Friday, September 26, 2014

Looking for a Saturday game?

Here's one I bet you haven't heard much about: Rich East (4-0) at Rich Central (3-1).

Who? What? Hey, I'll grant you, it ain't exactly Providence - St. Rita, but do you have a better game for tomorrow?

Rich East is located in Park Forest and Rich Central is in Olympia Fields. The two schools, along with Rich South in Richton Park, make up Rich Township High School District 227. The township was organized in 1850 and named after Jacob Rich, an early settler. (That's actually a different Jacob Rich in the picture above. I couldn't find one of the guy we're talking about so that will have to do. Could have fooled you, though, right?)

The Rich East Rockets, coached by Barry Reade, are ranked No. 169 in the state by MaxPreps. Reade, a former Geneseo High School and Augustana College player, has been at the helm since 2006. He's the son of legendary Hall of Fame coach Bob Reade, whose Geneseo teams won 52 consecutive games through 1971 and who at Augustana won four consecutive NCAA Division III national titles from 1983-86.

The school was founded in 1952, and, according to Wikipedia (my emphasis):

Many old students remember that for many years, cement had to be pumped underneath the school's main gym so that it would not sink.

The Media Center, in the front of the building, was also built on unstable ground and after several days of rain, water would rise up into the carpet, making it difficult to breathe. The head librarian would scramble to save books.

Rich East is also the alma mater of Tom Berenger, Class of '67, whose original name was Thomas Michael Moore. He selected "Berenger" as his professional name after a school friend; he was forced to change his surname professionally as there was already a "Tom Moore" in the Actors' Equity Association.

Here's Rich East's 2014 results so far (home team in CAPS):

Rich East 28, EISENHOWER 22
RICH EAST 33, Solorio Academy 14
RICH EAST 26, Chicago Vocational 6
Rich East 40, ROOSEVELT (Gary, IN) 6

Not exactly a murderers' row of opponents, is it?

Rich Central, which opened its doors in 1961, is coming off its best season in years at 9-2. The team's nickname is appropriately the Olympians and it's currently ranked No. 92 in the state by MaxPreps.

While Central has a less stellar football tradition than East, it has made great strides under Head Coach Terrell Alexander. In his first three years on the job, the Olympians have gone 17-12, including last season's 9-2 team, the best in years at Rich Central. (Actually, that may be the best team ever at the school. In the seven years before Alexander arrived, the Olympians managed only one winning season, 5-4, in 2010. And even then, Central failed to record enough points to qualify for the playoffs. During that stretch, the Olympians had seasons like 2006, when they went 1-8 under coaches with names like Ed Schmeski, and had to go all the way to Indiana to find a team to beat.)

But things seem to be different under Alexander, who is coincidentally a 1993 Rich East graduate. A former linebacker and defensive lineman at Northern Illinois, Alexander spent the previous 10 years as an assistant coach at Homewood-Flossmoor.

Here's Central's record so far this year:

Plainfield East 36, RICH CENTRAL 20
RICH CENTRAL 48, Kenwood 0
Rich Central 14, KANELAND 13
Rich Central 42, RICH SOUTH 0

The game on Saturday is for first place (along with Bloom) in the Southland Conference. How have the two teams fared against each other in the past ten years? I'm glad you asked that question:

2013: Rich Central 42, RICH EAST 7
2012: Rich East 8, RICH CENTRAL 0
2011: RICH EAST 35, Rich Central 29
2010: RICH CENTRAL 24, Rich East 21
2009: RICH EAST 14, Rich Central 6
2008: RICH EAST 28, Rich Central 13
2007: Rich East 48, RICH CENTRAL 28
2006: RICH EAST 35, Rich Central 12
2005: RICH EAST 28, Rich Central 14
2004: Rich East 44, RICH CENTRAL 22

It's been mostly Rich East, as you can see, but that could be changing.

So who do I think will win? Who cares? The forecast for Olympia Fields on Saturday is 79 degrees and partly cloudy (which means mostly sunny). What else have you got to do tomorrow?

No comments: