High School Lites: Football state final preview

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High School Lites: Football state final preview

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
6:05 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

High School Lites: Championship Weekend

Championship weekend is here! Some teams will earn a first place trophy at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. And others will have to endure a long, long bus ride home. High School Lites is your home for high school football coverage in Chicagoland. Friday's edition will air just after the BullsNuggets game and will feature previews of the 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A title games, including an in-depth profile of Wheaton Warrenville South-- Comcast SportsNet's Team of the Week. Our Chris Boden will also feature a Marmion team that is looking to bring the first football championship to Aurora. We'll also bring you highlights of the 1A-4A games and have a complete recap of the 2010 Prep Bowl featuring Curie and Fenwick. Here is a sneak peak at some of the matchups featuring Chicago-area teams:

PREP BOWL: Curie (9-5) vs. Fenwick (7-5), 11:00am Friday at Soldier Field

If there's one thing Curie might be feeling by now, it would be exhaustion. Not that their recent performance would indicate that, of course. In fact, the Condors have actually become stronger. Thanks to a quirk in the IHSA and Chicago Public League Playoff schedule, Curie will become only the second team in Illinois state history to play a 15-game football schedule. Their dramatic postseason continued last week in an epic 40-34 2 OT win over Morgan Park. Brandon Barker scored three touchdowns for Curie. Fenwick's defense was rock-solid in a 7-3 win over Brother Rice last week in the Catholic League championship. Eric Hulihan shook off defenders to score the game's only touchdown. This will be Fenwick's first Prep Bowl appearance since 1991 (28-0 win over Bogan). This will be the first Prep Bowl for Curie.
5A: Montini (11-2) vs. Glenwood (10-3), 10:00am at Memorial Stadium

Can Montini take home the first place trophy for the second straight year? Last years defeat of mighty Joliet Catholic was considered an upset in some circles. This years run to state was built on a strong non-conference schedule, which included those same Hilltoppers and the Loyola Ramblers. Keep an eye on the WesterkampsMatt and Jordan. Quarterback Matt has passed for 2600 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year. His cousin, Jordan, has caught 18 of those touchdowns. Both were integral in last weeks 27-14 win over Kaneland. Matt went 21-for-31 for 295 yards. Jordan had 9 catches for 175 yards and one touchdown catch-- from Matt. Glenwood, near Springfield, advanced by crushing Peoria Richwoods 42-13. Devin VonNordheim-Moore and Tony Giovannelli combined for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Fun fact: Montinis conference (the Suburban Christian Blue) has six teamsand five of them reached the playoffs. Two of them Marmion being the other teamare playing for a state title.

6A: Marmion (12-1) vs. Boylan (13-0), 1:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

After this weekend, Aurora might be known for more than Waynes World, I-88 and the Fox River. They could add football state champions to the citys welcome sign. Auroras Marmion Academy will look to bring the western suburb its football championship ever this Saturday. The Cadets might have the best team in their 77 years of football. T.J. Rally gained 165 yards and scored a touchdown on the third play of scrimmage in last weeks 31-28 victory over Danville. A state championship would be the cherry on top of a fine season. As for Boylan, the Titans took care of business last week, beating Prairie Ridge 14-7 to advance to the state final for the first time since 1975. The defense has been sharp all season. Like Wheaton Warrenville South, they have also kept nine opponents to a touchdown or less. Junior Adonis Brown secured two fumble recoveries in last weeks victory. Fun fact: Marmions football program had six straight losing seasons before head coach Dan Thorpes arrival in 2005, which turned around the program.

7A: Lake Zurich (12-1) @ Wheaton Warrenville South (13-0), 4:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

Lake Zurichs defense steamrolled two of the best offenses in Illinois (Simeon and St. Rita) over the last two weeks. Wheaton Warrenville Souths offense, guided by Illinois-bound quarterback Reilly OToole, is putting up an averageaverageof 43 points per game. The elite defense faces the elite offense. Something has to giveright? These two teams squared off for a state title in 2007, with Lake Zurich coming out on top 7-3. The game could rest in the hands of the Bears offense and Tigers defense. Lake Zurichs running back Jacob Brinlee is the main threat. As for the WWS defense, the underrated unit has kept nine opponents to a touchdown or less, three of them were shutouts. Note: Wheaton Warrenville South wide receiver Travis Kern will miss the game due to a broken collarbone.

8A: Maine South (11-2) vs. Mount Carmel (11-2), 7:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

Its amazing that so many people wrote both of these teams off early in the regular season. Maine South started 0-2 and rattled off 11 straight wins to land in Champaign. Again. Mount Carmel shook off two early losses as well. They have now won seven straight and also find themselves in Champaign. Again. Its a credit to the two coaches, Dave Inserra and Frank Lenti, who always find ways to get their teams back to Memorial Stadium. Credit is due to the players of course, and specifically both quarterbacks as well. The Caravans Chris Suijka scored two more touchdowns last week in Mount Carmels 28-21 victory over Homewood Flossmoor. Meanwhile, Maine Souths talented sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti carried his team past a very tough Loyola defense last week. He racked up over 300 yards of total offense in their 29-22 win. Both defenses face challenges. Fun fact: Maine South and Mount Carmel have played for a title a combined 16 times since 1995.

Also, be sure to stay with us at CSNChicago.com and Comcast SportsNet on Saturday. We will have highlights of the days action and have pep rally coverage if availableon the late edition of SportsNet Central after Blackhawks hockey. Our basketball coverage will begin next FridayDecember 3rd.

We are your source for playoff highlights, scores and more. High School Lites streams live at csnchicago.com.

Kris Bryant ignites World Series nostalgia with Cubs' epic eighth-inning comeback

Kris Bryant ignites World Series nostalgia with Cubs' epic eighth-inning comeback

“Reminded me a lot of a play in the World Series.”

Kris Bryant wasn’t the only one with World Series nostalgia Saturday afternoon at the Friendly Confines. The tens of thousands of Cubs fans losing their minds over the North Siders’ eighth-inning comeback made that very clear.

Bryant, though, was the one who provided it, first driving in the game-tying run mere moments after the visiting St. Louis Cardinals smashed open a pitchers duel with back-to-back homers off Jon Lester in the top of the eighth. Bryant then got a head starts and came around all the way from first, scoring the game-winning run on a ball Anthony Rizzo dumped into the left-center field gap so perfectly he couldn’t have thrown it there any better.

Bryant slid in — feet first — beating the throw home from ex-teammate Dexter Fowler. Cue the hysteria at Clark and Addison.

“Me, honestly, I was just trying to go up the middle. I think that’s kind of where I’ve been struggling this year is with guys on base I want to do too much. Just seeing through the middle. Bat broke and flew, I don’t know where it went, but it flew somewhere. That was huge,” Bryant explained after the game.

“And then obviously with Rizz having a good at-bat off a tough lefty. I don't know if Dexter or Tommy Pham got a good read or if they were way back at the track, but right when he hit it I didn’t see them anywhere close to it so I thought there was a pretty good chance that I could score.”

Bryant’s very presence in the Cubs’ starting lineup was the headline before the game, the “freak of nature” returning from a jammed finger after missing only one game. So of course it was the reigning National League MVP who played the biggest role, flipping the script from his sick day by being right in the middle of the Cubs’ eighth-inning explosion. It was the eighth inning where the Cardinals staged their game-defining rally Friday.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Manager Joe Maddon went as far as saying that perhaps only Bryant could have made the play he did, scoring from first base on what went down as a Rizzo double.

“KB being able to play was the difference in today’s game,” Maddon said. “A combination of the hit and his speed. I don’t think anybody else scores on that. Maybe Jason (Heyward), possibly. (Ian) Happ, possibly. But KB is such a good base runner. He had it in his head the moment the ball was hit, and all (third base coach Gary) Jones had to do was wave his arm. You can’t underestimate the importance of one person in the lineup.

“He’s a very bright base runner. He’s shown that from the beginning. … He demonstrated that early on, and for me when a young player demonstrates awareness on the bases, man, that’s a good baseball player.”

All that talent made Bryant last season’s Most Valuable Player and one of the most important figures in the curse-breaking World Series championship.

Bryant mentioned he thought Saturday’s game-winning trip from first to home conjured memories of a similar play in Game 7 of last fall’s World Series, when Bryant went first to home on Rizzo’s base hit off Andrew Miller in the fifth inning.

“Reminded me a lot of a play in the World Series off of Andrew Miller. It was a full count there, started early,” Bryant said. “Rizz hit it, you’ve got to give him a ton of credit, worked a great at-bat. But the head start really does help. It's something that I take pride in is my base running, surprising people. Hopefully I did that today.”

With Bryant back in the lineup Saturday, Kyle Hendricks’ return to the rotation coming Monday, a now 7-1 record since the All-Star break and a bunched-up NL Central that had four teams within three and a half games of each other entering Saturday’s action, it’s no wonder the World Series feeling is making its way back to the North Side.

All season long, fans and observers have been waiting for that switch to flip, and maybe it finally has.

The bats were thunderous on that six-game road trip out of the All-Star break, with 16 home runs helping the Cubs to back-to-back sweeps of the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves. Friday’s loss to the Cardinals provided plenty of evidence that the rest of the season might feature a knock-down, drag-out slugfest between the four NL Central contenders. All that was missing was a game that got Wrigleyville rocking.

“Probably one of our better wins of the year,” Bryant said.

That’s all without even mentioning the efforts of Lester, who was perfect until Adam Wainwright’s single in the top of the sixth. It was another stellar effort from a Cubs starting pitcher, and what was the team’s biggest problem during that sub-.500 first half — inconsistent starting pitching — certainly seems to be ironed out.

While the standings say it’s still going to be a brawl to the end with the Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs could be in a first-place tie by the end of Saturday night.

In other words, the race is on. And Bryant and the Cubs are clicking at the right time.

“It’s already Jaugust,” Maddon joked, inventing a new month out of thin air. “There’s no waiting around right now. Everybody feels the same way. We took advantage of the break, I believe. We came back with renewed energy. You don’t want to give up anything right now.”

After losing uncle, emotional Jon Lester pays tribute with Notre Dame rallying cry

After losing uncle, emotional Jon Lester pays tribute with Notre Dame rallying cry

Jon Lester wore PLACT on his hat Saturday and he made good on the Notre Dame rallying cry — Play Like a Champion Today — against the Cardinals.

Lester didn't attend college and doesn't cheer for Notre Dame, but in his postgame session, he fought through tears to tell reporters why he decided to put the Notre Dame nod on his hat:

"My family — I lost my uncle yesterday," Lester said. "For the Notre Dame fans, he went to Notre Dame, so it's Play Like a Champion Today. Just to let him know that I was thinking of him."

Lester worked through the grief and carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, retiring the first 17 Cardinals hitters in the game.

Lester wound up surrendering two homers in the eighth inning, but the Cubs offense rallied behind him with three runs in the bottom of the inning, giving their ace his seventh win of the season.

But Lester's teammates didn't even know the struggle he was going through.

"I didn't even know that, man," said Kris Bryant, who scored the winning run. "That's tough. Jonny, he won't ever show you any emotion. Something like that, to hear that, obviously it's terrible, but he's probably one of the best teammates I've ever been able to play with in my short time.

"You know what you're going to get with him every day. You know he's gonna be the same guy, the same competitor and I love that about him."