Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was cool and cloudy...

...last Saturday morning at Hanson Stadium, but that didn't stop at least one guy from wearing shorts. (He's officially my first "shorts guy" of the 2014 season. There will be more -- I guarantee it.)

The game, Nazareth at St. Patrick, was a one-sided affair with the Roadrunners winning, 52-27.

I was hoping for a good contest, but Nazareth ran away with it from the get-go. With the score 38-7 at the half, I decided that it wasn't going to improve much and had to fall back on my Plan B: Naperville North vs. Phillips at Lane Tech.

While munching on a Big Mac and fries at the McDonald's across the street from the stadium, I consulted Google Maps on my phone and plotted my strategy. The game was scheduled to start at 3:00 and Lane Tech was about five miles away. I decided to hoof it.

I made my way east on Fullerton and zig-zagged north and east until I arrived at the stadium at Addison and Western. Along the way, I walked past an Arabic school,

a Polish grocery store (is a HOT-DOGI what I think it is?),

a Colombian restaurant,

and a Romanian spot. (And those were just the ones I took pictures of.)

And I thought, where else, besides Chicago, would you see such diversity in a relatively short walk?

I finally arrived at Lane Tech and immediately noticed the difference in the two teams that were about to compete. Phillips, which is a 4A school, had fewer than 40 players.

Naperville North, on the other hand, seemed to bring everybody. (They may very well have had more people on the field than in the stands.)

I recalled my IM on Twitter to Tribune writer Mike Helfgot over the weekend:

Psst! Naperville North will have no trouble with Phillips.

To which he responded in his column (my emphasis):

Stopping just short of mocking me, an informed fan told me there’s no chance (that Phillips would beat Naperville North).

As a football expert (and all men, as I've told my wife many times, are football experts), I felt a little sorry for Mr. Helfgot. You see, I had the advantage of actually seeing Phillips play the week before, against Carmel. And, sure, while the Wildcats came alive in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late. The Corsairs dominated the South Siders, 20-13, in a contest that really wasn't as close as the score would indicate.

So, okay, I figured, I'll give these guys until the half, just like I did Nazareth and St. Patrick. Besides, it had turned into a beautiful day; I took my jacket off, sat back and enjoyed the sunny September afternoon.

And then -- Boom! -- on the second play from scrimmage Phillips quarterback Dewayne Collins ran about a hundred and fifty yards for a touchdown. Whoa.

Oh, well, I thought. Naperville North will spot them a touchdown. What the heck -- it's sporting. And a few minutes later the Huskies scored to take the lead, 7-6. Game over? Not so fast.

Phillips went on to score 34 unanswered points to send a dazed and confused Naperville North and its fans back to DuPage County. And all I could say was, Wow!

Oh, and yes Mr. Helfgot, you were right. But he was gracious in victory. He pointed out that Collins and company may have been a lot faster on artificial turf than the natural grass at Mandrake Park. But I can't remember if they played on grass or not the previous week. All I know is Phillips looked sharp! (This must be how they played in Week One when they shut out defending 3A champ Stillman Valley, 51-0.)

So which is the real Phillips? Was it the team I saw lose to 7A Carmel, or the squad that just crushed big, bad 8A DuPage Valley Naperville North? If it's the latter, don't be too surprised to see these guys in Champaign come November.

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