Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Game of the Week...

...has to be Loyola (7-1) at Mount Carmel (4-4) tomorrow night at Gately. (With a stop on the way at Top Notch Beefburgers in Beverly?)

Even though I mentioned the excitement of watching two undefeated teams going at it in Week Nine, such as Geneseo (8-0) at DeKalb (8-0), it would be awfully hard to miss this contest. Think about it: two legendary Catholic League powerhouses will meet up practically in my back yard. Loyola, the North Shore cake-eaters, have stymied Mount Carmel, the rough-and-tumble South Siders, in recent years even though the Caravan won the 7A championship last year and the 8A crown the previous year. (Loyola, of course, was the 8A runner-up two of the last three seasons.) And, as if that weren't enough, a Rambler victory would eliminate the Caravan from postseason play for the first time in 28 years. You don't think Loyola Coach John Holecek wouldn't like that?

There will be so much emotion at this game -- on the field and in the stands -- that anyone would be a fool to miss it!

Here's Loyola's 2014 record so far (home team in CAPS):

Loyola 44, MARQUETTE (WI) 0
LOYOLA 29, Edwardsville 28 (OT)
BROTHER RICE 16,  Loyola 13
LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
Loyola 55, ST. IGNATIUS 13
LOYOLA 10, Providence 7
Loyola 42, DEPAUL 6
LOYOLA 38, St. Rita 14

The Ramblers are ranked No. 1 in MaxPreps, No. 3 in the Tribune and No. 5 in the Sun-Times, behind the hated Maine South -- Hillary's alma mater! 

And here's Mount Carmel's schedule:

St. Joseph's Prep (PA) 28, MOUNT CARMEL 27 (Toyota Park)
Mount Carmel 43, MORGAN PARK 6
PROVIDENCE 33, Mount Carmel 14
ST. RITA 23, Mount Carmel 21
MOUNT CARMEL 49, De La Salle 7
Brother Rice 26, MOUNT CARMEL 17
Mount Carmel 63, LEO 20
Mount Carmel 42, HALES FRANCISCAN 8

The Caravan are unranked -- not even On the Verge -- in the Chicago papers (ouch!) and way down at No. 46 in MaxPreps, right behind -- you guessed it -- Geneseo.

Now, as I mentioned, in recent years Loyola has positively owned Mount Carmel. And, since Holecek took over the Rambler program in 2006, they've gone 5-4 in the series:

2013: LOYOLA 24, Mount Carmel 17
2012: Loyola 30, MOUNT CARMEL 27
2011: LOYOLA 12, Mount Carmel 7
2010: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2009: Loyola 28, MOUNT CARMEL 15
            Loyola 24, MOUNT CARMEL 7
2008: MOUNT CARMEL 35, Loyola 14
2007: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2006: MOUNT CARMEL 32, Loyola 14*
2005: Mount Carmel 21, LOYOLA 3
            Mount Carmel 41, LOYOLA 3
2004: Mount Carmel 20, LOYOLA 0

* Holecek's first year at Loyola.

So what will happen tomorrow night? Boy, that's a tough one! I've seen Mount Carmel three times this year and each time they lost. And while I haven't gotten to see the Ramblers play, they sound like a typical Loyola team: a bunch of disciplined, well-coached Division III recruits -- at best. Now, despite some turmoil at quarterback, the Wilmette squad has managed to pull out a victory in every game except that one at Brother Rice in Week Three. Can the Ramblers make it four in a row over the Caravan? Could Mount Carmel Coach Frank Lenti watch the 2014 playoffs -- gulp! -- from the bleachers? (That last image is just too hard for me to process.) 

I'm going to say Carmel edges the Ramblers in a battle of Biblical Proportions and sneaks into the postseason at 5-4. 

Now, which one of you guys gets to play them in Round One of the 7A playoffs, Providence (7-1)? Lincoln-Way East (7-1)? We'll find out Saturday night!

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