Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Has Brother Rice ever played Naperville Central?

Tom Tunney, Brother Rice Class of 1973.
Not in the last ten years. Maybe never. But the two schools will be facing off in Naperville on Friday night, and, barring any rain, I'll be there. What can I expect?

Well, Brother Rice, which is located at the corner of 99th and Pulaski in the very northwestern tip of the Mount Greenwood neighborhood of Chicago (where the city meets Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park), was founded in 1956, two years before I was born.

Named after the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, Edmund Ignatius Rice, the all-boys school was actually the second (after Leo High School in 1926) founded by the congregation in Chicago.

The school colors are maroon and orange. The maroon was taken from the maroon and gold colors of Iona College, also founded by the Christian Brothers, and the orange was taken from the black and orange colors of Leo.

According to Leo's Wikipedia page:

Since Leo was founded, the Christian Brothers of Ireland have established two more boys schools, Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High School. As a sign of respect for Leo, Brother Rice took the orange in addition to maroon for its school colors, and St. Laurence took black in addition to gold for their schools. Brother Rice and St. Laurence are often called "Sons of Leo."

Rice is also the alma mater of Tom Tunney, above, alderman from the 44th Ward and owner of the Ann Sather restaurant chain, where I ate many a meal as a young bachelor in the 1980s. (The cinnamon rolls are to die for!)

Okay, enough history. What about the football team? Well, the Crusaders (6-3) are ranked No. 9 in the Tribune, No. 10 in MaxPreps and No. 11 in the Sun-Times. Rice not only has the most playoff points of any school in the tournament, 56, but coach Brian Badke's squad played eight -- eight! --  teams with winning records this year. (The lone losing team, Marist, which was knocked out in last year's 8A semifinal by -- you guessed it -- Naperville Central, was 4-5.) Who the heck is responsible for this bone-crushing schedule?

As you can see below, the Crusaders beat five winning teams: Loyola (7-2), St. Francis (7-2), St. Laurence (5-4), Mount Carmel (5-4) and St. Rita (6-3). The South Siders lost to Brother Rice of Detroit (9-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state of Michigan by MaxPreps), Brebeuf Jesuit of Indianapolis (7-3) and Providence (8-1). 

Here's the full 2014 schedule (home team in CAPS):

BROTHER RICE (MI) 40, Brother Rice 34
BROTHER RICE 27, Marist 20
BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 13
Brother Rice 35, ST. FRANCIS 29
BROTHER RICE 34, St. Laurence 7
Brother Rice 26, MOUNT CARMEL 17 
BREBEUF JESUIT (IN) 34, Brother Rice 28
PROVIDENCE 45, Brother Rice 42
BROTHER RICE 28, St. Rita 21 

Robert Zoellick, '71.
Now, as for that other team, Naperville Central, well, the Redhawks are the defending Class 8A champs, having beaten Loyola last year, 13-10. (When was the last time the winning team's offense failed to score a touchdown in the championship game?) 

Central opened its doors in 1863, almost a hundred years before Brother Rice. One of the first things you'll read on its Wikipedia page is that "it is the only high school in the United States to have its own Ancient Egyptian mummy." That's cool (I guess):

One of the most notable displays at the school is an Egyptian mummy. Though not claimed or confirmed, Naperville Central may be the only high school in America to house such an artifact. Known as "Butch," it is stored in a glass case on the second floor of the school.
The mummy was donated to the school in the 1940s by a local doctor, who had purchased it in a curio shop.The mummy was wrapped up and forgotten in an attic at the school until it was accidentally rediscovered by a teacher in 1975. The mummy underwent restoration in the 1990s at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
In 2002 the National Geographic Channel visited the school and featured the school's mummy on an episode of its "Mummy Roadshow" television series. The mummy dates to approximately 55 BCE.
Oh, and since this is (sort of) a political blog, I included a picture of Robert Zoellick (class of 1971), the United States Trade Representative (2001–05), United States Deputy Secretary of State (2005–07) and president of the World Bank (2007–2012).

As long as I went into that whole thing about Rice's colors I suppose it's worth mentioning that Central's nickname used to be the Redskins (hence the red and white):

From 1939 until 1992, the mascot was the Redskin. A series of public protests over "Redskins" as a mascot began in the 1980s and continued into the early 1990s. Each time such a protest started, the student body was polled over keeping the mascot, and each result ended with the student body voting overwhelmingly to keep it. The community, too, rallied to keep "Redskins" as the nickname; despite this, the District 203 School Board decided during the summer of 1992 that it would be appropriate to end the use of the term "Redskins." Nearly all uses of the previous Native American logo and references to "Redskin," or other names deemed to be "Native American"-themed, such as the former "Arrowhead" yearbook, were removed from the building that summer (although students may still see some remainders of the Redskin today). The "Redhawk" was chosen in the fall of 1992 as the new school's mascot, after a vote by students, and went into effect in the 1993–94 school year.

That was twenty years ago. And the NFL is still struggling with that issue?

Central competes in the DuPage Valley Conference, which is often mentioned along with the Catholic League Blue as the best in the state. Coach Mike Stine's squad is ranked No. 10 in the Sun-Times, No. 13 in the Trib and No. 18 in MaxPreps. This year, through a scheduling quirk, the Redhawks played Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) twice (don't ask), splitting the series, 1-1. Other than that, the Red Hawks beat Neuqua Valley (6-3), Hubbard (5-4, but failed to make the postseason) and Lake Park (5-4). They lost their opener to Waubonsie Valley (8-1).

Here's the schedule: 

WAUBONSIE VALLEY 20, Naperville Central 6
Naperville Central 19, NEUQUA VALLEY 0
Naperville Central 59, HUBBARD 0
Naperville Central 10, WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 7
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 28, Glenbard North 14
Naperville Central 27, Naperville North 6
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 14, Wheaton North 3
Naperville Central 17, LAKE PARK 10
Wheaton Warrenville South 27, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 20

All right, all right, so who wins this one? Well, it's always a good idea to watch a No. 5-seed travel to a No. 4-seed in the first round of the 8A playoffs. But while it's tempting to take Brother Rice, based on its brutal schedule, I'm going to say Mike Stine pulls another rabbit out of his hat. He's good at doing that, especially after last year in which they lost three games in a row to the meat of their conference schedule only to emerge victorious over Loyola in the finals. (See above about their offense in that game.)

Either way, this is my Game of the Week, and if I'm there I'll be live-tweeting the contest @BoringOldWhtGuy. Don't miss it! 

Tomorrow: my Saturday Game of the Week. 

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