Neuqua knocks off defending champs

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Neuqua knocks off defending champs

By Dick Goss

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Neuqua Valley senior running back Joey Rhattigan rushed for 365 yards on 26 carries and scored on runs of 22, 84, seven, five and 53 yards Friday night to power the Wildcats to a wild 44-33 victory over defending champion Bolingbrook in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs.

He keeps his feet going, Raiders senior linebacker Emile Wisdom said of Rhattigan. Hes not ever going to take a break.

Wisdom then paid Rhattigan the ultimate compliment.

That was (Joliet Catholic back) Ty Isacc when I played in little league football with him, he said.

The return of Bolingbrook senior quarterback Aaron Bailey meant the two superstars were on the field.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, the one wearing the Neuqua Valley road uniform refused to be stopped.

Rhattigan ran behind a monster offensive line that averages 240 pounds and decidedly won the battle in the trenches.

We were just physically overmatched size-wise, Raiders veteran defensive coordinator Bob Corra said. Their offensive line blew us off the ball.

Then there were a couple of times we hit him (Rhattigan) in the backfield and he broke free. That last touchdown, he was stopped and broke free and went 50-some yards.

Bailey, though, was not to be outdone.

The Illinois-bound quarterback had not played suffering a right knee sprain on the second snap of Bolingbrooks loss to Lincoln-Way East in Week 6. Only the insiders knew for sure that they would be watching Bailey on Friday rather than sophomore Quincy Woods, who filled in admirably after Baileys injury.

Although not at 100 percent, Bailey rushed for 210 yards in 31 carries, scored touchdowns on runs of 14, 1 and 20 yards and opened the scoring with a 10-yard pass to Brandon Lewis on a fourth-and-goal from the 10-yard line. He completed 7-of-17 passes for 76 yards and siffered a late interception. He also was victimized by a couple of drops, one a long throw over the middle that may have resulted in a touchdown had it been caught.

Bolingbrook (8-3) finished with 371 yards of offense and 23 first downs, numbers usually good enough to win.

If only Neuqua (11-0) had not brought Rhattigan to the party.

This is a tough pill to swallow, Corra said.

Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

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Bears draft Miami safety Deon Bush, workout partner of Antrel Rolle

In one of those ironies of NFL life, Miami safety Deon Bush frequently worked with fellow Hurricane and NFL veteran Antrel Rolle. Now Bush is on a vector that puts him on a possible roster collision course with Rolle.

Rolle was hampered by injuries all year, starting just seven games before finishing the season on injured reserve.

“I grew up watching Antrel Rolle, and while he was down here in Miami I was working out with him, so he's kind of like a mentor to me,” Bush said. “He's been in the league for a long time and I want to be in the league for a long time, so there's a lot to learn from him. It's just great having another player from ‘The U,’ being like a family, like a brotherhood and it'll be great playing with him.”

Where Bush fits warrants watching, with Adrian Amos ensconced at free safety but the other position is very much shrouded in doubt.

That has become something of a Bears tradition at safety.

In 2014 the Bears selected Minnesota safety Brock Vereen in the fourth round. By the end of that season Vereen was starting alongside Ryan Mundy.

But the Bears signed Rolle early in free agency and Vereen lost the starting job almost at the outset of training camp, eventually released in late September. Mundy went on injured reserve with a hip injury and was done for the year.

Last year the Bears drafted Amos out of Penn State in the fifth round. He became a day one starter alongside Rolle.

Bush projects as an immediate fit for special teams but also has shown the speed (4.48 sec. in the 40) to work in coverage, a critical skill set for a position once viewed more in terms of run support. Bush collected 103 tackles and three interceptions over his junior and senior seasons, in addition to forcing five fumbles in the 2014 season.

“I take big pride in being a big hitter, that's how I grew up playing the game,” Bush said. “I've been trying to be the best hitter on my team (since my early days). I just take pride. That's how I like to play the game of football. I like to play tough, I like to put fear in my opponent and that's a big thing in my game.”

Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

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Bears increase LB competition with another trade, draft WVU ILB Nick Kwiatkoski

Keeping in step with the twin themes of the Bears’ 2016 draft, GM Ryan Pace started Day 3 exactly as he did Days 1 and 2 – with a trade – dealing up in the fourth round to select West Virginia linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who immediately dials up the competition level at inside linebacker.

And some good feelings. Former Mountaineers teammate Kevin White, the Bears’ first-round pick in the 2015 draft, immediately tweeted:

“I’m pretty close with Kevin,” Kwiatkoski said. “He came into West Virginia as a junior-college player, lived two doors down from me, and have stayed close with him. I lived with his brother Karon at West Virginia this past year.”

Kwiatkoski, 6-2, 241 pounds, fits the template for inside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme of John Fox/Vic Fangio, with mobility enough in his senior seasons to post three interceptions, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven passes defensed and a team-high 86 tackles. He had six interceptions and 14 passes defensed in his four West Virginia seasons.

“My junior year I played a lot more of the sub packages," he said. "This past year, I played them but not as much. But I feel like I can stay on the field for a third-down guy and different sub packages. This year I’m transitioning to outside backer so I was in coverage a lot more than I was the prior year so that definitely helps contribute to that.”

Kwiatkoski also goes into a competitive cauldron with offseason signees Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in addition to ILB holdovers Christian Jones, Jonathan Anderson and John Timu. Pace has said throughout the offseason that increasing competition was a goal, and the nature of the picks has followed that lead.

The Bears gave the St. Louis Rams the sixth-round draft pick they’d acquired from Carolina in the Jared Allen trade early last season. The deal allowed them to move from No. 117 to No. 113, another move pointing to the Bears targeting best players available on their board and moving to get them.

Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

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Sheryl Swoopes under investigation for coaching practices at Loyola

Loyola women's basketball coach Sheryl Swoopes is under investigation for coaching practices at the university.

The investigation was sparked after 10 of the team's 12 players have transferred or have requested releases — nine having been recruited by Swoopes. Loyola began an "independent and comprehensive university investigation" on April 15.

According to Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, five former players have stated that Swoopes' "unusual coaching style" was the reason behind their exits.

Swoopes has declined to comment on any allegations, according to Ryan. Loyola released the following statement on Thursday:

"Until the investigation is completed, the athletics department and women's basketball coaching staff are conducting business as usual as we prepare for the 2016-2017 season."

Swoopes is listed as one of the greatest WNBA players of all-time. She was hired to coach Loyola's women's basketball team in 2013.

Click here to read the full story from the Chicago Tribune.