Monday, October 23, 2017

My Magnificent Seven...

Image result for hersey rolling meadows...should now be only a Fab Four, but I'm going to include Maine West (7-2) after reading in Michael O'Brien's "four downs" column that the Warriors qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2002. How did I miss those guys?

So let's just call it a Fab Five and be done with it. The other four are, of course, Hersey (8-1), Buffalo Grove (8-1), Glenbrook South (5-4) and Crystal Lake Central (5-4). With the exception of Buffalo Grove, which hasn't appeared in the playoffs since 2003, none have played in the postseason since 2014.

Here's their schedule, with dates and times to follow:

8A: Glenbrook South at Barrington (9-0)

7A: Benet (6-3) at Maine West
       Rolling Meadows (6-3) at Hersey
       Belleville West (6-3) at Buffalo Grove

6A: Crystal Lake Central at Prairie Ridge (9-0)

Barring a miracle (or two) Glenbrook South and Crystal Lake Central should be eliminated in the first round. The Titans already lost to Barrington, 45-24, in Week Four. And Crystal Lake Central got creamed at Prairie Ridge, 56-13, in Week Three. Hard to believe next week's results will be a whole lot different.

This brings up a pet peeve of mine. Why schedule two teams in the first round who already faced each other? Especially two programs, like Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge, from the same conference? How about a little more drama, IHSA?

Now, having said all that, I'm going to say in the very next breath that the most interesting of the other three games just might be that Rolling Meadows at Hersey contest. Why? Because the Huskies defeated Rolling Meadows by only one point, 21-20, as recently as two weeks ago. How's that for drama? (The Mustangs, the alma mater of Jimmy Garoppolo, also lost narrowly to Buffalo Grove last week.) So, weather permitting, I'd really like to see that matchup this weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The word for the day...

...is Cantabrigian, meaning, among other things, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I had never heard nor seen that term before reading it this morning in the obit of Marian Cannon Schlesinger, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s first wife.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When I first got serious...

Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar has never missed the playoffs. Never.
...about high school football back in the fall of 2011 I drove down to Bolingbrook to see the Raiders host a team called Lincoln-Way East. All I really knew was that both schools were undefeated in the Southwest Suburban Blue Conference (whatever that was); the names of their quarterbacks, Aaron Bailey* and Blake Winkler; and that it was a long, long way from my house.

It turned out to be a great game, though. The Griffins won, 20-14, despite two really exciting touchdown runs by Bailey. And it also ended up being the only loss on the year for Bolingbrook; the Raiders went on to defeat Loyola, 21-17, in the 8A championship.

But since that night, Lincoln-Way East has won four out of the last five meetings with Bolingbrook. Here's their entire history going back to 2005. (Home team in CAPS.)

2016: Lincoln-Way East 41, BOLINGBROOK 23
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

Tomorrow night Bolingbrook (7-1) hosts Lincoln-Way East (8-0) in what will surely be the Game of the Week.

The visiting Griffins are ranked No. 1 in all three polls I follow. Wow. Below is their 2017 schedule so far. As you can see, they've defeated four teams with 7-1 records and one that's 6-2. Double wow.

LINCOLN-WAY EAST 27, Crete-Monee (7-1) 7
Lincoln-Way East 28, MAINE SOUTH (7-1) 26
Lincoln-Way East 42, ANDREW (6-2) 2
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 46, Sandburg (3-5) 7
Lincoln-Way East 28, LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL (7-1) 14
Lincoln-Way East 29, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR (7-1) 7
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 49, Lockport (1-7) 6
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 49, Thornwood (0-8) 6

Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow. They both look like football coaches, don't they?
The Raiders, for their part, aren't ranked in the Sun-Times, but are rated No. 18 in the Tribune and No. 23 in MaxPreps. Bolingbrook split with the two teams it faced with 7-1 records but hasn't beaten another winning program all year.

Bolingbrook 35, DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH (4-4) 10
Bolingbrook 28, ST. CHARLES NORTH  (7-1) 20
Bolingbrook 52, SANDBURG (3-5) 7
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR (7-1) 20, BOLINGBROOK 48
BOLINGBROOK 48, Bradley-Bourbonnais (2-6) 24
BOLINGBROOK 42, Lockport (1-7) 21
BOLINGBROOK 45, Thornridge (3-5) 8
Bolingbrook 22, THORNTON  (4-4) 6

The key game for me was that 48-20 loss at Homewood-Flossmoor in Week Four. Lincoln-Way East also played the Vikings on the road two weeks later but defeated them, 29-7. If you're a bookmaker you have to make the Griffins a big favorite tomorrow night. But who knows? Maybe Raider coach John Ivlow can pull a rabbit out of his hat. Stranger things have happened.

* Bailey may still be the best high school football player I've ever seen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

There was no change...

...this week to Beth Long's top ten in the Sun-Times, while Mike Clark flipped Loyola and Phillips in his list.

I guess Loyola's 28-3 defeat of Providence (5-3) impressed Mr. Clark more than Phillips's 14-9 victory over Solorio (6-2). In any case, those two programs supplanted Rochester (8-0) and East St. Louis (7-1) in the MaxPreps top ten.

(I had incorrectly predicted that Providence would upset the traveling Ramblers. Sue me.)

Once again, the 2017 season plodded along in its characteristically boring way, saving all of the excitement (I hope!) for the playoffs.

We're going into Week Nine, and where are all the conference matchups between two undefeated teams that you usually see? The closest I can find is Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Bolingbrook (7-1). That might be a good game, but the Raiders got clobbered by Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1), 48-20, who in turn lost convincingly to the Griffins, 29-7. So forgive me for not jumping in my car and barreling out to Bolingbrook this Friday. (Although it is a nice, large stadium with plenty of seating and ample parking.)

Any other good tilts this weekend? Well, there's Buffalo Grove (7-1) at Rolling Meadows (6-2), DeKalb (7-1) at Sterling (8-0) -- although that's two hours from my house! -- Antioch (8-0) at Grayslake North (6-2) and Batavia (8-0) at St. Charles North (7-1). I guess that's not a bad lineup.

In the meantime, here are the current rankings. (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

WEEK NINE

Tribune:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Maine South (7-1)
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Loyola (7-1)
5. Phillips
6. Glenbard West (7-1)
7. Marist
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1)
9. Lake Zurich
10. Barrington

Sun-Times:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (7-1)
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (7-1)
6. Marist
7. Glenbard West (7-1)
8. Lake Zurich
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1)
10. Barrington

MaxPreps:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (7-1)
4. Lake Zurich
5. Barrington
6. Marist
7. Homewood-Flossmoor (7-1)
8. Huntley (7-1)
9. Phillips
10. Loyola (7-1)

We had some relatives...

...over on Saturday for dinner and the first thing they wanted to talk about was -- yep, you guessed it -- Donald Trump.

Specifically, they were all convinced that the president's moves last week to weaken Obamacare would finally -- finally! -- be the thing that would make his voters turn against him.

I responded that Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and so far he's been right.

Their thinking, which would be perfectly reasonable for any other politician, was that if Trump's voters' health insurance premiums, deductibles, etc. went up, he'd be blamed, thus dashing any hopes for a second term. After all, presidents are usually held responsible for whatever happens on their watch. But I disagreed and said I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Trump gets reelected in 2020. In fact, I think he's the odds-on favorite.

How do I get there? Well, first of all, incumbency is a huge advantage. No sitting president has been defeated for reelection since George H. W. Bush in 1992. Even the hapless W. was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Also, Trump remains the most popular Republican officeholder in America. I know, that's hard to believe, but last I checked around 90 percent of GOP voters approved of his performance. And that's much, much higher than either Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan. (Talk about hapless!)

When my nephew cited the president's low approval ratings I reminded him that Trump's numbers going into November, 2016 weren't that great either.

But Hillary won't be on the ballot this time, they all countered! True, I said, but no matter who gets the Democratic nomination -- Bernie Sanders? Elizabeth Warren? Joe Biden? -- Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart and the rest of the right-wing media will demonize* the Democratic standard bearer to the point where Republican voters will once again hold their noses and "come home" and vote for the GOP candidate. Why? Because, just like last time, Republicans generally vote for Republicans, Democrats vote for Democrats, and in an electorate that's essentially 50/50 Democrat/Republican Trump could just eke out a second term. In fact, I'd bet on it.

But back to the president's recent moves to weaken Obamacare. At first blush that would seem to be a bad move politically. As my relatives pointed out, shouldn't he get blamed if health care in this country gets worse on his watch? You would think so, wouldn't you? But what if Trump says, "See, Obamacare is failing just as I predicted. What's more, the do-nothing Republican Congress can't even repeal and replace it like they said they would so they are the ones to blame, not me." (Who do you think Trump's supporters would believe?) "So vote those clowns out of office and give me a Congress I can work with!"

And the Democrats? "They want single-payer, which is even more government! If Obamacare doesn't work, why would we want that?" (Never mind that Medicare works really well, better than the private sector. We're dealing with a demagogue here. And a good one.)

While I don't think Trump is the smartest guy in the world, he shouldn't be underestimated either. He may not know the first thing about policy or governance but he's pretty good at this politics stuff.

* Remember, Hillary actually had good numbers when she was Secretary of State. It wasn't until she announced for president that the scrutiny began taking its toll.

Although MaxPreps has...

...Thornton beating Bolingbrook (7-1) yesterday, 28-21, both the Tribune and the Herald-News have the Raiders victorious, 22-6. (The IHSA website has yet to update.) So what the heck is going on?

If we assume that Bolingbrook won (and I would be surprised if they didn't) then my Magnificent Seven is looking more and more like a Fab Five. Here are the results for Week Eight:

Buffalo Grove 27, Wheeling 20
Hersey 21, Rolling Meadows 20
Evanston 45, Glenbrook South 20
Bolingbrook 22, Thornton 6
Rochelle 38, LaSalle-Peru 0
Crystal Lake Central 42, Dundee-Crown 28
Lincoln Way West 38, Stagg 14

That makes both Buffalo Grove and Hersey 7-1, and Glenbrook South and Crystal Lake Central 5-3. Even if the Titans lose this week to New Trier (5-3) and the Tigers bow to Cary-Grove (5-3) they would probably be playoff eligible. LaSalle-Peru (4-4), meanwhile, hosts Yorkville (1-7) on Friday in what should also give them a postseason-worthy 5-4 finish.*

Now come my problem children. Thornton and Stagg are both 4-4 and have challenging matchups ahead for Week Nine. The Wildcats host Lincoln-Way Central (7-1) while the Chargers charge out to Moline (6-2). Barring a miracle (or two, actually), the Thornton and Stagg squads should be watching the playoffs from the stands.

So right now it looks like five of my Magnificent Seven programs are going to the postseason. I hope I'm wrong about Thornton and Stagg, but at least there will be a handful of schools that get to cheer on their teams in a tenth game for the first time in a while.

* I really hope the Cavaliers make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, when today's seniors were in fifth grade. I've always wanted to see a game in Howard Fellows Stadium, at top, and if L-P can get past the first round (they would presumably open up on the road) I just might have to drive the hour and a half -- a hundred miles! -- to see them play. Come on, Cavs!

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Egerton Swartwout, the architect of the Elks National Veterans Memorial in Lincoln Park.

Friday, October 13, 2017

While I'm on the subject...

...of walk-up songs, wouldn't this be a great tune to play right before a game? You gotta admit, it beats the hell out of "Sweet Caroline."

Speaking of "Shindig!"...

...and Jay and the Americans (and I never miss an opportunity to post this 1965 clip from Hullabaloo*), here's another great tune that I've always thought would be a good walk-up song for a Major League Baseball hitter or a presidential candidate. (Feel free to use it as I'm rapidly losing hope of ever becoming either.)

Seriously, though, how did Republicans get to "own" love for America? Can't Democrats be patriotic too?

*Hullabaloo, inspired by Shindig!, ran on NBC from January, 1965 through April, 1966.

Jack Good, who created...

...and produced Shindig!, "a prime-time series with a frantic pace, go-go dancers and guests like the Beatles, James Brown and the Rolling Stones," died at age 86.

Shindig! aired on ABC from September, 1964 to January, 1966, and I remember it well. That's Jay and the Americans performing "Cara Mia" on the show in 1965. (How about that voice on Jay Black?*)

* Mr. Black, by the way, was in his own words a "very close friend of John Gotti," the mobster. Read this excellent 1994 profile of the singer here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I know barrels of ink...

...have been spilled on this subject, but I've been wondering a lot lately why the White Sox are such an undervalued franchise in this town. Chicago, in case you don't know, is the third-largest city in America and yet the Sox have the fifteenth most valuable franchise in baseball, behind the Seattle Mariners and below the MLB average. (The Cubs are fourth, behind the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox.)

And never mind the recent success of the North Siders. In 2005, when the Sox last won the World Series, the mediocre fourth-place Cubbies easily outdrew the South Siders, 38,749 to 28,923, on average.

So what gives? I don't know, and I know I'm not the first person to ask this question. (But I've still never heard a good answer.) Why can't the White Sox replicate the success that the Cubs have enjoyed?

Well, let's start with the name of the stadium, because it says a lot about their brand. Instead of something like Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park, the current owners sold the rights to a company called Guaranteed Rate Inc. Seriously, Guaranteed Rate Field? Not exactly Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, is it? I have a little advice for the owners of the White Sox: don't be penny wise and dollar foolish. You have what should be one of the most valuable franchises in sports (you're in one of the largest cities in America, remember?); don't be a you-know-what and just sell everything to the highest bidder for short-term gain. Keep your eye on the Big Picture, the long term. And have some pride, for the love of God! Honor your brand. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously if you don't show any self-respect?

And what about those uniform colors, black and white? Sheesh, could you have possibly come up with a less imaginative combination than the two colors that aren't even colors? (What do the Cubs wear? Oh, yeah: red, white and blue.) And as for that slogan, "Good Guys Wear Black," well, no they don't. Haven't any of you ever seen an old Western? Unless you consciously want to cultivate a "Bad Boy" image like the Oakland Raiders, ditch the black and white. How about something flashy, like the 1970s red uniforms, above? You could do worse.

Here's my suggestion for the Sox ownership. (And I realize I'm very much late to this discussion.) First of all, give up on the North Side. You're never going to pry those fans away. Instead, concentrate on the western  and southern suburbs. Try to capture the kids out there and maybe you'll get some fans for life. How? I don't know, how about lowering the price of tickets and concessions and maybe even throwing in free parking for a year or so. I know, you won't make as much money at first but maybe, just maybe, some mothers or fathers out there will look at how competitively priced your product is and they'll bring their family out some night. With the Dan Ryan and the Red Line it's even more convenient than Wrigley.

And don't give me any of that baloney sausage about the "neighborhood." Oooh, Those People -- scary. It's Bridgeport! And De La Salle and IIT are just across the expressway. I've walked around that part of town at night many times and it's just fine. (Although the immediate neighborhood could use a few more bars and restaurants.) And how about some more day games at Sox Park? Let the moms and dads of the world play hooky once in a while -- trust me, the earth will continue to turn on its axis -- and take their kids to a game on a weekday. That way everyone can be home for dinner and in bed at a reasonable hour.

I don't know, does any of this make any sense? Has it all been suggested before and dismissed? Come on, Sox owners, you're sitting on a potential gold mine -- a Major League Baseball franchise -- for crying out loud. At least act like you're trying!

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to former Army combat engineer Glen Bootay.

Before I get to my...

...Game of the Week, here's a little shout-out to the last ten undefeated teams that I know of in the (kinda, sorta) Chicagoland area: Phillips, Marist, Prairie Ridge, Johnsburg, Barrington, Lake Zurich, Sterling, Antioch, Lincoln-Way East and Batavia. They're all 7-0 going into the penultimate week of the regular season. Nice going!

Now, as for my Game of the Week, I have to admit I'm not terribly excited by any of the prospects. But here's my short list:

Phillips (7-0) at Solorio (6-1)
Maine South (6-1) at New Trier (5-2)
Loyola (6-1) at Providence (5-2)
Cary-Grove (5-2) at South Elgin (6-1)
Jacobs (5-2) at Prairie Ridge (7-0)
Hersey (6-1) at Rolling Meadows (6-1)
Shepard (6-1) at Eisenhower (6-1)
Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1) at Andrew (6-1)
Hinsdale Central (5-2) at Lyons (6-1)

Forgive me for yawning.

But if I had to pick one (and I'm busy Friday night anyway) it would probably be that Loyola - Providence matchup, partly because I'm more familiar with the Catholic League and partly because I smell an upset. Why? Well, Providence's two losses were in the first two weeks of the season against two very good teams, East St. Louis (6-1) and Kirkwood (Vianney), MO (8-0). Since then, the Celtics have been on a roll. Here's their full schedule (home team in CAPS):

EAST ST. LOUIS (6-1) 40, Providence 28
Kirkwood (Vianney), MO (8-0) 35, PROVIDENCE 14
PROVIDENCE 28, St. Rita (5-2) 21
PROVIDENCE 35, St. Ignatius (6-1) 6
Providence 22, BROTHER RICE (2-5) 16
Providence 56, HOPE ACADEMY (5-2) 14
PROVIDENCE 37, Fenwick (4-3) 0

Loyola, meanwhile, lost its opener against undefeated Phillips before winning six in a row:

PHILLIPS (7-0) 20, Loyola 14
LOYOLA 13, La Puente (Bishop Amat), CA (2-4) 6
LOYOLA 31, Mt. Carmel (4-3) 7
Loyola 42, ST. FRANCIS (1-6) 7
LOYOLA 41, Fenwick (4-3) 14
Loyola 34, ST. RITA (5-2) 14
LOYOLA 49, Leo (1-6) 7

Now ask yourself, who has Loyola really beaten this year besides St. Rita? Mount Carmel? The Caravan lost to De La Salle (5-2) last week for the first time since 1995. Fenwick? True, the Friars defeated a couple of 5-2 teams, Moline and Marmion, but I suspect that even Coach Gene Nudo would admit -- under truth serum -- that this is not the same squad that went 11-2 in 2016.

So, yeah, I'm calling for an upset here. (Why not? It's been a boring season and we need something to talk about.) I don't think the Ramblers are quite the juggernaut that rambled over almost everyone the last two years. After driving the fifty-something miles down to New Lenox on Friday afternoon -- and the team won't even get to stop at Hackney's on the way in Palos Park -- the Wilmette Eleven may find a most ungracious host in the Celtics. We'll see.

For you history buffs, here's the results of the last 13 meetings between the two schools. As you can see, the last time Providence beat Loyola this year's seniors were in about fourth grade:

2016: LOYOLA 42, Providence 7
2015: Loyola 31, PROVIDENCE 7
2014: LOYOLA 10, Providence 7
2013: LOYOLA 28, Providence 16
2012: LOYOLA 41, Providence 21
2011: Loyola 32, PROVIDENCE 6
2010: Loyola 21, PROVIDENCE 7
2009: PROVIDENCE 10, Loyola 3
2008: LOYOLA 13, Providence 0
2007: PROVIDENCE 20, Loyola 17
2006: LOYOLA 14, Providence 7
2005: PROVIDENCE 31, Loyola 29
2004: PROVIDENCE 29, Loyola 0

Oh, and I almost forgot: Loyola is ranked No. 5 in both the Tribune and the Sun-Times, and No. 13 in MaxPreps. Providence is unranked in the Sun-Times*, No. 19 in the Trib and No. 20 in MaxPreps.

* Was that an oversight, or does Beth Long know something the rest of us don't? We'll find out this weekend.   

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Simona Toader.

Y. A. Tittle died...

...at age 90, and his obit would be notable for no other reason than that historic picture, above. From the New York Times:

The end for Tittle as one of football’s best and most resilient quarterbacks essentially came in Pittsburgh on Sept. 20, 1964, in his 17th bruising year in the pros, when a massive lineman slammed him to the ground in a game that Tittle’s Giants lost to the Steelers.

Slowly, Tittle tried to pull himself up off the turf, woozy from a concussion, and Morris Berman, a photographer for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was there to snap the picture: Tittle kneeling, his shoulders drooped, his helmet knocked off, his bald pate exposed, his face bloodied.

Perhaps more than the Pro Football Hall of Fame would do later, the image immortalized Tittle in football lore — in the image of the aging warrior who had finally fallen.

The Giants were leading, 14-0, by the second quarter when Tittle, deep in Giants territory, dropped back to pass. From the right side — Tittle’s throwing side — John Baker, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound defensive end, saw an opening and smashed into Tittle, 6 feet and 190 pounds or so, as he was about to pass. The ball floated loose and into the arms of Steelers tackle Chuck Hinton, who ran it back for an easy touchdown.

As the Steelers celebrated in the end zone, Tittle knelt there, dazed and injured, and Mr. Berman captured the moment.

The Post-Gazette did not run the photo the next day; editors there did not think it was anything special. But Mr. Berman entered it for prize consideration, and it won the National Headliner award for best sports photograph of 1964. It now hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Baker had crushed the cartilage in my ribs and brutally gashed my forehead,” Tittle recalled in his memoir, “Nothing Comes Easy” (2009), written with Kristine Setting Clark.

“I also suffered a concussion and a cracked sternum. That photo would later become one of the most enduring images in sports history. What a hell of a way to get famous!”

John Baker, the huge Steelers lineman who pummeled Tittle, died in 2007 after serving for 24 years as sheriff of Wake County, N.C., where he was wryly known as Little John. When Baker first ran for the office, his supporters printed posters with the photo of the battered Tittle and the caption “This is what Little John is going to do for crime in Wake County.”

“I didn’t object to that,” Baker told The Post-Gazette in 1979. 

“I was just doing my job,” he said of his crushing hit on Tittle. “It’s a tough business.”
___

Another reason for mentioning his death would be that name, Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr., which would certainly qualify for Name of the Day if it weren't already so famous. (I think the only other NFL name that approaches it would be Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson.)

But I wonder about that pronunciation, "Tittle." It mentioned in the obit that Mr. Tittle never won a title. Maybe he should have changed the pronunciation to "Title," like Joe Theismann did to his name to rhyme with "Heisman." Just a thought.
___

Finally, there was this tidbit from the Times obit:

Shortly before the 1961 season began, Tittle was traded to the Giants for Lou Cordileone, a young guard, in what became one of pro football’s most lopsided deals. “Me for Tittle?” a startled Cordileone remarked. “Just me?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

De La Salle beat Mount Carmel...

...over the weekend for the first time since 1995. (I know; I called the school. And, no, I don't have a life.) Now if you don't have a calculator handy that was 22 years ago, or four years before any of Friday night's players were even born. So this is a big deal for the alma mater of the two Mayor Daleys, which is 5-2 on the year. And Mount Carmel, whom I saw play Loyola earlier in the season, is now 4-3. Huh?

But that's not all. Al Raby is 6-1, while Simeon is only 4-3. Wheaton North is now 6-1, but Wheaton Warrenville South is 1-6. Buffalo Grove is 6-1; Elk Grove Village is 0-7. St. Ignatius? 6-1. Brother Rice? 2-5. Carmel? 0-7. And Fremd is 1-6, and Grant and York are both 0-7. And that's not to mention all the schools that dropped football. This is some topsy-turvy year, isn't it?

On to the rankings. (MaxPreps was a little slow this week.) Naperville Central (5-2) was demoted in the Trib and MaxPreps after its 44-41 loss to archrival Naperville North (5-2). And in the Sun-Times, Nazareth (6-1) dropped out of the top ten after getting creamed by Marist, 42-0. Also in MaxPreps, Lake Zurich vaulted nine spots after blanking Stevenson (5-2), 28-0, and Marist supplanted Phillips (7-0) in the top ten after the Wildcats' unconvincing 42-28 victory over Raby. (Some might call that "taking care of business." Whatever.) Let's get to those rankings, shall we?

WEEK EIGHT (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

Tribune:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Maine South (6-1)
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (6-1)
6. Glenbard West (6-1)
7. Marist
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1)
9. Lake Zurich
10. Barrington

Sun-Times:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (6-1)
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (6-1)
6. Marist
7. Glenbard West (6-1)
8. Lake Zurich
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1)
10. Barrington

MaxPreps:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Lake Zurich
4. Barrington
5. Maine South (6-1)
6. Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1)
7. Huntley (6-1)
8. Marist
9. Rochester
10. East St. Louis (6-1)

Before Week Seven, I predicted...

Photos from the Buffalo Grove vs. Hersey football game on Friday, Oct. 6, in Arlington Heights....that all seven of my Magnificent Seven programs would make the playoffs. But, going into Week Eight, I'm beginning to have my doubts.

First of all, Buffalo Grove (6-1) and Hersey (6-1), above, are still sure things, and Glenbrook South (5-2) is about as sure as you can get without being metaphysically sure. After that, however, things start to get a little dicey.

My remaining four teams, Thornton (4-3), LaSalle-Peru (4-3), Crystal Lake Central (4-3) and Stagg (4-3) all lost last Friday, making my generous prognostication of the previous week look positively Panglossian.

To be honest, six of my Mag 7 schools went down over the weekend. (It could have been all seven if Hersey hadn't played Buffalo Grove.) What, are you guys trying to make a liar out of me or something? I'm on your side!

This week Glenbrook South is at Evanston (4-3), Thornton hosts Bolingbrook (6-1), LaSalle-Peru travels to Rochelle (4-3), Crystal Lake Central is at home against Dundee-Crown (1-6) and Stagg is at Lincoln-Way West (5-2).

I'll say GBS beats the Wildkits, I like L-P's chances against Rochelle and CLC is an almost certain winner over Dundee-Crown. But the Raiders should be heavy favorites over Thornton as will Lincoln-Way West against Stagg.

So where will that leave us after Week Eight? Glenbrook South should improve to 6-2, while LaSalle-Peru and Crystal Lake Central could both be 5-3. That would make the Titans a lock for the playoffs and make the scenario look awfully rosy for the Cavaliers and the Tigers. But Thornton and Stagg could both drop to 4-4 making Week Nine a must-win for both. The Wildcats will host Lincoln-Way Central (6-1) in the season finale while Stagg is on the road at Moline (5-2). The Chargers of Palos Hills could still pull a rabbit out of its hat, but I'm having a hard time seeing a path to the playoffs for Thornton. That would turn my Magnificent Seven into a merely Oceanic Six, or a Secret Six, or a Sinister Six. (What else could I call them, the High-Achieving Half Dozen? The High-Class Half Dozen? The Heavenly Half Dozen? I don't like any of those either.)

Come on, Thornton! Don't force me into using a lesser Notable Numeral.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I can't make it to a game...

...this weekend but if I did I think it would be Hinsdale Central (5-1) at Glenbard West (5-1) on Saturday.

There are several other matchups that are interesting, including Nazareth (6-0) at Marist (6-0), Hoffman Estates (6-0) at Barrington (6-0), Lake Zurich (6-0) at Stevenson (5-1), and South Elgin (6-0) at Batavia (6-0), but you can't beat sitting under the sun at Duchon Field on a beautiful October afternoon, can you? (Even if the forecast calls for rain. Whatever.)

But what would really draw me out to leafy Glen Ellyn would be to see if the Red Devils could make it two in a row after ending the Hilltoppers' 18-game winning streak last year (above), and becoming the first West Suburban Silver team to best the Hitters since Lyons did so way back in 2010.

This year Hinsdale Central is ranked No. 15 in the Tribune and No. 18 in both the Sun-Times and MaxPreps. After dropping their opener to St. Xavier (OH), ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 26 in the nation by MaxPreps, the Red Devils have taken care of business against area opponents with a combined record of 13-17 by a combined score of 161-44. Here's their entire schedule so far (with home team in CAPS):

ST. XAVIER (6-0) 43, Hinsdale Central 14
HINSDALE CENTRAL 27, Willowbrook (5-1) 21
Hinsdale Central 21, OAK PARK AND RIVER FOREST (4-2) 13
HINSDALE CENTRAL 33, Downers Grove North (3-3) 3
Hinsdale Central 31, YORK (0-6) 7
HINSDALE CENTRAL 49, Proviso West (1-5) 0

Glenbard West, for its part, also lost the opener, to Maine South, before winning five in a row over teams with a combined record of 10-20 by a combined score of 204-30. Ranked No. 6 in the Trib, No. 7 in the Times and No. 27 in MaxPreps, the Hitters have to be considered the favorite here. Their 2017 schedule to date:

Maine South (5-1) 62, GLENBARD WEST 34
GLENBARD WEST 49, Proviso East (0-6) 0
Glenbard West 35, ADDISON TRAIL (2-4) 10
GLENBARD WEST 50, York (0-6) 3
Glenbard West 35, DOWNERS GROVE NORTH (3-3) 14
Glenbard West 35, LYONS (5-1) 3

And for you history buffs, here's the record between the two schools since 2004.

2016: HINSDALE CENTRAL 31, Glenbard West 30
2015: GLENBARD WEST 35, Hinsdale Central 24
2014: Glenbard West 42, HINSDALE CENTRAL 7
2013: GLENBARD WEST 37, Hinsdale Central 7
2012: Glenbard West 28, HINSDALE CENTRAL 23
2011: GLENBARD WEST 45, Hinsdale Central 14
2010: Glenbard West 28, HINSDALE CENTRAL 7
2009: GLENBARD WEST 28, Hinsdale Central 25
2008: Glenbard West 9, HINSDALE CENTRAL 0
2007: GLENBARD WEST 15, Hinsdale Central 13
2006: HINSDALE CENTRAL 26, Glenbard West 13
2005: Hinsdale Central 35, GLENBARD WEST 7
2004: HINSDALE CENTRAL 20, Glenbard West 13

Who wins this one? Like I said, the home team has to be the favorite, but as an old boss of mine used to say, "One never knows, do one."

Let's check in on my...

..."Magnificent Seven," shall we?

For starters, Buffalo Grove (6-0) is still, amazingly, undefeated after besting Elk Grove (0-6), 44-7. The Bison, above, must now face another one of my Mag 7 schools, Hersey (5-1), in Arlington Heights this Friday. But even if they lose, Buffalo Grove is still guaranteed a playoff berth and could very well end up with a 7-2 record if they beat Wheeling (1-5) in Week Eight. But what if these guys end up 8-1 or even 9-0? Wouldn't that be something?

Hersey (5-1) blanked Wheeling last Thursday, 35-0, to all but assure it of a postseason appearance. Even if they lose this week to Buffalo Grove, the Huskies face Prospect (1-5) in Week Nine which would give them at least six victories on the year. Like the Bison, Hersey is now playing for a good bracket seed.

Glenbrook South (5-1) also won last week, shutting out Niles West, 40-0. You would think that would seal the deal for the Titans, but they will likely run into a buzzsaw this Friday against Maine South (5-1), whom they haven't beaten since I was a little boy (or at least it seems that way). After that comes Evanston (3-3) on the road and New Trier (4-2) at home. I assume they can manufacture a win out of at least one of those two remaining games, but even at 5-4 GBS should make the playoffs. If nothing else, it's a heck of an improvement over last year's disastrous 1-8 finish.

Thornton (4-2) had a mixed week after they had to forfeit their Week One game against Andrew (5-1) but before defeating Thornwood (0-6), 12-8. (How many "Thorns" are there anyway?) The Wildcats have three tough remaining games -- all at home, at least -- against Lincoln-Way West (4-2), Bolingbrook (5-1) and Lincoln-Way Central (5-1). If Thornton can't find at least one victory in the last three weeks of the season they'll really wish they had that win over Andrew back. Wouldn't it be a bummer if that forfeit cost them a trip to the Dance?

LaSalle-Peru (4-2) took care of business against Ottawa (1-5), 17-7, and will face Geneseo (3-3) this week. That could be a tough game as the Maple Leafs always seem to go deep in the playoffs, don't they? But after another challenging opponent in Rochelle (4-2) -- on the road, no less -- the Cavaliers host Yorkville (1-5) in the regular season finale. That should give LP at least a 5-4 record, if not 6-3, and send them to the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Crystal Lake Central (4-2) took it on the chin against Jacobs (4-2) last week, 35-18, and have to travel to Huntley (5-1) this Friday for an almost certain defeat. That makes the Tigers' Week Seven matchup against Dundee-Crown (1-5) at home a must-win as they still have to play Cary-Grove (4-2) in the last game of the season. CLC should eke out a 5-4 record, though, and the opportunity to play a tenth game.

Finally, Stagg (4-2) fell to Lincoln-Way Central (5-1), 57-14, which really puts the pressure on this week's game against Sandburg (2-4). If the Chargers don't win and lose out to Lincoln-Way West (4-2) and Moline (4-2) -- a distinct possibility -- their impressive 4-1 start will have been all for naught. But I'm going to say that the Palos Hills squad defeats Pat Fitzgerald's alma mater this Friday. In fact, at this point I think all seven of my Mag 7 programs will be in the playoffs. Yeah, you read it here first.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Boy am I dumb.

Naperville Central's Payton Thorne passes for a touchdown against St. Edward (Ohio) in Naperville, Ill. on Saturday, Sep. 30, 2017.
I didn't even realize or take the time to find out that Naperville Central played St. Edward (OH) last year. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Oh, well, now I know why this blog hasn't gone viral.

But at least I got the point spread right, without peeking at last year's result. And I was also right that the Redhawks would give the Eagles a game and make them work for the victory. In fact, the contest was much closer than the score would indicate. Central was even up, 24-20, in the fourth quarter and could have conceivably won or at least tied it in the last few minutes. Rather than calling a timeout on fourth and one with the ball at about midfield, the Redhawks ended up hurrying the snap and falling short of a first down on a quarterback keeper. (Lots of quarterback keepers in this game. What's up with that?) The Eagles then took over on downs and went on to score the go-ahead touchdown. (The last seven points were just icing on the cake.)

I'd say that the visiting team was clearly better, but Central quarterback Payton Thorne (above) provided enough big plays to keep the home team competitive. If St. Edward is really the third best team in Ohio and No. 41 in the country as a whole, then Illinois can't be too far off the pace. I still think the quality of high school football around here has declined somewhat, but I came away encouraged nonetheless.

On to the rankings. Not a lot changed this week, except that Lyons was dropped from both the Tribune's and the Sun-Times's top ten for losing to Glenbard West, 35-3. And Naperville Central also fell in both polls for the unpardonable sin of losing to a team that probably no one else in the state of Illinois could have beaten either. Finally, Nazareth was elevated to the No. 10 spot in Beth Long's poll, which is convenient as the Roadrunners travel to No. 6 Marist on Friday.

WEEK SEVEN (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)

Tribune:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Maine South (5-1)
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (5-1)
6. Glenbard West (5-1)
7. Marist
8. Naperville Central (5-1)
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1)
10. Lake Zurich

Sun-Times:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (5-1)
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (5-1)
6. Marist
7. Glenbard West (5-1)
8. Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1)
9. Lake Zurich
10. Nazareth

MaxPreps:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1)
4. Maine South (5-1)
5. Naperville Central (5-1)
6. Huntley (5-1)
7. Barrington
8. East St. Louis (5-1)
9. Phillips
10. Rochester

The New Yorker cartoon of the day:

"This is the same music my fitness instructor plays for our abdominal crunches."

Friday, September 29, 2017

Two news items...

...that may have escaped your notice this week were both in the Sun-Times: on Tuesday, "Young drops football," and on Wednesday, "CPS starts flag football league."

In the former, Michael O'Brien elaborated:

Chicago Public Schools mandate that teams need at least 22 players to play, but the Dolphins have only 19 active players.

The football program started the season with 26 players, but seven became ineligible to play.

26 players? Loyola Academy, just to pick a competitive team at random, has over 60 players on its roster. (Or am I reading this wrong?) Glenbrook South, to pick another, has over 50. I think it's fair to say you need at least 40 players to field a competitive football team, right? So 26, or 30, or even 35, is just not going to cut it.

But Whitney Young principal Dr. Joyce Kenner is not deterred:

"We’re definitely going to bring football back next school year."

Really? With 26 players? Call me skeptical.

The second article, "CPS starts flag football league," quoted this email:

"Due to 11 schools dropping varsity football Sports Administration contacted the Principals and listened to their concerns. A 6 week pilot flag football program was introduced and 8 schools will participate starting this Saturday 9/30/17 at 9:00 AM @ Stagg Stadium."

So is "flag" football going to ultimately replace "regular" football? I don't know. But it does seem that football is evolving -- and fewer kids are participating at the primary and high school levels. (What does that mean going forward? Well, for starters, the talent pool for college and the NFL can be expected to shrink.)

It's worth noting that as recently as 2015 Whitney Young went 9-1 with a trip to the playoffs. And two years later they don't have enough kids to field a team? Wow.

Now, it may be my imagination but I'd swear the quality of high school football in Illinois has fallen off in recent years. But maybe it's not my imagination. (Others I've talked to in the stands seem to agree with me.) I went to the Mount Carmel - Loyola game a few weeks ago and was struck by how "different" this year's Caravan team was. Michael O'Brien had a good explanation as to why:

Don’t read too much into Mount Carmel’s rough game against Loyola on Saturday in Wilmette. The Caravan is without quarterback Alek Thomas, their best player. 

Thomas has a great reason for missing football games. He’s the best baseball player in the state and one of the best high school players in the country. Thomas is in Ontario playing with Team USA in the World Baseball Softball Confederation U18 World Cup. 

Thomas is expected to return to football for the Caravan’s Week 5 game at St. Rita.

Now, when I was in high school, which was admittedly a lo-o-ong time ago, this sort of thing would have been unheard of. First of all, I don't recall a "Team USA" that played games in foreign countries. No, the biggest event each week in the fall was the football game, and kids who started on the basketball, baseball or track teams participated if they could. (Also, there was no such thing as CTE as far as we knew, and if anybody complained about a sports injury they'd be told to just "offer it up.")

Tomorrow, if I'm up to it I plan on driving out west to see Naperville Central host a team from Ohio. And, despite Mr. O'Brien's disapproval, I'm afraid this sort of thing is only going to become more commonplace. (By the way, if it sounds like I'm picking on Mr. O'Brien I'm really not; he's just one of the last reporters still writing about high school football.) But hasn't interstate play been the norm in high school basketball for a while? The best teams in Illinois have to play comparable teams in other states in tournaments in places like Las Vegas and New York. There's just not enough competition around here for perennial powers like Simeon and Morgan Park.

Maybe the future of high school football in Illinois will mean fewer, but better, teams (co-ops, even?) that play more and more games against similar teams from out of state, with a parallel league of flag football or seven-on-seven or something. And maybe those strongest teams, like Loyola, Maine South, Naperville Central, etc. will participate in some sort of national postseason like Division III schools do. I don't know. But the ground does seem to be moving beneath us, doesn't it?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hugh Hefner, graduate...

...of Steinmetz High School (above) who went on to a career in publishing, died at age 91.

Before starting his own magazine, Mr. Hefner was the "circulation promotion manager of another magazine, Children’s Activities."

If I go to a game...

...this weekend it will be St. Edward (OH) at Naperville Central on Saturday afternoon. (No more Friday night games, remember?)

I'm especially intrigued by interstate matchups as it's hard to know what to expect, and I'm also interested to see how Illinois football stacks up against other states, particularly good ones like Ohio.

So who is this St. Edward High School anyway?

Founded in 1949, St. Edward is one of three remaining all-male Catholic high schools in the Greater Cleveland area (Benedictine and St. Ignatius being the others) and has an enrollment of about 900 students. It's also the alma mater of talk show host Phil Donahue (class of 1953), above.

As for the football team, the Eagles are 5-0 and currently ranked No. 3 in the state of Ohio by MaxPreps. Yikes!

Who has St. Edward beaten? Well, five teams with a combined record of 11-13 by a combined score of 202-43. The Eagles' offense is averaging over 40 points a game. Double yikes!

How has St. Edward fared in recent years? Here is their record and final ranking in MaxPreps since 2004:

2016: 9-3, No. 9
2015: 14-1, No. 1
2014: 13-2, No. 1
2013: 11-2, No. 2
2012: 11-1, No. 4
2011: 8-4, No. 6
2010: 15-0, No. 1
2009: 4-6, No. 49
2008: 6-5, No. 24
2007: 4-5, No. 45
2006: 9-2, No. 16
2005: 12-1, No. 5
2004: 11-2, No. 8

Whoa. So in the last seven years, St. Ed's has gone 81-13 with three state titles? Wow. And, as far as I can tell, that's under two different head coaches, Tom Lombardo, since 2015, and Rick Finotti before that. (MaxPreps is a good resource, but not always accurate.) Obviously, this place has quite a football tradition in a state with quite a football tradition. The Redhawks may have their work cut out for them.

What's my call for Saturday? How the heck should I know? Naperville Central is undefeated, of course, and ranked No. 4 in the Trib, No. 5 in MaxPreps and No. 10 in the Sun-Times. The Redhawks have bested five opponents with a combined record of 9-16 by a combined score of 190-82. I'll say that St. Edward is about a ten-point favorite (maybe even two touchdowns), but I think Coach Mike Stine's squad will make a game of it and make those Ohio kids work harder for it than they expected.

If I go I'll be live-tweeting the action @BoringOldWhtGuy. See you there!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Homewood-Flossmoor has beaten...

H-F senior Justin Hall.
...Lincoln-Way East in their last two meetings and in three of the last four. But the Griffins have defeated the Vikings eight out of the last eleven games since 2004. Does either one of these statistics matter for Friday night's Game of the Week? I don't know.

Both of these Southwest Suburban teams are undefeated, of course, and this contest should determine the conference champion. (Although I never understood why that mattered so much. Aren't we more interested in who goes further in postseason play?)

LWE sophomore A.J. Henning.
The visiting Griffins of Lincoln-Way East are ranked No. 1 in both the Tribune and the Sun-Times and No. 2 in MaxPreps. (They always have to be different, don't they?) So far the Frankfort squad has outscored its opponents, 171-56, over schools -- including Maine South -- with a combined record of 17-8. Not bad. (Home team in CAPS.)

LINCOLN-WAY EAST 27, Crete-Monee 7
Lincoln-Way East 28, MAINE SOUTH 26
Lincoln-Way East 42, ANDREW 2
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 46, Sandburg 7
Lincoln-Way East 28, LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL 14

Homewood-Flossmoor, for its part, is ranked No. 3 in MaxPreps, No. 6 in the Trib and No. 7 in the Sun-Times. The Vikings are averaging 46 points a game, having outscored its opponents, 230-56, with a combined record of 16-11.

HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 63, Michigan City (IN) 21
Homewood-Flossmoor 43, SOUTHERN DURHAM (NC) 6
Homewood-Flossmoor 48, STAGG 0
HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 48, Bolingbrook 20
Homewood-Flossmoor 28, LINCOLN-WAY WEST 9

Here's the history of the two since 2004.

2016: Homewood-Flossmoor 35, LINCOLN-WAY EAST 30
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
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

Who wins this one? The rankings would suggest the Griffins, but home field advantage is with the Vikings. Either way, it should be a high-scoring affair. Take the over.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The rankings are in after...

Huntley's Melvin Aninagyei-Bonsu scores a touchdown during the second quarter of Friday's football game against Cary-Grove in Huntley.
...Week Five, and I'm beginning to suspect the MaxPreps computers are anti-Catholic. How else to explain it?

While the top ten in the Tribune and Sun-Times remained unchanged from the prior week, MaxPreps dropped Loyola to No. 11 and Marist to No. 16 in favor of Huntley and Barrington. This despite the Ramblers' convincing defeat of Fenwick, 41-14, and Marist's 63-6 thrashing of the admittedly winless Marian Catholic. Sounds like they "took care of business," doesn't it? But the anti-Papist computers at MaxPreps vaulted Huntley (above) seven spots to No. 6 after its 41-32 win over Cary-Grove and lifted Barrington two spots after its victory over winless Fremd, 26-14.

Cary-Grove, interestingly, remains in the top ten, at No. 8, despite its 3-2 record.

Oh, well, I guess the era of artificial intelligence in Illinois high school football rankings has yet to arrive. Either that, or something more nefarious is going on here.

On to the rankings, with all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.

WEEK SIX

Tribune:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Maine South (4-1)
3. Prairie Ridge
4. Naperville Central
5. Phillips
6. Homewood-Flossmoor
7. Lyons
8. Glenbard West (4-1)
9. Loyola (4-1)
10. Lake Zurich

Sun-Times:

1. Lincoln-Way East
2. Prairie Ridge
3. Maine South (4-1)
4. Phillips
5. Loyola (4-1)
6. Lyons
7. Homewood-Flossmoor
8. Marist
9. Lake Zurich
10. Naperville Central

MaxPreps:

1. Prairie Ridge
2. Lincoln-Way East
3. Homewood-Flossmoor
4. Maine South (4-1)
5. Naperville Central
6. Huntley (4-1)
7. East St. Louis (4-1)
8. Cary-Grove (3-2)
9. Barrington
10. Phillips

The Name of the Day...

...belongs to Michael Fullilove, the director of the Lowy Institute.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

How did my Magnificent Seven...

...do this weekend? Not bad, 5-2.

Last week I mentioned seven area football programs that deserve a little respect. After missing the playoffs last year (and in some cases many years) these teams have a better-than-even chance of making the postseason this year.

Over the weekend Stagg (4-1), Glenbrook South (4-1), Crystal Lake Central (4-1), Buffalo Grove (5-0) and Hersey (4-1) all won, while Thornton (4-1) and LaSalle-Peru (3-2) lost.

Those first five schools are looking good for November. And Thornton should defeat Thornwood (0-5) next week giving the Wildcats five victories, but LaSalle-Peru needs to beat Ottawa and Yorkville (both 1-4). Can they do it? I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Donald Trump, the Graham-Cassidy,...

..."health care" bill, North Korea, Paul Manafort, Facebook, Tom Price, Roy Moore, hurricanes, earthquakes, Donald Trump -- good grief! The news is almost too horrible to read. Let's talk about something else for a minute.

Lillian Ross, a staff writer for The New Yorker who wrote Here but Not Here: A Love Story (which I actually read) about her 50-year love affair with her married boss, New Yorker editor William Shawn (who left her nothing in his will), died at age 99.

Who cares? you might ask. Fair question. But Mr. Shawn was the father of Wallace Shawn, who co-wrote and co-starred in the quirky 1981 cult film, My Dinner with Andre. I couldn't upload the trailer for some reason, so you can watch the entire movie instead. One of my favorite lines is from the very beginning, by Wally Shawn:

I've lived in this city all my life. I grew up on the Upper East Side. When I was ten years old I was rich, I was an aristocrat, riding around in taxis, surrounded by comfort, and all I thought about was art and music. Now, I'm thirty-six and all I think about is money.

Yesterday, after reading Ms. Ross's obit in the Times, I did a deep-dive on YouTube (click here and here) and discovered, among other things:

1) The original script for My Dinner with Andre was three hours long;

2) Director Louis Malle had Andre Gregory speak faster than normal. (Now I know why I've always had trouble processing what he had to say.);

3) The movie was shot, not in a New York restaurant, but in an abandoned "grand, old southern hotel" in either Richmond, Virginia, or New Richmond, West Virginia, of all places. Since it would have "cost a fortune" to turn on the heat, Mr. Gregory was forced to wear long underwear, worked with an electric blanket on his lap and drank cognac between takes. Seriously, they couldn't find a suitable restaurant in all of Manhattan?!? And, finally;

4) The role of the headwaiter was played, not by a professional actor, but by the Vienna-born Jean H. Lenauer, above. Again, they couldn't find anyone else for this?!? Apparently not. Mr. Gregory recalls talking to his friend Richard Avedon, the photographer, who remembered a man who used to work in the film archive department of MOMA. He didn't know if he was still alive, but said he had an "amazing face." The 75-year-old Lenauer was a refugee from the Nazis who had never been on a movie set in his life. Mr. Malle, Mr. Gregory said, wanted to fire him after the first day because he didn't know how to wait tables. That's crazy, isn't it?

But not half as crazy, or depressing, as the current news. My advice is to watch (or rewatch) My Dinner with Andre, follow the Cubs or just go to a high school football game this weekend (like me). This, too, shall pass. (I hope.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Gastone Moschin, who played...

...Don Fanucci in The Godfather Part II, died at age 88.

That's him on the wrong end of a gun, above. Watch the famous scene here.

My Game of the Week...

...will be Fenwick at Loyola on Saturday afternoon. (According to my iPhone the temperature will be 86 degrees in Wilmette; a little different from last year's meeting, above.)

My older brother, who went to Loyola, will be flying in tomorrow to see the Ramblers host our father's alma mater, Fenwick. (We did this last year, remember?) But do the Friars have a chance against big, bad Loyola? On paper one would have to say "no."

Loyola (3-1) is ranked No. 5 in the Sun-Times and No. 9 in both the Tribune and MaxPreps. The Wilmette squad won the 8A title in 2015 and were runners-up last year.

Fenwick (also 3-1), is ranked only No. 124 in MaxPreps but is coming off an 11-2 season in which they defeated such formidable teams as Phillips, Montini and Lake Zurich. Did they graduate a bunch of guys? I don't know. But I do know Fenwick has a wily coach in Gene Nudo, who is more than capable of pulling a rabbit out of his hat.

To refresh your memory, Fenwick won its first game this year by forfeit. Here's the full schedule (home team in CAPS):

FENWICK 1, Bowen 0
FENWICK 24, Moline 7
MONTINI 28, Fenwick 7
FENWICK 28, Leo 0

Bowen is 0-2 and has since dropped football, Moline is 2-2 and Leo is 1-3. The only team with a winning record here is Montini (3-1) and they handled Fenwick rather easily. This doesn't bode well for the Oak Parkers.

Loyola, meanwhile, dropped a close one to Phillips before "taking care of business":

PHILLIPS 20, Loyola 14
LOYOLA 13, Bishop Amat (CA) 6
LOYOLA 31, Mount Carmel 7
Loyola 42, ST. FRANCIS 7

Now, it turns out that this schedule isn't exactly a "Murderers' Row" either. With the exception of Phillips (4-0), the rest of these teams have been less than impressive this year. Bishop Amat is 0-4, Mount Carmel is 3-1 and St. Francis is 1-3. (The Caravan's three victories came over teams with a combined record of 5-7, but a deeper dive would reveal that those five victories were against teams with a combined record of 5-15.)

Oh, well. Let's look at the recent history between these two Catholic League programs. As I mentioned last year, the Friars haven't bested Loyola since 2006:

2016: Loyola 52, FENWICK 14
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

So do the Friars have a chance this week? Sure, upsets happen all the time in football. But it would be an upset, a big one.

As always, I'll be live-tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.

P. S. My brother and I will be reliving the action at Hackney's on Lake after the game. (We'll probably be in Circe's Circle.) Come join us and I'll even buy you a beer. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Trigger warning!

Here are six programs that are in serious danger of missing the playoffs after making it last year. (I know I said I wouldn't do this. Sue me.)

Fremd (0-4)
2016 Record: 7-4

Thornwood (0-4)
2016 Record: 5-5

Bradley-Bourbonnais (1-3)
2016 Record: 10-1

Vernon Hills (1-3)
2016 Record: 10-4

Highland Park (1-3)
2016 Record: 7-3

Waubonsie Valley (1-3)
2016 Record: 6-5

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

While I'm at it, here's...

Image result for naperville central metea
...a list of some other schools that are on track to reach the postseason after missing it in 2016.

Naperville Central (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

Eisenhower (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

South Elgin (4-0)
2016 Record: 4-5

Wheaton North (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Schaumburg (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Warren (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Bolingbrook (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

Hinsdale South (3-1)
2016 Record: 4-5

I'm watching "The Vietnam...

...War," Ken Burns's excellent new film on PBS. I just finished Episode Two, “Riding the Tiger” (1961-1963), and at the very end journalist Neil Sheehan says:

We thought we were the exceptions to history, the Americans. History didn't apply to us. We could never fight a bad war. We could never represent the wrong cause. We were Americans. Well, in Vietnam we had proved that we were not an exception to history.

That reminds me of a post I wrote a while back. Since November I've been thinking that Donald Trump's election is somewhat analogous in our time to the American experience in Vietnam for my parents' time. They thought that not only could the U. S. not lose a war, but that the U. S. couldn't possibly be on the "wrong" side. And for all my life I've assumed America could never elect someone as unqualified and unfit for the presidency as Donald Trump. For crying out loud, it's not like we're some kind of Latin American banana republic, or even Italy, which seemed to change its government as often as I change my underwear.

But I guess it turns out that maybe we're not so special after all.

I also read a piece in The Atlantic this morning, "How the GOP Prompted the Decay of Political Norms," and it made me think that "norms" are only "norms" until they aren't. Either President Trump's behavior becomes the new "norm" or the old norms are written into law. And I would bet more on the former than the latter.

Unlike the authors of that piece, I think Democrats should stop whining and just plain get used to the new norms. And fight back. And maybe establish some new norms. Maybe New Gingrich was right when he told a group of college Republicans in 1978:

You’re fighting a war. It is a war for power. Don’t try to educate. That is not your job. What is the primary purpose of a political leader? To build a majority.

I actually think Democrats should "try to educate," because they have the better policies. But as for the rest of it, I think Gingrich is spot-on. Maybe all this current polarization isn't such a bad thing. It gives people a real choice between two world views. Let's just hope the better one prevails. But after Trump's election, that's not a sure thing.