Friday, September 12, 2014

I'll be at Hanson Stadium...

...tomorrow for my Sleeper Game of the Week: Nazareth (2-0) at St. Patrick (2-0).

Hanson, on the Northwest Side of the city, is a great place to see a football game. (The picture above doesn't do it justice; it makes Hanson look like a prison! I'll try to take a better one myself.)

The Roadrunners, with five -- count 'em, five! -- Division I prospects (four on the offensive line alone) are ranked No.27 in MaxPreps, No. 6 in the Trib, No. 13 in the Sun-Times and No. 2 in 6A by the AP. Coach Tim Racki's squad finished last year at 8-3, getting knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by then-undefeated Sycamore, 33-28. The highlight of the 2013 season for the LaGrange Park school had to be its big 28-18 home victory over Benet in Week Seven.

This year, the Roadrunners are off to the races (meep, meep!), with two dominating wins in their own stadium (home team, as always, in CAPS):

NAZARETH 42, Bloomington 7
NAZARETH 49, Riverside-Brookfield 6

Let's drill down a little (as my brother would say) on those two games, shall we?

Bloomington is 0-2, having lost to the Pekin Dragons (1-1) last week, 20-16. (Pekin, by the way, used to have a much more colorful nickname; click here if you're interested.) And R-B, at 1-1, shut out winless Morton (0-2) in Week One, 22-0. (The Mustangs have yet to score a point this season.)

So the Roadrunners really haven't been tested yet, have they?

What about St. Patrick? Unlike Nazareth, Coach Dan Galente's team graduated 30 -- again, count 'em, 30! -- seniors from last year's 7-4 squad. The Shamrocks were also eliminated in the second round of the postseason, at home against Schaumburg, 42-24. The high point last year for St. Pat's had to be its narrow 22-21 victory on the road over powerhouse Joliet Catholic in Week Six. That was the Hilltoppers' only regular-season loss last year. (Ironically, JCA lost in the third round of the playoffs to Montini by the same score.) In contrast, the Hilltoppers shut out Nazareth, 42-0, in Week Four.

This year, the Shamrocks are ranked No. 47 in MaxPreps, despite two big victories:

St. Patrick 46, TAFT 14
ST. PATRICK 47, Lane 21

Again, drilling down, Taft is 0-2, having been shut out last week by Argo, 33-0, a team that lost in Week One to Curie, 48-8. Lane, at 1-1, beat lowly Mather, 56-0, in their first game of the season. (The Rangers are also looking for their first score of the year.)

So it looks like neither team has been tested yet in 2014.

The two (out of only four) remaining undefeated teams in the East Suburban Catholic Conference last faced each other in 2011, with the Roadrunners coming out on top, 35-32, at home. Before that, it's been mostly St. Pat's:

2010: St. Pat's 24, NAZARETH 7
2007: NAZARETH 28, St. Pat's 19
2006: ST. PAT'S 26, Nazareth 25
2005: St. Pat's 47, NAZARETH 42
2004: ST. PAT'S 37, Nazareth 7

Who do I like tomorrow? Well, if you believe the news services, it should be no contest: Nazareth in a walk. But St. Patrick can be giant-killers, as last year's upset of JCA demonstrated. And any team that is averaging 46.5 points a game (with 501 yards of total offense against Taft) is not to be taken lightly. Either way, with Nazareth's high-octane offense, this game could be a shoot-out.

I'll say the Roadrunners prevail by a touchdown, but, by all means, take the over

No comments: