Nazareth Comes Back to Defeat Marist 39-29

Less than three minutes into Friday’s night CCL/ESCC interdivision Blue/Orange matchup, Marist Redhawks jumped out to a 14-0 over #3 Nazareth Academy. A Marist punt return followed by a quick score, then a fumble return for a touchdown and the Roadrunners were down two scores.

Slowly, Nazareth clawed back. It was 14-13 at the half. In the third quarter, the Roadrunners added two more touchdowns. Marist added one as well. In the fourth, despite keeping a Marist drive alive on a personal foul which led to a Redhawk touchdown, the Roadrunners added still two more touchdowns and held the Redhawks. It was pretty much over midway through the fourth.

Nazareth looks as good as I have seen this year. Mount Carmel is close.

i hope you like the photos.

St. Laurence Defeats DePaul Prep 48-0

The St. Laurence Vikings defeated the DePaul Prep Rams 48-0 this afternoon (Sept. 28, 2019) in Burbank.

The Vikings had seven first half touchdowns: a punt return, a fumble recovery, an interception return and at least two on offense. I lost track of the two of the TDs. Frankly, the Vikings were just bigger, faster and stronger.

The Vikings starting running back, (#28, sorry I dropped my roster), is the real thing. He is as good a running back as I have seen this year. At one point in the first quarter, the Rams had him stopped but he refused to go down. It finally took six or seven Rams to bring him down.

Rams senior quarterback Zach Burhans had some nice on-time throws with some zip for completions and first downs. Unfortunately, he had just as many that late wobblers that went for interceptions or incompletions. At one point I heard DePaul Prep’s first year head coach, Mike Passarella, yelling to Zach, “You gotta play with confidence.” When Zach puts it all together, watch out, he can be very good.

I like what Coach Passarella is doing on offense and defense. His plays are well designed and well suited to his personnel. He calls good plays in good combinations. Despite having to pass, he doesn’t abandon the run.

The defense is on the field a lot. The tackling leaves something to be desired but the boys are not out of position. Even being undersized at almost every position, there is plenty of fight in the defense. The team seems well prepared. But just doesn’t have the horses.

Marian Catholic next Friday’s away game is another Red Division foe. The 3-1 Spartans should prove another tough test.

Leo Defeats DePaul Prep 20-18

The Leo Lions defeated the DePaul Prep Rams 20-18 yesterday (Sept. 21, 2019) at DePaul’s home field at Chicago Academy.

Leo jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter on the speed of senior quarterback Tobias Sample. Semple took a keeper around need end on a long touchdown run early in the first quarter.

The Leos followed up with a balanced run/pass drive late in the first quarter capped by a ten yard run up the middle by Lion’s junior running back Jalen Jackson, making the score 14-0, with a two-conversion.

The Rams struggled on office much of the first half as the defense adjusted to contain Sample and Johnson despite the loss of senior defensive tackle Graeme Phillips to an elbow injury.

In the second half, the Rams offense moved the ball as senior quarterback Zach Burhans connected on an early fourth quarter pass to a senior wide receiver Layton Hopkins bring the Rams within one score at 14-6.

But on the very next possession, Tobias Sample reprised his first quarter run with a 81 yard keeper around the right side to make the score 20-6.

No quit in the Rams. With 6:05 remaining Zach Burhans connected on a perfectly thrown 55 yard touchdown pass again to Layton Hopkins to make it a one score game again at 20-12.

After holding Leo, the Rams got the ball back and, with the aid of penalties by Leo, moved the ball down field for a potentially game tying touchdown and two point conversion. On a quarterback sneak, Zach Burhans moved the ball to the half year line only to twist his ankle and be forced to come out of the game for the fourth down play because of the stoppage.

Backup sophomore quarterback Anthony Martinez came off the bench cold for the all important 4th down play. Again Rams head coach and play caller Mike Passerella went to the quarterback sneak. Martinez took the ball and bounced outside the tackle reaching the ball over the goal line on his first play under center for a touchdown.

For the game tying two-point conversion, Passerella called a fade to the wide out in the left corner of the end zone. The pass to Rams senior wide receiver Cole Ceravolo was broken up by Lions’ defensive back Khalil Blakes. The conversion failed.

The Lions held the 20-18 lead. And there it would end as the Lions ran out the clock with a couple first downs.

I have been to a bunch of blow out games this season. This game was certainly the most entertaining I have seen. While disappointing for the Rams, they proved there is no quit in this team.

Lane Tech Falls to Westinghouse 20-7

What looked to be a blowout by Westinghouse in the first few minutes turned into an exciting defensive struggle. Lane Tech couldn’t make up for early miscues and falls to Westinghouse Friday afternoon (Sept. 20, 2019) 20-7.

On Westinghouse’s first offensive play from scrimmage the tailback went up the middle for about a fifty yard touchdown run. Westinghouse then stopped the Indians and blocked a punt. Westinghouse picked up the blocked punt and ran it in for a touchdown.

Just that fast Lane was behind 12-0.

To their credit there was no quit. What could have turned into a rout, didn’t. The Indians defense stiffened. The offence put together a nice drive and it was 20-7 at the half.

There it would remain. A defensive struggle broke out in the second have. Lane moved the ball on a couple late drives only to turn the over deep in Westinghouse territory. Westinghouse held the ball and ran out the clock.

Lane Tech drops to 2-2 on the season and will face Lincoln Park at home next Thursday evening at 7:15.

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.

Loyola Throttles Maine South 17-0 in 8A Quarterfinal

It is better to finish strong than start strong. Despite three losses Chicago Catholic League Blue early in the season, the Ramblers looked as dominant on defense Saturday against Maine South as any team I have seen this season.

Make no mistake about it. Maine South is a very good football team. Maine South came back in the second half to beat a very good Mount Carmel team. The Hawks made a believer out of me. Nevertheless, the Ramblers played a flawless game on defense and a brilliantly conservative and physical game on offense to shut out Maine South at Maine South.

Lincoln-Way East will have to go to Wilmette to face the Ramblers. Lincoln-Way has played some tough teams, Crete-Monee, Naperville Central, Thornwood. But they don’t play in the Catholic League’s Blue Division and they did not face Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice and Montini.

I am looking forward to this game. The semi-final should be a very good game.

Which brings me to a second subject—the dominance of the Catholic Schools in the football playoffs this year. In 8A, three of the four surviving teams are Catholic Schools: Brother Rice, Marist and Loyola. 7A has Nazareth and Mt. Carmel. 6A has Notre Dame. 5A has Joliet Catholic and Montini. 4A has Immaculate Conception and Bishop McNamara. 2A has St. Teresa (Decatur, Illinois). That’s eleven of the thirty-two teams. That’s basically 1/3 of all eight classes and half of the biggest classes.

How did this happen? Don’t know. I don’t even want to speculate.

What’s gonna happen? There will be some talk, in the usual quarters, about kicking private schools out of the IHSA. Don’t want to go there either. I’m sure we have all heard quite enough of the multiplier talk.

Personally, I think it will swing back. The DuPage Valley restructured. It will be back. And who knows what is going to happen with the Catholic Super Conference next year.

I am struggling about what to do about the finals. The football finals are the same time as the start of the basketball season. What is a photographer to do?

St. Rita Blanks DePaul Prep 40-0 in Season Ender

Dissappointing seasons came to an end for both the DePaul Prep Rams and St. Rita Mustangs on Saturday (Oct. 20, 2018) with a 40-0 whitewashing of the Rams by the Mustangs. I had high hopes for the Rams at the beginning of the season. They had some athletes, a little bit of size. I thought they could pick up some quality wins. It wasn’t to be.

I saw St. Rita twice. They gave a good game to a very good Brother Rice team. 3 and 6 is a surprising record for such a good team.

Both programs will bounce back. On to basketball.

Hope you like the photos.

De La Salle Handles DePaul Prep, 40-22

The DePaul Prep Rams faced the De La Salle Meteors at DePaul’s new home field, Chicago Academy, 3400 N. Austin. The noon game at that field makes for good photos. It didn’t work out too well for the Rams. The gave up the first 40 points then scored the final 22. De La Salle just proved a little to big and fast for the Rams.  

It was a great day to take photos. I noticed that the autofocus setting was reacting really slow. I need to work on adjusting the setting. Canon autofocus is so good. I must have work on that. Small issue but I can do better. The settings are so robust there is a better why.

Football is winding down. Playoffs are coming up. Looking forward to that.

Hope you like the photos.

Brother Rice Continues CCL Blue Dominance with 21-14 Win over St. Rita

Brother Rice hosted St. Rita Friday night (Sept. 28, 2018) in a Chicago Catholic League Blue showdown. The Crusaders maintained their lead in the conference with a 21-14 defeat of the Mustangs.

The Crusaders opened the scoring early in the first quarter with a 73 yard touchdown pass and run from senior quarterback John Bean to senior wide receiver Dylan Summers.

The Crusaders took the 7-0 lead into half time and opened the third with a long touchdown run by John Bean. The Mustangs answered immediately thereafter with a kickoff return touchdown by St. Rita sophomore wide receiver Henry Wilson to make the score 14-7.

In the fourth, Brother Rice senior cornerback Danny Fitzgerald picked off an errant pass and returned the ball deep into St. Rita territory. The Crusaders capitalized on the Fitzgerald INT with an inside touchdown run by senior running back Jessi Plunkett.

Despite a late St. Rita touchdown drive, Brother Rice held for the win improving its record to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Catholic League Blue.