Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Game of the Week...

...features No. 1 Loyola at No. 3 Brother Rice, two undefeated Catholic League Blue rivals.* Need I say more?

Okay, I will. Loyola is on a 25-game winning streak. The Ramblers haven't lost a game since November 8, 2014, when they fell to Stevenson, 24-21, in the second round of the playoffs. (I was there.) The Patriots, of course, went on to win the 8A championship that year.

Brother Rice, for its part, is having its best start since 2004 when it won its first eight games and finished the season 12-2. Last year, the Crusaders went 8-1 in the regular season, their only loss a 28-0 shutout coming at the hands of -- you guessed it -- Loyola.

This year the two schools have each beaten Mount Carmel, St. Rita and Providence.

As you can see below, Loyola has defeated three winning teams (Marquette of Milwaukee, Maine South and Fenwick), two .500 teams (Mount Carmel and St. Rita) and three losing teams (St. Francis, Leo and Providence). Home team in CAPS:

Loyola 36, MARQUETTE (WI) 7    
LOYOLA 44, Maine South 43  
Loyola 35, MOUNT CARMEL 28  
LOYOLA 55, St. Francis 0  
Loyola 52, FENWICK 21  
LOYOLA 35, St. Rita 3  
Loyola 51, LEO 8  
LOYOLA 42, Providence 7

Brother Rice, meanwhile, has beaten four winning teams (Marist, Crete-Monee, Montini and St. Joseph), two .500 teams (Mount Carmel and St. Rita) and two losing teams (Aurora Christian and Providence).

Brother Rice 31, MARIST 7, Soldier Field  
BROTHER RICE 61, Crete-Monee 44  
Brother Rice 45, AURORA CHRISTIAN 6  
BROTHER RICE 42, Montini 7  
Brother Rice 45, PROVIDENCE 21  
BROTHER RICE 49, Mount Carmel 42  
BROTHER RICE 63, St. Joseph 7  
Brother Rice 52, ST. RITA 33

In the last twelve years, the North Siders have gotten the better of the South Siders in ten out of their 14 meetings:

2015: LOYOLA 28, Brother Rice 0
2014: BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 13
           Loyola 31, BROTHER RICE 14
2013: Loyola 24, BROTHER RICE 3
2012: LOYOLA 45, Brother Rice 0
2011: Loyola 20, BROTHER RICE 13
2010: Loyola 49, BROTHER RICE 27
2009: LOYOLA 24, Brother Rice 7
2008: BROTHER RICE 16, Loyola 7
2007: LOYOLA 35, Brother Rice 14
2006: LOYOLA 17, Brother Rice 14
            Brother Rice 13, LOYOLA 7
2005: Loyola 23, BROTHER RICE 14
2004: BROTHER RICE 22, Loyola 0

But this series goes back a lot farther than that.

Loyola Academy, which was officially founded in 1909, actually traces its roots back to St. Ignatius College Prep on Roosevelt Road. From Wikipedia:

The school was originally located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, on the campus of Loyola University; it moved to the current Wilmette campus in 1957. Both Loyola University and its prep school adjunct, Loyola Academy, grew out of St. Ignatius College Prep, a Roman Catholic, Jesuit college preparatory school in Chicago that was founded in 1870 as St. Ignatius College, with both university and preparatory programs for young men.

Today Loyola enrolls "students from more than 80 different zip codes throughout the Chicago area." (I guess that's a lot.)

Loyola's coach, John Holecek, arrived in 2006 and has brought the Ramblers to the postseason every year since, including last year's 8A champions. With over 100 victories, Holecek is the second-winningest coach in Loyola history.**

(That's Bert Metzger, Loyola class of 1927, in the picture at top. At 5'9", 152 pounds, Metzger was nicknamed the "watch-charm guard" because of his relatively small size. An All-American at Notre Dame, he played on the national championship teams in 1929 and 1930. Coach Knute Rockne was said to have called Metzger "the best guard he had ever seen.")

Brother Rice High School, named after the founder of the Christian Brothers of Ireland (above), opened its doors in 1956.

Before Brother Rice, the order also founded Leo High School in 1926 in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Again, from Wikipedia:

Leo's colors are black and orange. Since it was founded, the Christian Brothers of Ireland have established two more boys schools, Brother Rice High School and St. Laurence High School. As a sign of respect for Leo, Brother Rice took the orange in addition to maroon for its school colors, and St. Laurence took black in addition to gold for their schools. Brother Rice and St. Laurence are often called "Sons of Leo."

(The maroon was taken from the maroon and gold colors of Iona College, also founded by the Christian Brothers.)

So who wins this one? Brother Rice may have home-field advantage, but Loyola has history on its side. I'm going to go with the Ramblers in a squeaker. I say they enter the playoffs undefeated and the No. 1 Seed in 8A.

(Although, if you'll notice, most of the top teams this year are in 8A. It's going to be a heck of a bracket!)

* Who ranked them Nos. 1 and 3? Everyone.

** An earlier draft had Holecek as the winningest coach in Loyola history. Actually, John Hoerster had 133 victories.

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