Bears

Rock Island wins 3A Title in double OT thriller

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Rock Island wins 3A Title in double OT thriller

Saturday, March 19, 2011
Posted: 11:16 p.m.

By Michael O'Brien
YourSeason.com

PEORIA Romal Davis never dreamed that hed be standing at center court wearing a Class 3A state championship medal around his neck. At least not while wearing a Rock Island jersey.

Davis, 6-foot-3 senior, grew up in Chicago and played basketball at Orr his freshman year. The Spartans, led by Illinois recruit Mycheal Henry, were considered to be one of the favorites to win the 3A state championship this season.

Davis moved to Rock Island with his mother after sophomore year and ended up playing with another Division I bound star, Chasson Randle.

I knew they had a good team here when I moved, Davis said. I dont know that I actually thought about winning a state title, though.

Rock Island did just that on Saturday, beating Centralia 50-40 in two overtimes to give the school its first state title. The Rocks finished second in the first title game back in 1908 and finished second again in 1910.

Randle, a Stanford recruit, fouled out of the game with 57 seconds to play in the first overtime.

Hes our leading scorer so that was a blow, Davis said. We just knew we had to find another way to win. Were more than just Chasson.

The Rocks did just that, in large part because of 6-8 junior Denzel McCauley. The big man blocked Desmond Rushs attempted game-winner at the end of the first overtime and dominated the boards in the second overtime.

It was Davis who put the Rocks ahead for good with a rebound and basket with 3:38 to play in the second overtime. Rock Island shot 8-of-10 from the free-throw line from then on out to seal the win.

My role is the sixth man, Davis said. I started some games but it became about me coming off the bench. That was where I was most valuable to the team.

Davis finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Randle led the Rocks (30-3) with 13 points and seven rebounds. McCauley finished with nine points and 17 rebounds.

We were just so focused the last two days and we did it, Randle said. It didnt matter that I fouled out, everybody contributed.

Centralia also had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but Bryan Betts missed a jumper at the buzzer.

R.J. Kwiatkowski led the Orphans (30-5) with 15 points and Betts added 13. Centralias tallest player is 6-3 and the Orphans were unable to handle even Rock Islands modestly-sized teams. The Rocks won the battle of the boards 38-24.

We had different guys step up throughout the day, said Rock Island coach Thom Sigel, who is the second coach in state history to win championships at two schools; he won the Class A title with Rock Falls in 1999. Weve got the seniors who put a lot into it; they showed a lot of character.

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Can the Bears make enough plays to beat the Carolina Panthers?

Everything changed for the Bears after going up 17-3 last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Mitchell Trubisky’s 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims was immediately followed by Bobby Rainey running a kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, then the offense was bogged down with three fumbles (two lost) on three consecutive possessions. 

But Adrian Amos seemed to seal the game with his 90-yard pick six — that is, until Michael Campanaro ran Pat O’Donnell’s punt back 77 yards for what wound up being a game-tying touchdown after a two-point conversion.

The point is the Bears should’ve cruised to a comfortable win last week; a few critical mistakes didn’t allow that to happen. The Bears haven’t led at the end of the fourth quarter this year, a pretty strong indicator they haven’t played a complete game yet despite having two wins. 

The Carolina Panthers have road wins over the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots this year, and only lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by five points last week (despite Cam Newton throwing three interceptions). The bet here is the Bears keep things close on the backs of a strong defense, but either can’t make enough plays or make too many mistakes to win. 

Prediction: Panthers 20, Bears 16

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

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USA TODAY

Three and out: What Ron Rivera likes about Mitchell Trubisky played out this week

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera saw a lot of Mitchell Trubisky last year, with the North Carolina quarterback on TV quite a bit in the Charlotte area. The Panthers, set with Cam Newton, weren’t in the market for a quarterback in the 2017 NFL Draft, but Trubisky nonetheless stood out to the seventh-year Carolina coach and former Super Bowl-winning Bears linebacker. 

For Rivera, more than Trubisky’s arm strength and athleticism jumped off the screen. 

“Leadership,” Rivera pointed to. “When you watch him when he was playing — I love watching guys that either get on their teammates when they’re not doing it or they take accountability when they make a mistake. And you saw that with him.

“… We think the young man has got what it takes. We like who’s he’s gonna become. We do. We think the future can be bright for him. We are big fans here.”

Trubisky took accountability for both of his turnovers against the Minnesota Vikings: The interception Harrison Smith baited him into was certainly his fault, but his sack-strip fumble was more the result of Everson Griffen jumping the snap and blowing past left tackle Charles Leno. Against the Baltimore Ravens, Trubisky also lost a fumble on a sack-strip when cornerback Lardarius Webb hit him and dislodged the ball.

Trubisky’s explanation of that fumble was that he moved off his first read too quickly, causing him to miss Webb making a beeline for him in the backfield. But according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, that fumble wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. 

“That’s because he’s a stud,” Loggains said of Trubisky taking responsibility for it. “We screwed the protection up. We should have been sliding to the guy. The guy should not have been coming free. That’s Mitch taking a bullet that he doesn’t need to take. The reality is he saw the guy coming and tried to get over to the check down quickly but we got to do a better job up front protecting him.”

But that Trubisky was willing to say he was at fault for that fumble plays into why he quickly gained the respect of the Bears’ the locker room. That’s what a quarterback should be doing when speaking to the media after the game — accepting responsibility and deflecting off his teammates, even if he’s not at fault. That kind of stuff doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Stopping Superman

Pernell McPhee offered this goal up for his fellow defensive teammates this week: Make sure Newton stays as Clark Kent on Sunday. 

“He’s a very talented guy, but the only thing I told the defense is let's make him be Cam Newton, not Superman,” McPhee said, referring to Newton’s signature touchdown move. “We don't want him opening up the cape.”

So how does a defense stop Newton from being Superman?

“He’s a very versatile quarterback,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Obviously his running the ball, whether it be through his improvising with scrambling on called pass plays, or the called running plays they do have for him, that’s a strength for him. We can’t just focus on stopping that. We’ve gotta stop Cam Newton the passer and the runner. They’ve got good running backs they’re handing it off to and receivers and running backs he’s throwing it to, so you’ve got a total offense to stop.”

One point to note here: Newton threw three interceptions last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and had been picked off eight times this year. A Bears secondary that intercepted Joe Flacco twice last week could have some more shots at takeaways on Sunday. 

High praise

Sunday will mark Thomas Davis’ 156th game in the NFL, with the linebacker playing every one of those with the Carolina Panthers. He played for John Fox from 2005-2010. But where we’re going here is what he had to say about how the Bears run their offense with a rookie quarterback:

“I think this is probably the best running game that we’ve seen from an offense with a rookie quarterback,” Davis said. “You look at some of the other rookies that come in. Teams want to run the ball. But when you look at the physicality and the style of play that this team plays with, I think that really makes the job a lot easier for a young quarterback. So I definitely feel like that physicality in their running game is definitely going to help him out.”

The Bears ran the ball 50 times against a Baltimore Ravens defense that played a lot more Cover-2 than expected. With star linebacker Luke Kuechly out for Sunday, the Bears may try to use a similar strategy, even if Carolina loads the box more than Baltimore did (a little more than once one every three runs by Jordan Howard). 

But if the Bears’ offense is going to have success, it’s going to be behind Howard, Tarik Cohen and an improving offensive line. Maybe Davis’ comments are hyperbole, but he’s also played a lot more football than you and me.