Marian Central's Streveler can sing and play quarterback, too

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Marian Central's Streveler can sing and play quarterback, too

Marian Central's Chris Streveler probably isn't a better singer than he is a quarterback. That's not why Minnesota offered him a scholarship. That's not why he accepted it. But if you take a trip on the team bus, you might wonder if Streveler has missed his calling.

"I'd like to think I'm a good singer," he said. "I thought about joining the school chorus this year but I didn't do it because it wouldn't work out with my schedule. I'm graduating early so I can enroll at Minnesota in January to prepare for spring football."

Ed Brucker, Marian Central's veteran coach, will never mistake the Beach Boys for Frank Sinatra. In 44 years, he never has experienced bus rides like this. He couldn't tell you what the lyrics are--if he knew, he probably would have to ban the song--but he's never had so much fun on a road trip.

"It's a fun group, the most relaxed group I can ever remember," Brucker said. "But they work at football. It's the best of both worlds. They know when to turn it on and when to have fun.

"They like singing as a team, on the bus and before the game in the locker room, at home and away. Streveler leads them. It's a certain song all the time. They did it last year, too. They always did it when I wasn't in the room. As long as it fires them up, it's all right with me. They sing songs that you and I enjoy. They go back to the 1960s, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel. Our bus rides home are amazing."

Streveler describes himself as the ringleader. The song is called "Sorry 4 the Wait," by Lil Wayne. As of Sept. 27, he passed Elvis Presley as the male with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 109 songs.

"It's a tradition. We started last year and kicked it up this year. Last year, only 10 of us sang it. But this year the seniors persuaded everybody to get involved. It's our thing this year. It fires us up. It's a fun thing to do after games.

"The main song before games is 'Sorry 4 the Wait' by Lil Wayne. It isn't exactly a clean song so we sing it when the coach isn't in the room. It's a cool thing. It brings us together as a team. We sing rap songs, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, country, hip hop, classical. No one knows Sinatra. All of us collaborate. Everyone sings pretty loud."

There are limits, however. The girls volleyball team wanted to play against the football team in an assembly. But Brucker wouldn't permit Streveler to participate. "He'd be too hyper and probably sprain an ankle," the coach said. Streveler understood. He has learned to calm down.

"I've been coaching for 44 years and I've never seen a better quarterback," Brucker said. "He impacts a game more than any kid I've ever had. I'm surprised in some ways. He was Player of the Year in our area last year but he has improved."

Streveler, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who is committed to Minnesota, is completing over 70 percent of his passes for an unbeaten team that favored to win the Class 5A championship. He has passed for 2,351 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,155 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has been intercepted only twice. He could be to the 2012 playoff what Montini's Jordan Westerkamp and Joliet Catholic's Ty Isaac were to 2011.

He passed for 196 yards, rushed for 182 yards and scored three touchdowns in Marian Central's 42-10 victory over Wauconda in the opening round of the Class 5A playoff.

In last Saturday's 41-20 victory over Woodstock North in the second round, he completed 10 of 16 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 104 yards.

The Hurricane also got a big lift from running back Ephraim Lee, who rushed 16 times for 142 yards and one touchdown. In 11 games, Lee has carried 170 times for 1,298 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Marian Central will carry its 11-0 record into Saturday's quarterfinal match-up against Montini. Marian Central defeated Montini 49-24 in Week 7 but Montini has ousted Marian Central from the playoff in each of the last three years.

"His efficiency is unbelievable," Brucker said. "We run the Northwestern offense. To utilize his talent, we have designed runs and scrambles for him. This is the most efficient offense I've had. It's hard for people to stop us. We have all the ingredients to win the state title.

"Last year against Oswego, we were down by 22 with eight minutes left in the third quarter and came back to win by seven. That said the juniors don't quit.

"Against Montini this year, we were down 17-0. But there was no panic. We came back and scored 43 unanswered points. They beat us last year, the only game this group has lost on the varsity level. It showed me that we have something special."

To allow for Streveler's special skills, Brucker set aside three games to allow the youngster to call his own plays. "We just signaled in the formation and he would look at the defense and call the play and call the blocks. He likes that. It lets him feel what is going on. If he has to slow down, he does it. If he has to do it more quickly, he does it. He sees things so much better. He is in total control," the coach said.

But Streveler insists he didn't make a commitment to Minnesota too early. He attended a one-day camp at Minnesota, impressed coach Jerry Kill and quarterback coach Jim Zebrowski, was offered a scholarship and accepted it. At the time, his only other offer was from South Dakota State.

"When I heard Minnesota had offered me, I talked to my parents and thought about it," he said. "They were one of my favorite schools. I like the coaches. They don't have a quarterback committed. It's the place I wanted to be. The offense fits me, like ours. I love the people up there.

"They have the right people in place to turn the program around and put it back on track. I've got a great relationship with coach Zebrowski. The senior quarterback is graduating. They started a freshman last week. I feel I have a chance to go in and compete. My goal is to start as a true freshman. I want to get as much playing time as I can as a freshman."

Streveler will take his final exams at Marian Central and graduate on Jan. 16. He will enroll at Minnesota on Jan. 22. He'll return home in June to walk across the stage and pick up his high school diploma. His friends wonder if he has started to pack yet.

"I'm excited to get up there and get a new opportunity," he said. "But I'm still focused on my senior season. I still have some things to accomplish--three more games."

How important is it to complete a 14-0 season?

"I can't express it," he said. "I've been playing with my best friends since youth football at St. Mary's. We've grown up together. For a lot of them, it's their last game each week or their last practice. I want to be a part of it. It can be something special."

Streveler reminds that 9-0 in the regular season is one thing but 14-0 is quite another, a whole new season, something that people will talk about for years. That's why this team's motto is: 1-0 every week and get better every day.

"You don't want to be satisfied," he said. "You have to get better to be where you want to be."

Streveler and his teammates don't relate to the four Hartlieb brothers Marian Central's four state championship teams of the 1980s. But they do remember the 2006 team of Jon Budmayr, Bryan Bulaga and Sean Cwynar that lost to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the state final.

Streveler and his best friend, senior defensive end Liam Kirwan, think about it all the time. They met at the 2006 state championship game. It was their childhood dream to play on a state champion as seniors.

"We have swagger, a killer instinct, a mentality that we can do it every week," Streveler said. "We can see it on film when you watch the 2006 team. We talk to Bulaga (now a starting tackle for the Green Bay Packers) all the time. He donated equipment to our weight room. They were a loaded team that didn't get it done. That's a message for us."

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

The White Sox called up Carson Fulmer from Double-A Birmingham a week ago with the expectation he could add a strong, powerful arm to the back end of a bullpen that’s been taxed quite a bit this season. 

After he struggled in his first high-leverage appearance in the majors, though, the White Sox remain confident their 2015 first-round pick will be an important part of the team’s bullpen down the stretch this summer. 

Fulmer only threw 12 of 30 pitches for strikes and allowed three game-deciding runs in seventh inning of the White Sox 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers in front of 22,611 at U.S. Cellular Field Friday night. The leverage indexes of Fulmer’s first two appearances on the West Coast — which spanned 2 2/3 scoreless innings — were .01 and .05 (a leverage index of 1 is average), with those coming in a 8-1 loss and a 6-1 win. On Friday, Fulmer’s leverage index was 2.98. 

Fulmer said nerves weren’t behind his erratic outing, in which plenty of those 18 balls weren’t close to the strike zone. 

“I want to be in those situations,” the 22-year-old Fulmer said. “When you go out there and don’t do your job, it’s obviously frustrating. But you have to have a quick memory and throw it over your shoulder and prepare yourself for tomorrow.”

Fulmer’s electric mid-90’s fastball and wipeout curveball were rendered ineffective by his inability to command them in his two-thirds of an inning. He walked Justin Upton, gave up a single to Tyler Collins and walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases with nobody out, and after a pair of groundouts brought a run in, he walked Cameron Maybin to re-load the bases.

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After that walk, Fulmer was pulled in favor of Nate Jones, who surrendered a go-ahead, ultimately game-winning two-run single to Tigers All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera. 

At some point, the White Sox were going to have to test Fulmer. With starter Jacob Turner only lasting 3 1/3 innings, and Fulmer looking comfortable in his first two appearances in the majors, manager Robin Ventura calculated that the seventh inning Friday was a prime opportunity. 

“He’s going to have to have it sooner or later,” Ventura said. “From the way the first (two) went, we felt comfortable he was going to come in there and be able to do that. But tonight, that doesn’t happen. But you have the confidence he can come back from this and be very effective in that spot.”

Morneau, who’s provided offense for bullpens over 14 major league seasons, agreed with his manager’s confidence in Fulmer. 

“We see a lot of good things in him,” Morneau said. “It’s obviously not up to me, but hopefully we get him back out there quick and let him settle back down and get comfortable, because he can really help this team.” 

White Sox relievers entered Friday with the fifth-highest leverage index in baseball, a product of the high volume of one-, two- and three-run games this team has found itself in this season. All those stressful innings — as well as Jake Petricka’s season-ending injury and Zach Putnam’s elbow issue from which he isn’t likely to return anytime soon — have put a considerable strain on Jones, Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and David Robertson.

Fulmer, by virtue of being in the White Sox bullpen, will get another opportunity at a high-leverage inning. And while his first foray into a pressure-packed relief appearance didn’t go well, he hopes to quickly get a chance to put Friday in the rearview mirror. 

“I can’t ever use the excuse of it being my first big-time experience, especially for me being put in that situation,” Fulmer said. “Hopefully I get the opportunity to do it again. I’ll continue to stay prepared, just like I was tonight, and hopefully the odds turn in my favor. That’s all I can control.” 

Sky see winning streak snapped in loss to Connecticut Sun

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Associated Press

Sky see winning streak snapped in loss to Connecticut Sun

ROSEMONT, ILL. 

Jonquel Jones had her first-career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds — both career highs — and Alex Bentley scored 21 points to help the Connecticut Sun beat the Chicago Sky 94-89 on Friday night.

Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas added 16 points apiece and Chiney Ogwumike had 10 for the Sun (8-16).

Jones scored five consecutive points to cap a 13-4 run that gave Connecticut a 78-74 lead with 4 minutes left and the Sun led the rest of the way. Connecticut hit all eight of its free-throw attempts in the final 42 seconds to seal it.

Elena Delle Donne led Chicago (11-13) with 20 points. Cappie Pondexter added 16 points, and Tamera Young had 14.

The Sun, ranked 11th in the AP WNBA power poll, made 26 of 32 free-throw attempts — both season highs and committed a season-low seven turnovers.

The fifth-ranked Sky shot 52.3 percent (34 of 65) from the field.

Game changer: Dexter Fowler’s return fuels Cubs in Milwaukee

Game changer: Dexter Fowler’s return fuels Cubs in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – Cubs fans, Dexter Fowler feels your pain: “It sucks being on the couch and watching your team struggle.”

It only took five pitches on Friday night at Miller Park before Fowler answered the questions about how much this lineup missed his presence and how long it would take him to get back into a rhythm.

“You go, we go” is what manager Joe Maddon tells Fowler, and a sellout crowd of 42,243 roared when the All-Star leadoff guy hammered a 94-mph Jimmy Nelson fastball off the black batter’s eye in center field, setting the first-inning tone in a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I was just happy to be back around the boys,” Fowler said after going 3-for-4 with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored in his return. “It’s like being back home.”

Fowler’s strained right hamstring alone doesn’t begin to explain all this, because he had been hitting .207 in June, the rotation cooled off, the bullpen became unreliable and a 24-games-in-24-days stretch wore this team out before the All-Star break. But the Cubs were 27 games over .500 and had a 12.5-game lead in the division on June 19, the night Fowler went on the disabled list with what sounded like a minor injury.

If panic didn’t completely set in around a first-place team, underlying issues kept bubbling to the surface, the Cubs losing 15 of their last 21 games before that summer vacation.

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But the second-half Cubs (58-37) now look energized, beating the American League’s best first-half team (Texas Rangers) and the defending National League champs (New York Mets) at Wrigley Field before rolling up Interstate 94 for a virtual home game.

Now here comes Fowler, who jumpstarted the offense again with the bases loaded in the second inning, lining a two-run double down the left-field line and saying postgame that he felt no lingering issues with the hamstring.

“He’s an asset at the top of the lineup,” winning pitcher Jason Hammel said. “Tough at-bat. And he can get you. It was nice to see him run around out there again.”

Yes, Hammel (9-5, 3.35 ERA) ate a handful of potato chips to help prevent cramping in the 86-degree heat, lasting five innings before five relievers combined to hold the Brewers (40-54) scoreless the rest of the night. For all the buzz about Theo Epstein’s front office upgrading the bullpen by the Aug. 1 trade deadline, Maddon may already have a shiny new toy in Carl Edwards Jr.

The skinny right-hander entered the game in the sixth inning, with a runner on second, and cut through the heart of Milwaukee’s order, forcing Ryan Braun to ground out and striking out Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter on six pitches combined.    

Just like that, the Cubs are getting answers from within, after all the outside noise screamed: Do something! The fans chanted “Let’s go, Cubbies!” before closer Hector Rondon got the final out and his 17th save. This is again looking like the team Fowler envisioned when he turned down the Baltimore Orioles for a one-year, $13 million guarantee, shocking the industry by showing up in Arizona in late February.     

“It’s really apparent how important he is to us,” Maddon said. “It just looked right.”