It's a mixed bag, isn't it?

But there's one thing I've noticed about Mount Carmel: they are particularly good at shutting down your star player. Last year, for example, the Caravan contained Neuqua Valley running back Joey Rhattigan in the semifinals and GBN's Jackson the following week in Champaign. (The only team to beat Carmel in the last two years was Loyola and they rarely field a true D-1 prospect in the backfield. Instead, the Ramblers have a capable quarterback and running back and several receivers who can hurt you. That's the only way to beat Mount Carmel, I guess: have a multidimensional offense.)

So what does this mean for the game on Friday night? Even though I'll be sitting on the Rita side and cheering for Tommy Mister and the Mustangs I'm afraid the result will be much like the earlier one this year. Mister will score this time, but the final will probably be something like Mount Carmel 28, St. Rita 14. Should be a heck of a game, though.

And, as always, I'll be live tweeting both contests @BoringOldWhtGuy.

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