Bears

High School Lites: Week 5 preview

541192.jpg

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

Ryan Pace finds silver lining in social distancing at Halas Hall

Ryan Pace finds silver lining in social distancing at Halas Hall

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, like everyone else in the United States right now, is doing his best to do his job in what's become a bizarre new normal of social distancing. Fortunately for him and the rest of the team's staff and players, Halas Hall is well-equipped to handle COVID-19's challenges.

The renovations at Halas Hall couldn't have come at a better time. The more expansive campus provides the Bears with the space needed to keep the players and coaches as safe as possible. For Pace, it offers a greater opportunity to appreciate the little things while catching a meal with Matt Nagy.

“So the last two nights, we discovered how nice it is,” Pace said, via MMQB. “You sit out there, and it forces you to take a different vantage point during the day. Beautiful view, and it’s pretty peaceful.”

As Albert Breer pointed out, Pace and Nagy's view includes four outdoor practice fields and a couple of ponds. Not too shabby.

The most important takeaway isn't the landscape. Instead, it's safety. 

NFL players have until Thursday to decide whether they'll opt-out of the 2020 season, and for teams that are lacking the facilities Chicago has, it's more likely high-risk players or those with families at high-risk will choose to sit out the season.

Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Jordan Lucas have decided to opt out this year, and there's a chance more will do the same. 

Pace is confident in Chicago's COVID-19 plan. We'll see if the players are too.

For now, Pace is finding comfort in the little things. 

Why Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Why Chicago Cubs starters Jon Lester, Alec Mills are two of MLB's best pitchers

Usually when GMs, managers and fans get ready for a baseball season, any consistent production from the Nos. 4 and 5 starters is a luxury. In the Cubs’ case, it’s been an embarrassment of riches through two turns of the rotation.

Through 10 games, the Cubs are 8-2, good for the best win percentage in the National League. One huge reason for that has been the team’s incredible starting pitching. Kyle Hendricks set the tone early when he pitched a complete game shutout in the very first game of the season. Now, the Cubs’ starters lead MLB in ERA (1.95), batting average against (.156) and WHIP (0.780). They’ve done all that while also throwing 60 innings, second only to the Indians who have thrown 70 innings.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

At first glance you’d probably think, yeah, that makes sense with Hendricks starting the season the way he did, and Darvish getting back on track with six innings of two-hit ball in his second start. But surprisingly the only two clunkers came in Hendricks and Darvish starts. In fact, the analytics say Jon Lester and Alec Mills, the Cubs’ last two guys in the rotation have been two of the most impressive starters in MLB.

Let’s start by looking at the ERAs of all starters who have at least 8 IP, since the name of the game is keeping runs off the board. If 8 IP seems like an arbitrary cutoff… well, it is. But it seems like a fair number to assess quality pitchers who have made two starts in this shortened season with short leashes on pitchers. Among those pitchers, Lester and Mills each rank in the top-10 with ERAs of 0.82 and 1.38, respectively, according to FanGraphs.

So how are they doing it? Neither is a power pitcher who relies on strikeouts. In fact, Lester’s four punchouts place him tied for fourth-fewest in our split of SPs who have thrown more than 8 IP. Mills’ seven strikeouts (tied for 10th-fewest) aren’t much better. These guys succeed by keeping guys off the base paths, and not allowing hard-hit balls.

Looking at batting average against, Lester and Mills move into MLB’s top-five, according to our FanGraphs split, with each pitcher holding batters under .120. Since we’ve already established that neither guy is a power pitcher, when we filter further to just show BAA on balls put in play it should come as no surprise that Lester and Mills rise to No. 1 and No. 2 in all of baseball with .118 and .139 marks, respectively.

Great defense, like Javy Baez’s tag in Monday’s game, certainly helps the pitchers’ stats. But the starters also make things easier on the defense by inducing poor contact, regardless of whether the ball is hit on the ground or the air. According to FanGraphs, Mills ranks second in MLB by inducing soft contact on 33.3% of all balls put into play. In addition, he’s 11th in MLB with a 54.3 ground ball percentage. Lester ranks ninth by getting hitters to make soft contact 26.5% of the time, although he’s 11th in the league in getting batters to hit fly balls 47.1% of the time.

In the end the result is the same, with Mills and Lester combining to only allow four extra base hits in 24 IP. So although they aren’t typical “dominant” pitchers that teams like to make their aces, Mills and Lester have been two of the most effective starters in the game.


RELATED: How David Ross plans to fix Cubs closer problem with Craig Kimbrel in the shop

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.