Saturday, November 30, 2013

When the time came for my son... join Boy Scouts, he had his choice of three troops in our town. The first one we visited was small, but close-knit; the second was medium-sized but friendly; and the third was large but offered the most programs. So which one did he select? Just as I had told him ahead of time, the last one he visited. Why? I guess it's just human nature.

And that's how I feel about tonight's 8A matchup. In Week Two I wrote:

...Naperville Central seemed to have it all on Friday night: a potent offense that could both run and pass and a defense that, once settled in, pretty much shut down Neuqua in the second half. The Redhawks are as good as any team I've seen this year, including Mount Carmel. I'd be very surprised if they didn't go deep into the playoffs.

And then after Week Five I wrote:

I still maintain that [Naperville] Central could play with anyone I've seen so far this year. (Will they meet up with Loyola in the 8A final?)

But last week I wrote:

It was my 26th game of the year and the third time I'd seen Loyola (fourth if you count watching them on TV against St. Rita). And even though I saw the Ramblers beat Providence and Mount Carmel, I gained a newfound respect for them this weekend. Not only did they gamble and win the game in the final minute, but the Wilmette squad also held Stevenson on a goal-line stand in the third quarter and converted on a fake punt from the end zone on the ensuing possession. These guys have a lot of guts!

And so, just like my son, I'm going to go with the last team I saw. I'm picking No. 1 Loyola (12-1) over No. 7 Naperville Central (10-3) in the 8A finale tonight.

Now, the truth is, the game is probably a toss-up. Turns out the semifinals last week were as well. But I have to pick somebody, and I'm going to stick with my theme for the week: teams I saw last that came from behind to win. That's what Montini, Richards, Mount Carmel and Loyola all have in common. To me that demonstrates a lot of character.

Now, I know what you're thinking Redhawk fans: But Central came from behind against Marist last week, too!

I know. But I didn't see them do it. Is that fair? Of course not. But in a contest that's essentially a push, I have to call it one way or the other. Ramblers by a point.

Now let's get the show on the road, shall we?

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