DePaul Prep Falls to Mount Carmel 7-0

The DePaul Prep Rams lost to Mount Carmel Tuesday afternoon 7-0. The Rams fell behind quickly to a very talented Mount Carmel Caravan team (1-2-1). The Caravan jumped out to an early lead and controlled the ball most of the game. The Rams record falls to 0-5 but they look to rebound tomorrow against CCL rival Fenwick.

I haven’t photographed a soccer game in a long time. Max Preps talented photographer Kristen Stickney was also at the game. She shot only with a 400mm lens from one spot for the whole game. I will be interested to see her shots. I think her goal was more about capturing photos of individuals. I was there just to get more of the action. Still, I need more practice at soccer games. I will have to get out to a couple more games this season.

Mount Carmel Handles Maine South 21-7

The Mount Carmel Caravan traveled to Park Ridge last night (September 6, 2019) to take on the Maine South Hawks and came away with an impressive 21-7 victory.

Caravan junior quarterback Justin Lynch, brother of head coach and former Chicago Bear Jordan Lynch, looked great both running and passing. He showed tremendous poise backed up in his own end-zone several times including leading his team on a 99 yard drive for a touchdown.

Mount Carmel should make a run at the Blue Division in the new CCL/ESCC super-conference and go deep into the IHSA playoffs.

DePaul Prep Rams Defeat Sullivan Tigers 32-12

DePaul Prep Rams move to 2-0 on the 2019 season with Friday afternoon’s 32-12 win over the talented Sullivan Tigers.

Football is Here--Lots of Changes this Season

It’s game day. Start of the high school football season. I have basically taken a month off since the last of the summer basketball tournaments, but I’m back and so is football. Big changes this year so let’s get into it.

Opening night.

The area’s top teams are starting with out-of-state opponents. Sun-Times #1 Nazerath and #2 Loyola play out-of-state. The highest ranked City of Chicago teams, Simeon and Phillips also have out-of-state games to start the season. Opening the season against out-of-state opponents is just dumb. Who cares about that? But don’t get me started.

The marquee matchup of the evening, in Chicago at least, might be #14 Mount Carmel v. Curie at Mount Carmel’s new Barda-Dowling Stadium on campus at 64th and Dante. It should be fun to see Mount Carmel with a true home field. I might have to head down to that one.

We have Lane v. Lake View to entertain us this afternoon in what I am christening the 47th Ward Bowl. Both schools are located in Chicago’s premier neighborhood and the athletic programs at both are on the rise. My alma mater, St. Viator takes on Prospect this evening. Hersey was the usual opening week nemesis back in my day. Now it’s neighboring Prospect High School to open the season. The Lions should have their paws full.

Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic League Combine for Football.

This football season is gonna be different. The Chicago Catholic League and the East Suburban Catholic Conference have combined for football—again. The CCL and ESCC have formed one combined conference with 24 teams in 6 divisions. Basically, all the Catholic high schools that play football in the Chicagoland area will be in what amounts to one large conference with six mini-conferences inside based upon the school size, football participation numbers and program success. Here is a link to the combined schedule: click here. According to the press release on the ESCC website, there was a unanimous vote in favor of the combination by all the principals of the CCL and ESCC schools.

As explained to me but DePaul Prep’s Athletic Director, Pat Mahoney, the ten member ESCC was have difficulty with some larger schools having successful programs and others struggling to compete. The larger fourteen school CCL, which was divided into four divisions based upon enrollment, football participation and programs success was able to split into divisions that provided a chance for the smaller schools to be competitive.

Older readers among you may recall they tried this before. From 1996 to 2002, the CCL and ESCC combined into the “Metro Catholic Conference.” The difference between then and now is that the Metro Conference required member teams to play a full schedule of conference games. There was no room for regional or historic rivalries. And no room for traveling out-of-state for games either.  The new arrangement has fixed that. The new CCL/ESCC will have only seven conference games. Each team can schedule two non-conference games.

I am looking forward to the new arrangement. It should give some the smaller Catholic school a chance at six wins and some playoff births.

DePaul Prep Football Preview.

Frequent viewers to this channel will recall that much of my coverage has been on DePaul College Prep teams. Big changes on this front as well.

Long time head football coach and Gordon Tech state championship team member, Bill Jeske, is out as coach of the Rams. Bill lead the Rams to much success during his tenure even with the challenge of declining enrollment at Gordon and declining participation in football on Chicago’s northside.

But Bill is not gone. He is staying on as freshman football coach. Something of Gordon remains.

Taking over for Bill as varsity coach is Michael Passarella. Coach Passarella comes from a stint as a game analyst with the Cleveland Browns, an assistant and offensive coordinator at the College of DuPage and as an assistant coach at a high school in Texas.

“Coach Passeralla has brought a new enthusiasm to the program. The kids are excited about football. We have increased participation. Winning six games and making the playoffs is not outside the realm of possibility this year,” Pat Mahony told me.

He might just be right. This year’s DePaul schedule is tough but doable. DePaul Prep Rams look to rebound from last year’s winless season. The Rams lost to Marmion, Chicago Hope, Leo, Fenton, Wheaton, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, DeLaSalle, St. Rita and St. Laurence.

With the maturing of a young team lead by talented senior quarterback Zach Burhans and Sr. WR Michael “Mikey” Flynn, the Rams will surprise some people.

The CCL/ESCC schedule provides some significant changes as well. The Rams will take on Roosevelt (2-5 in 2018), Sullivan (6-5), Carmel (4-5), Leo (3-7), St. Laurence (4-7), Marian Catholic (1-8), Providence (5-5), Joliet Catholic (10-4 and 5A State Champion) and St. Joseph (1-9). Hopefully for the Rams, the addition of two CPS teams and the addition of Marian Catholic to the Red Division will give the Rams a fighting chance at a winning record. Carmel, St. Laurence, Providence and especially, Joliet Catholic will be long shots. Upset one of those teams, handle the rest, and there you have it—the IHSA playoffs. Once you’re in, who knows. Just ask Tom Kleinschmidt. The Rams basketball team won 3rd in state last year. Maybe the Rams football team could find itself in DeKalb come Thanksgiving. Just saying.

Preps Coverage.

In other news, Mike Clark took over for Beth Long covering football in the Sun-Times. We will be well served by the professional in-depth coverage by Mike Clark. Michael O’Brien will continue his coverage as well. It’s great to see the Sun-Times dedication to prep sports coverage. Michael O’Brien and Joe Henricksen do such a great job on basketball. Michael and Mike will be great working on football.

It seems the Chicago Tribune has completely abandoned covering high school sports. I looked at the Tribune website high school sports page. The last story published was from July. Embarrassing. There is such a void in coverage out there; a million stories to tell; a  million photos to publish.  

There you have it. My first long form blog post. It’s not exactly journalism. Not exactly commentary. I will try to do more. Throw in some news, analysis, commentary and photographs. Hope you like it.

Riverside-Brookfield Shootout Preview

Time to get back into basketball. The June 21-23, 17th Annual Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout field and schedule have been announced. The field is packed with top teams including a Chicago area appearance by two-time 4A state champ Belleville West.

The 64-team tournament includes: Belleville West; 4A runner-up Evanston; 4A third place Curie; 3A state champ East St. Louis; 3A runner-up Bogan; 3A third place DePaul Prep; 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel; 4A sectional champs Stevenson, Bolingbrook and Simeon, 3A Regional champs St. Viator; 2A regional champ Uplift.

A couple of first round games should prove interesting. The DePaul Prep Rams, (CCL Blue champs and 3A third-place), take on Belleville West, 4A state champ the last two-years, late Friday at 8:45 p.m. The Rams recently murderous schedule adds a doozy. The Rams graduated three starters among the best in school history, Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony and Pavle Pantovic. This game should prove quite a challenge for the Rams even though the Maroons will not have two time player of the year and Ohio State recruit E. J. Liddell. We should get a good preview of the Rams new look with the talented group of sophomores as well as juniors D.J. Shower and Brian Mathews.

Another interesting first round game is ESCC 2019 champ Marian Catholic against rival St. Viator, Saturday at 12:35 p.m. Pool M is curiously packed with Marian Catholic, St. Viator, defending 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel as well as Northern IL-Big 12 East conference champ DeKalb.

The Chicago Catholic League is well represented with 10 of its 16 teams in attendance. Conspicuous in its absence is CCL White Division champs St. Rita. Perhaps this has something to do with the recent dismissal of this coach Gary DeCesare.

The Chicago Public League also has top teams in attendance (in no particular order): Curie, Bogan, Simeon, Whitney Young, Uplift and Lincoln Park.

Frequent viewers of this channel know that I tend to concentrate on Chicago Catholic League and CPS games. I am looking to branch out some this year and take in more suburban games. I definitely have to see Max Christie at Rolling Meadows. The Mustangs take on Curie on Friday at 6:55 in R-B’s main gym.

I am also looking forward to seeing Notre Dame’s talented young team with juniors Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico. Marian Catholic better watch out for Notre Dame this season. The Dons are going to be good.

The thing about these preseason games is that they are not really like an in-season matchup. The games are quick, the lineups are fluid and don’t reflect the probable in-season starting line-up. There isn’t a whole lot of defense played. I wish I was a more seasoned analyst to tell one exactly what to look for. But I am neither a sportswriter nor a basketball expert. I am photographer and a fan.

As for the photography of this event, it doesn’t lend itself to great picture taking opportunities. Many of the games are in a field house and small gyms without the best light. I am also not as prepared as usual on which players to watch. I am not there to take photos as much as gain intelligence on the best teams to photograph in the upcoming season.

Nevertheless, I am jazzed about the start of the pre-season, at least for me. Hope to see you there—June 21-23 at Riverside-Brookfield High School. I see what I can do about getting some stories and photos up in IL Preps Insider as well.

DePaul Prep Edges Latin 4-3 to Win 2A Regional

The DePaul Prep Rams survived a very good Latin Romans team 4-3 Saturday evening at Kerry Wood Field to win their second consecutive 2A Regional Championship.

Wonderful game played by both teams. Romans played flawless defense. Rams pitching got the better of the Romans.

Rams move on to face Lisle High School at Illinois Benediction on Wednesday evening. The Rams beat Lisle 10-6 at Lisle in March. They look to repeat that performance and advance to the Sectional Final on Saturday against the winner of Aurora Christian (or Westmont—game suspended with Aurora Christian winning 10-0 in the 4th) v. Holy Trinity.

As for the photos, despite a 50/50 chance of rain at game time, conditions were pretty good. It did not rain at all. It was overcast but still pretty bright. No harsh shadows.

I shot at 1/2000 shutter speed and about 1000-1250 ISO. The high shutter speed is necessary for baseball. Next time it is bright I will go higher. The ISO graininess showed up on the tight crops but the real tight crops weren’t usable anyway.

I mostly changed around positioning. I was out on the field away from the fence, which I would rather not do but I had to change things up.

Not too many more baseball games this season. We’ll have to carry on next year. Hopefully by then I will have a 300mm 2.8. Absolutely necessary lens for baseball.

St. Ignatius Defeats DePaul Prep 10-2

The DePaul Prep Rams hosted the St. Ignatius Wolfpack Saturday (April 13, 2019) afternoon at Kerry Wood Field. The Wolfpack hitters were crushing the baseball, scoring two runs each in the first three innings. As is their way, the Rams keep fighting but could not come back, ultimately falling to St. Ignatius—10-2.

This had to be the high school baseball game with more well hit baseballs than any other I have seen. The Wolfpack absolutely pasted the baseball. Triple to the gap after triple to the gap after triple to the gap. St. Ignatius catcher J. Loftus hit a ball that I thought might leave Kerry Wood Field. I have never even seen one come close to hitting the fence. I had to watch to see if would go out. It didn’t.

St. Ignatius student photographer, junior Luke Hales, made his way up to the 47th Ward’s Kerry Wood Field for the game. He got some bad info on the start time and arrived a little later for the 4:00 p.m., start time. It didn’t much matter. He got some great shots. Luke is a very talented photographer and he’s like 16 years old. He knows how to operate the camera. Great color on his photos. He is developing an eye for composition.

My photos are not my best work. I struggled a little with the late afternoon light and shadows. The manual ISO was a problem. I should have gone auto. Nevertheless, shooting the game was useful. The photos might be ordinary, or worse, but I learned something.

St. Rita Defeats DePaul Prep 12-0.

No other way to put this, the DePaul Prep Rams took a shellacking at the hands of the St. Rita Mustangs, 12-0, at Kerry Wood Field Saturday morning. I wasn’t there to write a story so I am a little short on details. The details wouldn’t be pretty anyway.

I was there to get some good daylight baseball photos. There was a low haze this late morning. A little overcast too. I set up the 5D with the 24-300mm 5.6 to get some behind the plate. I set the shutter speed at 1/2000. It worked. I got some good shots with a frozen baseball. I had to push the ISO to 400 but that doesn’t make much of a difference on a full frame 5D Mark IV. The photos from the 70-200mm 2.8 are noticeably sharper that the 24-300. I really need to get one of those 300mm 2.8 lenses.

I wanted to settle on the best positions for baseball as well. It seems that the first and third base sides just back the dugouts are the best place for the most shots. Behind the plate is only good for photos of the pitcher. One can’t get good shots of action in the field from there.

So here are the photos. I have a lot more work to do getting good photos of this year’s edition of Rams Baseball.

DePaul Prep v. Peoria Richwoods

These are not my best photos. I had not planned to shoot this game. I knew I could not stay. I was driving by, my camera was in the trunk, so I thought I would stop and take a few photos. I used the 24-300mm, f5.6. Not the right lens for night baseball but I thought I would give it a try. This pushed the ISO too high making the photos grain and not sharp.

Okay, excuses out of the way, I got lucky on a few. I will be back to get some good ones when I can plan it out better and use the proper equipment.

Stay tuned.

DePaul Prep Falls to Bogan 51-31 in 3A Semi

The DePaul Prep Rams lost to the Bogan Bengals 51-31 in the IHSA class 3A semi-final this afternoon (March 15, 2019) at Peoria’s Carver Arena. The Bengals, ranked #2 in Sun-Times Super 25, 29-3, topped the Rams in all phases. The Rams struggled out of the gate. They were getting good shots but they would not fall. Rams Sr. Guard and Brown recruit Perry Cowen was the games leading scorer with 14.

The Rams will face the Manuel, also the Rams, tomorrow in the 3A game at 11:00 a.m. Bogan advances to face East St. Louis in the 3A championship tomorrow afternoon.

DePaul Prep Defeats St. Viator 62-53 and Advances Directly to State Finals

The DePaul Prep Rams defeated the St. Viator Lions 62-53 Friday (March 8, 2019) winning Grayslake 3A Sectional and advance directly to State Finals in Peoria next weekend because of the disqualification of both North Lawndale and Farragut after a fight at the end of their game.

DePaul Prep v. St. Viator Preview

So here we are.

Today is the day of the sectional final between the St. Viator Lions and the DePaul Prep Rams. Many have been waiting for this day since before the IHSA announced the sectional assignments months ago. It was not a secret that the Lions and the Rams are the two best teams in the Grayslake Central Sectional and probably the two best 3A teams north of Madison Street.

Both teams started out gangbusters and hit a rough patch near the end of the season. St. Viator’s Treyvon Calvin broke a bone in his hand and missed several weeks. The Rams suffered a couple losses in their killer schedule and fell out of the rankings for a bit. Each team rallied, the Rams won the Chicago Catholic League Blue and took care of business in the playoffs and here we are.

Some may know that I have connections to both schools. I graduated from St. Viator in 1981. My brother Dan is a Viatorian priest and taught there for many years. My sister is on the Finance Committee. I have several cousins that are students there now.

And my children attended to Gordon Tech, which then became DePaul Prep. I probably have a dozen close friends and relatives that attended Gordon Tech. It’s a neighborhood school. Since my children started at Gordon, I have gotten to know the coaches, teachers and administrators at the school. I have been photographing Gordon Tech and DePaul Prep athletics for several years now.

I like to think of myself as a photographer, a photojournalist. On occasion, my photos are published so I try to work by journalistic standards. Frankly, my photos are much better when I am concentrating on taking pictures and not watching the game. But I am not really a photojournalist—at least not for today’s game. So I guess I could be rooting for a team.

Joe Henricksen in the Sun-Times makes predictions about which teams are going to win sectional finals. I am much too superstitious for that. My Irish heritage won’t allow such a thing. But I will however offer some thoughts.

The Rams and the Lions match up well against each other. Jeremiah Hernandez and Perry Cowen are similar players. Trey Calvin and Raheem Anthony are similar as well. Conor Kochera and Pavle Pantovic can both play and contribute mightily inside. The size of the players over all is pretty close. Both teams can play excellent defense, can run the floor and play a half court game.

The Lions have been ranked higher than the Rams most of the season. I generally agree with Michael O’Brien and Mike Clark’s rankings but at this point in sectional finals rankings don’t mean much. I guess they will just have to play the game. I am lucky that one of my teams will probably make it to Peoria. That will be tough for me to shoot the state finals and have one of my teams playing. There I will be a photojournalist and can’t have a rooting interest. I will have to find a way to deal with it.

And in the immortal words of Paul Chabura . . .

DePaul Prep Comes Back to Defeat Carmel 57-46 in Sectional Semi-final

The DePaul Prep Rams defeated the Carmel Corsairs 57-46 Tuesday evening (March 5, 2019) to advance in the Grayslake 3A Sectional. (More on that in the following post.)

The Rams started slow. I mean really slow. As slow as I have ever seen them start. They took a lot of shots in the first quarter. good makable shots. The shots would not fall. The Rams were behind 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.

But they rallied going on a 11-0 to start the second quarter. I felt a lot better. I confess at the end of the first, I was a little concerned that we might be a quarter of the way into another evening like the one in North Chicago last March.

It all worked out. Tom Kleinschmidt and his Rams dialed up the pressure and made shots. They gathered a sizable lead late into the fourth quarter. It got a little too close in the closing minutes but Raheem Anthony sealed the victory after a tough first three quarters for him with 6 for sure, but maybe 8, free throws to close out the game. That was clutch. (I am a little sketchy on the details at times because I am taking photos, not notes, during the game.)

My photos aren’t very good because I was watching the game too much. And the light in the gym sucked. Consequently, I had the ISO up too high. The photos are really grainy. Hope you like them.

DePaul Prep Defeats Ridgewood 56-32 to win 3A Regional

The DePaul Prep Rams took care of business against the host Ridgewood Rebels 56-32 on Friday (March 1, 2019) to win their fifth IHSA Regional Playoff Championship in a row.

This is the last phase of the season—the IHSA 3A Playoffs. Been through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Shootouts, CCL games, now the playoffs. Another Regional championship in the books now its only good teams in front of the DePaul Prep Rams. Carmel, St. Viator, Farragut, Morgan Park and Springfield Southeast. That’s all. No problem.

The Rams have played the schedule for it. They played everyone tough. Took Morgan Park to the end. They can play. They know what to expect. Dribble, shoot, play defense, make layups and most importantly—make free throws. Do those things, get a little luck and who knows.  

Go Rams!

DePaul Prep Senior Night v. Mather, Rams 70, Panthers 25

The DePaul Prep Rams capped off a historic season Chicago Catholic League Championship regular season last night (Feb. 21, 2019) with an oversized 70-25 win over Mather. The Rams finish the regular season 20-9 overall and 12-3 in the Catholic League.

Seniors Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony, Pavle Pantovic and Jack O’Brien played their last game in the Tom Winiecki Gym and it was a fun one. Thank you gentlemen for your Ram pride and dedication to your team and your school.

See you in Peoria!

DePaul Prep Defeats De La Salle 63-44 to Win Catholic League Blue Outright

Below are my photos from the DePaul Prep v. De La Salle game last night (Feb. 19, 2019) at DePaul Prep. By virtue of the 63-44 victory over the Meteors, the Rams’ stand alone atop the Chicago Catholic League’s Blue Division. For the first time since 2000, the Catholic League basketball championship resides at Addison and California.

It was an emotional night for the Rams and their supporters, including this one, after a disappointing loss at St. Rita on Sunday. The Rams improve their overall record to 19-9 and 12-3 in the Chicago Catholic League. One more regular season game remains for the Rams. On Thursday night (Feb. 21, 2019), Mather High School comes to the Tom Winiecki Gym for a 6:00 p.m., senior night finale.

I would like to offer a special word of thanks to Tom Kleinschmidt and Ken Gryzwa for their offer to let me cut down a piece of the net and for giving me a piece after I had to refuse. It has been my honor and privilege to photograph the Gordon Tech/DePaul Prep games for several years now. I have gradually gotten better as a photographer as a result. I could never have done it without so many gracious subjects. I am overjoyed to see the Rams enjoying so much success. I am equally pleased to see that DePaul Prep remains a great school with a rich tradition of and vibrant future for Catholic education in Chicago.

Congratulations and continued success to my friends at DePaul Prep. In the immortal words of Paul Chabura, “And as always, Go Rams!”

DePaul Prep Defeats St. Ignatius 51-38

DePaul Prep Rams clinch a Chicago Catholic League Blue title with victory over Wolfpack.

Brother Rice Defeats DePaul Prep 67-54

On occasion I write, mostly in jest, that the light in the gym is the most important part of high school basketball. Well tonight I was down in the 19th Ward at Brother Rice. Please understand that I write this only from a place of Christian charity and as a loyal Chicago Catholic Leaguer, the light in the Brother Rice gym is . . . well . . . horrible.

There, I wrote it. Brother Rice has the nicest high school football stadium outside of Texas but very disappointing light in the gym. Such light as there is in the gym, which is not much, is yellow. All you Crusader fans and especially members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, please do not hate me. It’s not personal; it’s photography.

I write this only to try and explain what I had to do to get some usable photos. I am still struggling to be a passable photographer. Much of what I have done this year is experimentation on the use of ISO. My current theory is not to go above 3200 ISO and try to bring back the exposure in Lightroom. This goes against my instinct to get the exposure right in the camera. When I shoot ISO above 3200, I find that my photos were noticeably grainy. (For example, look at my photos from the Orr v. Lane game, especially the photo that ended up in the Sun-Times.)

Today’s photos are competent enough but not good. The autofocus was dancing around on me. None of the photos are sharp. I have either reached the limit of my cameras’ capabilities or I don’t know how to make the most of the cameras—probably a little of both. I have got to get better at this.

As for the game, I think I will dial back that sort of commentary for a while. I talked to a friend this week who is a actual sportswriter. He said he enjoyed the blog but I found myself apologizing and explaining that I don’t pretend to be a sportswriter. That being said, the game was marred by fouls. I thought the referees did a terrible job on calls against both teams. Marquise Kennedy is very impressive. His foul shooting won the game. He can carry his team and did this afternoon.

Hope you like the photos.