I've seen all four schools play this year: Loyola vs. Providence, St. Rita (on TV) and Mount Carmel; Stevenson at Glenbard North; Marist vs. St. Rita at Soldier Field on opening weekend; and Naperville Central vs. Neuqua and at Wheaton Warrenville South.
What more could possibly be said about these teams that hasn't already been said?
Loyola has outscored its three opponents in the playoffs, Lane, Notre Dame and Maine South, 107-7. Stevenson has outscored its opponents, St. Charles East, Glenbard North and Barrington, 69-23. Does that mean anything? I don't know. The Patriots, arguably, defeated the best team in the bunch, Glenbard North.
How about a history between these two
2008: LOYOLA 14, Stevenson 6
2007: Loyola 27, STEVENSON 0
As a friend of mine asked recently, does that mean anything?
Remember how I said you can't really say things like "our company has 410 combined years of experience," when there are 15 employees? I also don't think past football scores indicate anything. Mount Carmel has a secret strategy to beat St. Rita for the last 12 years? For most of the players this might be the first or second time ever playing one another. Is there a huge grudge from the 2006 game? Nah, I doubt it.
ESPN kept mentioning last night how many times the Bears and Packers have played each other. Did Julius Peppers realize that? Did it contribute to the outcome? I get it why people say it. I just don't think there's much there to indicate anything.
And my answer to him was:
As for past games, I think it matters because the coaches have been around for a while. If a team beats another every year I'd sure be reluctant to bet against them this year. In high school, especially, I think the coach matters more than anything. Just look: the same programs are in the playoffs every year. Do you think the kids that go to those schools are just better than everybody else?
Now, while John Holecek was coaching Loyola back in 2007 and '08, Bill Mitz was at the helm at Stevenson. The Patriots' current coach, Bill McNamara, didn't take over until 2009. (Was he an assistant under Mitz? I don't know.) And today's seniors were in seventh grade back in 2008. So maybe my friend has a point.
I'm going to go with Stevenson based on two things: home field advantage and that big win over Glenbard North. I thought for sure Justin Jackson would lead the Panthers back to the finals. If you can beat them, you deserve to go to DeKalb.
As for Marist at Naperville Central, I'm going to go with the home team there, too. While Marist has outscored its playoff opponents, Plainfield South, Bolingbrook and Oswego, 106-56, Central has outscored its foes, Downers Grove South, Homewood-Flossmoor and Neuqua Valley, 107-39. Inconclusive. And I'd say their opponents are of equal caliber. Also inconclusive.
The two teams last met when Coach Pat Dunne was in his first year at Marist, Mike Stine was in his second at Central and today's seniors were in eighth grade:
2009: MARIST 24, Naperville Central 7
But I'm going to go with the home team in both games. You can follow me @BoringOldWhtGuy.
Tomorrow: A look at 7A.