Friday, November 7, 2014

How about one more game...

...this weekend, on Saturday night? After the Loyola - Stevenson tilt in Lincolnshire, it would only be a short fifty-mile or so drive down to Bolingbrook, where the No. 5-seed Raiders (7-3) will play host to the No. 1-seed Oswego Panthers (9-1) in another potentially great 8A matchup. The forecast for tomorrow night in the southwest suburbs is a crisp 32 degrees with zero percent chance of rain so this could be a "go."

I haven't seen either team play this year; in fact, I've never seen Oswego at all. (I don't even know where it is.) But, if you'll recall, Bolingbrook was the preseason No. 1 team, according to both Chicago papers, largely due to their five -- count 'em, five! -- Division I athletes on defense. (MaxPreps had them at No. 15.) The Panthers, for their part, have a junior at quarterback named Steven Frank who has made quite a splash this year and is getting a ton of interest from colleges, including an offer already from Illinois.

So what can we expect tomorrow night?

Well, according to my research staff Wikipedia, Oswego (pop. 30,355) has seen its population more than double since 2000, making it the largest municipality located completely within Kendall County. (You know it's in the country when the address of the school is a route number instead of a street.)

Oswego was "famous to many Chicago area residents" (it was?) "for the town's drag strip, open from 1955 until 1979, where custom muscle cars were raced by drivers from all over the Midwest. The drag days are celebrated today even though the strip has been closed for decades."

(None of that really matters, though, since the game will be played fifteen miles away in Bolingbrook.)

Oswego High School, founded in 1951, is the alma mater of Dennis Hastert (above), the former Congressman and speaker of the House during the disastrous Bush years. (The less said about him, the better.)

The football team is currently ranked No. 18 in the Sun-Times, while Mike Helfgot is only "on the verge" of ranking them in the Tribune. In MaxPreps, the Panthers are ranked No. 34, behind Geneseo (10-0) and ahead of Peoria (9-1). Oswego's schedule included four schools named Plainfield this-or-that and four teams with winning records. Coach Brian Cooney's squad bested Batavia (8-1), Plainfield East (7-2) and Plainfield North (5-4), while falling only to Waubonsie Valley (8-1) in Week Two.

Here's their full 2014 schedule, including last week's first-round playoff game against Joliet West (5-4). (Home team in CAPS.)

Oswego 40, BATAVIA 38
Waubonsie Valley 27, OSWEGO 20
OSWEGO 23, Plainfield Central 8
Oswego 28, MINOOKA 14
OSWEGO 37, Romeoville 28
Oswego 40, OSWEGO EAST 0
OSWEGO 35, Plainfield North 28
OSWEGO 31, Joliet West 7

The Bolingbrook Raiders, meanwhile, should be very familiar to readers of this blog. I've seen the Brook play several times in recent years, both home and on the road, and I can say that they have a nice, large stadium with ample parking that's easy to get in and out of. Head coach John Ivlow nearly always fields a first-rate team, including the 2011 squad that beat Loyola, 21-17, in Champaign for the 8A crown. Aaron Bailey, the quarterback that year (and current backup at Illinois), was probably the best athlete I've ever seen play high school football.

While the high school is alma mater to no one I've ever heard of, the village was the home of Drew Peterson (above), the former Bolingbrook police sergeant suspected in the disappearance of his fourth wife and convicted in the drowning of his third. (I guess the less said about him, too, the better.)

The football team, as I mentioned above, hasn't exactly lived up to its preseason hype. (Although, now that we're in the playoffs, teams like Bolingbrook, Mount Carmel and Wheaton Warrenville South are all undefeated at 1-0.) The Raiders are currently unranked in the Tribune (did I read that right?), No. 16 in the Sun-Times and No. 30 in MaxPreps, behind 2A Pearl City-Eastland (10-0) -- who? -- and ahead of Simeon (9-1). This year, the Brook went 1-3 against winning teams (did I read that right?), losing to Hinsdale Central (7-2), Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2) and Lincoln-Way East (8-1), while beating only Joliet West (5-4). No wonder these guys don't get more respect from the news services.

Here's the full schedule in detail:

Hinsdale Central 23, BOLINGBROOK 15
Bolingbrook 51, ROMEOVILLE 14
Bolingbrook 56, JOLIET CENTRAL 14
Bolingbrook 50, JOLIET WEST 14
Bolingbrook 34, LOCKPORT 10
Homewood-Flossmoor 35, BOLINGBROOK 28
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 23, Bolingbrook 9
BOLINGBROOK 41, Sandburg 0
Bolingbrook 35, BLOOM 0

So who's going to win this one? Interestingly, to my knowledge (or "to the best of my knowledge," as Jerry Seinfeld would say) the two programs have never met before. Both schools defeated their only common opponents this season, Romeoville and Joliet West, although Bolingbrook ran up the score a little more (which I don't particularly care for). This game may come down to Oswego's wunderkind quarterback, Steven Frank, against the big, bad defense of Bolingbrook. (Which didn't turn out to be so big and bad after all.) I'm going to go with the new kid on the block, Oswego, in what I think most observers would call an upset. If I make it down there for the game, you can follow me on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy.

P. S. Why do I have a video of the Notre Dame Victory March at the top? It's not because I'm a fan of the storied football team out of South Bend, Indiana. (Believe me, it's not because of that!) It's because both schools in tomorrow night's contest use that as their fight song. So, like it or not, you'll be hearing a lot of it if you attend the game. 

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