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High School Lites: Week 5 preview

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High School Lites: Week 5 preview

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 8:54 p.m.

By Joe Collins & Mike Clark
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your home for prep football coverage in Chicagoland. We will bring you highlights of as many as 15 games across the area, including a few marquee battles in the south suburbs. Homewood-Flossmoor tangles with Bolingbrook, while Sandburg travels to Lincoln-Way East. Who will survive in the Southwest Suburban Blue conference?

Also, Brother Rice gave St. Rita all they could handle last week. Will they have enough in the tank against Mount Carmel? And will the Maine South train keep chugging along? The top-ranked Hawks are up against a homecoming crowd at New Trier. Here is a sneak-peak of each game we will cover during Friday nights show:

THURSDAY GAMES

Mather 33, Prosser 14

So much for last years 1-8 season. Mather is off to a 4-1 start after beating Prosser (2-3) in Big Shoulders conference play Thursday at Hanson Stadium. Raheem Mills, Kendrick Watkins and Curtis Walker each found the end zone for the Rangers, who got off to a 26-0 lead and never looked back. Mather takes on Taft next Friday at Winnemac Stadium. Prosser will try to rebound next Friday against Clemente.

Robeson 56, Amundsen 0

The Raiders (5-0) continue to be a force in the Public League. Running back Devon Sanders tore through the Vikings defense with ease, scoring five touchdowns (four rushing) and accumulating 195 total yards at Stagg Field on Thursday. Robeson will look for win number six next Friday against Morgan Park. Amundsen (2-3) had, arguably, one of the greatest wins in school history last week against Morgan Park. They could not continue the momentum, as they trailed 36-0 at the half. Amundsen takes on Hubbard next Thursday at Gately.

FRIDAY GAMES

No. 14 Crete-Monee (4-0) @ Kankakee (0-4), 6:00 p.m.

The 14th-ranked Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of 42-11. Their offense was nearly unstoppable last week against Glenbard South. Running back Kenneth Kidd piled up 108 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Marcus Terrell had four touchdowns himself. Crete-Monee also features Michigan-bound cornerback Anthony Standifer. If the 0-4 Kays have anything going for them, it has to be motivation: they will be looking for revenge after last years heartbreaking 21-14 loss to C-M.

Brother Rice (3-1) @ No. 3 Mount Carmel (4-0), 7:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Now that Mount Carmel head coach Frank Lenti has become the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history, will his Caravan ease off the gas a bit? Doubt it. Running back Brandon Greer and quarterback Don Butkus have been on a tear this season. That said, they can't sleep on this year's Brother Rice squad. The Crusaders took St. Rita to the final minute, falling 21-17. Keep an eye on the Walkers in the backfield, Martez and Andrew.

Tinley Park (4-0) @ No. 19 Lemont (4-0), 7:00 p.m.

Well, something has to give. Will it be the Tinley Park offense, guided by quarterback Kyle Sheridan, whose team is scoring 49 points per game? Or will it be Lemont's defense, who has only given up six points on the entire season? The game could be decided with the Indians offense matching up against the Titans defense. Tinley Park looks for a marquee win, Lemont looks to avoid a home upset. Lemont outlasted the Titans 37-33 last season.

Plainfield South (3-1) @ Minooka (2-2), 7:00 p.m.

Its only the fifth week, but its a critical one if youre a member of the Southwest Prairie conference. Plainfield South, Minooka and Oswego are all tied at 2-0 in league play. These two teams starred in epic battles last season, where South took a 41-31 decision in the regular season and then Minooka got even in the playoffs, winning 41-38. Kalvin Hill, the speedy running back for the host Indians, is worth the price of admission. Plainfield South has a solid, go-to receiver in Dantrell Wright.

No. 1 Maine South (4-0) @ New Trier (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

Top-ranked Maine South figures to have minimal obstacles on the road to the playoffs this year, but they might have an unsuspecting pothole or two at New Trier. First, its homecoming for the Trevians, so expect a charged-up crowd. Second, N-T is riding a three-game winning streak, including a 62-0 dismantling of Maine West last week. Jack Nykaza is one of the top quarterbacks in the Central Suburban South, as is Hawks QB Matt Alviti. The Maine South junior tossed three touchdowns in last weeks 42-6 win over Niles North.

Glenbrook South (3-1) @ Evanston (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

If it does end up being a fight for second in the Central Suburban South, then this game is nothing short of critical. The Wildkits and the Titans figure to be in the race for that spot. Evanston steamrolled Glenbrook North 35-7 last week, in large part to RBLB Ray Bahr. He scored three touchdowns, one of them off a blocked punt. GBS running back Kevin Schroeder needs to be contained, he scored five touchdowns in the Titans last game, a 63-12 win against Maine East.

Fremd (2-2) @ Conant (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Consider it a football renaissance, of sorts, at Conant. The Cougars tallied consecutive 2-7 records in 2009 and 2010, but have sprinted out of the gate this year. Their defense, which held Hersey to 41 yards rushing last week and forced six turnovers against Buffalo Grove, is one of the many reasons theyre 4-0. Quarterback Matt Cullen has come through as well. Fremds A.J. McGhee guided the Vikings to a 31-10 win over Buffalo Grove last week.

Providence (3-1) @ No. 11 St. Rita (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Pivotal Catholic League Blue matchup features an 11th-ranked Mustangs team who survived a scare from Brother Rice last week. Charles Elmore intercepted a pass in the final minute to preserve the victory. Providence will need to key in on Rita receiver Kenny Golladay to stay within striking distance. On the offensive side of the ball, the visiting Celtics figure to do a lot of running. They feature one of the top offensive lineman in the state, Iowa recruit Ryan Ward.

East Aurora (0-4) @ Streamwood (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

If you havent noticed, theres quite a story unfolding in northwest suburban Streamwood. The Sabres havent been to the playoffs since 2003. In fact, they havent had a winning record since 1998. Both dubious marks could come to an end this season, and they have senior running back Alex Morrow to thank for a large part of that. His 129 yards rushing and a touchdown helped Streamwood beat St. Charles North for the first time since 2001. East Aurora has to shore up their defense in order to have a chance. Theyve given up nearly 50 points per game.

No. 17 Morris (4-0) @ Yorkville (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Say what you want about the prestige of the Southwest Suburban Blue, the Catholic Blue or the DuPage Valley. Take a look at the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Incredibly, five of the six teams are unbeaten (4-0). One will have a blemish after Friday night. Will it be the Foxes, who are off to their best start since 1999 and feature talented running back Neil OBrien? Or will it be the 17th-ranked Redskins, who are a consistent well-oiled football machine having gone to nine state title games since 1979?

No. 13 Bolingbrook (4-0) @ No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

The game of the night in Chicagoland this Friday. H-F figures to be an angry bunch, coming off a loss to No. 4 Lincoln-Way East on their home field. Quarterback Tim Williams is a threat, along with running back Taje Smith and wide receiver Sean Jones. Bolingbrook is averaging 47 points per game, but their defense is anchored by one of the top linebackers in the state, Butkus Award candidate Antonio Morrison. The winner of this game figures to keep pace in the SW Suburban Blue with the winner of.

Sandburg (4-0) @ No. 4 Lincoln-Way East (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

A lot of people figured the 4th-ranked Griffins would be undefeated at this point. But Sandburg? The Eagles got a huge road win last week against Lincoln-Way Central off a late touchdown from Anthony Adams to Nick Lehnerer. The Sandburg running game is solid, with Lemont Booker a constant threat. And solid would be an understatement in describing the Lincoln-Way East offense, who feature quarterback Blake Winkler and receiver J.J. Robertson. They had their way with a talented Homewood-Flossmoor team in week four.

Aurora Christian (4-0) @ Montini (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

We should find out where Montinis 2011 season is heading after Fridays game against Don Beebes Aurora Christian Eagles. A win, and WR Jordan Westerkamp and company figure to have a turnaround at hand. A loss, and the two-time state champs are in tailspin mode, with winning teams (St. Francis and St. Edward) lurking. Aurora Christian is the real deal: they have already blanked two opponents and feature an offense that is putting up over 45 points per game. (NOTE: these highlights will be shown exclusively on csnchicago.com)

Also: tune in to check out our Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the 4-0 Streamwood Sabres. SHS went a combined 8-56 since 2004. What has been the key to the dramatic turnaround? We will spend some time with head coach Cal Cummings and his players who are starting to believe.

We will also tell you how text messaging can actually help prevent injuries on the high school football field this season. Well have scoreboards from across Chicagoland and take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: csnchicagowebsite@comcastsportsnet.com

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

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USA Today Sports Images

Matt Nagy is winning over his players by being himself

Despite losing 34 of his 48 games as the Bears’ head coach, John Fox’s players generally liked him and were disappointed to see him fired on New Year’s Day. That’s not to say they were blindsided by it — losing leads to people losing their jobs, even if the culture at Halas Hall had changed for the better following the disastrous end of the Marc Trestman-Phil Emery era. 

It was with that backdrop that Matt Nagy was offered and accepted the position of Bears head coach a week after Fox’s firing. Four and a half months later, Nagy has seemingly made a strong first impression on his new team, with one reason standing out among many: He’s genuine in who he is and what he does.

“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful also,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “I think when you’re a first-year coach, you want to win (over) your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”

Granted, no player is going to publicly blast their new boss — especially not before he’s even coached a game yet. But veteran players also aren’t oblivious to who can and cannot work out as a head coach, and there haven’t been any “damning with faint praise” types of comments that were more common five years ago at the beginning of the Trestman era.

Will this win Nagy any games come September? No. But consider this sort of like team chemistry: It won't win a team anything, but if a team doesn't have it, it can be costly. 

“He’s a cool coach, man,” linebacker Danny Trevathan — who played for Fox in both Denver and Chicago — said. “He’s always giving us little details and smiling but we know he’s a hard worker just like we are. He’s up there working just like we are. He’s always putting us in the right position and he takes care of us. On the back end, where I come from, you take care of coaches like that. You go out and make plays for those coaches.”

From an observational standpoint, Nagy comes across as genuinely excited not just to be a head coach, but the head coach of the Bears. Players respect that approach — he's not coming in acting like a hired gun, and he's shown through these OTAs and practices that he cares about them, even if they haven't spent much time together yet. And he's also not strutting into Halas Hall every day with an over-inflated ego based on his promotion. That resonates, too. 

“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble but he was hungry. He came anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.