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High School Lites: Football state final preview

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High School Lites: Football state final preview

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010
6:05 PM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

High School Lites: Championship Weekend

Championship weekend is here! Some teams will earn a first place trophy at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. And others will have to endure a long, long bus ride home. High School Lites is your home for high school football coverage in Chicagoland. Friday's edition will air just after the BullsNuggets game and will feature previews of the 5A, 6A, 7A and 8A title games, including an in-depth profile of Wheaton Warrenville South-- Comcast SportsNet's Team of the Week. Our Chris Boden will also feature a Marmion team that is looking to bring the first football championship to Aurora. We'll also bring you highlights of the 1A-4A games and have a complete recap of the 2010 Prep Bowl featuring Curie and Fenwick. Here is a sneak peak at some of the matchups featuring Chicago-area teams:

PREP BOWL: Curie (9-5) vs. Fenwick (7-5), 11:00am Friday at Soldier Field

If there's one thing Curie might be feeling by now, it would be exhaustion. Not that their recent performance would indicate that, of course. In fact, the Condors have actually become stronger. Thanks to a quirk in the IHSA and Chicago Public League Playoff schedule, Curie will become only the second team in Illinois state history to play a 15-game football schedule. Their dramatic postseason continued last week in an epic 40-34 2 OT win over Morgan Park. Brandon Barker scored three touchdowns for Curie. Fenwick's defense was rock-solid in a 7-3 win over Brother Rice last week in the Catholic League championship. Eric Hulihan shook off defenders to score the game's only touchdown. This will be Fenwick's first Prep Bowl appearance since 1991 (28-0 win over Bogan). This will be the first Prep Bowl for Curie.
5A: Montini (11-2) vs. Glenwood (10-3), 10:00am at Memorial Stadium

Can Montini take home the first place trophy for the second straight year? Last years defeat of mighty Joliet Catholic was considered an upset in some circles. This years run to state was built on a strong non-conference schedule, which included those same Hilltoppers and the Loyola Ramblers. Keep an eye on the WesterkampsMatt and Jordan. Quarterback Matt has passed for 2600 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year. His cousin, Jordan, has caught 18 of those touchdowns. Both were integral in last weeks 27-14 win over Kaneland. Matt went 21-for-31 for 295 yards. Jordan had 9 catches for 175 yards and one touchdown catch-- from Matt. Glenwood, near Springfield, advanced by crushing Peoria Richwoods 42-13. Devin VonNordheim-Moore and Tony Giovannelli combined for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Fun fact: Montinis conference (the Suburban Christian Blue) has six teamsand five of them reached the playoffs. Two of them Marmion being the other teamare playing for a state title.

6A: Marmion (12-1) vs. Boylan (13-0), 1:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

After this weekend, Aurora might be known for more than Waynes World, I-88 and the Fox River. They could add football state champions to the citys welcome sign. Auroras Marmion Academy will look to bring the western suburb its football championship ever this Saturday. The Cadets might have the best team in their 77 years of football. T.J. Rally gained 165 yards and scored a touchdown on the third play of scrimmage in last weeks 31-28 victory over Danville. A state championship would be the cherry on top of a fine season. As for Boylan, the Titans took care of business last week, beating Prairie Ridge 14-7 to advance to the state final for the first time since 1975. The defense has been sharp all season. Like Wheaton Warrenville South, they have also kept nine opponents to a touchdown or less. Junior Adonis Brown secured two fumble recoveries in last weeks victory. Fun fact: Marmions football program had six straight losing seasons before head coach Dan Thorpes arrival in 2005, which turned around the program.

7A: Lake Zurich (12-1) @ Wheaton Warrenville South (13-0), 4:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

Lake Zurichs defense steamrolled two of the best offenses in Illinois (Simeon and St. Rita) over the last two weeks. Wheaton Warrenville Souths offense, guided by Illinois-bound quarterback Reilly OToole, is putting up an averageaverageof 43 points per game. The elite defense faces the elite offense. Something has to giveright? These two teams squared off for a state title in 2007, with Lake Zurich coming out on top 7-3. The game could rest in the hands of the Bears offense and Tigers defense. Lake Zurichs running back Jacob Brinlee is the main threat. As for the WWS defense, the underrated unit has kept nine opponents to a touchdown or less, three of them were shutouts. Note: Wheaton Warrenville South wide receiver Travis Kern will miss the game due to a broken collarbone.

8A: Maine South (11-2) vs. Mount Carmel (11-2), 7:00pm Saturday at Memorial Stadium

Its amazing that so many people wrote both of these teams off early in the regular season. Maine South started 0-2 and rattled off 11 straight wins to land in Champaign. Again. Mount Carmel shook off two early losses as well. They have now won seven straight and also find themselves in Champaign. Again. Its a credit to the two coaches, Dave Inserra and Frank Lenti, who always find ways to get their teams back to Memorial Stadium. Credit is due to the players of course, and specifically both quarterbacks as well. The Caravans Chris Suijka scored two more touchdowns last week in Mount Carmels 28-21 victory over Homewood Flossmoor. Meanwhile, Maine Souths talented sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti carried his team past a very tough Loyola defense last week. He racked up over 300 yards of total offense in their 29-22 win. Both defenses face challenges. Fun fact: Maine South and Mount Carmel have played for a title a combined 16 times since 1995.

Also, be sure to stay with us at CSNChicago.com and Comcast SportsNet on Saturday. We will have highlights of the days action and have pep rally coverage if availableon the late edition of SportsNet Central after Blackhawks hockey. Our basketball coverage will begin next FridayDecember 3rd.

We are your source for playoff highlights, scores and more. High School Lites streams live at csnchicago.com.

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

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USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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Bulls engaging in Jabari Parker trade talks, according to a report

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USA TODAY

Bulls engaging in Jabari Parker trade talks, according to a report

Jabari Parker's time in a Bulls uniform could be coming to a close.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls are engaging in trade talks regarding Parker with several teams.

It should be no surprise if and when the Bulls ultimately move on from Parker. Following a report that the 23-year-old Chicago-native will be dropped from the Bulls' rotation, Parker played just four minutes Thursday against the Magic. In fact, he played just 19 minutes in the Bulls' previous game, Monday against the Kings.

"I think it's a matchup thing," coach Jim Boylen said after the game. "I also think that it's hard to play three fours. It's very difficult to do that. We played him some minutes at three and I didn't think that was the way to go the rest of the game."

However, Boylen's comments backup the fact that Parker was always a curious fit for the Bulls. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds, Parker is best-suited to play power forward, though the Bulls tried to play him at small forward to start the season. 

Overall, Parker is ranked 414th out 451 NBA players on ESPN's Defensive Real Plus-Minus rankings. According to ESPN, RPM demonstrates the "net change in score (plus or minus) while each player is on the court." If his ranking did not make it obvious enough, Parker's DRPM of -1.65 leaves a lot to be desired. 

When it became apparent that Parker struggles to guard other small forwards, the Bulls moved him to the bench. At that point, Parker, the Bulls' highest-paid player, became a $20 million bench player. He returned to the starting lineup following injuries to Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis, but both players have since returned to game action for the Bulls. 

Even with Chandler Hutchinson (sick) out for the Bulls on Thursday, Parker did not see much action. Following the game, Boylen said that he likes Hutchinson, but there might be a chance to get Parker minutes at small forward.

"Him (Parker) playing four is difficult right now. Him playing three, there may be an opportunity there," Boylen said. "I like Hutch. Hutch was sick tonight so Jabari got some of those minutes at three in that situation."

Saturday is the first day that Parker is eligible to be traded. Defensive struggles aside, Parker could provide a team with an offensive boost. This season, he is averaging 18.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, shooting 45.5 percent from the field.

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