Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Game of the Week..., of course, Loyola at Stevenson on Saturday.

This has become one of the premier rivalries in Illinois high school football. Can anyone forget last year's game? Here's what I wrote:

...the Ramblers came back and scored with about a minute remaining in the game. Rather than tie it at 14, Loyola coach John Holecek elected to go for two. Quarterback Jack Penn then found Joe Joyce in the end zone to win the game, 15-14.

Not only did they gamble and win the game in the final minute, but the Wilmette squad also held Stevenson on a goal-line stand in the third quarter and converted on a fake punt from the end zone on the ensuing possession. These guys have a lot of guts!

And that's not to take anything away from Stevenson, either. Here's a team that lost its first two games of the season before winning TEN IN A ROW. And in the two times I saw the Patriots this year, they came from behind against two of the best teams in the state, Glenbard North and now Loyola.

Both teams showed a lot of heart.

Could this year's contest possibly be any better? Well, for starters, it won't be as cold. The forecast right now for game time in Lincolnshire is a balmy 42 degrees and cloudy with a 20 percent chance of rain. (Don't know where Lincolnshire is? It's a far northern suburb where all the Bulls and Bears seem to live. And Stevenson is where their kids go to school -- and play sports.)

A quick review: No. 8-seed Loyola (8-2) is ranked No. 2 in MaxPreps, No. 8 in the Tribune and No. 15 in the anti-Catholic Sun-Times. (Just kidding!) The Ramblers beat six winning teams during the regular season while losing to two. The Wilmette squad played only one losing team in 2014. That's remarkable.

Here's another look at Loyola's schedule (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
MOUNT CARMEL 10, Loyola 7
LOYOLA 37, Warren 20

As for Stevenson, the No. 1-seed and undefeated Patriots (10-0) are ranked No. 1 in both Chicago papers and No. 4 in MaxPreps. And Coach Bill McNamara's team is no slouch in the scheduling department, either. The Pats played seven winning teams this year: Indian Trail of Kenosha, WI (7-4), Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2), Warren (7-2), Lake Forest (6-3), Lakes (8-1), Lake Zurich (5-4) and Libertyville (6-3). Four of those schools are still alive in the playoffs.

Here's the full schedule:

STEVENSON 35, Indian Trail (WI) 0
Stevenson 33, Warren 20 (Neutral field.)
STEVENSON 34, Lake Forest 17
Stevenson 21, LAKES 3
Stevenson 21, LAKE ZURICH 0
Stevenson 41, ZION-BENTON 0
STEVENSON 42, Mundelein 6
Stevenson 34, LIBERTYVILLE 14
STEVENSON 21, Lyons 17

Now, before last year's titanic tilt, Loyola and Stevenson played only twice in the last ten years. And both times the Patriots came up short.

2013: Loyola 15, STEVENSON 14
2008: LOYOLA 14, Stevenson 6
2007: Loyola 27, STEVENSON 0

What happens this weekend? I asked one of the Stevenson parents on Saturday if this year's team was as good as last year's. "Better," was the immediate reply. This could be another one for the ages, but I think it's Stevenson's turn. Expect a great game, and get there early -- parking at Stevenson can be a challenge.

If you can't make it, I'll be live-tweeting the contest @BoringOldWhtGuy. Enjoy the game!

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