By Paul D. Bowker
With one swing of a freshman’s leg last Friday night at Gately Stadium, a bit of Blue was thrown into the Chicago Public League football title race.
The league was headed for an unbeaten showdown this coming Friday night between Morgan Park and Hubbard. But Simeon Career Academy’s Blue Machine got in the way with an emotional 45-43 upset victory last week over Morgan Park, thanks to a 26-yard field goal by Steve Taylor with 14 seconds left.
Afterward, Simeon’s players stood in a circle, dancing and chanting about all things blue. And for good reason, said head coach Jessie Chick. Not one of the players on Simeon‘s current team had ever defeated Morgan Park, one of the school’s biggest city rivals.
“It’s been at least five years,” said Chick, asked about the last time Simeon (3-3, 2-1) had won the annual game.
When it came time to send Taylor, a freshman, out for the game-winning or game-losing kick, Chick had few doubts.
“I never second-guessed, could he kick it? I wondered about putting a freshman in that situation. A lot of pressure.”
Even after Morgan Park burned a timeout to put Taylor on ice, the freshman kicked it straight down the middle as the fans on the visitor’s side of Chicago’s public high school football stadium began a celebration.
Taylor says he knew it was good as soon as he kicked it.
And thus ended a night at Gately Stadium in which the two teams combined for more than 800 yards of total offense.
Simeon’s delight was contrasted by Morgan Park’s disappointment. The Mustangs have lost only two Public League games in five years, said Morgan Park head coach Lexie Spurlock. They’ve played most of this season without standout defensive end Craig Drummond due to a foot injury. After Friday‘s loss, Spurlock had coaches searching for ice to help the many players with injuries.
“We were beat up tonight,” Spurlock said.
And now, the Mustangs (3-3, 2-1) face unbeaten Hubbard (6-0, 3-0) on Friday night.
“I’m sure they‘re licking their chops now,” Spurlock said.
Hubbard has already clinched a spot in the state playoffs. A win Friday would clinch the Illini (Prairie State) title, although a loss would drop the Greyhounds into a tie with Morgan Park and possibly even Simeon if the Wolverines defeat Julian on Thursday night at Gately.
Catholic League: St. Rita Loses
The Catholic League Blue took another strange twist last Saturday when unbeaten St. Rita, ranked No. 4 in Illinois by MaxPreps, not only lost to Loyola Academy, but the Mustangs were shut out, 24-0.
So instead of St. Rita marching toward the league championship, now three teams are tied for a share of the Catholic Blue lead with powerful Mount Carmel sitting just underneath at 1-2. The Caravan (4-2 overall, ranked No. 17 in the state by MaxPreps), which has scored a league-best 207 points in six games, dismantled De La Salle 44-8 last week.
Senior quarterback Jordan Lynch, a Northern Illinois commitment, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for a score on his 18th birthday. Mount Carmel has scored 79 points in two games after suffering consecutive losses to Providence and St. Rita.
And look who the Caravan plays Friday afternoon at Gately Stadium? Why, it’s Loyola Academy.
The Ramblers (5-1, 2-1) can clinch a share of the Catholic Blue title by defeating Mount Carmel. Meanwhile, St. Rita (5-1, 2-1) and Brother Rice (5-2, 2-1) will meet Oct. 17, also for at least a share of the title.
Stats and Such
* Maine South QB Charlie Goro, a Vanderbilt commitment, ran for three touchdowns and passed for two scores, all in the first half of a 48-0 win over Waukegan.
* Bolingbrook QB Brad Geever threw for two second-half touchdowns, on his 17th birthday, in a 14-3 victory over Lincoln-Way Central in a Southwest Suburban Blue game. The Raiders have won six straight.
* Glenbard West’s Robert Cook rushed for 142 yards on just 12 carries, including a 58-yard touchdown run, in a 48-6 win over York.
* Naperville North QB Matt Manade threw for two touchdowns and scored on a 55-yard run in a 35-21 victory over rival Naperville Central. North, the defending Class 8A state champ, has won its first six games.
* Morgan Park RB Dominique Bell ran for 232 yards in the 45-43 loss to Simeon.
Games to watch…
* Maine South (6-0, 2-0) faces Glenbrook South (6-0, 2-0) on Friday night at Glenview for the Central Suburban South championship. Both teams have already clinched playoff spots. Maine South is averaging nearly 50 points per game.
* Bolingbrook (6-0, 2-0) battles Lincoln-Way East (6-0, 2-0) on Friday night at Bolingbrook for the Southwest Suburban Blue title.
* Wheaton Warrenville South (6-0, 4-0), ranked No. 21 nationally and No. 1 in Illinois by MaxPreps, will go for its seventh consecutive win Friday night when it plays host to rival Wheaton North (4-2, 2-2). As long as the Tigers can beat their rivals, they’re headed for a final-week showdown with unbeaten Naperville North in the DuPage Valley.
* Hubbard (6-0, 3-0) can clinch a Public League Prairie State title with a victory Friday night over Morgan Park (3-3, 2-1) at Gately Stadium. But as Simeon coach Jessie Chick warns, they still have to stop Morgan Park RB Dominique Bell.
Recruiting: Purdue Awaits Whitney Young Guard
Anthony Johnson, a guard for the Whitney Young High School basketball team and rated the No. 3 junior in Illinois by Chicago hoops.com, has committed to Purdue. Johnson was also considering Ohio State and Marquette.
“Purdue has great coaches and I really like their style of play,” Johnson told the Chicago Tribune.
Whitney Young’s lineup includes Marcus Jordan, the son of Bulls great Michael Jordan.
Matt Vogrich, a 6-foot-4 star at Lake Forest, committed to Michigan.
In football, according to rivals.com, Lake Forest defensive lineman Scott Covert has committed to Iowa. He is the son of former Bears All-Pro offensive lineman Jim Covert.
Golf: Homewood-Flossmoor Wins Big at Regional
Homewood-Flossmoor’s golf team aced its competition at a regional this week. The team combined for a score of 290, beating second-place finisher Mother McAuley by 72 strokes. Michelle Mayer shot a 1-under-par 70 for Homewood-Flossmoor. Rachel, her sister, was one shot back.
Paul Bowker covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org