Cacciatore seeks to extend Boylan's streak

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Cacciatore seeks to extend Boylan's streak

Danny Appino said he was excited to play his senior season of football at Rockford Boylan for his uncle, coach Dan Appino, who had guided the Titans to back-to-back 14-0 state championships.

But the 5-foot-7, 158-pound slotback was as surprised as everyone outside the coach's immediate family when he opted to leave Boylan last spring to become the head coach at Rockford Auburn.

"It was a surprise to me," Danny Appino said. "The family knew. Rumors were going around. Then he announced his decision to the team. But coach (John) Cacciatore has done a nice job and we love playing for him."

Appino's sudden departure caught Cacciatore by surprise, too. He appeared to be a fixture at Boylan, like former football coach Bill Thumm and basketball coach Steve Goers. In 10 years, Appino's teams were 97-19 with only three losses in the last five years.

A Boylan graduate of 1992, Cacciatore had served as freshman coach for six years and sophomore coach until he was hired to succeed Appino this year. He seemed to be content being an assistant in a program that has experienced only one losing season since 1982 and has failed to qualify for the state playoff only once in the last 22 years.

"You like to think you are ready. Then you see how enormous the job is," Cacciatore said. "I have great appreciation for what coach Appino did. Coaching at the freshman and sophomore level isn't like the varsity.

"Coaching is great, my favorite part of the job. But the other administrative parts that go with it...well, there are different demands at that level. It's the other things that open your eyes to how big a job it is."

Cacciatore, 38, came prepared for the task. Before joining Appino's staff, he played for legendary coaches Gordie Gillespie and Dan Sharp at College of St. Francis in Joliet.
   
"I wasn't thinking about taking the job when Appino left," he said. "There was a point in my career where I thought I would never be a head coach. But there was a point when I was playing for Bill Thumm when I thought I wanted to be a head coach. Was I ready at age 38? If you don't do it now, I said to myself, are you walking away from your biggest opportunity ever?"

He deliberated for three days, had discussions with his wife and two young children, then decided to apply for the job. School officials chose not to look beyond the school itself for a successor. Seven days later, Cacciatore was hired. He still teaches four classes of U.S. History.

"I'd be lying if I said pressure was nothing here," he said. "You know it going in, even at the sophomore level. You feel there is a need to live up to what the varsity is doing. Dan set a standard. One advantage I had was not knowing what I didn't know and just coach the best way I know how. Winning has made it easier.

"Coming off two 14-0 seasons and two state titles, I inherited a group of seniors that when I had them as sophomores went undefeated. A dozen of them went to the varsity and contributed to our playoff run in 2010. They have been a successful group since they walked into the school."

Thirty-eight victories in a row and counting. Rockford Boylan still has a long way to go before it approaches the all-time state record of 64 set by Pittsfield in 1966-73. Think of it, nine unbeaten seasons in a row. In fact, five schools have posted longer winning streaks than Boylan.

Last Saturday, the Titans rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to oust Jacobs 28-10 in the first round of the Class 7A playoff. Demarcus Vines scored on a 39-yard run and a 75-yard punt return, safety Matthew Johnson recorded his 12th and 13th interceptions of the season and quarterback Brock Stull threw a 34-yard TD pass to Luke Salamone.

Boylan (10-0) will host Fenwick (8-2) on Saturday in the second round.

Danny Appino and Peter Cimino don't have time to sort out the numbers or examine the record book. It is enough for the two Boylan seniors  to bask in the realization that they have never played in a losing game in four years of high school competition. And the thought of playing on three 14-0 state championship teams in a row boggles their minds.

Appino and Cimino are used to Cacciatore. They played on his unbeaten sophomore team. "A lot of things he does are unique, some quirks, but we've had time to adjust. We're getting used to his style. Coach Appino went to a spread offense. Coach Cacciatore has a wing T style. He knows his football," Danny said.
   
"We have a lot to play for. It makes us keep working hard. We have a lot of motivation. You don't want to be on the team that loses a game. Growing up, we knew about the Boylan tradition. We're excited to work at it and be a part of it. The whole community works at it."

This team may not be as glitzy as last year's squad, which featured All-State defensive lineman Dean Lowry, now a freshman standout at Northwestern, and running back Tyreis Thomas. But Cacciatore's first squad is averaging 43.4 points per game and has allowed only 89. Only one opponent has scored more than two touchdowns and six have been limited to no more than one.

"We have no Dean Lowrys or Tyreis Thomases. We have Peter Cimino, Demarcus Vines and Zackary Matthews," Danny Appino said. "We are smaller but faster. It makes us work hard. Our goal has been the same every year on the varsity--take one week at a time, win conference and do well in the playoff. We are where I expected us to be. It's been a fun year so far and we're looking forward to the postseason."

At Boylan, defense is the name of the game. Cacciatore is the offensive play-caller but defensive coordinator Chris Rozanski, who has been at Boylan for 10 years, calls the shot for the 3-3-5 defense.

"I'm the offensive play-caller but defense is the first priority," Cacciatore said. "There is nothing worse than watching a team ground the ball down your throat. I coach like I'm down by 21 points. The strength of our program is we are all sold on the system. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

"What have I learned? I feel the most important thing to this point is, while I have more time to do things on offense, I spend time on defense trying to figure out how to continue to stop teams. The better we get on defense, the more productive we are on offense. The defense is what allows the offense to play on a shorter field."

The defense is anchored by 5-foot-11, 190-pound free safety Peter Cimino, safetu Matthew Johnson, 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior middle linebacker Zackary Mathews, 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior linebacker Ryan Johnson and 6-foot, 190-pound senior linebacker Ty Sharp, nephew of Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp. Cacciatore describes Mathews as "the backbone of what we do."

The offense features 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior running back Demarcus Vines, who has rushed for over 800 yards and 20 touchdowns, 6-foot-3, 165-pound junior quarterback Brock Stull, who has passed for 600 yards, 6-foot-2, 245-pound junior tackle Joe Fehrle, 6-foot- 220-pound tackle Nick Verstraete and 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior center Sam Bellone.

Another plus is  senior kickerpunter Sean Slattery.

"We're still looking for the perfect game when we can take the ball and get points on every possession," Cacciatore said.

"Are we better than the last two teams? After the first one, we all looking around and said: 'Wow. I can't believe what we did.' Then we won again and we didn't think we were so good. Now we're at the same place. How will we do with this group of guys? All the pieces have fallen into place for the titles to happen."
   
"Each team has its own special stamp," Cimino said. "My brother Frank was the quarterback on the 2010 team. Then there was Lowry and Thomas. Now it's Vines and Appino and Mathews. We focus on team speed on defense. We play physical and smart. It's a very close knit group.

"We've never lost a game in high school. We try not to think about it. We try not to think about the streak. We dont want to jinx ourselves. People outside the team bring it up. 'You're the team that hasn't lost,' they say. No one has ever done it. We just always try to be positive."

CSN announces Cubs 2017 season coverage details

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CSN announces Cubs 2017 season coverage details

81 Game Regular Season Schedule begins April 4, 7:00 PM at St. Louis on CSN+ featuring Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies with the call all season long!

FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER -- Live streaming coverage of EVERY Cubs telecast – including all Pre/Postgame Shows – to be made available to authenticated subscribers on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app

CSNChicago.com to feature 24/7 reporting from Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney; website to also feature live video of Postgame Press Conferences, weekly Cubs podcasts featuring CSN Cubs on-air/digital talent, Daily Player/Coaches Interviews, plus In-Game Twitter updates from CSN talent and much more!

“Cubs Season Preview” special, featuring a complete analysis of this year’s roster and the roster of the future, to air TONIGHT at 10:30 PM CT!

Chicago, IL (March 28, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN) -- the home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs - featuring National League MVP Kris Bryant (.292 avg, 39 HRs, 102 RBI, NL-best 121 runs scored), three-time All-Star/Gold Glove winner Anthony Rizzo (.292 avg, 32 HRs, 109 RBI), All-Star Addison Russell (21 HRs, 95 RBI), three-time All-Star/World Series MVP Ben Zobrist (18 HRs, 76 RBI), World Series standout Kyle Schwarber (.412 avg in postseason), National League "Cy Young" second/third place finishers Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA w/197 K’) & Kyle Hendricks (16-8, MLB-best 2.13 ERA w/170 K's), 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA w/190 K's in '16), plus -- returning stars Javy Baez, Jason Heyward, Wilson Contreras, Miguel Montero, Albert Almora Jr., newcomers in outfielder John Jay, closer Wade Davis…and manager Joe Maddon (200 regular season wins in his first two seasons on the northside) among others - has announced its 2017 Cubs game telecast & surrounding coverage details, along with numerous digital coverage specifics on CSNChicago.com.  CSN's season-long coverage of the 2017 Chicago Cubs is presented by State Farm.

The 2017 Cubs season on CSN includes 81 live regular season games with the first telecast taking place on Tuesday, April 4 at 7:00 PM CT on CSN+, as the Cubs travel to face the arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals, which will feature the popular Cubs announcing tandem of Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies with the game call.  (NOTE: Viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com's CHANNEL FINDER page for the exact CSN+ channel location in their area).  Coverage gets underway on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group beginning at 6:30 PM with host David Kaplan and new CSN Cubs studio analyst David DeJesus, along with CSN's Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs "Insider" Patrick Mooney providing live reports from St. Louis. The game will be immediately followed by an expanded edition of Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. NOTE: Crull will also be in St. Louis for the team's season opener on Sunday, April 2 and will provide post-game reports to air on In the Loop Prime at 10:00 & 10:30 PM. 

CSN's first home Cubs telecast of the 2017 campaign will take place on Thursday, April 13, as the Cubs host their 2016 NLCS opponent - the Los Angeles Dodgers - live from Wrigley Field (pre-game coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group at 12:30 PM; first pitch is set for 1:20 PM). 

In addition -- beginning THIS season -- EVERY Cubs telecast on CSN, including surrounding Cubs Pre/Postgame Live coverage, will be accessible live via CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app to authenticated CSN Chicago subscribers.  The live stream of CSN's Cubs telecasts is also presented by State Farm.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service of White Sox games, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .  

Among the 2017 Cubs regular season schedule highlights on CSN -- featuring 45 weeknight primetime starts -- include 37 NL Central battles highlighted by games against the arch-rival St. Louis Cardinals (eight games), 2015 season NL Wildcard Game opponent Pittsburgh Pirates (eight games), I-90 rival Milwaukee Brewers (11 games), along with the Cincinnati Reds (ten games).  In addition, viewers can look forward to the ONLY locally-televised game when the New York Yankees visit Wrigley Field for an interleague battle on May 5, plus – CSN will also carry the Cubs in another interleague clash when they visit the defending AL East champion Boston Red Sox on April 28.  Other key match-ups of note include a pair of games against the LA Dodgers (Apr. 13 & May 28), and four games against the NL East champion Washington Nationals, among many others.  ALSO -- CSN will carry all four Cubs-White Sox "Crosstown Cup" interleague games this year.  (NOTE: the July 25 & 27 "Crosstown” games will be “Cubs” telecasts on CSN, while the July 24 & 26 games will be "White Sox" telecasts).

For the fifth-straight season, Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper and former MLB pitcher/veteran game analyst Jim Deshaies join forces for every Cubs telecast on CSN.  Plus, new this season - CSN's David Kaplan will be joined by former Cubs/MLB standout David DeJesus before and after the majority of CSN Cubs telecasts on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group and Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois.

SPECIAL PROGRAMMING NOTE: CSN will also air an In the Loop Prime: Cubs Season Preview special (presented by GMC) TONIGHT (Tuesday, March 28) at 10:30 PM CT.  Hosted by David Kaplan and featuring special guests, the Cubs Season Preview special will provide a complete breakdown of all of the off-season transactions, a deep look at this year's roster, along with numerous players and coaches interviews, and a detailed discussion on the key factors needed for a World Series repeat.  This special will also air on Friday, Mar. 31 at 4:00 PM and Sun, April 2 at 4:00 PM.

In addition to its live stream of every Cubs regular season telecast, CSNChicago.com also delivers comprehensive 24/7 Cubs coverage all season long, including the following highlights: 

  • Live stream of Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s post-game press conferences (sponsored by Xfinity) following every home game.
  • Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney returns for his eighth season on the beatFollow him on Twitter @CSNMooney for the latest team/player news and inside access 24/7.  Mooney will also file daily stories/video reports and will make regular on-air appearances throughout the season on Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group, SportsTalk Live, In the Loop and in select CSN Cubs home games.  All Patrick Mooney content on CSNChicago.com is sponsored by Jeff Vukovich & Nationwide.
  • David Kaplan will once again offer on-going reports and insight throughout the 2017 Cubs/MLB season.  Kaplan can also be followed on Twitter @thekapman, for up-to-the-second Cubs news.  In addition, fans are urged to follow CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull) and new CSN Cubs studio analyst David DeJesus (@David_DeJesus3) for additional Cubs news, interviews, and insight all season long.
  • CSNChicago.com digital baseball reporters Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) and JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) will also be providing Cubs game day reports, analysis and features throughout the season.
  • "Cubs Talk PODCAST" – Featuring Cubs Pre/Postgame Live host David Kaplan, CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull, CSNChicago.com Cubs "Insider" Patrick Mooney, Cubs digital reporter Tony Andracki, and an array of special guests, CSN’s "Cubs Talk" podcast features in-depth Cubs discussion on the hottest topics and breaking news all season long. Fans can download all of CSN’s podcasts at CSNChicago.com/podcasts and simply subscribe to them via iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.  The podcasts can be played on any mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.
  • CubsTalk (CSNChicago.com/cubs) - CSNChicago.com’s high-velocity, real-time, comprehensive Cubs news and opinion section featuring original commentary, reporting and aggregation. CubsTalk contains interactive content with continually updated insights from the network's talent, which includes the new #CubsTalk podcast.
  • @CSNCubs on Twitter provides 24/7 full team coverage, giveaways, fan photos and game day news straight from Wrigley Field and across the country.
    Push Alerts: CSN Chicago will deliver Cubs push notifications for breaking team and player news, "Insider" reports, plus game reminder alerts via CSN Chicago’s SportsTalk app for iOS and Android devices.
  • Cubs coverage on CSNChicago.com/cubs is presented by Wintrust
  • CSN Chicago’s Cubs content will also be distributed via its digital network of partnerships including NBCSports.com, NBCNews.com, and Xfinity.com.

For the tenth-straight season, CSN will produce every Cubs regular season home and road game in a high-definition (HD) format.   In addition, nine Cubs games are currently scheduled to be telecast on CSN Plus (see attached schedule).  CSN Plus (CSN+) telecasts are provided to CSN affiliates and distributed to viewers when two live events are scheduled simultaneously.  CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details). Comcast Cable and RCN subscribers can also watch all CSN+ games in standard definition on CLTV. 

Before a number of Cubs games on CSN (including all weekend telecasts), fans can tune to Cubs Pregame Live presented by Fields Auto Group featuring a half-hour of pre-game analysis, interviews and the very latest Cubs news (NOTE: for weeknight 7:00 PM game start times or earlier, pre-game coverage can be found on SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado featuring host David Kaplan or on In the Loop presented by Comcast Business).  Following the majority of all games, viewers can look forward to the most comprehensive post-game wrap-up show on Cubs Postgame Live presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois featuring live coverage of Cubs manager Joe Maddon's post-game press conferences and live locker room interviews with Cubs players.  Following primetime editions of Cubs Postgame Live, CSN will air In the Loop Prime presented by GMC at 10:00 PM and/or In the Loop Prime presented by State Farm at 10:30 PM for a complete recap of the day’s top local and national sports news, along with the most popular topics, videos, posts and more in the social media universe. 

CSNChicago.com/NBC Sports app

2017 Chicago Cubs Schedule

Regular Season: (every game available in HD)

  1. Tue, Apr 4                7:00 pm              @ St. Louis                                  CSN+
  2. Fri, April 7                 7:00 pm              @ Milwaukee
  3. Sat, Apr 8                 6:00 pm              @ Milwaukee                               CSN+
  4. Thu, Apr 13              1:20 pm              vs Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Sat, Apr 15               1:20 pm              vs Pittsburgh
  6. Mon, Apr 17             7:00 pm              vs Milwaukee
  7. Wed, Apr 19             1:20 pm              vs Milwaukee
  8. Sun, Apr 23              12:00 pm            @ Cincinnati
  9. Wed, Apr 26             6:00 pm              @ Pittsburgh
  10. Fri, Apr 28                6:00 pm              @ Boston
  11. Mon, May 1              7:00 pm              vs Philadelphia                            CSN+
  12. Tue, May 2               7:00 pm              vs Philadelphia
  13. Wed, May 3              7:00 pm              vs Philadelphia
  14. Fri, May 5                 1:20 pm              vs New York Yankees
  15. Mon, May 8              7:30 pm              @ Colorado
  16. Wed, May 10            2:00 pm              @ Colorado
  17. Fri, May 12               7:00 pm              @ St. Louis
  18. Tue, May 16             7:00 pm              vs Cincinnati
  19. Thu, May 18             1:20 pm              vs Cincinnati
  20. Fri, May 19               1:20 pm              vs Milwaukee
  21. Sat, May 20              1:20 pm              vs Milwaukee
  22. Tue, May 23             6:00 pm              vs San Francisco                        
  23. Wed, May 24            7:00 pm              vs San Francisco
  24. Sun, May 28             3:00 pm              @ Los Angeles Dodgers
  25. Tue, May 30             9:00 pm              @ San Diego                               CSN+
  26. Fri, June 2                1:20 pm              vs St. Louis
  27. Mon, June 5             7:00 pm              vs Miami
  28. Tue, June 6              7:00 pm              vs Miami
  29. Thu, June 8              7:00 pm              vs Colorado                                 CSN+
  30. Fri, June 9                1:20 pm              vs Colorado
  31. Mon, June 12           6:00 pm              @ New York Mets
  32. Wed, June 14           6:00 pm              @ New York Mets
  33. Sun, June 18            12:30 pm            @ Pittsburgh
  34. Mon, June 19           7:00 pm              vs San Diego
  35. Tue, June 20            7:00 pm              vs San Diego
  36. Thu, June 22            6:00 pm              @ Miami
  37. Sun, June 25            12:00 pm            @ Miami
  38. Mon, June 26           6:00 pm              @ Washington
  39. Wed, June 28           6:00 pm              @ Washington
  40. Thu, June 29            3:00 pm              @ Washington
  41. Sat, July 1                3:00 pm              @ Cincinnati
  42. Wed, July 5              1:20 pm              vs Tampa Bay
  43. Fri, July 7                 1:20 pm              vs Pittsburgh
  44. Fri, July 14               6:00 pm              @ Baltimore
  45. Tue, July 18             6:30 pm              @ Atlanta
  46. Wed, July 19            11:00 am            @ Atlanta
  47. Sat, July 22              3:00 pm              vs St. Louis                                 
  48. Tue, July 25             1:20 pm              vs WHITE SOX
  49. Thu, July 27             7:00 pm              @ WHITE SOX
  50. Fri, July 28               7:00 pm              @ Milwaukee                               CSN+
  51. Sun, July 30             1:00 pm              @ Milwaukee
  52. Tue, Aug 1               7:00 pm              vs Arizona
  53. Thu, Aug 3               1:20 pm              vs Arizona
  54. Sun, Aug 6               1:20 pm              vs Washington
  55. Tue, Aug 8               9:00 pm              @ San Francisco
  56. Wed, Aug 9              2:30 pm              @ San Francisco
  57. Fri, Aug 11               8:30 pm              @ Arizona
  58. Tue, Aug 15             7:00 pm              vs Cincinnati
  59. Thu, Aug 17             1:20 pm              vs Cincinnati
  60. Fri, Aug 18               1:20 pm              vs Toronto
  61. Wed, Aug 23            6:00 pm              @ Cincinnati
  62. Thu, Aug 24             6:00 pm              @ Cincinnati
  63. Sun, Aug 27             12:30 pm            @ Philadelphia
  64. Tue, Aug 29             7:00 pm              vs Pittsburgh                                CSN+
  65. Wed, Aug 30            7:00 pm              vs Pittsburgh                               
  66. Thu, Aug 31             7:00 pm              vs Atlanta
  67. Sat, Sept 2               1:20 pm              vs Atlanta
  68. Sun, Sept 3              1:20 pm              vs Atlanta
  69. Tue, Sept 5              6:00 pm              @ Pittsburgh
  70. Thu, Sept 7              6:00 pm              @ Pittsburgh
  71. Sat, Sept 9               3:00 pm              vs Milwaukee
  72. Tue, Sept 12            7:00 pm              vs New York Mets
  73. Sun, Sept 17            1:20 pm              vs St. Louis
  74. Tue, Sept 19            6:00 pm              @ Tampa Bay
  75. Thu, Sept 21            7:00 pm              @ Milwaukee                               CSN+
  76. Sat, Sept 23             6:00 pm              @ Milwaukee
  77. Mon, Sept 25            7:00 pm              @ St. Louis
  78. Tue, Sept 26            7:00 pm              @ St. Louis                                  CSN+
  79. Wed, Sept 27           7:00 pm              @ St. Louis
  80. Fri, Sept 29              1:20 pm              vs Cincinnati
  81. Sat, Sept 30             3:00 pm              vs Cincinnati

81 Regular Season Games – 41 home, 40 away

Schedule Subject to Change

All Times Central Time

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Stanford DL/LB Solomon Thomas

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Stanford DL/LB Solomon Thomas

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Solomon Thomas, DL/LB, Stanford

6'3" | 273 lbs.

2016 stats:

61 tackles, 14 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 2 FR, FF

Projection:

First round

Scouting Report:

"Explosive defender who combines strength, quickness, and a muscle-car motor to drive him around the field making play after play. Has the hands and feet to be a quick-win specialist and the size to fit as a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end who can reduce inside for pass-rush downs. He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and possesses more than enough skill and talent to believe he will continue to elevate his game as a pro. Thomas has the potential to become the best defender from this draft class and a future all-pro." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles