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."

They're back: Cubs lineup bludgeons Cardinals

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They're back: Cubs lineup bludgeons Cardinals

ST. LOUIS — The Cubs didn’t need any mimes, magicians or mariachi bands in the clubhouse. Joe Maddon didn’t have to reach into his bag of tricks to deflect attention away from his team’s offensive struggles or deflate whatever pressure his young hitters might have been feeling.

The Cubs showed why they have the best record in baseball and status as World Series favorites, jumping Michael Wacha for six runs in the first inning of a 12-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

If Maddon didn’t call this shot, the manager certainly alluded to it during his pregame media session when asked which hitter he thinks opponents focus on or worry about the most.

"It’s hard to name one guy," Maddon said. "I’m sure they’re concerned about (Jorge) Soler hitting .190-something, just knowing that at any moment he could just break out. If I were to look at our lineup, I’d be uncomfortable all the way down (with) the way David Ross is hitting right now. There’s no comfortable break in our lineup.

"It’s a definite American League East lineup from back in the day."

That’s the entire point for this franchise, how Theo Epstein’s front office kept betting on hitters in the draft, trades and free agency, trying to build a bigger, better version of those Boston Red Sox teams that bludgeoned opponents.

Within that first-inning ambush, Soler drew a bases-loaded walk that forced in a run, Ross drove a ball that soared over Randal Grichuk’s head and deflected off the center fielder’s outstretched glove for a two-out, two-run double. Pitcher Jason Hammel followed that up by drilling another two-run double to center.

Soler knocked out Wacha — a pitcher the Cubs beat in the playoffs last year — in the fifth inning with a two-run homer that had 100-mph exit velocity and sailed over the center-field fence.

Handed a six-run lead within 15 minutes of first pitch, before he ever stepped onto the mound, Hammel pitched into the eighth inning and allowed only one run, continuing another All-Star level first half (6-1, 2.17 ERA).

The Cubs (30-14) ended a three-game losing streak — the first one this season — and changed the subject with fans on Twitter and for the media wondering what happened to this team.

Up next for the Cardinals (24-22) on Wednesday afternoon is Jake Arrieta, a reigning Cy Young Award winner who’s 24-1 with a 0.99 ERA in his last 29 regular-season starts. No one needs to tell the Cubs to R-E-L-A-X.

"We’ve gone through a tough time recently," Maddon said. "Believe me, man, it happens to everybody. It doesn’t concern me. I’m not distraught over it. It’s just a part of our game. But I like our names. I like our lineup a lot. Our boys will put up some huge numbers by the end of the season."

White Sox bullpen in as 'good' a position as possible

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White Sox bullpen in as 'good' a position as possible

They merely hoped to survive the doubleheader, but members of the White Sox bullpen feel as if they’re well positioned for success.

The combined efforts of Mat Latos and Erik Johnson limited the number of outs covered by the White Sox bullpen to 16 in Monday’s doubleheader. Latos and Johnson completed 12.2 of the 18 innings played, which meant no White Sox relievers appeared in both games. Of the five relievers to pitch, Matt Purke’s 2.1 innings was the longest stint. Given they have eight relievers on hand, the White Sox like where they’re at as the pass the midpoint in a stretch with 17 games in 16 days.

“That’s about as good as you can do,” closer David Robertson said. “If we’d have had two wins it would have been a lot better. But it was a good job by the staff altogether, the starters and relievers. The defense played really well, saved us a lot of runs. It was a long day yesterday.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura only used Purke in the nightcap. In the opener, he turned to Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Nate Jones and Robertson, a group that ultimately closed out a 7-6 victory.

Duke, who pitched in parts of two innings, said he had a pretty good idea he wouldn’t be used in the second game and the same likely went for Albers.

“They kind of give us an idea what the plan is going to be that way we’re not going to be caught off guard by anything,” Duke said. “But like I say, when the phone rings you find a way to get the job done.”

The White Sox added Tommy Kahnle to the roster before Monday’s doubleheader and kept him in the majors afterward, opting to send Erik Johnson back to Triple-A Charlotte. The White Sox still have eight more consecutive games to play after Tuesday’s contest against the Cleveland Indians before a day off next Thursday. Given they’re set to play the New York Mets in interleague, they may stick with the eight-man bullpen for now.

“We wanted to make sure we were covered down there,” Ventura said. “You never know how that’s going to go.”

'The butterfly effect' from Jason Heyward's return to Cubs lineup

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'The butterfly effect' from Jason Heyward's return to Cubs lineup

ST. LOUIS — Jason Heyward owns three Gold Gloves, gets on base 35 percent of the time and allows Cubs manager Joe Maddon to hit Ben Zobrist behind Anthony Rizzo. Even if the offensive numbers never match the external expectations for a $184 million player, Heyward’s presence matters.

"That’s the butterfly effect," Maddon said Tuesday at Busch Stadium, where Heyward returned to the lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals. "When they flutter their wings, something else occurs that’s not noticeable to the naked eye.

"It happens in Russia. It happens in '11/22/63.' So there are all these different moments that occur that we don’t really recognize because we only see the obvious."

Heyward’s absence didn’t fully explain a three-game losing streak or the offensive regression, and it might not have changed a 1-0 loss to San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on "Sunday Night Baseball."

But after watching Friday’s jaw-dropping catch and headfirst crash into the AT&T Park wall, general manager Jed Hoyer admitted it felt like the Cubs dodged a bullet. Heyward somehow walked away with only a bruised right side at a time when the Cubs couldn’t afford to lose another corner outfielder.

"He’s not hitting .300, so obviously people think that he’s not playing well, which is so far from the truth," Maddon said. "He makes a great impact just by his presence as a great defender. He gets on base a lot. And then he permits us to reorganize the batting order."

Heyward went into Tuesday hitting .225 with one home run through 165 plate appearances and a .611 OPS that’s a 173-point drop from his career numbers entering this season. He had been feeling like he was getting his timing down again — and working through a nagging wrist issue — so we’ll see what the extra rest means for the butterfly effect.

"Sometimes the game’s going to get you," Heyward said. "You say 'turn it around,' but we’re doing OK. Right now, we’re not by any means complacent, but it’s a part of the season. You’re going to go through ups and downs. You’re going to go through stretches where the other team just has a better night than you do."