Monday, October 20, 2014
For the second week in a row...
"What is going on with this guy?" You're probably thinking. "Did he have a nervous breakdown? Is he having some sort of mid-life crisis or something?" And the answer is yes . . . maybe . . . I don't know.
It's been several years since I missed two weekends of football in a row, but I think it's fair to say I'll be attending fewer games going forward and writing about them even less. Why? What the heck is happening?
Well, it's a lot of things. First and foremost, I think I'm losing my interest a little. I noticed this over the summer when my brother asked me if I was getting psyched for the upcoming season. "This is your big time of the year!" he said. And I remember thinking, "Yeah, I guess so." Even though I had some games penciled in on my calendar, I noticed that the enthusiasm just wasn't there like it had been in the past. Maybe the quality isn't as good as before. (There don't seem to be as many first-rate Division I recruits this year for example. Probably just cyclical, I would guess.) Or maybe this whole thing has just run its course. Who knows?
Second, my wife finally -- finally! -- ran out of patience with me. For years, while living in the suburbs, she would come home on Fridays and collapse in front of the TV and be thrilled to have the house to herself. I used to ask her if she minded my going to all these games and she would say, sincerely, "No, have fun." I can even remember the morning of the finals in 2010 when she practically shamed me into going. "Aren't you going to Champaign today?" she asked. "No, it's too far," I answered. "What kind of football fan are you?" she replied. When I told a friend about this later he said, "Oh, sure, wives are always insisting their husbands go to games!"
But it was true. Until this year. On the eve of the season my wife asked me, "So are you just going to disappear now?"
Huh? I thought. "Well, I ..."
You see, ever since we moved to the city in June we'd been going out on Fridays. It was fun; we'd sit outside at a different place on Taylor Street each week and eat and drink and talk. Our plan of opening a residence for young adults with autism on the Near West Side of the city was actually working. And our new life as empty-nesters was taking shape. We were enjoying it.
I still tried to burn the candle at both ends, though, but it was getting harder and harder. First, the weather this year hasn't been very cooperative. How many games have been postponed due to lightning? And how many times have I sat in the rain or been chased out by the rain or just not gone because of rain? (I've decided that, even though I have a rain suit, I'm too old -- and too rational -- to sit out in bad weather.) I remember one Saturday in particular when my wife wanted to do something and I went to a game instead. When it began to rain shortly after the kickoff I asked myself, What in the heck am I doing? I left and we went out for a bite instead and it was nice.
That question, What in the heck am I doing? actually crept into my mind more and more in recent years. While everybody else was watching the NFL on TV (which I think is boring) or college football (which I think is a sewer), I was following Illinois high school football. People would often ask me about it and I would think, This is a weird hobby. And, at games, people might inquire if I had a son on the team. "No," I'd say. "I just like watching high school football." To which they would usually say something like, "O-o-o-kay" and quickly change their seats.
I have other reasons but those are the main ones.
So, is that it? Am I done with high school football? Not on your life! But, as I said, I'll probably be attending fewer games in the future and writing about it less and less. Sure, I'll finish out the season but who knows what the future may bring? My guess is that going forward, if it's a nice day (or night) and I don't have anything else planned, I'll go to my Game of the Week. But that may be it. I don't like watching sports on TV (too many commercials; play the game for crying out loud!) and high school football online is still a little rough around the edges. (Some free advice: tell the cameraman to follow the ball.)
In the meantime, I still have a thing or two to say about the 2014 season and my rankings this week have changed a little, even if the news services haven't. Here they are, followed by the eleven teams I've seen that are still playoff-eligible.
4. Glenbard West
7. Maine South
8. Joliet Catholic
10. Sacred Heart-Griffin
11. Brother Rice
2. Glenbard West
5. Maine South
8. Lincoln-Way East
2. Glenbard West
4. Maine South
7. Lincoln-Way East
8. Naperville Central
11. Hinsdale Central
1. Providence (7-1)
If the Celtics beat Lake Forest Academy (4-4) this week they could conceivably draw Mount Carmel (5-4) as a first-round opponent in 7A. Providence defeated the Caravan in Week Three, 33-14.
2. Glenbard West (8-0)
Hilltoppers continue to roll. Should finish at 9-0 after this week's game at York (4-4). Hitters appear to be on the cusp of 7A and 8A. Would be interesting to see them against potential opponents like Stevenson (8-0) or Maine South (8-0).
3. Brother Rice (5-3)
The Crusaders pull ahead of St. Rita (6-2) in my rankings after almost beating Providence, 45-42, in a shootout on the road. They now face the Mustangs at home.
4. Lincoln-Way East (7-1)
I have to move the Griffins up after improving to 7-1 after beating Bolingbrook (5-3) last weekend, 23-9. East should enter the playoffs at 8-1 after this Friday's game against Joliet (0-8).
5. St. Rita (6-2)
After falling to Loyola, 38-14, the Mustangs now travel about 11 minutes by bus (according to Google Maps) to Brother Rice for its regular season finale. Both squads would like to enter the playoffs on a high note.
6. Nazareth (8-0)
Could the Roadrunners beat the rest of the teams on this list? I'm not sure, but how can you rank an undefeated team any lower than this? I thought the LaGrange squad might get upset last week by Marist (4-4) but they scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to win, 37-21. Now all they have to do is prevail over St. Viator (5-3) -- which is not a given -- to finish perfect and enter either the 5A or 6A playoffs. Which will it be?
7. Mount Carmel (4-4)
The Caravan hasn't beaten Loyola since 2010. In the last two years its losses to the Ramblers were the only blemishes on a pair of otherwise perfect seasons. Loyola wants to win this game and enter the playoffs at 8-1. Mount Carmel needs to win just to stay alive. Could be the Game of the Week.
8. Oak Park and River Forest (6-2)
I gotta drop the Huskies down a few notches after losing to Hinsdale Central (6-2), 21-17. OPRF should beat Morton (2-6) to enter the postseason on a high note. Don't underestimate these guys in the 8A playoffs.
9. (Tie) Carmel (5-3) and Phillips (7-1)
Corsairs improved to 5-3 by defeating Marian Central, 42-14. Carmel should beat Notre Dame (3-5) to finish at 6-3.
Wildcats enter the Chicago Public League "postseason" this week against Lane Tech (4-4) after shutting out Urban Prep-Bronzeville, 58-0.
11. Wheaton Warrenville South (4-4)
Tigers stayed alive with its baseball score-like defeat of Glenbard North (4-4), 7-3. South needs to beat Naperville Central (7-1) on the road just to make the playoffs. They already lost to the Red Hawks once this year, 10-7. (What's with all these low-scoring games?) Sorry, but I just don't see Central losing at home in the last game of the season. Tigers may be watching the playoffs this year on TV.