Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Who is Malvern Prep?

...Malvern Who? What? And what is Jim Croce doing in this post?*

At the risk of skipping right past summer, let's talk about the 2015 Preseason Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. The triple-header, scheduled for Friday, August 28, is expected to feature Mount Carmel vs. Marist, Simeon vs. East St. Louis (which is in some doubt as of this writing) and St. Rita vs. Malvern Prep of Pennsylvania.

Now, readers of this blog are well-acquainted with all of those programs except Malvern's. So let's have a look at the Friars, shall we?

Malvern, located in suburban Philadelphia, is an old school -- really old. To give you an idea of how old, Malvern was founded in 1842, only five years after Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837. At the time, an obscure legislator named Abraham Lincoln was still serving in the Illinois House of Representatives, and it would be a full 63 years before St. Rita would open its doors on the Southwest Side in 1905.

Like St. Rita, Malvern is a Catholic school run by the Order of Saint Augustine. As of 2011, Malvern had 630 boys enrolled in grades 6-12. That comes out to about 90 students per class, or 360 in grades 9-12. With the IHSA's 1.65 multiplier, it would put Malvern on about a par with last year's 4A semifinalist Coal City.

In comparison, St. Rita has almost twice as many boys, 711, in grades 9-12. The Mustangs had a "classification enrollment" last year of 2174.7 which put them in 7A. (711 times 1.65 is only 1173.15. Can anyone explain to me how the IHSA arrived at 2174.7? I was never very good at math.)

So what can we say about Malvern's football team? Well, the Friars went a combined 37-4 from 2005 through 2008, including a perfect 10-0 season in 2008. Whoa. But, as my brother pointed out, 2008 was seven years ago.

Last year, the Friars finished at 7-4, including a 49-28 loss to rival St. Joseph, who beat Mount Carmel in last year's Preseason Prep Bowl, 28-27. (Good game; I was there.)

Here are Malvern's records from the five seasons before that and their result vs. St. Joseph.

2013: 8-2, 24-20 win.
2012: 6-5, 35-6 loss.
2011: 9-2, 30-14 loss.
2010: 7-4, 14-13 win.
2009: 7-4, 17-16 win.

So how will the Friars fare against St. Rita at Soldier Field in August? I have no idea, but you can be sure I'll be there.

* Jim Croce spent a post-grad year at Malvern before enrolling at Villanova University in 1961. I could have mentioned that my brother went there for his freshman year back in 1965-66, but I doubt you've ever heard of him.

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