Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't worry, Loyola fans, there's...

...a Hackney's on the way to the game tomorrow night, in Palos Park.

And you may even see me there, as I plan on stopping for an early dinner before my Game of the Week, Loyola (5-0) at Providence (2-3).

(I'll be the bald guy eating a Hackneyburger on dark rye with American cheese. And that'll be my brother and sister joining me in a brick of french fried onions.)

Why am I going to see a game with a losing team? A couple of reasons. First, my brother will be in town for the Minnesota - Northwestern game and I told him this year's Rambler squad may be the best I've ever seen. And, two, who was it again that ruined Providence's perfect season en route to the 7A championship last year with a fourth-quarter field goal? Oh, yeah -- Loyola. Gee, you don't suppose the Celtics would like to return the favor tomorrow night in New Lenox, do you?

But before we get too carried away, I need to repeat what I said after seeing only the first half of Loyola's 28-0 shutout of Brother Rice (4-1) in Week Three: this may very well be the best Rambler team I've ever seen.

The Wilmette squad is currently ranked No. 2 in the Tribune, No. 3 in the Sun-Times and No. 1 in MaxPreps. (Is the only thing standing in their way of a perfect 14-0 season and an 8A crown the Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings?)*

Unlike past Rambler teams, which I always thought were a collection of Division III athletes, this one has its share of legitimate D-I recruits. John Shannon is headed to Notre Dame as a long-snapper, tight end Eric Eshoo has committed to Northwestern and Ben Leroy, a defensive tackle, will be at Northern Illinois next year. Oh, and did I forget to mention that running back Dara Laja is on track to break the school's all-time career rushing record? (Has he already?)

And I haven't even gotten to quarterback Emmett Clifford and all those crazy-tall wide receivers in the mold of Charlie Dowdle. (Is there something in the water up there?) To give you an idea, Ted Falkenhayn is listed in the roster at 6'2", Thomas Smart at 6'3" and Robert Sullivan at 6'4"! How do you defend against this team?

Providence, ranked only No. 43 in the state by MaxPreps, is hardly the squad that went 13-1 and captured the 7A title last year. Gone are quarterback Justin Hunniford and wide receiver Miles Boykin, to name just two. But running back Richie Warfield (only a junior) and linebacker Brendan O'Hara are still around to give opponents migraines.

Before we get to who actually wins this thing, here are both teams' results so far this year (home team in CAPS):

LOYOLA 35, Marquette (WI) 0
Loyola 49, MAINE SOUTH 8
LOYOLA 28, Brother Rice 0
Loyola 54, FENWICK 16
LOYOLA 35, St. Ignatius 7

Joliet Catholic 35, PROVIDENCE 13
OSWEGO 14, Providence 13
MOUNT CARMEL 13, Providence 0
Providence 24, MARMION 7
PROVIDENCE 28, St. Rita 0

As for the two schools' history, the Celtics haven't beaten the North Siders since 2009, when today's seniors were in sixth grade

2014: LOYOLA 10, Providence 7
2013: LOYOLA 28, Providence 16
2012: LOYOLA 41, Providence 21
2011: Loyola 32, PROVIDENCE 6
2010: Loyola 21, PROVIDENCE 7
2009: PROVIDENCE 10, Loyola 3
2008: LOYOLA 13, Providence 0
2007: PROVIDENCE 20, Loyola 17
2006: LOYOLA 14, Providence 7
2005: PROVIDENCE 31, Loyola 29
2004: PROVIDENCE 29, Loyola 0

So who comes out on top tomorrow night? Loyola. But not without a fight -- a good one. See you there.

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

* This just in from Mike Clark at the Trib (in his best Donald Trump voice):

"Huge" also describes what is looking like the matchup of the top two teams in Class 8A: Homewood-Flossmoor and Loyola. A game between the consensus 1-2 schools in that class, as well as in the Chicago area, would be a nightmare for defensive coordinators and a dream come true for those who appreciate high-flying offenses.

But Soucie projects that game, assuming both teams run the table the regular season, would happen not in the 8A final. Instead, it would be in the semifinals, which would be a shame.

The odd thing about 8A field, though, is this: a loss by either power — maybe by Loyola to Mount Carmel in Week 9? — would put them in on opposite sides of the bracket and make that dream final matchup a reality.

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