Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“Anytime I’ve ever been asked ‘What do you want, a medal?’ I’ve said yes.”"Anytime I've ever been asked 'What do you want, a medal?' I've said yes."

Naperville North hasn't had...

...a winning season since 2013, when the Huskies finished 5-4. They haven't had a winning year over all since 2010, when they finished 8-4. And North hasn't started out a season 5-0 since 2008, when it won its first ten games and went 10-1, losing narrowly in the second round of the playoffs to Marist, 28-25.

Neuqua Valley, also undefeated at 5-0, hasn't started out a season this well since 2012, when it won its first twelve games, finishing 12-1, with a disappointing loss at home in the semifinals to Mount Carmel, 26-21. (I was there.)

This Friday the two schools will meet at Naperville North (above) in what should surely be the Game of the Week.

Neuqua is ranked No. 4 in the Sun-Times, No. 5 in the Tribune and No. 6 in MaxPreps. The Huskies, meanwhile, are ranked No. 11 in the Times, No. 12 in MaxPreps and No. 13 in the Trib.

Each has beat two winning (3-2) teams so far. The Wildcats defeated Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley (home team in CAPS):

NEUQUA 35, Metea Valley 7
NEUQUA 24, Naperville Central 10
NEUQUA 48, Wheaton Warrenville South 19

While Naperville North beat Wheaton North and Glenbard North:

Naperville North 42, SANDBURG 14
NAPERVILLE NORTH 41, Metea Valley 40 (OT)
Naperville North 33, WHEATON NORTH 7
Naperville North 28, LAKE PARK 23
NAPERVILLE NORTH 21, Glenbard North 13

Since 2005 the two programs have split their twelve match-ups evenly, with Neuqua having the advantage in recent years:

2015: NEUQUA 34, Naperville North 7
2014: NAPERVILLE NORTH 14, Neuqua 13
2013: NEUQUA 34, Naperville North 27
2012: Neuqua 43, NAPERVILLE NORTH 20
           Neuqua 56, NAPERVILLE NORTH 20 (playoffs)
2011: NEUQUA 37, Naperville North 23
2010: NAPERVILLE NORTH 29, Neuqua 28
2009: Naperville North 28, NEUQUA 21
2008: NAPERVILLE NORTH 41, Neuqua 19
2007: Naperville North 41, NEUQUA 14
2006: NAPERVILLE NORTH 17, Neuqua 14
2005: NEUQUA 33, Naperville North 14

Can the home team Huskies upset the higher-ranked Wildcats Friday night and start the 2016 season 6-0? Or will Neuqua prevail, climb the rankings and look for a possible post-season showdown with Loyola?

See you at the game!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The rankings are finally... from all three news services I follow.

In the Tribune Mike Helfgot elevated Lyons over Glenbard West after the Lions upset the Hilltoppers, 21-7, in Glen Ellyn. And Mount Carmel dropped out of his top ten after the Caravan was upended in a last-second thriller at St. Rita, 31-28.

Beth Long of the Sun-Times did much the same while MaxPreps swapped out Lincoln-Way East in favor of St. Charles East.

(In case you can't read, LoyolaHomewood-Flossmoor, Brother Rice, Neuqua Valley and Barrington are common to all three.)

So what does all this mean? Well, for starters, it makes this Saturday's contest in Wilmette between the visiting Mustangs of St. Rita and host Loyola (above) that much more interesting. The Ramblers, as I mentioned yesterday, are a steamroller. But can they go undefeated again? (That's really hard to do.) Or can they go unblemished until at least Week Nine when they travel to Brother Rice? Is Rita, who lost to St. Patrick and St. Laurence and only narrowly defeated Providence (and Mount Carmel), for real? Or was last Friday night just a fluke? Could they knock off the big, bad Ramblers in Wilmette? Probably not. But it may be worth the drive.

Neuqua, meanwhile, will have a big test at unbeaten Naperville North this Friday. It will be my Game of the Week.

Brother Rice, for its part, hosts Mount Carmel (3-2). Can the Crusaders hand the Woodlawn squad their third loss of the season? Or will the Caravan spoil the Mount Greenwood school's perfect record?

Elsewhere, Glenbrook North should extend its record to 6-0 at Maine East (1-4). But will Montini (2-3) end undefeated De La Salle's Cinderella run? And what about Oswego (5-0) at Oswego East (5-0)? Shouldn't that be my Game of the Week?

Here are some other tilts that will sorely test undefeated teams in Week Six:

Prairie Ridge (5-0) vs. McHenry (4-1),
IC (5-0) hosts Riverside-Brookfield (4-1),
Rolling Meadows (5-0) vs. Prospect (3-2),
Palatine (5-0) vs. Fremd (3-2),
Lemont (5-0) at Hillcrest (4-1),
Bradley-Bourbonnais (5-0) at Lincoln-Way Central (4-1),
West Aurora (5-0) at Huntley (3-2),
Hinsdale Central (5-0) vs. Glenbard West (4-1), and
Barrington (5-0) vs. Schaumburg (4-1).
(The Broncos have to face Hoffman Estates (4-1) and Palatine (5-0) after that. Killer schedule!)

Which of these teams will emerge undefeated at 6-0?

Oh, and what the heck:

Marist (4-1) at St. Patrick (4-1) should be good too.

Now on to the rankings (all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted):


1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Lincoln-Way East (4-1) 
5. Neuqua Valley
6. Palatine
7. Barrington
8. Prairie Ridge
9. Lyons
10. Glenbard West (4-1)


1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Brother Rice
4. Neuqua Valley
5. Lyons
6. Oak Park and River Forest
7. Lincoln-Way East (4-1)
8. Marist (4-1)
9. Glenbard West (4-1)
10. Barrington


1. Loyola
2. Brother Rice
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Homewood-Flossmoor
5. Neuqua Valley
6. East St. Louis
7. Palatine
8. IC Catholic
9. St. Charles East
10. Barrington

Monday, September 26, 2016

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

“The arms wouldn’t be so noticeable if he’d stop playing air guitar.”

I guess Week Five...

...was the week for upsets.*

The game I watched, though, Loyola at Fenwick, turned out pretty much as expected as the Ramblers rambled, 52-21.** I actually thought it would be a closer contest. But to paraphrase former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Loyola's a gosh-darn steamroller. Big game this week as St. Rita rolls into Wilmette fresh on the heels of its upset over Mount Carmel, 31-28. Will that be my Game of the Week?

The other upsets around the Chicago area began hitting the IHSA Twitter page Friday night and kept right on coming through Saturday:

Naperville North 21, Glenbard North 13
St. Charles East 28, Batavia 7
Bradley-Bourbonnais 22, Bolingbrook 21
Lyons 21, Glenbard West 7

And (if you believe the IHSA):

Lincoln-Way West 27, Homewood-Flossmoor, 11***

Did I miss any?

Naperville North (above) is now undefeated and will host Neuqua Valley (5-0) this Friday. That's my Game of the Week.

By the way, did you realize that Glenbrook North, De La Salle, Lemont, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Rolling Meadows and West Aurora are all 5-0?

And Glenbrook South, Elk Grove Village, Wheaton Warrenville South, Joliet Catholic, Conant and Proviso West are all still looking for their first victory?

Who woulda thunk it?

Check back tomorrow for this week's rankings (Mike Helfgot is lollygagging again).

* Including Notre Dame (the university, not the high school), where I was on Saturday. The Irish -- 21 point favorites -- got off to a quick 14-0 lead over visiting Duke before losing, 38-35. ND is now 1-3 on the season, its worst start since 2010, Brian Kelly's first year. Wow.

** An earlier draft had the score, 52-14. Darn that @IHSAScoreZone page! (Shoulda just relied on my own memory.)

*** I think it was the other way around.

Friday, September 23, 2016

John D. Loudermilk, a country singer...

...and prolific songwriter whose dozens of hits in the 1960s and ’70s included “Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere and the Raiders, died at age 82.

If you're about my age you'll remember this quirky tune from 1971 -- it was huge!

(By the way, isn't it nice to think about something else besides presidential politics and high school football?)

From Loudermilk's obit in the Times:

When John was 7, his father made him a ukulele from a cigar box and his mother taught him to play it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Not only has Loyola...

...not lost a game since 2014, but the Ramblers haven't lost to Fenwick since 2006. (That was long before Friar coach Gene Nudo arrived at the Oak Park school in 2012.) So Loyola has a 21-game winning streak as well as a six-game winning streak over Fenwick on the line when the two undefeated teams meet at Triton College, above, on Friday night. It's my Game of the Week.

Before we get to the recent history between these two programs, here's a look at their 2016 schedules so far (home team in CAPS).

Loyola -- last year's 8A champion -- is ranked No. 1 everywhere:

Loyola 36, MARQUETTE (WI) 7
LOYOLA 44, Maine South 43
Loyola 35, MOUNT CARMEL 28
LOYOLA 55, St. Francis 0

Fenwick, for its part, is also 4-0 after a disappointing 3-6 finish in 2015. The Friars are ranked No. 12 in both the Tribune and the Sun-Times and No. 23 in MaxPreps:

FENWICK 34, Phillips 26
FENWICK 51, Bowen 0
FENWICK 38, Montini 6
Fenwick 36, LEO 8

So each team has two "quality" wins, Maine South and Mount Carmel for Loyola, and Phillips and Montini for Fenwick. I know Maine South is much improved over last year because I've seen them play twice (including that Loyola game). But how different are Phillips and Montini from last year's 4A and 6A championship squads? Well, Phillips is 3-1 so far with big victories over Richards and Simeon, while Montini is only 1-3. But look at the Broncos' schedule: Maine South, Lake Zurich, Fenwick and Brother Rice! And they still have to play Marmion, De La Salle and Mount Carmel! Who the heck is responsible for that?

Beth Long has a nice preview of Friday night's game in today's Sun-Times. The key takeaway: of the most athletic quarterbacks in the area in the Friars’ Jacob Keller. The 6-4, 195-pound signal caller, also a star basketball player, has offers to play in college in both sports.

Can the Friars upset the Ramblers in River Grove tomorrow night? Here are the results from the last several years:

2015: Loyola 54, FENWICK 16
2014: LOYOLA 42, Fenwick 0
2013: N/A
2012: LOYOLA 49, Fenwick 28
2011: Loyola 47, FENWICK 7
2010: LOYOLA 45, Fenwick 7
2009: Loyola 31, FENWICK 7
2008: N/A
2007: N/A
2006: FENWICK 20, Loyola 0
2005: LOYOLA 31, Fenwick 7
          Fenwick 10, Loyola 7 (Catholic League tournament)
2004: Loyola 7, FENWICK 6


If you're still reading at this point, here's a little personal info. I'm taking my brother (who attended Loyola in the 1960s) and my younger son to the game. But first we're going on a whirlwind tour of the area: West Suburban Hospital (where my parents, all my siblings and I were born, and where my great aunt worked as a nurse when they brought her brother after he was shot and killed by Al Capone's gang back in the '20s), my mother's two-flat in Austin, my dad's house in Oak Park, Fenwick and Ascension (where my father went to school), my grandparents' apartment building and, finally, the Oak Park Arms, where my mother's mother lived out her last days. Then it's on to Russell's Barbecue and Triton College for the game! Sound like a plan?

As I've tried to explain (with only limited success), my interest in high school football goes far beyond the gridiron. Of course I like football (although I've never claimed to be an expert), but I'm actually a bit of an amateur sociologist. I think I can tell a lot about someone just by where they went to high school. Two of my brothers went to Loyola (one of whom played on the 1965 City Championship team) and Fenwick is the alma mater of my dad and his two brothers and countless cousins on both sides of my family.

So there's a lot of history here for me.

Who will I be rooting for? In this case Fenwick. (I nearly always root for the underdog.) But what's my prediction? I'd say the Ramblers by about two touchdowns -- let's say 28-14.

I'll be live-tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy. Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:


Week Four is over...

...and Week Five looms large on the horizon. And you know what that means: the regular season is almost half over. There are still a number of undefeated teams, though, and some of them will face each other this weekend.

Personally, I'll be at Triton College to see if my dad's alma mater, Fenwick (4-0), can sneak up on Big, Bad Loyola (4-0) and end the Ramblers' 21-game winning streak. (Loyola's last defeat was at Stevenson, 24-21, on November 8, 2014. Pretty sure I was there.)

But here are four other games that will send one team home 4-1 while the other remains undefeated at 5-0:

Palatine (4-0) at Hoffman Estates (4-0)
Lincoln-Way West (4-0) at Homewood-Flossmoor (4-0)
Batavia (4-0) at St. Charles East (4-0)
Lyons (4-0) at Glenbard West (4-0)

And here are six more contests that will sorely test undefeated squads. How many of them will emerge 5-0?

Marmion (4-0) at Montini (1-3)
Glenbard North (3-1) at Naperville North (4-0)
St. Patrick (4-0) at Notre Dame (3-1)
Barrington (4-0) at Fremd (3-1)
Lemont (4-0) at Oak Forest (3-1)
Oswego East (4-0) at Plainfield North (3-1)

And -- what the heck -- here are two just plain good tilts between 3-1 teams:

Huntley (3-1) at Cary-Grove (3-1)
DeKalb (3-1) at Kaneland (3-1)

By the way, McNamara, Wheaton Warrenville South and Joliet Catholic are still looking for their first victory of the season. What is this, Bizarro World?

This week's rankings didn't change much. In fact, Mike Helfgot's top ten at the Tribune didn't change at all. Beth Long dropped Bolingbrook (2-2) in favor of Barrington (4-0) after the Raiders' 41-23 loss to Lincoln-Way East. And the positively sphinx-like MaxPreps computer elevated East St. Louis (4-0) and Lincoln-Way East (3-1) in place of St. Charles North (3-1) and Stevenson (3-1).

Whatever. There's still a long way to go.

Here are the current rankings from the three news services I follow. As you can see, Loyola, Homewood-Flossmoor, Brother Rice, Lincoln-Way East, Neuqua Valley and Barrington are common to all. (Teams are undefeated unless otherwise noted.)


1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Brother Rice
5. Lincoln-Way East (3-1) 
6. Mount Carmel (3-1)
7. Neuqua Valley
8. Palatine
9. Barrington
10. Prairie Ridge


1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Mount Carmel (3-1)
4. Glenbard West
5. Brother Rice
6. Neuqua Valley
7. Lincoln-Way East (3-1)
8. Marist (3-1)
9. Oak Park and River Forest
10. Barrington


1. Loyola
2. Brother Rice
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Prairie Ridge
5. Neuqua Valley
6. IC Catholic
7. Palatine
8. East St. Louis
9. Barrington
10. Lincoln-Way East (3-1)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Don Buchla, an instrument...

...builder, musician and composer who invented the Buchla Box, died at age 79. From his New York Times obit:

The Buchla Box also supplied sound for the writer Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, the freewheeling multimedia happenings at which attendees, including Mr. Buchla, used LSD. Mr. Buchla was at the electronic controls for sound and visuals at the Trips Festival in San Francisco in 1966, a pinnacle of the psychedelic era. In his book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” (1968), Tom Wolfe wrote about the “Buchla electronic music machine screaming like a logical lunatic.”

If you haven't read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) by all means get to it. And while you're at it, The Right Stuff (1979) and From Bauhaus to Our House (1981) are also good.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Am I freaking out...

...about the latest polls showing the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tightening? Yes, a little.

According to, Hillary's lead has been cut to 61.5 percent to 34.4 over Trump. (It has Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina in pink -- leaning red.) And over at, the most optimistic scenario has Mrs. Clinton beating the Donald, 60 percent to 39.9. (Nate Silver adds Florida to the pink list.)

So why am I not freaking out a lot? Well, this line from a front-page article in the Times says it all (my emphasis):

Despite the voters’ misgivings, the major-party nominees are consolidating support among their party faithful. Mrs. Clinton commands support of 87 percent of Democrats, while Mr. Trump is supported by 85 percent of Republicans.

At the end of the day, the United States is essentially 50/50 Republican/Democrat. And in the absence of a financial crisis/recession or a terrorist/national security event the public will stick with the incumbent party.

Think about it: Jimmy Carter lost in 1980 because the U. S. was in a recession and Americans were being held hostage in Iran; George H. W. Bush lost in 1992 because voters thought the economy was still in recession; and Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000.

Granted, the economy isn't screaming right now, but it is in recovery. Don't believe me? President Obama's approval ratings are over 50 percent right now, higher than when he beat Mitt Romney in 2012. Think his numbers would be this high if people weren't feeling just a little better about the economy?

And, finally, the Democrats have demographics on their side. Like it or not, whites are just declining as a percentage of the electorate. (Don't blame me: I had two kids.)

So despite what anyone says, I think Republicans and Democrats will come home in November, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein will fade, and people just won't -- in reasonably good times -- pull the lever for a risky candidate like Trump. The red states from 2008 and 2012 will generally stay red and the blue states from the last two elections will stay blue. (Republicans may trade Iowa for North Carolina, but that would be a wash.)

It's one thing to cast a protest vote for Trump, Johnson or Stein if Clinton is seen as a heavy favorite. But if the election is thought to be close voters may opt for security over adventure:

Sixty-seven percent of voters see Mr. Trump as a risky choice for president, compared with 51 percent who hold that view about Mrs. Clinton.

Now, I'm sure you've also heard that "Clinton is the least-popular major party nominee of all time — except for Donald Trump" and "it’s hard — indeed, unprecedented — for such an unpopular person to win the presidency." But, remember, we're dealing with an awfully small sample size. There have only been 44 presidents (43 if you count Grover Cleveland once) in the entire history of the United States. And, since World War II, there have only been twelve. So, if you tell me that no one with Hillary's unfavorables has ever been elected president, I could come back and say no woman has ever been elected either. So, what? And, before Obama, no African American had ever been elected. And, before Kennedy, no Catholic. And . . . you get the idea.

So am I nervous? Yes, but no more so than at this time in 2012 when Obama held a slim lead over Romney. Will I wait until November 9 to exhale? Yes, but no more so than last time.

Now, is Mrs. Clinton a lousy candidate? Absolutely. But until further notice, she's still the odds-on favorite to win in November.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Friday night's Lincoln-Way East... Bolingbrook game will not feature Aaron Bailey (above) or Tom Fuessel or Blake Winkler or any of the other great quarterbacks I've seen in this rivalry over the years.

(Bailey, by the way, was quite possibly the best high school athlete I've ever seen. And, yes, I saw Laquon Treadwell play at Crete-Monee.)

But, according to Beth Long at the Sun-Times:

Raiders quarterback Anthony Vespo passed for 170 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-7 victory over Stagg in Week 3.

And from Mike Clark over at the Tribune, the Griffins' quarterback was one of last week's "key performers" in its 35-30 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor:

Jake Arthur, 13-18 passing, 148 yards, 2 TDs

So there may be two talented quarterbacks worth watching tomorrow night anyway.

Even though both schools are relatively new, this annual showdown of perennial Southwest Suburban Conference powers has become a Must-See for me every year. It's easily my Game of the Week. (And should be yours too.)

Both squads are 2-1 but the Griffins are ranked No. 5 in the Tribune, No. 7 in the Sun-Times and No. 16 in MaxPreps. The Raiders, meanwhile, aren't ranked at all in the Trib (not even On the Verge!), No. 10 in the Times and a positively nosebleed No. 36 in MaxPreps. No matter; this tilt will be well worth the drive down to Bolingbrook. Trust me.

(And, by the way, it's a great stadium -- plenty of parking and seating so you don't have to get there hours and hours before the kickoff. Although you may want to see the sophomore game and check out next year's talent.)

How have the two programs fared so far this year? Glad you asked (home team in CAPS):

Lincoln-Way East 49, SOUTH BEND ADAMS 12
Lincoln-Way East 35, Belleville West 0
Homewood-Flossmoor 35, LINCOLN-WAY EAST 30

Glenbard West 17, BOLINGBROOK 7
Bolingbrook 20, MCNAMARA 14 (OT)
Bolingbrook 55, STAGG 7

And how has this storied rivalry gone in recent years?

2015: Lincoln-Way East 28, BOLINGBROOK 0
2014: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 23, Bolingbrook 9
2013: BOLINGBROOK 12, Lincoln-Way East 3
2012: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 42, Bolingbrook 18
2011: Lincoln-Way East 20, BOLINGBROOK 14
2010: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 43, Bolingbrook 7
2009: BOLINGBROOK 46, Lincoln-Way East 24
2008: BOLINGBROOK 27, Lincoln-Way East 17
2007: BOLINGBROOK 19, Lincoln-Way East 7
2006: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 22, Bolingbrook 14
2005: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 38, Bolingbrook 15

As you can see, it's been mostly Lincoln-Way East; but Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow can never be taken lightly. Remember, it was the Raiders last year who were the only team to beat H-F in the regular season, 22-21, in a driving rainstorm on the road in Week Nine. You never want to play these guys.

Oh, and the Griffins have a pretty good coach, too, in Rob Zvonar. In eleven years at the helm, he's never missed the playoffs -- never.

See you at the game!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The rankings are...

...finally in from the three news services I follow. And as you can see, Loyola still leads the pack everywhere, with Homewood-Flossmoor, Brother Rice and Neuqua Valley common to all.

The big story last weekend, I suppose, was Barrington's convincing 41-27 victory over Maine South (above), which vaulted the undefeated Broncos into the Trib's and MaxPreps' top ten. Barrington will travel to unbeaten Evanston this Friday. Will that be my Game of the Week? Not so fast.

Another big tilt in Week Three was H-F's takedown of previously undefeated Lincoln-Way East, 35-30. Does that diminish the Griffins' trip to Bolingbrook (2-1) this Friday? Hardly. That's always a great rivalry and should be my Game of the Week.

Just for kicks, though, here are three other contests you should be aware of:

Naperville North (3-0) at Lake Park (2-1);
St. Patrick (3-0) at Marian (1-2); and
Hoffman Estates (3-0) at Maine East (1-2).

Why? Because each of the visitors is undefeated and could emerge 4-0 after this weekend. And each would be the talk of their conference after coming off losing seasons in 2015.

Pssst! Here are two sleeper games: H-F at Lockport (3-0), and St. Charles East (3-0) at St. Charles North (3-0).

On to the rankings (all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted):


1. Loyola
2. Glenbard West
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Brother Rice
5. Lincoln-Way East (2-1) 
6. Mount Carmel (2-1)
7. Neuqua Valley
8. Palatine
9. Barrington
10. Prairie Ridge


1. Loyola
2. Homewood-Flossmoor
3. Mount Carmel (2-1)
4. Glenbard West
5. Brother Rice
6. Neuqua Valley
7. Lincoln-Way East (2-1)
8. Marist (2-1)
9. Oak Park and River Forest
10. Bolingbrook (2-1)


1. Loyola
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Brother Rice
4. IC Catholic
5. Palatine
6. Neuqua Valley
7. Homewood-Flossmoor
8. Barrington
9. St. Charles North
10. Stevenson (2-1)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Week Three is over...

Fenwick coach Gene Nudo.
...and you know what that means: the 2016 regular season is a third of the way over. Tempus fugit!

While we're waiting for Mike Helfgot's computer to kick in and spit out his Top Twenty rankings in the Tribune, it may be worth noting that Fenwick, Naperville North, St. Patrick and Hoffman Estates are all undefeated at 3-0. In 2015 the four schools had a combined record of 12-25. (And Fenwick has beaten two of 2015's champions, 4A Phillips and 6A Montini. Are the Friars -- 3-6 last year -- for real?)

This week the Oak Park squad travels to Leo (2-1) while Loyola hosts St. Francis (0-3). Could Fenwick and Loyola both be undefeated when the two meet in Week Five? I smell a Game of the Week.

(Hoffman Estates could also face an undefeated Palatine in Week Five.)

On the other side of the ledger, such perennial powers as Wheaton Warrenville South, Joliet Catholic and Warren are still looking for their first victory. Last year the three went a combined 18-14. In addition, Maine South, Montini, Naperville Central, Richards, Crete-Monee and Geneva are all 1-2. In 2015 the six teams went a combined 61-14!

This week Montini has to face Brother Rice (3-0) while Richards hosts Shepard (3-0). Ouch.

Friday, September 9, 2016

If I've evolved...

New Trier's proposed $89 million renovation.
...from a Libertarian (yes, that's with a capital "L") to center-left on most issues in the last decade or so, I've become positively Marxist when it comes to education. (Maybe I always was.)

I bring this up now after reading two front-page articles in the Times yesterday and today.

If I were King for a Day I'd begin by closing all the private schools in America at every level tomorrow. No, make that today. And then I'd force everyone to send their kids to their local public school and fund them all equally from Washington. (I can practically hear everyone clicking off this page right now.)

I know what you're thinking (besides, this guy's f*****g nuts!): if everyone had to go to the same schools it would just drag them all down -- you know, like the Soviet Union. And that's not a bad argument. But from my experience living on the North Shore for over twenty years, when there aren't a lot of private school options (unlike, say, the East Coast) and people are essentially forced to send their kids to the local public schools, guess what? Everyone, especially the well-educated and concerned parents, invests in those schools (with both time and money) and they become really good. (Huh! Who woulda thunk it?)

Al Raby High School.
I know what you're thinking now: yeah, but those schools on the North Shore (and in Barrington, Hinsdale, Naperville, Flossmoor, etc.) are all locally funded by property taxes (which are deductible from your federal return). And that's where the second part of my directive comes in: all schools will be federally-financed at the same rate. So schools like Al Raby, on the West Side of Chicago, would get the same tax dollars as New Trier. And schools in Mississippi would get the same funding as schools in Connecticut. Same pay for teachers and administrators, same dollars for facilities, etc. That's right: from each according to his ability; to each according to his need. (I told you I was practically a Marxist on this issue.)

Now I know what you're thinking now: Outrageous! Why should I work hard and buy an expensive house in a good school district only to see my kid get the same education as some poor kid from the city?

And that's my point: If America is ever going to achieve equality of opportunity -- not outcome -- we're going to have to start at the very beginning -- education.

My kids are all grown and gone so I don't have a dog in this fight. Is this just pie-in-the-sky idealism? Of course it is! I'll never be King for a Day. (You can exhale now.)

But just think about it for a minute: Is our system really fair? Imagine you were a baby about to be born but didn't know if you'd be born into a rich family or a poor one. Would you really take a chance on the current system? Or does mine make a little more sense now?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to John Hatmaker.

The Tom Toles...

...cartoon of the day.

When I went to the...

...Montini - Maine South game in Week One I sat -- as I nearly always do -- on the home side of the stadium. (You can sit up higher and see better.) I found myself next to a retired teacher from Maine South who also graduated from the school in the 1960s. He was an old white guy (of course) so I couldn't help asking him about Maine South's most famous alumna, Hillary Clinton (from its first graduating class, in 1965). He winced (of course) and looked as though the hot dog he was eating didn't agree with him. "Yeah," he said. "But we don't talk about that." I chuckled a little inside.

(He was actually a nice man and I enjoyed talking about Maine South football with him.)

This week the Hawks (1-1) travel to Barrington (2-0) to face the Broncos for only the fourth time since 2004.

Here are the results (home team in CAPS):

2014: Barrington 21, MAINE SOUTH 7
2008: Maine South 42, BARRINGTON 0
2006: BARRINGTON 42, Maine South 34

Let's throw out those last two games -- this year's seniors were only ten years old in 2008. Even 2014's tilt probably doesn't matter much; I've heard that Barrington is very strong this year and I know Maine South is much improved over last season.

The Hawks are ranked No. 7 in the Sun-Times, No. 8 in MaxPreps and No. 12 in the Tribune. After beating Montini at home, 44-13, Maine South lost to Loyola on the road, 44-43.

Barrington, meanwhile, is ranked No. 19 in the Trib, No. 20 in the Times and No. 25 in MaxPreps. The Broncos won their first two games, both at home, over Glenbrook South, 41-15, and Prospect, 49-7.

In an effort to improve its schedule, Maine South will play two games against teams from the West Division of the Mid-Suburban League; the other will be next week against Conant at home.

Who wins this one? I don't know, but after the pair scored a combined 177 points in their first two games, it wouldn't surprise me to see a high-scoring affair.

Elsewhere in the Chicago area, Lincoln-Way East plays host to Homewood-Flossmoor in what should be a great South Suburban Conference matchup of two undefeated teams.

Homewood-Flossmoor -- No. 3 in the Times, No. 5 in the Trib and No. 21 in MaxPreps -- beat Downers Grove South and Hammond (IN) by a combined score of 110-12!

Lincoln-Way East, for its part, is No. 2 in the Trib, No. 5 in the Times and No. 6 in MaxPreps. The Griffins defeated South Bend Adams (IN) and Belleville West by a combined score of 84-12.

In the last four years, the home team has won each time:

2015: HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 28, Lincoln-Way East 3
2014: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 43, Homewood-Flossmoor 40
2013: HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 24, Lincoln-Way East 21
2012: LINCOLN-WAY EAST 35, Homewood-Flossmoor 20

Before 2012 it was all Lincoln-Way East. (And my buddy Kevin is always telling me nothing before that matters.)

Lincoln-Way East was founded in 2001, and it bears repeating that the football team has never missed the playoffs in every year of the school's existence.

But what about this year? Did H-F reload after graduating so many seniors last year? And did the closing of Lincoln-Way North add appreciably to East's roster? I guess we'll find out Friday night.

Finally, in another great intra-conference showdown, Neuqua Valley (2-0) will travel to Waubonsie Valley (2-0). (This time it's the DuPage Valley Conference, which the two schools joined last year.)

Neuqua is ranked No. 8 in both the Trib and the Sun-Times and No. 12 in MaxPreps after dispatching Metea Valley, 35-7, and Naperville Central, 24-10, at home.

Waubonsie Valley beat two teams on the road, Lake Park, 16-8, and Glenbard North, 29-28. The Warriors are ranked No. 7 in the Trib, No. 10 in MaxPreps and No. 14 in the Times.

In the last twelve years the two rivals have faced each other 14 times, with Neuqua winning nine of the contests:

2015: NEUQUA 28, Waubonsie 7
          Waubonsie 21, NEUQUA 14 (Round Two)
2014: Waubonsie 35, NEUQUA 28
2013: Neuqua 40, WAUBONSIE 25
2012: NEUQUA 35, Waubonsie 34 (OT)
          Neuqua 23, WAUBONSIE 20 (Round Three)
2011: WAUBONSIE 27, Neuqua 21
2010: NEUQUA 43, Waubonsie 6
2009: Neuqua 28, WAUBONSIE 7
2008: Waubonsie 28, NEUQUA 26
2007: WAUBONSIE 10, Neuqua 6
2006: NEUQUA 25, Waubonsie 6
2005: Neuqua 22, Waubonsie 3 (North Central College)
2004: Neuqua 63, Waubonsie 21 (North Central College)

Will the Wildcats prevail over Waubonsie after the home team's dramatic victory over Glenbard North last week? Beats me. But I'll be following it closely on Twitter.

Enjoy the games!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:


The Game of the Week...

...will surely be (everyone's No. 1) Loyola at Mount Carmel.

The South Siders -- No. 2 in the Sun-Times, No. 4 in the Tribune and No. 31 in MaxPreps (thirty-one?) -- are, like Loyola, undefeated at 2-0. (Could 1-1 Montini, ranked No. 19 by MaxPreps, really beat the Woodlawn Eleven? We'll find out in Week Eight.)

Here's their schedule so far (home team in CAPS):

Mount Carmel 49, Taft 7 (at Soldier Field)
Mound Carmel 56, GARY WEST SIDE (IN) 6

But, as a Carmel coach told me at the Loyola game (they all came in just before the kickoff and sat in front of me), the Caravan really hasn't played anyone yet.

How about the Ramblers?

Loyola 36, MARQUETTE (WI) 7
LOYOLA 44, Maine South 43

Beth Long of the Sun-Times has this tilt at the top of her list of "Week 3′s top five games," and I think that would be hard to argue with. (Although I can think of at least three other first-rate contests this weekend.)

I can't really improve on Ms. Long's thumbnail sketch except to add the results of the series for the last ten years:

2015: LOYOLA 49, Mount Carmel 21
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

See a pattern? Me neither.

I saw Loyola play on Saturday and they didn't seem as strong to me as last year's squad. (Although, in fairness, the 2015 8A champion was probably the best Rambler team ever.) Loyola's defense needs work, to be sure, but their offense is explosive.

Mount Carmel? Who knows? I last saw them play in November against Glenbard West, in which they were shut out, 7-0. Is this year's team better, or worse? Frank Lenti wasn't saying on Saturday.

In any event, if this isn't the "game of the season," as Ms. Long opines, it should certainly be worth the drive down to Gately. See you there!

CNN had a piece yesterday...

...titled "500 homicides. 9 months. 1 American city." It was about, you guessed it, homicides in Chicago. The article begins by saying (all emphasis mine):

Chicago's 500th homicide of the year happened over Labor Day weekend, according to the Chicago Tribune.

That number carries a lot of weight for the city -- not just in quantity, but in meaning: 2016 is now the deadliest year in two decades.

That's not even remotely true, as the chart above shows. (In case you can't read it, prior to 2003 the city averaged well over 600 murders a year. "Two decades" ago, in 1996, Chicago had 796 homicides. Click here for a closer look.)

To support its claims, the piece prints a few charts going all the way back to 1985.

Why 1985? Why not 1974, when homicides peaked at 970? That's almost twice the rate of today! Does CNN have some kind of agenda here?

Let's look at homicides in Chicago by decade.

1970s: 8,275
1980s: 7,381
1990s: 8,240
2000s: 5,352

Now take that scary "500" number in the title of the CNN piece and multiply it by ten -- you get 5,000, of course, which would be less than any of the previous four decades. (And even that number would be high; the average for the first six years of this decade is "only" 458.)

Now, I know what you're thinking: those charts in the CNN piece talk about the homicide "rate," not the absolute level. And CNN projects the rate of homicide in Chicago as 24.1 per 100,000 people. Is that high? Is it on the rise? Well, look at this table:

Chicago Homicide Rates per 100,000 residents, 1870-2000.

1970: 24
1980: 28.7
1990: 32.9
2000: 22.1

I guess that 24.1 number isn't such an outlier, is it? (The table doesn't give figures for decades, just individual years.)

So maybe this CNN piece is just a little disingenuous. I mean, homicides in Chicago are still too high, but it's hard to argue that they are on the rise. Couldn't you just as effectively argue that homicides in Chicago are in a long-term downward trend?

I met a nice man from Indianapolis at a wedding last weekend who couldn't -- just couldn't -- believe I lived in Chicago "with all that gun violence." When I cited some of the figures above I could tell he just didn't believe me. I tried to tell him the reality was different from the narrative in the "media," but I don't think I got through to him. He's probably reading that CNN piece right now and wondering about that nutty guy from Chicago he met at that wedding. How on earth could anyone actually live there?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Name of the Day... actually that of a town, not a person. Athol is in Worcester County, Massachusetts.

The town was originally called Pequoiag; I'm not sure which is worse. (Yeah, I am.)

Fred Hellerman, the last...

...surviving member of the Weavers (in the striped shirt), died at age 89. (And that's probably the last time I post that video.)

Wasn’t that a time!

Week Two is in...

...the rearview mirror and Loyola, despite its narrow one-point victory over Maine South, is still No. 1 in all the polls.

I was up there in Wilmette on Saturday and it was one of the best games I've seen in a long time. (Mike Clark of the Tribune and Michael O'Brien of the Sun-Times covered it well.)

Hard to argue that Loyola's Jake Marwede (above) and Maine South's Nick Leongas and Fotis Kokosioulis weren't the players of the game, but I think Rambler coach John Holecek was also right when he said:

“Our offensive line obviously was the strong point again. Big, tough, [Maine South] loaded the box and we still ran it on them.”

That's interesting coming from a coach whose teams are usually known for their defense. But, as both Chicago sportswriters pointed out, 43 points is the most allowed by a Loyola squad since a 45-20 loss to Mount Carmel way back in 1998, before most of today's players were even born.

The Hawks, for their part, have now scored 87 points in two games. As I said last week, these guys are back. Maine South has now cracked the top ten in both the Sun-Times' and MaxPreps' rankings, as well they should.

That other game I didn't see (gotta pick your battles), IC Catholic at St. Laurence on Friday night, also ended in a shoot-out, with the Knights prevailing, 63-49. (Guess I should have taken the "over" in that one.) IC remained at No. 5 in MaxPreps' rankings. Are they really that good? Could they beat Lincoln-Way East or Glenbard West or Waubonsie Valley, three teams ranked behind them? We'll never know as the Knights will probably end up in Class 3A again this year. And they've already dispatched the two best teams on their schedule.

As for this week's rankings, Glenbard North was dropped from the Trib in favor of Prairie Ridge; and Crete-Monee and Bolingbrook were replaced in the Sun-Times by Maine South and Oak Park and River Forest. But it was MaxPreps that saw the most changes, as Prairie Ridge and Brother Rice moved up while Lincoln-Way East, St. Charles North, Maine South, and Waubonsie Valley were all added to the top ten.

Here are the rankings, with all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.


1. Loyola
2. Lincoln-Way East 
3. Glenbard West
4. Mount Carmel
5. Homewood-Flossmoor
6. Brother Rice
7. Waubonsie Valley
8. Neuqua Valley
9. Palatine
10. Prairie Ridge


1. Loyola
2. Mount Carmel
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Glenbard West
5. Lincoln-Way East
6. Brother Rice
7. Maine South (1-1)
8. Neuqua Valley
9. Marist (1-1)
10. Oak Park and River Forest


1. Loyola
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Brother Rice
4. Palatine
5. IC Catholic
6. Lincoln-Way East
7. St. Charles North
8. Maine South (1-1)
9. Glenbard West
10. Waubonsie Valley

As for this week's games, talk about an embarrassment of riches! Loyola will travel to Mount Carmel, Waubonsie Valley will host Neuqua Valley, Homewood-Flossmoor will be at Lincoln-Way East, and Barrington will play host to Maine South.

What will be my Game of the Week? That should be obvious.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Before there was...

...Stevenson - Loyola there was Maine South - Loyola.

And before the Ramblers dominated the Hawks in their last two meetings, in 2015 and 2013, Maine South had the upper hand. This Saturday the rivalry continues. Loyola, No. 1 everywhere, will host the Park Ridge squad, ranked No. 10 in the AP Class 8A, No. 11 in the Sun-Times, No. 13 in the Tribune and No. 14 in MaxPreps.

Here's a quick recap of the series (home team in CAPS):

2015: Loyola 49, MAINE SOUTH 8
2013: LOYOLA 35, Maine South 0 (Round Three)
2010: Maine South 29, LOYOLA 22 (Semifinals)
2009: MAINE SOUTH 21, Loyola 14 (Round Three)
2008: MAINE SOUTH 26, Loyola 7 (Round Two)

The best game -- for Maine South fans at least -- was that dramatic come-from-behind victory in 2010. (I was there, although I had to leave early. Here's my post from that day.) Bottom line: the Hawks scored 16 points in the game's final 2:43. (I bet they're still talking about it in Park Ridge. And Wilmette.)

Who's going to win this one? Beth Long of the Sun-Times has a nice summary here. (Crete-Monee at Brother Rice isn't one of the top five games of the week?) I'd say based on the last two outcomes and home-field advantage the Ramblers should be favored by at least a field goal. But this is the best Maine South team I've seen in years (here's my post from last week's game) and Loyola will have its hands full with Hawks running back Fotis Kokosioulis, above. Even if they do find a way to stop him the Ramblers will have to contend with quarterback Nick Leongas and his talented receiver corps. Trust me: Maine South is back. Plus -- plus -- Loyola coach John Holecek will have to keep his players from looking ahead to next week's Catholic League Blue showdown with Mount Carmel on the road!

The forecast for Saturday is 74 and sunny. How can this not be your Game of the Week?

P. S. As always, I'll be live-tweeting the contest for all the shut-ins @BoringOldWhtGuy. See you there!