Wednesday, October 7, 2015

If the weather holds out...

...this Friday I'll be at Homewood-Flossmoor to see the undefeated Vikings host the Lincoln-Way East Griffins (5-1). It's my Game of the Week.

First of all, I'm dying to see the No. 1 school in the state (according to both the Tribune and the Sun-Times) and the only team everyone thinks could beat Loyola. (Don't count out Glenbard West!) I also can't wait to see the famous Harley-Hampton twins, Deante and Devonte (above, with Beth Long of the Times), whom I've heard are positively unstoppable. (As for H-F's defense, who asked ya?)

The Vikings, last year's 8A runners-up, have yet to beat a winning team, although Stevenson (3-3) is the defending 8A champ. They've outscored their opponents, 318-56, with two shutouts. Here's their record so far (with home team in CAPS):

Homewood-Flossmoor 56, DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 15
Homewood-Flossmoor 43, STEVENSON 29
Homewood-Flossmoor 67, STAGG 6
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 60, Joliet Central 0
Homewood-Flossmoor 48, LOCKPORT 0
Homewood-Flossmoor 44, JOLIET WEST 6

Not exactly a Murderer's Row, is it? (Maybe that's why the Vikings are only ranked No. 14 in MaxPreps.)

If anyone can stop H-F it will be the Griffins. After losing the season opener to Oak Park River Forest (6-0) by only a point, Lincoln-Way East has won five in a row, including three shutouts. The Frankfort squad has outscored its opponents, 222-31, and are ranked No. 12 in the Trib, No. 20 in the Sun-Times and No. 25 in MaxPreps. Here's their schedule so far:

OAK PARK RIVER FOREST 14, Lincoln-Way East 13
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 48, Lincoln Park 0
Lincoln-Way East 35, JOLIET WEST 12
Lincoln-Way East 28, BOLINGBROOK 0
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 48, Lockport 6

Now, I know what you're thinking: Gee, neither one of these schedules looks that tough. Between the two of them, they've only beaten one winning team, Lincoln Park (5-1) -- who? -- in Week Two. Granted, the Southwest Suburban Blue isn't the strongest conference in the state this year, especially since Bolingbrook (3-3) seems to be down. But both teams still have to play Sandburg (5-1), who could give them each a game.

In recent years these two programs have been among the very best in the state. Besides H-F's appearance in the 8A final last year, Lincoln-Way East was the 7A runner-up two years ago, in 2012. And the Griffins, in fact, have never missed the playoffs -- never.

So who wins this one? Well, in the modern era (since Craig Buzea took over at H-F in 2010), the Vikings have only gotten the better of the Griffins once:

2014: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 43, Homewood-Flossmoor 40
2013: HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 24, Lincoln-Way East 21
2012: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 35, Homewood-Flossmoor 20
2011: Lincoln-Way East 38, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 21
2010: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 31, Homewood-Flossmoor 21

2009: Lincoln-Way East 36, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 0
2008: Lincoln-Way East 29, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 0
2007: N/A
2006: N/A
2005: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 38, Homewood-Flossmoor 13
2004: Lincoln-Way East 24, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 0

In the last five years, while Buzea was compiling a 46-16 record, Rob Zvonar, the only head coach East has ever had (I believe) went a head-spinning 51-10.

But this is H-F's year, and I expect the Vikings to go 9-0 and face Loyola at some point in the postseason. According to Mike Clark of the Trib:

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.

Go figure.

As usual, I'll be live-tweeting the action @BoringOldWhtGuy. Enjoy the game!

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