Friday, October 10, 2014

The Game of the Week...

...will have to take place without me as my son will be in town from LA for less than 36 hours. But you can be sure I'll be checking Twitter frequently to keep up with the Joliet Catholic - Nazareth game.

How could any self-respecting high school football die-hard fan miss seeing JCA -- Rudy Ruettiger's alma mater -- take on the undefeated Roadrunners of LaGrange Park -- almost my sister's alma mater -- for the de facto championship of the East Suburban Catholic Conference title? It's inconceivable.

(Actually, my son is coming in tomorrow morning on the red-eye. If he takes a nap in the afternoon -- who knows? -- maybe I'll catch the game online.)

The visitors from Joliet are a perennial powerhouse and enter the contest at 5-1 (home team in CAPS):

Providence 21, JOLIET CATHOLIC 10
Joliet Catholic 41, WHEATON NORTH 13
Joliet Catholic 34, CARMEL 14
JOLIET CATHOLIC 28, St. Viator 24
Joliet Catholic 31, MARIAN CENTRAL 21
JOLIET CATHOLIC 63, Marian Catholic 7

With the exception of that last game, that's a pretty good schedule. Providence is the best team I've seen this year; Wheaton North -- while down this year -- is usually a contender for the DVC title; and Carmel, St. Viator and Marian Central are all solid conference opponents.

Nazareth, meanwhile, has been waiting patiently for this matchup:

NAZARETH 42, Bloomington 7
NAZARETH 49, Riverside-Brookfield 6
Nazareth 52, ST. PATRICK 27
NAZARETH 56, Marian Central 35
Nazareth 56, MARIAN CATHOLIC 17
Nazareth 28, BENET 5

The Roadrunners, while averaging over 47 points, have defeated three 4-2 teams: R-B, Marian Central and Benet. Now, I know what you're thinking: a team that's well-acquainted with the end zone is going up against a team which hasn't traditionally stressed defense. Yep, this could be a high-scoring game!

How have the two teams fared in the past? With the exception of 2011, it's been all Hilltoppers:

2013: Joliet 42, NAZARETH 0
2012: JOLIET 34, Nazareth 33
2011: Nazareth 24, JOLIET 21
2010: JOLIET 57, Nazareth 0
2009: Joliet 51, NAZARETH 21
2008: JOLIET 40, Nazareth 12
2005: JOLIET 43, Nazareth 16
2004: Joliet 55, NAZARETH 0

Oops, I almost forgot: last year JCA went 10-2 and was eliminated in the third round of the playoffs by Montini, 22-21, in one of the best postseason games I've ever seen. I'll never forget the show Mikey Ivlow put on. (Oddly, the Hilltoppers' other loss last year was by the same score to -- are you ready for this? -- St. Patrick. At home!)

Nazareth finished the 2013 season at 8-3, losing a heart-breaker to Sycamore in round two, 33-28.

This year, JCA is ranked No. 9 in MaxPreps and No. 19 in both the Tribune and the Sun-Times. Naz is No. 11 in MaxPreps and No. 6 in both the Trib and the Times. (Are Mike Helfgot and Mike Clark talking to each other?)

What do I think for tomorrow? I'd say the result will look a lot like 2012 or 2011 -- a close game but with more scoring. And look for the home team to come out on top; it's the Roadrunners' year. These guys still have to get past Marist and St. Viator, but they have a real shot at going undefeated for the regular season. And, apparently, Nazareth is on the cusp of 5A and 6A (what's with the "A" anyway?), and if they end up in 5A, watch out! (Might as well book your trip to Champaign now, guys.)

Enjoy the game everyone!

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