Two undefeated, South Side schools -- both with great traditions -- will face off for the lead (along with Brother Rice) in the Catholic League Blue, arguably the best conference in Illinois. (Both teams still have to play the Crusaders and Loyola, so there's plenty of regular season to go.)
Unlike Mount Carmel and St. Rita, which have played each other a remarkable 93 times (!), the Providence - St. Rita series began more recently. I don't know exactly when the New Lenox school joined the Catholic League, but modern-day Providence opened in 1962 (although its roots go all the way back to 1880).
This year, Providence is ranked No. 1 in MaxPreps, No. 3 in the Tribune and No. 8 in the Sun-Times. St. Rita, meanwhile, is ranked No. 2 in MaxPreps, No. 5 in the Trib and No. 9 in the Sun-Times. (I personally think the Trib has it about right.) In the AP, Providence is ranked No. 2 in 7A while St. Rita is No. 3.
Here are their 2014 results so far (home team in CAPS):
Providence 21, JOLIET CATHOLIC 10
PROVIDENCE 56, Minooka 13
PROVIDENCE 33, Mount Carmel 14
PROVIDENCE 37, Marmion 7
St. Rita 28, Simeon 26 (Toyota Park)
ST. RITA 56, Dunbar 8
ST. RITA 21, Montini 0
ST. RITA 23, Mount Carmel 21
And the ten-year history of this matchup:
2013: St. Rita 37, PROVIDENCE 14
2012: PROVIDENCE 14, St. Rita 0
2011: ST. RITA 19, Providence 0
2010: St. Rita 31, PROVIDENCE 19
2009: Providence 10, ST. RITA 0
2008: St. Rita 14, PROVIDENCE 10
2007: ST. RITA 21, Providence 7
2006: St. Rita 17, PROVIDENCE 14
2005: ST. RITA 20, Providence 3
2004: PROVIDENCE 20, St. Rita 16
See a pattern here? Me neither.
So who do I think wins this one? Even though I was an early skeptic of Providence, I have to say they have looked awfully impressive so far (if only on paper to me). Apparently, this kid Justin Hunniford is more than doing the job at quarterback for the Celtics.
But Rita has played well this year, too, defeating
I'm a Rita fan (more on that another time) so I'll be sitting on the home side cheering for the Mustangs ("Hit 'em high, hit 'em low -- GO, RITA, GO!"). And in a Pick 'Em game like this, I have to go with the home team.
See you there!
P. S. As always, I'll be live-tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.