Monday, October 26, 2015

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!

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