High School Lites: Week 5 preview

541192.jpg

High School Lites: Week 5 preview

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 8:54 p.m.

By Joe Collins & Mike Clark
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your home for prep football coverage in Chicagoland. We will bring you highlights of as many as 15 games across the area, including a few marquee battles in the south suburbs. Homewood-Flossmoor tangles with Bolingbrook, while Sandburg travels to Lincoln-Way East. Who will survive in the Southwest Suburban Blue conference?

Also, Brother Rice gave St. Rita all they could handle last week. Will they have enough in the tank against Mount Carmel? And will the Maine South train keep chugging along? The top-ranked Hawks are up against a homecoming crowd at New Trier. Here is a sneak-peak of each game we will cover during Friday nights show:

THURSDAY GAMES

Mather 33, Prosser 14

So much for last years 1-8 season. Mather is off to a 4-1 start after beating Prosser (2-3) in Big Shoulders conference play Thursday at Hanson Stadium. Raheem Mills, Kendrick Watkins and Curtis Walker each found the end zone for the Rangers, who got off to a 26-0 lead and never looked back. Mather takes on Taft next Friday at Winnemac Stadium. Prosser will try to rebound next Friday against Clemente.

Robeson 56, Amundsen 0

The Raiders (5-0) continue to be a force in the Public League. Running back Devon Sanders tore through the Vikings defense with ease, scoring five touchdowns (four rushing) and accumulating 195 total yards at Stagg Field on Thursday. Robeson will look for win number six next Friday against Morgan Park. Amundsen (2-3) had, arguably, one of the greatest wins in school history last week against Morgan Park. They could not continue the momentum, as they trailed 36-0 at the half. Amundsen takes on Hubbard next Thursday at Gately.

FRIDAY GAMES

No. 14 Crete-Monee (4-0) @ Kankakee (0-4), 6:00 p.m.

The 14th-ranked Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of 42-11. Their offense was nearly unstoppable last week against Glenbard South. Running back Kenneth Kidd piled up 108 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Marcus Terrell had four touchdowns himself. Crete-Monee also features Michigan-bound cornerback Anthony Standifer. If the 0-4 Kays have anything going for them, it has to be motivation: they will be looking for revenge after last years heartbreaking 21-14 loss to C-M.

Brother Rice (3-1) @ No. 3 Mount Carmel (4-0), 7:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Now that Mount Carmel head coach Frank Lenti has become the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history, will his Caravan ease off the gas a bit? Doubt it. Running back Brandon Greer and quarterback Don Butkus have been on a tear this season. That said, they can't sleep on this year's Brother Rice squad. The Crusaders took St. Rita to the final minute, falling 21-17. Keep an eye on the Walkers in the backfield, Martez and Andrew.

Tinley Park (4-0) @ No. 19 Lemont (4-0), 7:00 p.m.

Well, something has to give. Will it be the Tinley Park offense, guided by quarterback Kyle Sheridan, whose team is scoring 49 points per game? Or will it be Lemont's defense, who has only given up six points on the entire season? The game could be decided with the Indians offense matching up against the Titans defense. Tinley Park looks for a marquee win, Lemont looks to avoid a home upset. Lemont outlasted the Titans 37-33 last season.

Plainfield South (3-1) @ Minooka (2-2), 7:00 p.m.

Its only the fifth week, but its a critical one if youre a member of the Southwest Prairie conference. Plainfield South, Minooka and Oswego are all tied at 2-0 in league play. These two teams starred in epic battles last season, where South took a 41-31 decision in the regular season and then Minooka got even in the playoffs, winning 41-38. Kalvin Hill, the speedy running back for the host Indians, is worth the price of admission. Plainfield South has a solid, go-to receiver in Dantrell Wright.

No. 1 Maine South (4-0) @ New Trier (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

Top-ranked Maine South figures to have minimal obstacles on the road to the playoffs this year, but they might have an unsuspecting pothole or two at New Trier. First, its homecoming for the Trevians, so expect a charged-up crowd. Second, N-T is riding a three-game winning streak, including a 62-0 dismantling of Maine West last week. Jack Nykaza is one of the top quarterbacks in the Central Suburban South, as is Hawks QB Matt Alviti. The Maine South junior tossed three touchdowns in last weeks 42-6 win over Niles North.

Glenbrook South (3-1) @ Evanston (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

If it does end up being a fight for second in the Central Suburban South, then this game is nothing short of critical. The Wildkits and the Titans figure to be in the race for that spot. Evanston steamrolled Glenbrook North 35-7 last week, in large part to RBLB Ray Bahr. He scored three touchdowns, one of them off a blocked punt. GBS running back Kevin Schroeder needs to be contained, he scored five touchdowns in the Titans last game, a 63-12 win against Maine East.

Fremd (2-2) @ Conant (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Consider it a football renaissance, of sorts, at Conant. The Cougars tallied consecutive 2-7 records in 2009 and 2010, but have sprinted out of the gate this year. Their defense, which held Hersey to 41 yards rushing last week and forced six turnovers against Buffalo Grove, is one of the many reasons theyre 4-0. Quarterback Matt Cullen has come through as well. Fremds A.J. McGhee guided the Vikings to a 31-10 win over Buffalo Grove last week.

Providence (3-1) @ No. 11 St. Rita (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Pivotal Catholic League Blue matchup features an 11th-ranked Mustangs team who survived a scare from Brother Rice last week. Charles Elmore intercepted a pass in the final minute to preserve the victory. Providence will need to key in on Rita receiver Kenny Golladay to stay within striking distance. On the offensive side of the ball, the visiting Celtics figure to do a lot of running. They feature one of the top offensive lineman in the state, Iowa recruit Ryan Ward.

East Aurora (0-4) @ Streamwood (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

If you havent noticed, theres quite a story unfolding in northwest suburban Streamwood. The Sabres havent been to the playoffs since 2003. In fact, they havent had a winning record since 1998. Both dubious marks could come to an end this season, and they have senior running back Alex Morrow to thank for a large part of that. His 129 yards rushing and a touchdown helped Streamwood beat St. Charles North for the first time since 2001. East Aurora has to shore up their defense in order to have a chance. Theyve given up nearly 50 points per game.

No. 17 Morris (4-0) @ Yorkville (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Say what you want about the prestige of the Southwest Suburban Blue, the Catholic Blue or the DuPage Valley. Take a look at the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Incredibly, five of the six teams are unbeaten (4-0). One will have a blemish after Friday night. Will it be the Foxes, who are off to their best start since 1999 and feature talented running back Neil OBrien? Or will it be the 17th-ranked Redskins, who are a consistent well-oiled football machine having gone to nine state title games since 1979?

No. 13 Bolingbrook (4-0) @ No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

The game of the night in Chicagoland this Friday. H-F figures to be an angry bunch, coming off a loss to No. 4 Lincoln-Way East on their home field. Quarterback Tim Williams is a threat, along with running back Taje Smith and wide receiver Sean Jones. Bolingbrook is averaging 47 points per game, but their defense is anchored by one of the top linebackers in the state, Butkus Award candidate Antonio Morrison. The winner of this game figures to keep pace in the SW Suburban Blue with the winner of.

Sandburg (4-0) @ No. 4 Lincoln-Way East (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

A lot of people figured the 4th-ranked Griffins would be undefeated at this point. But Sandburg? The Eagles got a huge road win last week against Lincoln-Way Central off a late touchdown from Anthony Adams to Nick Lehnerer. The Sandburg running game is solid, with Lemont Booker a constant threat. And solid would be an understatement in describing the Lincoln-Way East offense, who feature quarterback Blake Winkler and receiver J.J. Robertson. They had their way with a talented Homewood-Flossmoor team in week four.

Aurora Christian (4-0) @ Montini (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

We should find out where Montinis 2011 season is heading after Fridays game against Don Beebes Aurora Christian Eagles. A win, and WR Jordan Westerkamp and company figure to have a turnaround at hand. A loss, and the two-time state champs are in tailspin mode, with winning teams (St. Francis and St. Edward) lurking. Aurora Christian is the real deal: they have already blanked two opponents and feature an offense that is putting up over 45 points per game. (NOTE: these highlights will be shown exclusively on csnchicago.com)

Also: tune in to check out our Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the 4-0 Streamwood Sabres. SHS went a combined 8-56 since 2004. What has been the key to the dramatic turnaround? We will spend some time with head coach Cal Cummings and his players who are starting to believe.

We will also tell you how text messaging can actually help prevent injuries on the high school football field this season. Well have scoreboards from across Chicagoland and take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: csnchicagowebsite@comcastsportsnet.com

One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

One-time starter Christian Jones willing to forge a new role in changing D

What’s wrong with this picture? Or maybe, what’s right?

Over the past two years, no Bear made more tackles than Christian Jones’ 196 – a total accomplished in spite of being shunted around in a death-spiraling 4-3 scheme under the Marc Trestman staff in 2014 and then moved inside as part of the John Fox/Vic Fangio 3-4 last season.

An undrafted free agent picked up by the Phil Emery regime out of Florida State, Jones also was third in special-teams tackles (11) in 2014 and contributed four last season along with four pass breakups and four quarterback pressures.

Then this offseason Jones could only watch as the Bears made replacing him (and Shea McClellin) a priority, signing inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. And suddenly Jones finds himself in a battle for a roster spot. He even saw his number (59) taken to one of the new guys (Trevathan).

It is not often that teams put replacing one of their leading tacklers high on their offseason to-do lists. But there it was.

“You can’t really get surprised,” said Jones, still among the most upbeat players to be found anywhere on the roster. “It’s the NFL, and they brought in two good players, and that’s going to help the team, the defense. I was all in for that.

“So it’s taking my role and doing the best I can with that.”

The trouble is, that “role” is fluid.

[MORE: Bears now losing players to rampant stomach virus]

Coaches came to Jones early in the offseason and said they were moving him back to the outside. Fine. He was comfortable there before. Except that since the start of training camp, Jones has been something of a “Where’s Waldo?” character – inside, outside, try finding him.

If there’s an irony, it lies in the fact that not finding Jones a clear role sets him up as a piece of roster versatility that teams crave.

“We went and signed two inside linebackers in free agency and moved him to outside, and now we’ve kind of moved him back inside, so he’s kind of a hybrid,” said coach John Fox. “And sometimes you have to be that.

“There’s the old adage, ‘The more you can do… ,’ and there are a lot of those hybrid guys in different spots. It gives him an advantage, too, as far as offensive recognition.”

Fox and the Bears staff have placed a premium on attitude as well, and Jones has continued to be a factor on special teams, something not every three-year veteran and former starter embraces.

Jones thinks clearly: “You want to have a job,” he said, laughing. “That’s the main thing.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The bumping around between positions has not set Jones’ development back. Indeed, “I think it’s been somewhat smooth, and playing both, I’m getting a sense of the defense,” Jones said. “That helps a lot. It’s a good thing to know both spots because you never know with injuries, so in the long run it helps me and helps the team.”

When Jones was tasked with calling defensive signals in McClellin’s absence last season, it did not go overly well. Jones was benched by Fangio in Week 15 for inconsistency.

Indications are that something has changed. “I think there is a maturity difference, in my opinion,” Fox said.

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

tim-beckman-illini-0824.jpg

North Carolina head coach 'very comfortable' with Tim Beckman as assistant

Tim Beckman is coaching Power Five conference football again, something that came as a big surprise to many a year after Beckman was fired for mistreating players at Illinois.

But his new "boss" — Beckman is a volunteer assistant at North Carolina — doesn't seem to have any problem with Beckman being a part of his staff.

North Carolina head Larry Fedora — who worked alongside Beckman when the two were coordinators at Oklahoma State in 2007 — was asked about Beckman on Wednesday, and had some comments that seemed to show he doesn't care about the reasoning behind Beckman's firing.

"I don't believe everything I read, all right," Fedora told reporters, his quotes tweeted by Andrew Carter of the News & Observer. "I know Tim. I know his side of the story, also. So I was comfortable with it. If I wouldn't have been, obviously I wouldn't have brought him. I wouldn't have allowed him to be in our program. But I was very comfortable with it. I don't have any issues with it at all."

When asked about criticism and questions surrounding Beckman's presence, Fedora responded, "I know it's going to happen, and then a couple of days from now it won't be news. I mean, I promise you, I didn't see anywhere where the NCAA said that he should be banished from the game of football. You know? I mean, the guy didn't win enough games. That's all it was."

Well, coach, that's not all it was.

Beckman was fired a week before the start of last season when an investigation found evidence supporting social-media accusations months earlier that Beckman mistreated players by forcing them to play injured, demeaning players with injuries and threatening to take away players' scholarships.

While it's true Beckman was on the hot seat for winning just four Big Ten games in three seasons, he would've been the coach to start last season had it not been for the results of that investigation.

Now, in his role at North Carolina, it was reported Wednesday, Beckman is relegated to scouting and film study. But he is allowed to travel with the team, meaning he could show up in Champaign on Sept. 10, when North Carolina plays Illinois at Memorial Stadium.