High School Lites previews Week 1 of playoffs

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High School Lites previews Week 1 of playoffs

"I'm not a guy that believes you've got to have a lot of experience to have success in the playoffs."

- Former N.Y. Giants QB Phil Simms

The folks at Bloom High School may want to take that quote and scribble it on a few chalkboards. Bloom will be making their first playoff appearance since 1989 Friday night when they take on Simeon, one of the many games that we will feature on Fridays edition of High School Lites. We will also feature Chicago's Perspectives High School, a team that will playing in their first football playoff game in school history. The story is slightly different with Bolingbrook. The Raiders, who would probably take issue with the Simms quote, are the reigning 8A champs and have made the playoffs in each of the last 21 years. But will they have their starting quarterback ready to go against Sandburg?

Here is a snapshot of each game we will profile on Fridays edition of High School Lites. Please note that all rankings reflect the class seedings in the IHSA playoffs:

8A:

No. 10 Bartlett (6-3) at No. 7 Leyden (7-2), 7:00 p.m.

Opportunity is knocking again for Bartlett. They have not defeated a .500 team yet this year, although they did look impressive in Upstate Eight Valley play. RBDE Aaron Everson, the new Bartlett single-season rushing yardage record-holder, can be dominant. They also feature another two-way player in Central Michigan recruit Chris Kantzavelos. Leyden, the West Suburban Gold champs, look to continue a memorable season with quarterback Michael Smith at the reins.

No. 9 Bolingbrook (7-2) at No. 8 Sandburg (7-2), 7:00 p.m.

The big question here is whether Raiders quarterback Aaron Bailey plays. Bailey, who injured his knee in September against Lincoln-Way East, has been cleared to play according to reports. But will he? Sophmore quarterback Quincy Woods has filled in quite well in his absence. Sandburg defeated Bolingbrook 13-6 on the road in week sevenone of five wins they have in which they kept opponents to a touchdown or less. The Eagles have gone to the playoffs in 25 of the last 29 seasons.

No. 13 Proviso West (6-3) at No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (8-1), 7:00 p.m.

Its an intriguing matchup with the Waubonsie offense going up against a Proviso West defense that has shut out four opponents on the season. The 8-1 Warriors are averaging 41 points per game. Running back Austin Guido and Wisconsin-bound tight end Troy Fumagalli are always threats to score. As for Proviso West, head coach Famous Hulbert had guided a program from relative obscurity to one that has qualified for the playoffs four consecutive seasons.

No. 12 Oak Park-River Forest (6-3) at No. 5 Hinsdale Central (7-2), 7:30 p.m.

Can anything top the excitement the last time these two teams faced each other? In week seven, OPRF shocked Hinsdale Central 42-41 in overtime. The Huskies feature playmakers on both sides of the ball, namely defensive end Nile Sykes and running back Jakari Cammon. Hinsdale features a fine quarterback in Brian Owens. The 7-2 Red Devils have won each of their last four games by a touchdown or less. That said, five of their seven wins were against teams currently in the playoffs.

No. 11 Bloom (6-3) vs. No. 6 Simeon (7-1), 7:30 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Milli Vanilli was at the top of the charts. A gallon of gas cost 1.12. The Cosby Show dominated TV airwaves. Even mullets were big. All of these things happened in 1989, the last time Bloom High School reached the IHSA playoffs. They clinched a spot last week after shutting out Rich Central 21-0. Simeon, on the other hand, is a long-time veteran of postseason play. Their 12th straight IHSA appearance has been fueled by quarterback Elcee Burke and running back Sharoid Roach.

7A:

No. 7 Andrew (6-3) at No. 2 Benet (8-1), 7:30 p.m. at Benedictine University
To say that Benet is having a dream season would be an understatement. The Redwings, who were 1-8 last year, have reversed their record thanks in large part to a stifling defense and sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi. He passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns in last week's thrilling win over Joliet Catholic. It gave Benet their first share of a conference title in school history. But a good opponent awaits. Andrew's biggest win of the season was in week nine: a 27-0 win over Thornton.

6A:

No. 5 Shepard (6-3) at No. 4 Perspectives (6-2), 4:15 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Chicago's Perspectives Charter is widely known as the school of the NBAs first overall draft pick, Anthony Davis. But that's OK for now. Their football team, who will be playing in their first playoff game in school history, would like to change that thought process. Keep an eye on running back Lonnie Washington. He has racked up 22 touchdowns on the season. Shepard is averaging 36 points per game. Quarterback Jimmy McClinton and receiver Londell Lee have both shattered various Astros records.

No. 7 Lincoln-Way North (6-3) at No. 2 Richards (8-1), 7:00 p.m.

The Southwest Suburban Red conference got five teams into the playoffs, including the 6-3 Phoenix. Julian Hylton is one of their leaders on offense. The junior running back found the end zone three times in last week's 38-9 victory over Stagg. Richards has a few weapons on offense with running back Tommy Mister and quarterback Hasan Muhammed-Rogers. And let's not forget the Bulldogs defense, either. They have posted four shutouts on the season.

No. 12 Lake View (6-2) at No. 5 Grant (7-2), 7:00 p.m.

The 7-2 Bulldogs are familiar faces around the 6A playoff circuit. Its their seventh appearance in the last eight years. This year's team is led by a defensive group who only surrendered nine points in last week's game against Antioch. The offense, however, has been hit by the injury bug. Quarterback Kyle Whitman and running back Jonathan Wells have missed time. The 6-2 Wildcats, who are on a four-game winning streak, will be making their first IHSA playoff appearance since 1996.

No. 15 St. Viator (5-4) at No. 2 Lakes (8-1), 7:30 p.m.

Even though Lakes' football program has only been in existence for eight seasons, they've made the playoffs in five of them (including four straight). The North Suburban Prairie champs are paced by a vicious offense. In their current six game winning streak, they have beaten three playoff teams --Wauconda, Grant and North Chicago-- by scores of 69-20, 42-14 and 62-0, respectively. St. Viator has bounced back nicely after a 2-7 season. They feature Mayo Arogundade at running back.

Our Muscle Milk Team of the Week is the Palatine Pirates-- a team that has had to use a lot of muscle in 2012, and not by choice. The Mid Suburban-West champs were without their star running back, Cam Kuksa, for most of the regular season. But he's back and that could mean trouble for the teams who stand in their way on the road to Champaign. Plus, well also catch you up with Joliet Catholic in this weeks Drive segment, presented by Northern Illinois University. And well take a drive down Memory Lane in Flashback and bring you up-to-the-minute scores from across Chicagoland.

High School Lites airs at 10:30 p.m. Friday night and streaming live at CSNChicago.com. The show will re-air Saturday morning at 7:30 and 8:30.

Follow CSNChicago.com preps writer Joe Collins on Twitter: @JoeCSN.

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

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

MESA, Ariz. — As Major League Baseball officials responded to an unbelievably timed rain delay, Cleveland president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti huddled in a suite beneath Progressive Field and recognized what he saw in Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer after nine innings in a World Series Game 7.

"(We're) trying to figure out: Hey, what's going to happen here? How long are we going to have to wait? Are we going to have to pick up this game tomorrow?" Antonetti said. "I remember the look on both Jed and Theo's faces — it was the same as mine — just like exhaustion and fatigue and angst."

Soon enough, Epstein would be standing in the visiting dugout, his black suit completely drenched, winging it through a CSN Chicago postgame show interview: "Jed's in charge. I'm going on a bender."

However Cleveland fans processed the 10th inning — at least LeBron James had already delivered the city's first major sports title since 1964 — the Indians regrouped and reloaded as one of the favorites to win the 2017 World Series.

Danny Salazar — who hadn't built himself back up to full strength by the Fall Classic — threw two scoreless innings during Sunday afternoon's 1-1 tie in front of a sellout crowd at Sloan Park in Mesa. The Indians also survived and advanced into early November without frontline starter Carlos Carrasco (broken right pinkie finger) throwing a single playoff pitch or All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (right shoulder complications) playing beyond May.

But the Indians didn't just sit back in their comfort zone this winter and simply hope for good medical reports and assume their young core players would improve. Sensing an opportunity, Cleveland swooped in around Christmastime and made a three-year, $60 million commitment to Edwin Encarnacion, who put up 42 homers and 127 RBIs last season for the Blue Jays, weakening the team that lost the American League Championship Series.

"It certainly has a positive impact on the momentum that we established and revenue heading into the following season," Antonetti said. "But I still think beyond that, it's been a big leap of faith by our ownership to really step out beyond what may make sense, just looking at where our projections might be.

"It's really a belief in our fan base that they'll continue to support our team and build on the momentum from last year."

Cleveland already paid the price for Andrew Miller — the Yankees wanted Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez from the Cubs as a starting point last summer — and now control the game-changing reliever for two more pennant races. The Indians also invested $6.5 million in Boone Logan — a reliever the Cubs had monitored closely — when the lefty specialist lingered on the open market until early February.

Between the future Hall of Fame manager (Terry Francona), a Cy Young Award winner (Corey Kluber), the young All-Star shortstop (Francisco Lindor) and the dude from Glenbrook North (Jason Kipnis), Cleveland has way too much talent to be consumed with what could have been in Game 7.

"Hopefully, our guys learned from all of their experiences," Antonetti said. "They went through a lot last year. But I think at the same time, we have an appreciation and realize how hard it is to win, and how hard it was to get to the postseason.

"Continuing that mindset — and remembering what helped us get there — will benefit our guys the most. They'll reflect back and realize we didn't just show up and end up in the postseason and in the World Series. We started that work on Day 1 of the offseason and Day 1 in spring training."

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Busch had a monster start to the season with a last-lap pass to win the crash-filled Daytona 500.

Busch is sponsored by Monster Energy, which kicked off its first season as the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series Sunday with the season-opener. It wasn't NASCAR finest moment, though, as multiple accidents pared down the field and had a mismatched group of drivers racing for the win at the end.

"The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "This car's completely thrashed. There's not a straight panel on it. The strategy today, who knew what to pit when, what segments were what. Everybody's wrecking as soon as we're done with the second segment.

"The more that I've run this race, the more that I just throw caution to the wind, let it rip and just elbows out. That's what we did."

It appeared to be pole-sitter Chase Elliott's race to lose, then he ran out of gas. So did Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard. As they all slipped off the pace, Busch sailed through for his first career Daytona 500 victory.

It also was the first Daytona 500 win for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart. The three-time champion retired at the end of last season and watched his four cars race from the pits.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner," Stewart said.

Ryan Blaney finished second in a Ford. AJ Allmendinger was third in a Chevrolet, and Aric Almirola was fourth for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The win was a huge boost for Ford, which lured Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet this season and celebrated the coup with its second Daytona 500 victory in three years. Joey Logano won in a Ford in 2015.

The first points race of the Monster era was run under a new format that split the 500 miles into three stages. Kyle Busch won the first stage, Kevin Harvick won the second stage and neither was a contender for the win. NASCAR also this year passed a rule that gave teams just five minutes to repair any damage on their cars or they were forced to retire.

But the race was slowed by wreck after wreck after wreck, including a 17-car accident at the start of the final stage that ended the race for seven-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick. It was a particularly rough incident for Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team, which had all four of its cars collected in the accident.

"Just seems like that could have been avoided and was uncalled for," Johnson said of the aggressive racing behind him that triggered the accident.