Chicago's annual Kickoff Classic is moving to Sunday. The Soldier Field tripleheader featuring three Chicago Catholic Blue League teams against two public school teams and another Catholic League team will be held Aug. 29, two days after most of Illinois' football teams begin their seasons with Friday night openers.
The Chicago Bears will play the Arizona Cardinals in an NFL preseason game Saturday night, Aug. 28, at Soldier Field, which pushed the prep tripleheader back to Sunday. And what that means, of course, is there likely will be a line of cars going straight from Sunday morning services at chapels over to the football stadium.
The day will kick off with a noon rematch between Catholic League Blue power Mount Carmel (Chicago) (8-4 in 2009) against Simeon (Chicago) (10-4), which won the Chicago Public League's Illini Red Bird regular-season championship last year with a 5-0 record. In last year's Kickoff Classic, Mount Carmel defeated Simeon, 53-27.
The Caravan’s roster includes rising senior quarterback Chris Sujka, who has agreed to a baseball scholarship at Indiana University.
Providence Catholic (New Lenox) (12-2), which won the Catholic League Blue title in 2009 and advanced to the Illinois Class 6A championship game for the first time in five years, will meet Morgan Park (Chicago) (9-3), the defending Illini Prairie State champion, at 3:15 p.m. Providence is bolstered by the return of senior quarterback Joey Houlihan, who passed for 1,558 yards last season.
The final game, at 6 p.m., will match up Niles Notre Dame (6-4), one of seven playoff teams last year in the East Suburban Catholic League, versus Oak Park Fenwick (3-7), of Chicago Catholic Blue.
Of the six teams, only Mount Carmel, Simeon and Morgan Park played in the Kickoff Classic last year.
Recruiting: Naperville North's LaCosse verbals to Minnesota
Quarterback Matt LaCosse, a rising senior at Naperville North, verbaled his commitment to Minnesota, though he is likely to play at tight end for the Gophers.
His other scholarship offers included Illinois, Purdue and Louisville. LaCosse, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, led the Huskies to a 5-5 record and Class 8A playoff berth last year.
"I think it’s gonna be a great fit," LaCosse told the Naperville Sun.
* Defensive end Riley McMinn, a rising senior at Rochester in central Illinois, verbaled to Iowa following a visit to its campus in Iowa City. McMinn, 6-7 and 220 pounds, chose the Hawkeyes over 10 other scholarship offers, including Boston College, Illinois and Wisconsin.
"They stress Midwestern values and work ethic. They recruit hard-nosed people," McMinn told the State Journal-Register.
* Point guard David Sobolewski, a rising junior at Benet Academy (Lisle), verbaled to the Northwestern University men's basketball program. Sobolewski chose Northwestern over mid-major schools Loyola University and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, among others.
Sobolewski and 6-10 teammate Frank Kaminsky, a Wisconsin recruit, led the Redwings to a 26-4 record last season which included an East Suburban Catholic Conference championship and the school’s first sectional title in boys’ basketball since 1973.
* Mark Payton, an All-State outfielder and pitcher at St. Rita (Chicago), signed a baseball letter-of-intent with Texas after receiving his release from a scholarship at Arizona State. Payton batted .441 this year and .438 in 2009 for the Mustangs, leading them to the Illinois state title game both years.
When Arizona State faced NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations, Payton asked for his release.
Storylines around Illinois
Returning back home from winning a gold medal with the USA Basketball U18 Men’s National Team, University of Illinois incoming freshman Jereme Richmond of Waukegan attracted a crowd upon his arrival at the Champaign, Ill., campus this past week for an open-gym workout.
Richmond averaged 10.8 points per game off the bench for Team USA. A 6-8 forward, Richmond led Waukegan to the Illinois Class 4A semifinals in 2010 and the title game in 2009. Months before the Illini will even hold their first practice, Richmond was asked by reporters if he expected to start in his freshman year at Illinois.
"I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think it's going to depend on practice. I can't come in thinking I‘m going to start," he said. "I don‘t think I do anything other guys can't do because everybody here is so good. It's going come down to how hard I want to work at practice."
* Morgan Tuck, a rising junior and 6-2 forward at Bolingbrook, has helped lead the Raiders to consecutive Class 4A state championships with her rebounding (a team-high 226 in 2009-10) and dominant scoring (18.1 points per game). But while playing with the USA Basketball U17 Women’s National Team this summer, she has been playing more on the wing than as a post player.
"I have been working on my outside shooting, going back to before tryouts," said Tuck, a highly-recruited power forward who has not yet made a college choice. "I don’t really like the post as much and I wanted to play a wing, so I had to work on those skills."
Tuck drilled two consecutive 3-pointers in the early minutes of a 93-47 exhibition win over Canada. Team USA begins play in the FIBA U17 World Championship on Friday (July 16), when it meets tournament host France.
* Katherine Helper of Lincoln, a rising junior at University High School (Normal), scored a course-record 62 in the Drysdale youth tournament played at the par-72 Lincoln Greens Golf Course in Springfield. To put some perspective on the 15-year-old's achievement, no golfer, male or female, has scored better than a 66 in any class of the Illinois state tournament. The 62 bested Helper’s previous lowest mark by 6 strokes.
* Mark Finchum has been named as the new head baseball coach at Olympia High School in Stanford, replacing the retired Ron Smith. Finchum was an assistant for Smith during Olympia’s state championship seasons of 2002, 2008 and 2009.
Paul Bowker, a sports journalist for 25 years who has worked at newspapers nationwide, covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com.