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.



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


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


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... 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.

Yesterday I promised... look at some of the programs that are under- or over-performing in 2017 versus last year. In the interest of keeping things positive (these are just kids, remember?), I'll focus on seven over-achievers in particular. But where do you begin?

How about Stagg, which is 3-1, compared with last year's 0-9? What's going on down there in Palos Hills? The Chargers haven't finished with a winning season since 2005, when they went 9-2! Will this be the year they return to the playoffs?

Oh, sure, you might be thinking, Stagg's three victories came over teams with a combined 1-11 record. But so what? If they can defeat Sandburg (1-3) and Moline (2-2) they might just qualify for the postseason.*

Or Glenbrook South, which is also 3-1? Last year the Titans were 1-8 under first-year head coach David Schoenwetter. The last time the Glenview squad finished with a winning record was in 2014 (6-4).

The Titans' victories so far came over three opponents with a combined record of 5-7. If they can beat Niles North (2-2) and Niles West (0-4) they too can make the playoffs.

Crystal Lake Central is 3-1, after finishing last year at 2-7. But as recently as 2014 the Tigers were 7-3.

CLC's three wins were over teams with a combined record of 2-10. But if they can beat Hampshire and Dundee-Crown (both 1-3) they may also be headed for the postseason.

Buffalo Grove is undefeated, at 4-0, after last year's dismal 3-6 finish. The Bison were 5-4 in 2014.

Buffalo Grove's opponents are 5-11, and all they have to do is defeat Prospect (1-3), Elk Grove Village (0-4) and/or Wheeling (1-3) and they have a ticket to the Dance.

Hersey is another team off to a 3-1 start after last year's 3-6 finish. The Huskies were 6-4 as recently as 2014.

The Arlington Heights squad has beaten three schools with a combined 3-9 record. If they get past two of those same three teams I just mentioned, Elk Grove Village, Wheeling and/or Prospect, then they may also be playing in November.

Thornton is the other undefeated team in this list, at 4-0, after finishing 2016 at 3-6. In 2015 the Wildcats were 9-2.

Thornton's opponents so far have gone a combined 6-10. If the Harvey school can beat either Sandburg (1-3) or Thornwood (0-4) they could be back in the playoffs.

Finally, there's one of my favorites, LaSalle-Peru. The Cavaliers are 3-1 after last year's 3-6 finish. You have to go all the way back to 2009, when L-P was 7-3, to find the last time they had a winning record.

The Cavaliers beat three teams with a combined 2-10 record, but they still face Sycamore, Ottawa and Yorkville (all 1-3). Not hard to imagine them finding two more victories in that schedule.

Why do I like L-P? Well, I've never actually seen the Cavaliers play but I've always wanted to visit Howard Fellows Stadium, at the top of this post. It's supposed to be one of the best in the state. I wrote about it a few years ago here.

* Most, but not all, teams that finish 5-4 go on to the playoffs. (It's sort of a complicated formula, which I won't go into right now.)

Monday, September 18, 2017

The rankings are in...

...and the only significant change in the three news outlets I follow is in MaxPreps, where Homewood-Flossmoor vaulted 13 spots to No. 3 after its decisive 48-20 win over Bolingbrook.

In his column in the Sun-Times, Michael O'Brien mentions Brother Rice:

The Crusaders are now 1-3 after losing to Montini on Friday. 

The path to the playoffs looks very difficult for Brother Rice. The Crusaders have home games remaining against Providence and St. Rita and travels to Mount Carmel, St. Joseph and Loyola.

Brother Rice was 9-3 last year. Who else is under- or over-performing versus 2016? I'll take a look at that tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are the rankings this week (undefeated unless otherwise noted):



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


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


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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

There weren't too many...

...surprises this week as all of the top teams in the Chicago area were victorious.

I was at the Mount Carmel - Loyola game and at one point tweeted, perhaps ungenerously, This may be the worst Mount Carmel team I've ever seen. (I try not to say anything too negative -- these athletes are kids, remember -- but I was just so shocked at the mismatch I was witnessing.) And, if I'm not mistaken, the Caravan wasn't using its veer offense as it always had in the past; they seemed to be passing more, for example. What gives?

This morning I read in Michael O'Brien's "Four Downs" column in the Sun-Times (my emphasis):

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. Jack Bracewell, starting in his place, fumbled three times in the first half. All three of the turnovers led to Loyola points. The Ramblers won 31-7.

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 started in left field and was 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI in a 9-0 win against Australia on Saturday.

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

Mount Carmel’s offense may have had a valid excuse for Saturday, but the defense was at full strength. That’s a strong sign for Loyola’s offense, which had started the season slowly. The Ramblers didn’t just score points, they flashed the impressive up-tempo offense they’ve had in past years.

Quarterback Quinn Boyle was in complete control of the game. He was 17-for-25 passing for 144 yards and had 13 carries for 79 yards. Loyola receiver James Joyce was his favorite target and finished with five catches for 48 yards and one touchdown.

A word about that kid Boyle: I don't recall ever seeing a Loyola quarterback run with the ball so much or so well. Am I wrong, or has Coach John Holecek changed his approach? Or is Boyle just a particularly good runner?

Finally, what the heck is going on with Waubonsie Valley? A preseason No. 3 in the Tribune, No. 4 in the Sun-Times and No. 10 in MaxPreps, the Aurora squad is 1-2 so far. In Week One the Warriors were upset by Lake Park, 36-34, came back in Week Two to defeat Glenbard North handily, 21-7, but then got upended decisively on Friday by rival Neuqua Valley, 29-7. And this week they have to face a strong Naperville Central team! Could these guys start off the season 1-3? What's more, with remaining tests against Lincoln-Way Central, Naperville North (both undefeated) and Wheaton North (2-1), Waubonsie could conceivably miss the playoffs. Are there some key injuries out there in Aurora or something? What am I missing?

On to this week's rankings. (All teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.)



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


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


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

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Before we go any further... may be worth noting that Loyola has beaten Mount Carmel in five of their last six outings. Or, the Caravan has bested the Ramblers in eight of their last fifteen meetings. So until we get to this week's Game of the Week, cherry-pick away! (Home team in CAPS.)

2016: Loyola 35, MOUNT CARMEL 28
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
2005: Mount Carmel 21, LOYOLA 3
            Mount Carmel 41, LOYOLA 3 (playoffs)
2004: Mount Carmel 20, LOYOLA 0

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Don't ask me how...

...I got here in my random morning "surfing," but this is apparently the first mention of LSD in rock music.

"LSD 25" was recorded in 1959 by the Gamblers, an early southern California surf band. (It was released in 1960 on the flip-side of "Moon Dawg!")*

The instrumental was written by band members Derry Weaver and Sam Taylor after the pair read about the hallucinogenic drug in a magazine. As music historian Michael Hicks explained: "The title connotated nothing about the musical content, but only demonstrated that the name 'LSD' was being assimilated into mass culture."

P. S. Another member of the Gamblers was Bruce Johnston, who went on to join the Beach Boys in 1965 on tour to replace Brian Wilson.

* The title was inspired by early rock 'n' roll disk jockey Alan Freed's on-air nickname "Moondog."

Monday, September 4, 2017

Shelley Berman, who...

...played Larry David’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm, died at age 92.

Walter Becker, who...

...with Donald Fagen founded Steely Dan, died at age 67.

Funny, I wasn't a big fan back in the 1970s when the band was at the height of its popularity, but their music has grown on me over time.

The biggest change... this week's rankings is the elevation of Lincoln-Way East to the top spot in both Chicago papers while the Griffins vaulted 13 spots to No. 2 in MaxPreps. Other than that, I think the big news is that Chicago teams went 3-1 in interstate play (Loyola, Homewood-Flossmoor and Marist all won while Stevenson lost) and Illinois teams as a whole went 3-3 (East St. Louis and Edwardsville lost).*

Here are this week's rankings with all teams undefeated unless otherwise noted.



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


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


1. Prairie Ridge
2. Lincoln-Way East
3. Rochester
4. Marist
5. Maine South (1-1)
6. Phillips
7. Loyola (1-1)
8. Huntley (1-1)
9. Cary-Grove (1-1)
10. IC Catholic Prep (1-1)

* I just found out that Simeon lost to Detroit Cass Tech (MI), 17-12. That makes Chicago schools 3-2 for the weekend and Illinois teams 3-4. My bad!

Friday, September 1, 2017

I finished "Mad Men"...

...last night, and unless I missed a lot -- and I probably did -- I can still only give the show a solid B or B+. It's not as good as, say, Breaking Bad or Seinfeld, but more on the level of The Sopranos.

(I would say Breaking Bad is the best drama I've ever seen, Seinfeld the best sit-com -- although Curb Your Enthusiasm has to be right up there too -- whereas The Sopranos just had too many scenes and episodes that left me thinking, It wouldn't happen that way. I may not be an expert on organized crime but I do consider myself a bit of an expert on life and human behavior. And much of The Sopranos just wasn't believable to me.)

But, like The Sopranos, Mad Men passed the acid test of a good show: I looked forward to watching it. And I liked talking about it and reading about it.

So why do I give Mad Men only a B or a B+? Even though I would read what Alan Sepinwall had to say about each episode after watching it, I either didn't catch enough of what was actually going on or there just wasn't as much going on as Mad Men's greatest fans thought. I'll concede that I probably missed a lot but it's worth remembering that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I don't think it's uncommon for a viewer to see something that a writer never intended. Also, like most television shows Mad Men struck me as a glorified soap opera. Rather than having a clear arc -- a beginning, a middle and an end -- I imagined the writers getting together during the off-season and asking each other, "Okay, now what do we do?" After a while it seemed like everyone was just jumping into bed with new characters without any progression to the plot. They ended it up nicely -- too nicely, I would say -- but I could imagine it going on and on, or ending after Season Three or Four or . . . take your pick.

As for that final episode, I'm glad Joan started her own business (she seemed to be the one character who experienced true personal growth throughout the series and actually became the person she always had the potential to be), but I found Roger's, Pete's and Peggy's stories either implausible (are we supposed to think that Roger and Pete will take their new relationships any more seriously than their old ones? Is Roger done being a womanizer? Why would we think so?) or just downright odd (am I the only person in America who thinks Peggy and Stan are an unlikely couple? Could they possibly survive?). I would have much preferred to remember the swaggering Peggy in that gif above. That should have been her last scene in the show.

And Don? I think he found some measure of peace at that retreat, returned to McCann and his kids, wrote that new Coke ad and led a more or less happy rest of his life. (As my wife said, he was at heart an adman.) But did he stop chasing women and drinking? I see no reason for that.

As for Jon Hamm, despite that scene near the end where he's talking to Betty on the phone and crying which I found almost embarrassingly bad, I was impressed with what a good actor he is. I am admittedly no expert on this subject as I must be the only person in the universe who doesn't think Meryl Streep is a good actress. (Yes, you read that last sentence correctly.) I can't help it -- every time I see her on the screen I think to myself, Oh, there's Meryl Streep and she's acting. There's her signature laugh, her signature this-or-that, etc. I never see past her to the character. And isn't that what a good actor is supposed to do, lose themselves in the character? Now, having said that, I will contradict myself completely and say that in what was probably my favorite scene -- I can't upload it for some reason -- in all of Mad Men (Season 6, episode 10: "A Tale of Two Cities"), I thought to myself, Wow, Don really looks stoned -- good job! Most actors, I find, overact when it comes to being drunk or stoned or when crying. (That last one is one of my pet peeves. Watch somebody cry sometime: they wipe at their tears furiously; they don't just let them roll down their face. We get it: you're crying -- you don't have to knock us over the head with it.)

So there it is: my first, "hot" take on Mad Men. Subject to change, of course.

Now what should I watch?