Goodwin is grit of Loyola's defense

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Goodwin is grit of Loyola's defense

Loyola coach John Holecek is a defensive genius. His Ramblers have allowed only 134 points in 12 games, only three touchdowns in their last five. The former Illinois and NFL linebacker has a knack for putting the right personnel in the right spot where they can succeed.

"I look for smart athletes, kids who are physical and can make plays," Holecek said. "We have a very quick defense. It isn't overpowering. We have a good collection of smart kids in the right spots. They know the strengths and weaknesses of our calls. They are a heady group. We utilize their skills."

So what is 5-foot-11, 230-pound Darby Goodwin doing in the middle of Loyola's 3-4 defense? How did he get to be a three-year starter at nose tackle? How did he get to be the Defensive Player of the Year in the Catholic League's Blue Division? And why don't any college recruiters outside of Division III seem to care?

"He is a natural football player," Holecek said. "You can see it from the first snap. He is confident and tough. He has good football instincts, a good football IQ. He is as reliable and tenacious as they come. He has very good quickness. He is stout, explosive and strong. He has a very high motor. He never stops competing."

Goodwin, lineman Jack Rushin, linebacker Cody Sullivan, conference MVP and safety Luke Ford and their friends form a crack defensive unit that has recorded four shutouts and allowed only four opponents to score more than one touchdown. Going into Saturday's Class 8A semifinal against Glenbard North, the Ramblers have permitted only two touchdowns in three playoff games.       

In a majority of snaps, Goodwin is double teamed by blockers who often weigh 60-80 pounds more than he does. But he has recorded 11 sacks, four short of the school record.

"He is street tough," Holecek said. "He says little but plays football. He is as gritty as they come."

Goodwin admits it is a challenge to contend against bigger linemen on every snap. "I have to play with a chip on my shoulder. I'm confident that I am better than them. I play with that mindset all the time. The offensive lineman talk trash. They look down at me. I know I am smaller. I have to be quicker, use my speed, stay low, use leverage. I can't stop. The most fun I have is when I eat them and get a sack," he said.

He was overwhelmed after the regular season when Holecek informed him that he had been singled out as the Defensive Player of the Year in the Catholic League's Blue Division.

"I was a little surprised. I couldn't believe it was happening. It was pretty awesome," Goodwin said. "But then, when I began to think about it, I felt I had earned it. I worked really hard for the last two years."

Longer than that. Holecek learned about Goodwin from a former player who was coaching the youngster in a youth football program at Wildwood Park. His parents, who are missionaries, moved to Chicago when he was 5. He began playing football in sixth grade.

"My former player called me and said Goodwin was a great kid, that he literally was ripping jerseys off opponents," Holecek said.

As Goodwin recalls, he was an inch shorter and 30 pounds lighter than he is today. "Every day, I wish I was 6-foot-5 and weigh 250 pounds. I pray every day for an extra three or four inches. But I can only hope for the best. I hope someone will give me a chance, even Division III," he said.

Holecek believes he could be an undersized defensive lineman in college or a linebacker in a 3-4 defense. It bothers Goodwin that he hears only from Division III schools. He wants to play football in college, at the highest level he can.

"I know size is a big factor," he said. "But I know I can play. Look at my film, my statistics. I love the game, no matter where it is."

At the moment, most importantly, it is at Loyola. He was an offensive lineman as a freshman, then was moved up to the varsity as a sophomore and converted to the defensive line. It didn't take long for him to understand that Holecek and defense added up to a very successful program.

"Watching the players before me, like Chance Carter (now at Northwestern), I realized Loyola had the No. 1 defense in the nation," Goodwin said. "Coach Holecek puts us in position to make plays. If you are in the right position, you can make plays."

In last Saturday's 19-7 victory over Palatine, his job was to pressure and harass Palatine quarterback Ethan Olles, who had passed for more than 3,000 yards. Goodwin, double teamed as usual, had only one sack. But he helped to hurry Olles into throwing four interceptions.

This week, he will have a different responsibility against Justin Jackson and Glenbard North's run-oriented offense. "They are physical and run the ball. I must eat double teams so our linebackers can be free to make plays. I realize usually against heavy run teams that I have to sacrifice my body, take on a double team, take out two blocks, so the linebacker can make a tackle," he said.

And hope those college recruiters look at the film.

Injury Report: Kevan Smith back on DL, Jason Heyward dodges a bullet

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Injury Report: Kevan Smith back on DL, Jason Heyward dodges a bullet

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

WHITE SOX

Kevan Smith has had a roller coaster of a month, and it's back on the downfall. On Tuesday, Smith returned to Triple-A Charlotte after missing about a month due to a back injury. But after the game, Smith went back on the DL with an undisclosed injury. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run.

Smith was promoted to the main roster on April 24 to replace catcher Alex Avila, who went on the 15-day DL with a sore hamstring. The following day, Smith suffered a sacroiliac joint dysfunction injury during warm-ups without making his MLB debut.

Nate Jones returned to action last week after missing a few games due to a bruised foot caused by a line drive. Jones made three consecutive appearances from May 21-23. In those games, he pitched a combined 1.2 innings and only allowed one hit while striking out three.

Jake Petricka (right hip impingement) and Daniel Webb (right elbow flexor inflammation) are still on the 15-day disabled list. There's no timetable for their returns. On Saturday, manager Robin Ventura said Petricka was still battling soreness in his hip. 

CUBS

The Cubs dodged a serious injury bullet a week ago when Jason Heyward crashed into the wall in San Francisco. The Cubs outfielder wound up missing just three-plus games and returned to the lineup Tuesday against his old team in St. Louis.

Heyward went just 1-for-10 with a walk and two strikeouts in the final two games against the Cardinals, but his re-insertion into the lineup has helped create a butterfly effect with the Cubs lineup. Heyward did make his one hit count — a two-run double in the Cubs' 9-8 victory Wednesday.

The Cubs got more positive outfield news when Matt Szczur was activated from the disabled list Saturday and has looked completely over his hamstring issue.

Szczur has appeared in every game since his return, going 3-for-6 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. He his now hitting .389 with a 1.089 OPS on the season.

'Yay me!': Cubs celebrate David Ross' 100th career homer

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'Yay me!': Cubs celebrate David Ross' 100th career homer

"Yay me!"

That's how David Ross announced his presence to the Chicago media Friday afternoon, almost four hours after hitting his 100th career homer.

Ross' three-run blast in the fourth inning (before a pair of rain delays lasting 93 minutes) helped lead the Cubs and Jon Lester to a 6-2 victory Friday.

"It was just my personal thing," Ross said. "It was nice to have a nice, round number. One hundred in The Show is pretty cool for me. But it affected the game and impacted the game, so it's even better. It wasn't just a blowout or a meaningless homer when you're down a bunch."

The Cubs have been counting down to 100 since last season and finally got to celebrate with "Grandpa Rossy," who sported a Papa Bear T-shirt after the game.

Joe Maddon gave Ross a bottle of wine and Lester gifted his personal catcher a bottle of champagne in a box signed by everybody on the roster.

"The boys were excited. I was excited," Ross said. "I think my favorite part while all this has been going on is rounding second base and looking in the dugout. Makes me smile every time seeing everybody so happy for me and counting down for me.

"They're as happy as I am, so that makes me feel good."

As soon as Ross made contact, he knew it was gone, slowly walking a few steps and uncharacteristically admiring it a bit before beginning his trot.

He got a curtain call, too, and he acknowledged hitting his 100th blast was extra special coming in front of the Cubs fanbase.

"I run down in the outfield before the game and ever since I hit 99, that's all I hear: 'Hit a homer, Grandpa,' I mean, nobody even knows my first name anymore," Ross joked.

"It was cool. There was even a David Ross sign a little girl had today. I mean, who doesn't like seeing that? Stuff like that is just really cool."

It was Ross' fourth homer of the season and he now has 17 RBI and an .828 OPS. Compare that to the 39-year-old's one homer, nine RBI and .519 OPS last season.

"It's awesome," Lester said. "Obviously, going into last year, we all knew where he was. I did. He'll admit: He didn't swing the bat like he wanted to last year.

"It's just nice to see him feel comfortable and be the old Rossy. I'm glad he did it. It's kinda nice he did it the day I was pitching to add a little bit to it."

Ross' 100th homer ball wound up glancing off the Nuveen sign in left field and wound up on Waveland. The fan that ended up with it only asked for a photo with Ross in return.

"Who wants a picture of me?!" Ross laughed. "I'm surprised he didn't ask for [Kris Bryant] or [Anthony Rizzo] or something like that. Again, yay me!"

White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

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White Sox change their minds, Chris Sale to start Sunday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Robin Ventura changed his mind and Chris Sale will now face the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

The White Sox manager announced his decision Friday afternoon, a little less than 24 hours after the club said it would keep its rotation in order following Thursday’s rainout. Rather than face Kansas City, the choice meant that Sale would have been pushed back and faced the New York Mets on Monday instead.

But as Ventura and his coaching staff discussed their options (he had five pages full of potential rotation options on Thursday), ultimately it made the most sense for Sale to face a divisional opponent. Sale is set to face Edinson Volquez in the series finale at 1:15 p.m.

“This is the better play,” Ventura said. “(Sale) didn’t throw very much the other day. We have a division team. A lot of things going into it. Just keep him on schedule and keep him pitching. It’s that simple.

“You play these guys a lot. They’re in your division. You have a chance for (Sale) to still go out there. You look at it with what he did the other day. It made a little more sense to have him go Sunday.”

Sale lost for the first time in 10 starts all season on Tuesday. He threw only 89 pitches against the Cleveland Indians, which has the White Sox comfortable with keeping him on schedule and working on a normal four days of rest instead of needing another.

“He was out of the game quicker than usual last time so we can do it,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “We feel good about Sale against anybody. Division team, that might have had something to do with it.”

The White Sox said Jose Quintana would start Monday against the Mets with Mat Latos on Tuesday and Friday’s starter, Miguel Gonzalez, throwing on Wednesday.

No matter what happens in Friday’s game, Ventura said he likely plans to stick with Carlos Rodon against the Royals on Saturday and Sale on Sunday.