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
Solorio 37, CHICAGO VOCATIONAL 20
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.