Friday, October 30, 2015

Breaking news!

Former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, a bona fide boring old white guy, endorsed Jeb Bush for president yesterday. Gee! Who woulda thunk it?

Is this supposed to help Jeb's struggling campaign? Hasn't he ever heard of "optics"?

Here's a 5A game...

...I bet you haven't considered (but should): No. 15-seed Solorio Academy (5-4) at No. 2 Lindblom (8-1) at noon on Saturday at Stagg Stadium. (That's sophomore quarterback Quincy Patterson II of Solorio, above.)

Why? Well, partly because Lindblom is a great story: a 2-7 team last year, the Eagles haven't made the playoffs since 1991. Now, under first-year head coach Justin Pressley, the West Englewood squad finds itself at 8-1 with a No. 2 seed in 5A. (I've been following the Eagles all year and wrote about them here, here, here, here and here.)

To refresh your memory, here's their 2015 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

Curie 60, LINDBLOM 14
Lindblom 22, ORR 16
LINDBLOM 32, Bowen 22
Lindblom 52, DOUGLASS 28
LINDBLOM 22, Agriculture Science 14
LINDBLOM 40, TEAM Englewood 0
Lindblom 20, CORLISS 0
Lindblom 32, CICS/LONGWOOD 12
Lindblom 39, JOHN HOPE 0

What's more, in Lindblom's 98-year history, they have never -- never -- beaten Solorio in football. Never. Can you believe it? So tomorrow the Eagles could make history.

Pssst! The two programs have only met twice:

2014: Solorio 25, LINDBLOM 15
2013: SOLORIO 35, Lindblom 0

Now before I go any further I should probably answer the question: Who the heck is Solorio anyway?

Well, it turns out Solorio is one of 32 Chicago Public Schools managed by AUSL (Academy for Urban School Leadership), a Chicago nonprofit school management organization founded in 2001.

Named in honor of Eric Solorio (1979-2006), a former member of the Chicago Police Department’s elite antigang unit, the Gage Park school was founded in 2010 and only graduated its first class in June, 2014.

The football team, under head coach Matt Lawson, has yet to have a losing season in its first four years. (That's pretty good!) Last year, in fact, the Sun Warriors went 8-2 and won Lindblom's conference, the Chicago Public League Great Lakes. (Prior to coaching at Solorio, Lawson was a varsity assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach at Rich Central, Shepard, and Morton High School.)

This year Solorio stepped it up and joined the Land of Lincoln Conference, with such Public League stalwarts as Phillips, King and Raby.

So how did the Sun Warriors do? After winning five of their first six, the Gage Park squad finished on a down note, dropping their final three. Solorio beat only one winning team, Ridgewood, in Week One, but all four of its losses came at the hands of winning teams that qualified for the playoffs. Here's their full schedule at a glance:

SOLORIO 28, Ridgewood 21
SOLORIO 35, Rich East 14
SOLORIO 39, Perspectives/Leadership 14
Raby 28, SOLORIO 6
SOLORIO 13, Julian 6
KING 20, Solorio 6
Phillips 63, SOLORIO 13
MORGAN PARK 32, Solorio 6

When you take the two teams' schedules into account, the game tomorrow looks a lot more competitive. (A lot more.) But I'm going to say the Eagles win this one in a nail-biter. And if it isn't raining too hard, I'll be live-tweeting the contest @BoringOldWhtGuy.

If you believe...

...Paddy Power, the race for the Republican nomination is now between Marco Rubio and Donald Trump:

Rubio 11/8
Trump 4/1
Jeb Bush 6/1
Ben Carson 7/1

Now to be clear, this is only a snapshot of where we are today. But in my experience the betting websites are more reliable than the polls. Do I think it will stay this way? Not necessarily. In fact, three months out, I think the race has no clear front-runner and is totally up for grabs. And don't count out Ted Cruz or John Kasich just yet.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Republican debate...

...last night was a complete waste of time. (And that's coming from a political junkie!)

I don't fault the candidates or even CNBC; the whole format is tired and useless. How do you answer a question about economics (or anything else) in sixty seconds? Rather than an actual debate, which would require far more time and far fewer candidates, last night's spectacle was more like a beauty pageant: who looked good, who got in the most zingers, who looked presidential, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The truth is, all the Republican candidates want to lower taxes on the rich, cut entitlements, reduce regulations and blah, blah, blah. (Basically, they want to make the world a better place for rich people.) 

In any event, I doubt very much that last night's "debate" changed anyone's mind or the polls in any meaningful way. Ben Carson is leading in Iowa and Donald Trump is leading over all, but neither will be the GOP nominee next November. Bush is fading, Rubio is coming up fast along the rail and Ted Cruz is lurking in the background. Maybe -- just maybe -- John Kasich or Chris Christie will do well in New Hampshire and make a run as the establishment choice. But everyone else -- Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore -- ought to just pack it in and go home. As I said, there are just too many candidates and it's too hard to focus on the ones who actually have a chance.

If I went to a 7A game...

...this week it would be No. 21-seed St. Charles North (7-2) at No.12 Benet (7-2) on Saturday afternoon.

While Mike Helfgot of the Tribune and Beth Long of the Sun-Times are touting that No. 17 Glenbard North (7-2) at No. 16 Mount Carmel (7-2) tilt, I'm just not seeing it. I like to watch teams that are on a roll, and the Caravan lost last week to Loyola (9-0). What's more, Mount Carmel hasn't beaten a winning team since Week Two. In fact, over the last month, the Woodlawn squad lost to Brother Rice (8-1), beat Leo (1-8), won by forfeit over Hales Franciscan and lost to Loyola. That's not a roll. (It's almost the opposite of a roll.)

As for Glenbard North, after dropping their first two games, to Naperville Central (8-1) and Waubonsie Valley (5-4), the Panthers won seven in a row but only beat one winning team, Neuqua Valley (6-3), during that stretch, in Week Nine. Not bad, but not great.

Why not just wait and see who wins this contest and then go see them get beat by play Glenbard West (9-0) in Round Two?

If you insist on sitting in the rain on Saturday, how about St. Charles North at Benet?

For starters, the North Stars beat two playoff-caliber non-conference opponents, Schaumburg (5-4) and Bartlett (5-4), before losing to Geneva (8-1) -- by only one point -- and Batavia (8-1). St. Charles North could very easily be 8-1. Here's their full 2015 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

ST. CHARLES NORTH 30, Schaumburg 15
St. Charles North 35, BARTLETT 13
ST. CHARLES NORTH 62, West Chicago 0
GENEVA 42, St. Charles North 41
Batavia 48, ST. CHARLES NORTH 28
St. Charles North 55, LARKIN 7
ST. CHARLES NORTH 38, Streamwood 6
St. Charles North 31, ST. CHARLES EAST 10

Benet, meanwhile, lost to Notre Dame (8-1), one of the most underrated teams in the state, and Nazareth (7-2), last year's 6A champ. But the Redwings beat a pair of good non-conference opponents, St. Laurence (7-2) and O'Fallon (5-4), before also besting Marist (5-4) and Joliet Catholic (8-1) just two weeks ago. (Ever heard of JCA?) Here's their schedule:

Benet 42, ST. LAURENCE 21
BENET 41, O'Fallon 3
Notre Dame 29, BENET 14
Benet 30, ST. PATRICK 28
BENET 29, Marist 25
NAZARETH 33, Benet 0
Benet 28, CARMEL 14
BENET 24, Joliet Catholic 21

The two schools are 20 miles apart -- farther than I would have thought -- and haven't played each other in at least ten years, if ever. Who's going to win this one? Don't fade any program that can beat Joliet Catholic, especially in the latter part of the season. Benet's a sleeper and could sneak up on Cary-Grove (8-1) in Round Two.

Not convinced? Okay, while I'm at Naperville Central on Friday night there's also No. 19 Jacobs (7-2) at No. 14 Lincoln-Way East (7-2).

The Golden Eagles beat two teams with winning records, Rock Island (6-3) and Crystal Lake South (5-4), and lost to two teams with winning records, Huntley (9-0) -- narrowly, 22-19 -- and Cary-Grove (8-1), last year's 7A runner-up. Again, not bad, but not great.

The Griffins this year are a tough one to figure out. They defeated Lincoln Park (7-2), shut out Bolingbrook (5-4) and beat Sandburg (6-3) last week, but also lost to Oak Park River Forest (8-1) and Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1). (In that H-F game they only scored three points.) So the question is, which Lincoln-Way East squad is going to show up?

Like that Glenbard North - Mount Carmel game, you could just wait to see who gets to play Libertyville (9-0) next week. (That's what I plan on doing.) But, unlike that first one, a second-round matchup between either Jacobs or Lincoln-Way East and Libertyville could be a heck of a contest.

Where will I be on Saturday? Check back tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Unfortunate Name of the Day...

...belongs to former Ambassador to Denmark Dick Swett.

John Kasich has "about had it...

...with these people!"

According to the governor of Ohio, his fellow candidates for the Republican nomination are saying some "crazy" things. And he's right; but so is Kasich.

Recently, an article in CNN reported on Kasich's plan to "balance the federal budget in eight years, while cutting taxes and reforming federal entitlement programs."

Wait; there's more (all emphasis  mine):

In his plan, he promised he would reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to three and reduce the top rate from 39.6% to 28%. He also calls for eliminating the federal estate tax, dubbed by conservatives as the "death tax," and increasing the earned income tax credit, which helps low-income people.

Kasich would also rely on limits in Medicaid spending to balance the budget, but would put together a panel to examine Social Security reforms. Kasich took heat last week after he said that people who didn't want cuts in their Social Security benefits would have to "get over it."

Oy! Where do you begin? 

How about this? According to Forbes, fully one-third of the 400 richest Americans inherited their wealth. Gov. Kasich doesn't want to just cut the estate tax, he wants to eliminate it altogether!

As for Kasich's plan to balance the budget in eight years, well, there's really nothing magical about a balanced budget. Households? Sure. But not necessarily the federal government. In fact, a balanced budget amendment, which Kasich advocates, could be a really bad idea. Here's what Paul Krugman had to say earlier this year:

In a depressed economy, however, a balanced-budget fetish and a hard-money obsession are deeply irresponsible. Not only do they hurt the economy in the short run, they can — and in Europe, have — inflict long-run harm, damaging the economy’s potential and driving it into a deflationary trap that’s very hard to escape.

So, are the Republican candidates for president saying some "crazy" things? Absolutely. Including John Kasich. 

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Go back! The place is full of mold!” 
"Go back! The place is full of mold!"

My 8A Game of the Week...

...will be No. 27 Bolingbrook (5-4) at No. 6 Naperville Central (8-1) on Friday night.

Mike Helfgot of the Tribune recommends No. 19 Neuqua Valley (6-3) at No. 14 Hinsdale Central (7-2), but I think I'll drive just a little farther and see his "dark horse" Bolingbrook travel to Naperville Central, his "team to beat in the bottom half of the bracket."

While Neuqua Valley lost its last two games of the season, to Lake Park (4-5) and Glenbard North (7-2), Hinsdale Central got positively crushed last week by Oak Park River Forest, 39-7, after needing overtime to beat 6A Hinsdale South (6-3) in Week Eight. So neither of these teams is entering the postseason on a positive note.

Bolingbrook, on the other hand, shocked the world last week by upending Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1), 22-21, on the road. The Brook, admittedly, has been a tough one to figure out this year. A perennial contender for the 8A title, the Raiders got beat pretty convincingly by Glenbard West (9-0) -- no shame in that -- Sandburg (6-3), Lincoln-Way East (7-2) at home -- by a shutout! -- and Lockport (5-4) -- who? -- at home again in Week Eight. Bolingbrook lost two home games this year and only won two in a row once. No wonder I had these guys dead and buried; but apparently the rumors of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.

So here they are: a 5-4 squad, with nothing to lose, capable of beating the best team in the state. Just about the last first-round opponent you'd like to face!

Here's their full 2015 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

GLENBARD WEST 28, Bolingbrook 7
BOLINGBROOK 55, Romeoville 6
SANDBURG 38, Bolingbrook 20
BOLINGBROOK 42, Joliet West 6
Lincoln-Way East 28, BOLINGBROOK 0
Bolingbrook 37, STAGG 7
BOLINGBROOK 68, Joliet Central 6
Lockport 33, BOLINGBROOK 16
Bolingbrook 22, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 21

Naperville Central, for its part, is one of those schools that always seems to get better as the season progresses. Remember when the Redhawks sneaked into the playoffs in 2013 with a 6-3 record and took the 8A crown? (Who did they beat that year? Oh, yeah -- Loyola. Could that happen again? Maybe.) Other than a one-point loss to Waubonsie Valley in Week Four (fluke?), Central defeated three pretty good teams: Glenbard North, Neuqua Valley and Batavia (8-1).

Here's a look at their schedule:

Naperville Central 13, GLENBARD NORTH 12
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 14, Neuqua Valley 7
WAUBONSIE VALLEY 15, Naperville Central 14
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 20, Wheaton Warrenville South 8
Naperville Central 34, BATAVIA 14
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 41, Naperville North 10
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 34, Wheaton North 14
Naperville Central 28, LAKE PARK 7

Is there any history between these two programs? I'm glad you asked. In 2011, when this year's seniors were in eighth grade, the Raiders rolled into Naperville and beat the Redhawks in the semis (I was there). Before that it's ancient history:

2011: Bolingbrook 22, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 19
2005: BOLINGBROOK 14, Naperville Central 7
2004: NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 41, Bolingbrook 25

So what happens Friday night? Well, hopefully, I'll meet my sister for an early dinner at Portillo's on Ogden Avenue. As for the game, I'll say the Redhawks take 'em and advance to play the winner of the Warren - Curie contest.

If you'd still rather be at that Neuqua Valley - Hinsdale Central tilt, I'll be live-tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Maybe next time we can go mine our own salt.”

The regular season is over.

After watching Loyola's big 49-21 victory over Mount Carmel on Saturday, I've now seen twelve games and twenty different teams in 2015. (I saw Loyola and Lindblom play three times each.)

Some of the schools I watched are playoff-caliber, some are not. Some are the very best in the state, while some I'm sure you've never heard of. Some teams I wish I'd seen more than once (Libertyville), for some once was more than enough. Some of my omissions are inexcusable; for example, I didn't get to see one team from the DVC or the West Suburban Silver this year (so far). Two teams I really wish I'd seen are Huntley and Oak Park River Forest.

Before I get to how I'd rank them, here are all twenty in alphabetical order: Agriculture Science, Batavia, Brother Rice, CICS/Longwood, Douglass, Evanston, Guerin, Homewood-Flossmoor, Libertyville, Lincoln-Way North, Lindblom, Loyola, Mount Carmel, Notre Dame, Oswego, Providence, St. Thomas More, Sandburg, Stevenson and Thornton.

To me, the rankings between now and the end of the season are meaningless; the "rankings" get decided each week on the field until Thanksgiving weekend. After that I'll post the final rankings from the three news services I follow (and compare them with the rankings at the beginning of the season). 

This week, all three dropped Homewood-Flossmoor after that 22-21 upset loss at the hands of Bolingbrook; Hinsdale Central fell and OPRF was elevated after the Huskies crushed the Red Devils, 39-7; and undefeated Huntley made the big time in the Sun-Times and MaxPreps, but not the Tribune. The biggest omissions from MaxPreps? Montini is ranked only No. 17 (!) and Phillips No. 22. Let's get to it:

Chicago Tribune

1. Loyola (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Libertyville (9-0)
4. Montini (9-0)
5. Phillips (9-0)
6. Naperville Central (8-1)
7. Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1)
8. Brother Rice (8-1)
9. Oak Park River Forest (8-1)
10. Joliet Catholic (8-1) 

Chicago Sun-Times 

1. Loyola (9-0)
2. Glenbard West (9-0)
3. Huntley (9-0)
4. Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1)
5. Libertyville (9-0)
6. Montini (9-0)
7. Phillips (9-0)
8. Lincoln-Way North (9-0)
9. Naperville Central (8-1)
10. Joliet Catholic (8-1)


1. Loyola (9-0) 
2. Glenbard West (9-0) 
3. Sacred Heart-Griffin (9-0)
4. Libertyville (9-0) 
5. Oak Park River Forest (8-1)
6. Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1)
7. Naperville Central (8-1)
8. Joliet Catholic (8-1)
9. Huntley (9-0) 
10. Hinsdale Central (7-2)

And my Top Ten (from the teams I actually saw this year) with some comments:

1. Loyola (9-0)
This could very well be the best high school team I've ever seen. (I can't think of a weakness anywhere.) I did, however, talk to a coach in the stands on Saturday who was filming the game for the playoffs, and for what it's worth, he thought the 2009 Loyola squad that lost a heart-breaker to Maine South in the semifinals was better. The Ramblers could go 14-0 and win the 8A crown.

2. Homewood-Flossmoor (8-1)
I have to think Friday night's loss to Bolingbrook was a fluke caused by the rain. The team I saw in Week Eight against Sandburg could beat anyone, including Loyola on a good day. The Vikings have a great quarterback, two really good running backs and the most team speed in the state. We should finally have our answer in Round Three.

3. Libertyville (9-0)
Are these guys a one-trick pony (Riley Lees)? Who cares -- it's one heck of a pony! The Wildcats could face Glenbard West in the 7A finals in DeKalb.

4. Batavia (8-1)
The Bulldogs lost one game this year, in Week Six against Naperville Central, 34-14. I saw them beat Oswego, 36-28, on the road in Week One. Their first big challenge in the 7A playoffs could come in the quarterfinals against either Cary-Grove or Benet. If they can get past them it's Glenbard West in the semis.

5. Notre Dame (8-1)
The Dons could be the most underrated team in the state. I saw these guys crush Evanston, a team everyone's been talking about, 48-21, in Week Two. They also beat Benet and Marian Central and shared in the East Suburban Catholic title. Ironically, the Niles squad faces the one school that beat them, Marist, in Round One of the 8A playoffs. I'll say they take them this time and possibly upset Barrington in Round Two. After that it's Huntley or Oswego. Hey, who knows? These guys could wind up in the quarterfinals against Naperville Central.

6. Lincoln-Way North (9-0)
Another team that's not getting a lot of love. The Phoenix went undefeated in their last season ever; what else are they supposed to do? I say these guys meet Thornton again in the 6A quarterfinals and maybe even Sacred Heart-Griffin in the semis.

7. Thornton (8-1)
Still another underrated team, with a ton of speed. The Wildcats lost to Lincoln-Way North by only two points, 28-26, in Week Seven. As I mentioned above, they may get another bite at the apple in the quarterfinals. But then comes Sacred Heart-Griffin -- yikes!

8. Oswego (7-2)
I went out to Oswego in Week One to see quarterback Steven Frank and I have to say, he didn't dazzle me like I expected. The Panthers lost to Batavia in that one, 36-28, and lost again in Week Eight to Plainfield North, 37-25. You didn't really hear a whole lot about Frank this year, did you? He was supposed to be the best quarterback in the state, right? But all I know is this kid impressed the heck out of me against Bolingbrook in Round Two last year. Don't be too surprised if Oswego knocks off Huntley in Round Two and even find themselves in the 8A semifinals against Naperville Central.   

9. Brother Rice (8-1)
The Crusader team I saw in the first half against Loyola in Week Three was nothing to write home about. But the Mount Greenwood squad beat everybody else, including Mount Carmel, 31-14, in Week Six and is No. 8 in the Trib's rankings. I say the Upset of the Year could be -- could be -- Brother Rice over Loyola in the semis.

10. Mount Carmel  (7-2)
The Caravan is a little down this year, having lost to both Brother Rice and Loyola, and has one of the toughest brackets anywhere. Even if the Woodlawn squad gets past Glenbard North (which I don't think they will), they would have to face Glenbard West in Round Two. If they get past those two -- a big if -- they could win the 7A title.

Check back tomorrow for my Games of the Week.

P. S. How can Loyola and Glenbard West not play each other this year? That's almost criminal!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Pick-pocketing... a huge problem," according to Adam Rapp, above. Really?

I saw an ad in the New York Times today for "PICK-POCKET PROOF PANTS," and I thought, Is that really a big problem? Is it a problem AT ALL?

I've never had my pocket picked and I don't think I know anyone who has. I didn't even know pick-pocketing was still a thing. Where does it take place, besides old black-and-white movies? Race tracks? Boxing matches? Train stations?

Are these pants a solution in search of a problem?

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trivia question: Who scored...

...the most points against Loyola this year? That's right, 16 by Fenwick in Week Four (above). And who held the Ramblers to the fewest points in a game? Right again! Brother Rice, 28, in Week Three. Now here's a hard one: Who held Mount Carmel to the fewest points this year? Gotcha! Only one, by Hales Franciscan last week in a forfeit.

Is any of this important? Of course not, but it's about the only original thing I can think of to write about tomorrow's storied -- and it is "storied" -- Catholic League Blue rivalry between the visiting Caravan of Mount Carmel (7-1) and the home team Ramblers of Loyola (8-0).

(If you want to read a more detailed analysis, here's Mike Helfgot's in the Tribune and Beth Long's in the Sun-Times.)

All I know is I saw the first half of the Brother Rice tilt and the entire game at Providence and this year's Loyola squad could be -- could be -- the best high school team I've ever seen. (And I choose my words carefully.) The Ramblers have it all: a good quarterback, a running back who broke the school's record for most career yards, tall receivers, huge linemen, stingy defense, the winningest coach in school history, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Can these guys go undefeated and beat Homewood-Flossmoor in the 8A championship? Possibly. (Although the dream game that I'd really like to see would be 8A Loyola against 7A Glenbard West. Oh, well; that other one will still be great.)

Now before I go any further, here's a look at Mount Carmel's 2015 schedule (with home team in CAPS):

MOUNT CARMEL 21, Marist 14
MOUNT CARMEL 48, Morgan Park 0
MOUNT CARMEL 13, Providence 0
MOUNT CARMEL 35, St. Rita 14
Mount Carmel 63 DE LA SALLE 0
BROTHER RICE 31, Mount Carmel 14
MOUNT CARMEL 1, Hales Franciscan 0 (forfeit)

And Loyola's:

LOYOLA 35, Marquette (WI) 0
Loyola 49, MAINE SOUTH 8
LOYOLA 28, Brother Rice 0
Loyola 54, FENWICK 16
LOYOLA 35, St. Ignatius 7
Loyola 31, PROVIDENCE 7
LOYOLA 42, DePaul 0
Loyola 56, ST. RITA 14

And for you junkies, here's the series since John Holecek took over the Ramblers nine years ago:

2014: MOUNT CARMEL 10, Loyola 7
2013: LOYOLA 24, Mount Carmel 17
2012: Loyola 30, MOUNT CARMEL 27
2011: LOYOLA 12, Mount Carmel 7
2010: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2009: Loyola 28, MOUNT CARMEL 15
            Loyola 24, MOUNT CARMEL 7 (playoff)
2008: MOUNT CARMEL 35, Loyola 14
2007: Mount Carmel 31, LOYOLA 24
2006: MOUNT CARMEL 32, Loyola 14

What do I think for tomorrow? Well, Mount Carmel is ranked No. 11 in the Trib, No. 13 in the Sun-Times but only No. 30 in MaxPreps (behind Maine South!). Loyola, on the other hand, is ranked No. 2 in the Trib, No. 3 in the Times and No. 1 in MaxPreps (where they've been all year). "So, what?" you might say. Okay, how about this? Brother Rice beat Mount Carmel convincingly while the Ramblers shut out the Crusaders just as convincingly. I'm with Mike Helfgot of the Tribune:

Loyola 41-14. All signs point to a rare blowout in this rivalry.

If you can't make the game, I'll be live-tweeting it from the stands (next to Jerry Gavin) @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cory Wells, who sang lead...

...on “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” for Three Dog Night, died at age 74.

As far as I can tell...

...Libertyville (8-0) and Lakes (6-2) have only met once before on the gridiron, in 2009, when the home team Wildcats got the better of the visitors from Lake Villa, 35-17.

Surprised? After all, Libertyville High School has been around since 1917. (And boasts such alums as Marlon Brando, who was expelled for riding his motorcycle through the corridors. Foreshadowing?)

But Lakes High School only opened its doors in 2004. They ramped up their football program rather quickly and haven't had a losing season since 2008. So wouldn't you have thought the two schools -- only about a half hour's drive apart -- would have played each other more than once by now?

Oh, well. Tomorrow night Libertyville, the leader of the North Suburban Lake Conference, will again host Lakes, the leader of the North Suburban Prairie Conference. It's my Game of the Week.

Why do I like this tilt? A couple of reasons. The first is that Lakes, on a six-game winning streak since Week Two, could sneak up on the Wildcats and ruin their perfect season. The Eagles, who went 9-4 last year, haven't lost more than two games in a season since 2011. Here's their 2015 schedule so far (with home team in CAPS):

Grayslake North 31, LAKES 26
HIGHLAND PARK 21, Lakes 14
LAKES 14, Antioch 9
LAKES 34, Grant 14
Lakes 16, WAUCONDA 2
LAKES 55, Round Lake 7
Lakes 26, VERNON HILLS 20

The second reason is Libertyville's quarterback Riley Lees, by far the most exciting player I've seen this year. In the 35-7 victory over Stevenson, in which the Wildcats beat the Patriots for the first time since 2008, Lees ran for four touchdowns (three of them for 80, 61 and 78 yards) and passed for a fifth. As you can see from their schedule, the Wildcats have dominated everyone they've faced this year:

LIBERTYVILLE 55, Elk Grove 28
Libertyville 48, LAKE FOREST ACADEMY 0
Libertyville 41, ZION-BENTON 0
LIBERTYVILLE 42, Lake Forest 7
Libertyville 35, STEVENSON 7
LIBERTYVILLE 41, Lake Zurich 21
LIBERTYVILLE 48, Warren 21
Libertyville 34, MUNDELEIN 7

Now, do I think the Eagles will upset Libertyville? Not really. MaxPreps has Lakes ranked only No. 189 in the state of Illinois, behind 1-7 St. Viator. Libertyville, meanwhile, is ranked No. 4 everywhere -- in the Tribune, the Sun-Times and MaxPreps. (Are they on a collision course with Glenbard West for the 7A title?)

But I do think Lakes could give the Wildcats a decent game on the eve of the playoffs. 

As always, I'll be live-tweeting the action @BoringOldWhtGuy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Don't despair, Cub fans, as... son texted me last night while I was crying into my non-alcoholic beer:

It's just monkeys hitting a rock with a stick.

(Meanwhile, my wife said the rain at the end of the game symbolized tears. I live with a bunch of poets!)

But think about what my son said for a minute. Is baseball essentially a species of advanced apes just swinging a big club at a rapidly-approaching sphere? And, what's more, are they doing it of their own free will, or are they somehow programmed to do it, like a dog chasing a frisbee?

That's as good as any lead-in I can think of to the video above about whether or not free will is just an illusion. My son sent it to me the other day and asked for my thoughts. And, honestly, I wish I had something more insightful to add, but I don't. This guy says it all.

It's a little hard to hear, but it's well worth thirteen or so minutes of your time.

It's Week Nine, the last...

...of the regular season. (Can you believe it?) Here are six games I'll be watching, in person or on Twitter.

Way up north:

Crete-Monee (7-1) at Prairie Ridge (7-1)
This is the second game in an interesting two-year (I presume) non-conference series. Last year the Warriors shut out Prairie Ridge at home, 7-0. This year both teams enter the contest in sole possession of first place in their respective conferences, Crete-Monee in the Southland and Prairie Ridge in the Fox Valley (Fox).

The Indians lost to Brother Rice, 49-21, in Week Two. Since then, they beat Sycamore (5-3), 27-21, in overtime, and Rich Central (6-2), 45-9, on the road.

Prairie Ridge, for its part, only lost to Cary-Grove (7-1), 21-14, in Week One. The Wolves beat Grayslake North (5-3), 65-27, and Hampshire (5-3), 77-27. Their offense has averaged 58 points in its seven victories. Wow. 

Lakes (6-2) at Libertyville (8-0)

This is your last chance to see Libertyville quarterback Riley Lees, above, before the playoffs (reason enough). It's also another interesting inter-conference matchup between the leaders of the North Suburban (Prairie) and the North Suburban (Lake) Conferences. And it's also my Game of the Week. (Check back tomorrow for details.)

Down south:

Lincoln-Way West (7-1) at Lincoln-Way North (8-0)
This tilt is for the Southwest Suburban (Red) Conference title. And for bragging rights in the Frankfort-New Lenox area. And Lincoln-Way North's last ever regular-season game. (There's a story for you.) 

The visiting Warriors' one loss came at the hands of Thornton (7-1), 35-28, in Week Five. And Thornton's one loss came at the hands of Lincoln-Way North, 28-26, two weeks ago. While West beat two 5-3 teams, Sycamore and Bradley-Bourbonnais, North has beaten everyone they've faced, including Richards (5-3), Sandburg (6-2) and Bradley-Bourbonnais, as well as Thornton. The Phoenix are rated No. 14 in the Tribune and should be a high seed in Class 6A if they don't get tripped up Friday night. You don't suppose the Warriors would like to ruin their perfect season, do you?

Out west: 

Hinsdale Central (7-1) at Oak Park River Forest (7-1)
This is a battle for second place in the West Suburban (Silver). Both teams lost to the conference leader, Glenbard West (8-0), but are each ranked in their own right. The Red Devils are No. 8 in the Trib and No. 10 in the Sun-Times, while the home team Huskies are No. 15 in the Trib and No. 14 in the Times.

If I were a bookmaker I'd say this one is a "pick 'em." Central, coming off a big 45-38 overtime win against cross-town rival Hinsdale South, may be the better team, but OPRF is at home and just crushed Lyons last week, 35-7, on the road.

If you feel like taking a drive and seeing the colors:

DeKalb (7-1) at Geneseo (7-1)
This game is a long way from the Chicago area. But if you go, in addition to the leaves, you will see the leader of the East Division of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference travel to the co-leader (with Sterling) of the West Division. 

After losing in Week One to Plainfield North (6-2), 35-21, the Barbs (the Barbs?) have beaten two 5-3 squads, Sycamore and Kaneland. The home team Maple Leafs, who almost always go deep in the postseason, beat Eisenhower (6-2), 48-26, in Week Two before losing a heart-breaker to Sterling (7-1), 17-14, two weeks ago. 

And on Saturday: 

Mount Carmel (7-1) at Loyola (8-0)
What can you possibly say about this classic Catholic League (Blue) showdown? Except that it will be my other Game of the Week and I'll have details on Friday.

Big news for followers...

...of the race for the Republican nomination for president -- Marco Rubio has overtaken Jeb Bush for the lead on Paddy Power!

Only yesterday, Mike Murphy, the head of Jeb Bush's super-PAC Right to Rise, cautioned everyone to watch the betting markets. In an interview with Bloomberg Murphy said (my emphasis):

And if you look at the prediction markets overseas, which are kind of interesting, because that's the one place real money's involved, we constantly rank number one. The smart money's figured this out. 

Today for the first time Jeb is no longer in the lead:

Marco Rubio 2/1
Jeb Bush 5/2
Donald Trump 10/3

My only question now is about that $114 million in Right to Rise: Is the money pledged or have the checks been cashed? It makes a difference, doesn't it? If the money has only been pledged, then it would be easier for the .01 percent to bail on Jeb, right?

In other news, Hillary still leads in the general.

P. S. Murphy must feel desperate to do an interview like that at this time. Also, he sounds hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch. Remember, generals always fight the last war.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

The last time Lindblom...

...appeared in the postseason was in 1991, above. The oldest player on today's Eagles wasn't even born until 1997.

With one regular-season game remaining, against the Mighty Eagles of John Hope (0-8), the "merely" Eagles of Lindblom (7-1) are in sole possession of first place in the Chicago Public League's Great Lakes Conference.  

I had a chance to catch up with Lindblom's first-year head coach Justin Pressley after Saturday's 32-12 victory over Longwood. He's a very personable young man (everyone's young compared to me) who was obviously enjoying his team's success. Pressley wasn't sure if his squad would end up being one of the largest in 4A or one of the smallest in 5A but was looking forward to a high seed.

My first question for the Tennessee native was about the unique challenges of coaching in the Chicago Public League. After all, many people were writing off city schools until Simeon and Phillips went so deep in the playoffs last year.

It is very different coaching in the Chicago Public League, but not very different coaching at our school in particular. Our kids work just as hard if not harder than any school I have coached in Tennessee. Like the Chicago suburbs, most kids in Tennessee grow up playing football within a school's program from youth league all the way up to high school. We don't have junior high ball here so that means we get a lot of kids that have never played football or have played in different youth leagues in different systems. There are very talented athletes in the Public League and the teams here can be successful; it is just difficult when you only get a maximum of four years to teach kids how to play within your system.

Pressley has his team playing a very aggressive style of football. I noticed the Eagles use a lot of onside kicks and often go for it on fourth down. I wondered if that was strategic, or a comment on his team's kicking game.

We can kick it deep as much as possible, but statistically for us the opponent usually starts around the 35- or 40-yard line when we do. When we kick an onside if we don't recover the opponent typically starts around the 45. We feel it is worth the 5-10 yards to take a chance on getting the football. We are very confident in our defense and the kids enjoy the challenge of recovering the onside kick. 

As for fourth downs, we are confident in our offense and like to control the football so it takes a lot of pressure off the kids on third down situations to know that we usually will have four downs to get the first instead of just three.

The Eagles work from a no-huddle offense and Pressley calls the plays from the sidelines. I wanted to know how many plays his team runs and how difficult it was for them to learn them all.

Well we really don't have many plays but we run them a lot of different ways in a lot of different formations. We just try and get the ball to our playmakers as much as possible. Most of our offense is based around our junior running back Ryan Weatherspoon. He is a strong runner and is able to carry the load for us throughout every game. We have a wide receiver that I would take over anyone in the state in Demitri Gary. We are always finding new ways to get him the ball in our offense. I really don't do much on the sidelines but clap my hands and yell. Most of the plays I call on the sideline are called by our players. I trust our guys and ask them every possession what they feel comfortable running. When they are confident in a play then I let them run it.

Finally, I had to ask Pressley about his team's relative youth. Many of his starters are sophomores. That means two years ago they were in eighth grade. Last year the Eagles were only 2-7, and now they're headed for the playoffs. Lindblom's first game could be against some suburban high school that's used to being there. How on earth, I wondered, would Pressley get these young men ready for the postseason?

We do have a lot of young starters on our team. I rely on our sophomore quarterback Bryce Walker to manage the offense like a senior quarterback and he does that. We start two sophomore wide receivers in C.J. Rutherford and Josh Bufkin. They have to step up in every game and they have both become big time playmakers for us. I ask a lot of them and they step up every day. We have some invaluable senior leaders on this team at every position. We all push each other every day to be better. 
It is an exciting challenge for us going into the postseason. One thing we have to do is continue to get comfortable in our system. We have a lot of work to do in a short time. None of our players have had the opportunity to play in serious football games after Week Six. We are trying to teach these kids how to continue progressing in every practice. We are having fun as a football team right now and in practice every day. We just have to keep improving and learning how to play together. I have some seniors that have played all four years at Lindblom and have been through some tough times. I am so happy for them to get an opportunity to participate in the postseason. They have certainly earned it. We are excited to play in the playoffs, and I am just extremely proud of our team.

I can personally attest to Pressley's statement that he and his players "are having fun as a football team right now." I watched them leave the stadium on Saturday to board the bus back to school and they looked like a team that's enjoying their success and confident in their future. Lindblom also gets a ton of fan support from the bleachers and Pressley is understandably very popular with this crowd. I don't know what the long-term future is for him and his team, but the Eagles look to enter the postseason from a very strong position. I plan on attending that Round One contest, which may fall on Halloween. You can follow along with me on Twitter @BoringOldWhtGuy.

As for that other game I attended this weekend, Homewood-Flossmoor's 55-21 victory over Sandburg in Orland Park on Friday night, I have to confess: I only saw the first half.

It's a little ironic, because I met a friend for dinner before the game at Hackney's in Palos Park and lectured him on the necessity of staying for the entire game. He has a habit, he told me, of watching a baseball game until the seventh inning or so, or a football game until the beginning of the fourth quarter and then leaving. "What?" I demanded. "What if there's a great comeback or something? Wouldn't you want to see that?"

"Not really," he answered, "I figure I came to see some baseball (or football) and I saw some; now it's time to go home."

Right, I thought, and it's time for me to go to this game.

It was Senior Night at Sandburg (is it Senior Night at every game I attend?) and after introducing all the seniors and all their parents they finally got the game underway at 7:30. It was cold and dark, of course, and I was tired from the workweek (and the long drive out there).

Sandburg, in particular, was pass-happy, and it reminded me of that famous quote attributed to Ohio State coach Woody Hayes: "Three things can happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad."

Actually, a fourth thing can happen, and it's equally as bad: it slows down the game.

The first half lasted about an hour and a half, until nine o'clock, but I had seen enough. Although the Vikings got off to a slow start and trailed the home team Eagles (again with the Eagles?), 13-0, early in the second quarter, the No. 1 team in the state (or No. 3 if you believe MaxPreps) came roaring back to lead at the half, 27-19. Sandburg played well (and a special shout-out to No. 43 Patrick Brucki, who seemed to do everything for the Eagles), but I had a feeling the Vikings would take control in the second half. (Which they did, with a final score of 55-21. Did Sandburg get a safety somewhere along the line?)

My initial response on Friday (and I tweeted this) was that Loyola would have no trouble beating Homewood-Flossmoor. But after watching their quarterback, Brice Gray (who has a heck of an arm!), and the Harley-Hampton twins (who are only 5'8", 165 pounds, by the way), I thought otherwise. That 8A final everyone is expecting between the Ramblers and the Vikings should be One for the Ages. (Although I'd still give the edge to Loyola -- it's the best Rambler team I've ever seen.)

As I was leaving at halftime my buddy texted me, "No way can U leave early." What, was I on candid camera or something? How did he catch me in the parking lot on my way to the car? Was that drone I saw at the game following me? I could have lied, I suppose, but I responded, "Left at the half. Too cold and tired. Maybe I'm finally getting my fill of this."

Don't you believe it.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Julien Studley, a real estate broker who died last week at age 88.

I asked my brother yesterday... tell my mom that I had died and gone to heaven -- South Shore Country Club. (Or, as it is known today, South Shore Cultural Center.)

You see, for my mother, an Irish Catholic girl growing up in Chicago in the 1920s and '30s, South Shore Country Club was just about the coolest place on earth. If you could attend just one formal dance there, well, you might as well exit this life because there was no greater goal left on your bucket list. Everything after that would be a letdown.

So it was with this knowledge that I drove down to the South Shore neighborhood yesterday to take in one of the many gems on the Open House Chicago tour.

(If you didn't go this weekend you really should next year. A friend of mine told me about once but it went in one ear and out the other. I mean, come on, drive all the way into the city from Glenview to gawk at a bunch of buildings? No way! But this year one of my readers and my wife suggested it and I'm glad they did. Even though we only went to three places -- the Sky-Line Club on North Michigan Avenue, the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist on Wacker Drive, and SSCC -- it was really worth it.

Next year I want to bring my uncle to the old Sears headquarters on South Holman Avenue on the West Side; he and my dad both worked there until the Willis Sears Tower was completed in 1973. The original location had 14 floors; I think my uncle once told me that when he moved into the new building on Wacker his office was on a lower floor.)

So this blog post is really for my mom; indulge me. She doesn't read it (can you believe that?), but my brother can show her the pictures when he visits her. (I took all of these yesterday except for the first and last ones -- I lifted them from Wikipedia.)

The woman in the lobby (main room?), above, told us that the club was founded in 1906. (As you can see, we were allowed to go up to the second floor as well.)

But before we go inside, let's take a little stroll around the grounds, shall we? The current structure, above, was completed in 1916 in a Mediterranean Revival style.

South Shore evolved into a Jewish and Irish Catholic neighborhood, but the club was originally for Protestants only; charter members included Marshall Field and A. Montgomery Ward. (Is that why there was a police car in front? Did someone tell them I was coming?)

Walking south, I recalled the lady saying that although Jews and blacks were never considered for membership, Irish Catholics were first admitted in 1958, the year I was born. Coincidence?

The woman, who was African American, said that blacks couldn't even wait for a bus on the sidewalk in front on South Shore Drive. If they did, the club would call the police!

Besides the main clubhouse, South Shore Country Club originally had stables, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, a bowling green, and a private beach on Lake Michigan, above.

Here's the back of the club. That's sand from the beach.

Walking north along the water now.

Time to go inside.

Behind the lobby is the Solarium, above, which looks out over the lake.

On the north side of the clubhouse is the Ballroom, in which a young Barack and Michelle Obama danced at their wedding reception in 1992. (I'll bet my Fox News-watching mother will be thrilled to hear that!)

To the south of the lobby are two rooms from the original 1916 building.

The theater, above, houses the South Shore Opera Company. ("Yes, we really have an opera company," the lady insisted.)

By the 1960s, the South Shore neighborhood began to "change." For those of you not from Chicago, that means "whites moved out to the suburbs as blacks moved in." From my understanding, the Irish and Jews left South Shore practically "overnight," sometime in the late 1960s.

According to Wikipedia, the club considered opening its membership to Jews in 1967 (kind of like locking, or unlocking, the barn door after the horse had left) and African Americans a little while after. But by now it was too late.

The decision at that time not to open membership accelerated the decline of the club; in 1973, the decision was made to liquidate its assets, and in 1975, the property was sold to the Chicago Park District for $9,775,000.

It was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

A coalition of neighborhood activists and historic preservationists successfully convinced the Park District not to demolish the buildings. Instead, the facility was renamed the South Shore Cultural Center. Over two decades, the main buildings were slowly renovated and repurposed. Other buildings were torn down.

By now it was time for me to go. (Quick -- before that cop sees me!)

I think one of the reasons I'm enjoying being back in the city is that so much of my family's history is here. I don't know if my mother ever made it to one of those dances at South Shore Country Club, but her youngest son was there this weekend.

As Mike Helfgot noted... his Tribune blog last week, for the first time this season, there wasn't a single game between two of his Top 20 teams.

Beth Long at the Sun-Times, however, was able to identify one from her Top 25, No. 15 Oak Park River Forest (6-1) at No. 23 Lyons (5-2). (And that turned out to be a yawn, as the Huskies dominated the Lions, 35-7.)

But that raises a question: Out of the dozens (hundreds?) of games each week, how do you select which one to attend? For most people, it's simple: the home team. But for Mr. Helfgot and Ms. Long, I presume, it's wide open. (And the same is true for this blogger.)

So, I repeat: how does one pick his or her Game of the Week? For me, it used to be simple: the Best Game Between the Best Teams. Full stop.

But then I got to thinking. Hmmm, each week there's at least one contest that goes into overtime; what could be more exciting? And so I thought: my goal is to be at that game. But that's really hard to predict, isn't it? For example, last weekend there were a number of games that extended beyond regulation time:

West Aurora 31, Glenbard East 28 (OT)
Hinsdale Central 45, Hinsdale South 38 (OT) 
Warren 27, Vernon Hills 26 (2 OT) 
IC Catholic 34, Glenbard South 28 (3 OT) 

By my reasoning, I should have been at that last one. I mean, come on, three overtimes? That must have been awesome! But the problem is, I don't have a crystal ball. (Although, in fairness, Ms. Long did have that Hinsdale Central - Hinsdale South matchup in her "Week 8′s top five games." Good job, Beth!)

While we're on the subject, what were the Chicago writers' top games last week? First Mr. Helfgot's:

Batavia 24, Geneva 14
Lemont 35, Oak Forest 0
Nazareth 62, Marist 45
Homewood-Flossmoor 55, Sandburg 21
Barrington 49, Fremd 28 

He added these three the next day:

Glenbrook North 34, Niles North 30
Palatine 14, Schaumburg 7
Prairie Ridge 42, Woodstock North 7

Ms. Long had these five:

Hinsdale Central 45, Hinsdale South 38 (OT)
Lemont 35, Oak Forest 0
Oak Park River Forest 35, Lyons 7
Barrington 49, Fremd 28
Loyola 56, St. Rita 14

What about me? I could only find four:

Batavia 24, Geneva 14
Lemont 35, Oak Forest 0
Reavis 35, Eisenhower 7
Homewood-Flossmoor 55, Sandburg 21

But then added one more for Saturday:

Lindblom 32, CICS/Longwood 12

Where should we have been? Well, besides those four overtime tilts I already mentioned, these three must have been nail-biters: 

Hoffman Estates 30, Conant 29 
Willowbrook 23, Downers Grove South 22
Lake Forest 21, Lake Zurich 20 

What about upsets? They're fun to watch, right? Here are six that jumped out at me:

De La Salle 31, St. Francis 16
(The Meteors also beat Fenwick and Marmion this year.)
Lake Park 28, Neuqua Valley 21
(Is Lake Park the most improved team in the state?)
Naperville North 25, Waubonsie Valley 24
(The Huskies finally won a game!)
Lockport 33, Bolingbrook 16
(What's happened to the Brook?)
Plainfield North 37, Oswego 25
Benet 24, Joliet Catholic 21

Check out that last one. Benet beat JCA? Wow. In hindsight, that was truly the Game of the Week. But who knew?

Let's move on to the rankings (all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted):

Chicago Tribune

1. Homewood-Flossmoor 
2. Loyola
3. Glenbard West 
4. Libertyville
5. Montini
6. Phillips
7. Naperville Central (7-1)
8. Hinsdale Central (7-1)  
9. Brother Rice (7-1)
10. Joliet Catholic (7-1)

(Phillips and Naperville Central moved up; JCA dropped four spots.)

Chicago Sun-Times 

1. Homewood-Flossmoor
2. Glenbard West
3. Loyola 
4. Libertyville 
5. Montini
6. Phillips 
7. Huntley
8. Lincoln-Way North 
9. Naperville Central (7-1)
10. Hinsdale Central (7-1)

(JCA and Brother Rice (7-1) were bumped in favor of Huntley and Lincoln-Way North.)


1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Homewood-Flossmoor 
4. Libertyville
5. Hinsdale Central (7-1)
6. Sacred Heart-Griffin
7. Rochester
8. Huntley
9. Naperville Central (7-1)
10. Joliet Catholic (7-1)

(H-F moved up to No. 3, Huntley joined the top ten and Brother Rice fell to No. 12.)

Where was I this weekend? H-F at Sandburg on Friday night and Lindblom at Longwood on Saturday. Check back tomorrow for details.