Monday, November 24, 2014

That was a heck of a game...

...on Saturday between Stevenson and Glenbard West, one of the best I've ever seen. In case you didn't hear, the Patriots won, 7-3, and will now play Homewood-Flossmoor (again) in the 8A final in Champaign, above.

The Hilltoppers led, 3-0, on a second-quarter field goal until less than a minute remaining when Stevenson scored from four yards out after an 89-yard two-minute drill led by senior quarterback Willie Bourbon. But the game wasn't over until Stevenson intercepted a Kyle Kramer pass in the end zone on a fourth-and-the season play following his outstanding two-minute drill. It was really exciting!

From the Sun-Times:

Glenbard West had seven possessions inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line. During one 11-play stretch in the fourth quarter, the teams combined for five turnovers.

And from the Tribune:

Stevenson threw four interceptions, committed seven personal fouls and, through 47 minutes, did not score a point.

Stevenson came up with five turnovers of its own and stopped Glenbard West inside the 20 four times, including twice in the final 3 minutes, 6 seconds.

After the game was finally over (which I watched online -- too rainy) I hopped in my car and drove down to Gately Park to see Phillips beat Coal City, 26-6, and advance to the 4A state championship for the first time ever. (And, yes, I bought some cookies from that lady outside -- chocolate chunk. How can you not?)

The contest was pretty much over by the time I got there, though, as the Wildcats were up, 20-6, early in the second quarter. I saw one more touchdown before a scoreless second half. (Remember what I said last week about the Bronzeville squad playing four quarters; they'll have to do that next week against mighty Rochester.) It was a beautiful night, however, as the mercury topped fifty degrees -- a pleasant way to end the season!

But the high point of the game for me (heck, the year) was when a guy I had previously met at the Naperville North - Phillips game back in September tentatively approached me at halftime.

"Can I ask you a question?" he said. "Are you Mike Clark from the Sun-Times?"

I laughed. "No, but thanks."

"You kind of look like him and you seem to know a lot about high school football. I've seen you tweeting and figured you had to be a journalist or something."

Just a blogger, I wanted to say.

"No," I repeated. "Mike Clark is much better-looking than me -- and younger. But thanks, again, for the compliment."

It made my day.

Now, adding Coal City to my total, that makes 23 teams for me this year, and 18 games in 13 weeks. (It was an off-year; I think I saw 26 tilts last year.) Four of those schools are going to Champaign -- my Final Four -- and here's how I would rank them, after the top four from the news services.


1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Providence (12-1)
3. Glenbard West (12-1)
4. Loyola (10-3)

Chicago Tribune

1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Providence (12-1)
3. Cary-Grove (13-0)
4. Nazareth (13-0)


1. Stevenson (13-0)
2. Cary-Grove (13-0)
3. Glenbard West (12-1)
4. Nazareth (13-0)


1. Providence (12-1)

Again, I still think the Celtics are the best team I've seen in 2014, especially after that thrashing they gave Mount Carmel at Gately on Saturday, of which I watched part online. (How on earth did Loyola beat these guys?) Could Providence defeat Stevenson? The world will never know. But I think the Celtics will make light work of Cary-Grove this weekend in Champaign. I didn't get a chance to see the Trojans this year (even online), but given their schedule, I can't help thinking of Mount Carmel's 30-0 rout of Lake Zurich in the 7A final last year. I expect something similar this Saturday.

2. Stevenson (13-0)

If you saw the game against Glenbard West on Saturday I'm afraid you've already seen the 8A championship. Those two squads were probably the best in the bracket (in the state?) and the Patriots came out on top somehow. This week's rematch with Homewood-Flossmoor could be anti-climactic, unless the Vikings make a game of it. Stevenson already beat H-F, 33-24, in Week Two on the road and should repeat at Memorial Stadium. I'll be watching it anyway, though, because the Patriots could be emotionally exhausted after that crazy game in Glen Ellyn.

3. Nazareth (13-0)

The Roadrunners will finally be tested this week, against Lemont, another undefeated No. 1 seed. It could be argued that the Indians, after a relatively "favorable" regular-season schedule, had the tougher road to Champaign in the playoffs. Either way, this could be the best game of the day on Saturday. (Although that Montini - Sacred Heart-Griffin rematch in 5A from last year should be good too!)

4. Phillips (12-1) 

The Chicago Public League is sending a team to Champaign! And what a good one it is. But the Wildcats will face the Rochester Rockets and head coach Derek Leonard. The downstate team is no stranger to postseason play (they're shooting for a five-peat -- yes, you read that right) and will give Phillips its best game since Carmel in Week Three. 

Check back later in the week for all my pregame analyses.

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