It’s Mustang mania

  • Written by Bob Rakow

FRONT-COLOR-4-col-EPThe 2013 Evergreen Park football team notched a perfect 9-0 mark in the regular season and is hoping for a long postseason run.

 It’s been 15 years since Tom Schillo donned the FRONT-COLOR-1-col-EP-Mascotgreen and gray uniform of the Evergreen Park High School football team.

  But Schillo still has Mustang pride and he’s thrilled about the success the 2013 team has experienced.
  “They score a lot of points. They’re fast. They move the ball,” Schillo said.
  The Mustangs also win games—all of them, in fact. The Mustangs were undefeated this year—the fourth time in school history they achieved that lofty goal.
  The last three years have been amazing,” Schillo said.
  Indeed they have. The team made the state playoffs the past two years, reaching the quarterfinals in 2011 and the semifinals last year. This year’s team has a No. 1 seed in the Class 4A pairings and some big expectations as they get set to host Richmond-Burton in the first round at 5 p.m. Saturday.
  Schillo’s brother, Luke, who was a running back for Evergreen Park about a decade ago, said an undefeated record is no easy achievement.
  “It’s hard work,” he said. “A lot of those games were won Monday through Thursday.”
  Like his brother, Luke played football for St. Xavier University. Luke had played one season at the Air Force Academy before coming home to play for the Cougars. He no longer lives in the village, but plans to attend playoff games.
  So will most of school’s 800 students, who’ve supported the team since the season began in August on new synthetic turf installed over the summer.
  “The kids are genuinely excited,” said EP Principal Bill Sanderson. “There’s a buzz throughout the building.”
  Sanderson credits head coach Dan Hartman for much of the team’s success.
  “He has a great rapport with the kids,” Sanderson said.
  Additionally, Hartman has worked diligently to involve the student body, alums and the community in the team’s success while also stressing the importance of academic accomplishments, Sanderson said.
  The school has stricter eligibility for its athletes than required by the IHSA, Sanderson said.
  The team’s success has helped build the program for the long-term achievement, Sanderson said.
  The small school has long watched Evergreen Park athletes choose to play for private high schools with extensive reputations as football powerhouses.
  “We lose kids from the village,” said Tom Schillo, who’s hosting a party at his Evergreen Park home before the first-round game.
  But the team’s winning tradition coupled with the relationships it’s built with the Evergreen Stallions youth football program and area Catholic grade school teams has helped turned things around, Sanderson said.
  The success even has the village’s boss impressed.
  Mayor James Sexton, who has been seen sitting in a chair on the sidelines and cheering the troops on, praised the team’s achievements and said that winning is contagious.
  “People want to be around winners,” Sexton said. “You want to form a tradition. I think it’s tremendously exciting.”
  He added that the team’s success is good for business, as more people attend games. “People come back and see the neighborhood.”
  Despite a 9-0 mark, the Mustangs have given their fans a rollercoaster ride several times this year.
  After winning a forfeit game against Little Village to open the season, the team had to scramble to beat Phillips, 35-32. Phillips could be a second-round opponent for the Mustangs.

  The Mustangs beat Oak Lawn 21-10 but were trailing 10-0 at halftime. They narrowly beat Tinley Park 24-22 in week 4 when Matt Schulte booted a 22-year field goal in the closing seconds.
  In what some would consider the signature victory of the year, EP beat Richards 35-34 in Oak Lawn. Star player Jacquet McClendon’s interception with three seconds to go at the end of the game helped preserve the win in Week 5. Quarterback Jonathan O’Brien suffered an injury and Sean Ryan took over.
  The nailbiting trend continued the following week in Summit when the Mustangs pulled off a wild 45-44 victory over Argo. Linebacker Don Oresky stripped the ball from an Argo player and ran 30 yards for a TD for what turned out to be the winning score in the final eight minutes.
  They beat Eisenhower 21-13 in weed 7 with McClendon making another game-saving interception in the final minute of the contest.

Putting on the dog — Palos Hills pets dress up for Halloween

  • Written by Kelly White

   It’s not just children who get topage-4-3-col-spookyRoxy won the spookiest costume honor at the Halloween Pet Parade Oct. 12 in Palos Hills. Photos by Kelly White. dress up in costumes for Halloween.
  The Riviera townhome complex in Palos Hills held its first Halloween Pet Parade Oct. 12, where over 20 well-dressed dogs and their owners paraded around the town.
  Costumes some of the pooches and pets wore included a shark, a bumblebee, a hotdog, a princess and a pumpkin.
  The dogs and their owners met at the Riviera Business Office where together they sung — or, in some cases — barked the Star Spangled Banner, before taking off single-file down the street. The dogs were led to the Riviera Park where pumpkin water bowls were waiting for them before the judging began for the best costumes. Donuts, water and apple cider were also available for the dogs’ owners to enjoy while mingling with neighbors.
  Dressed as a shark, Roxy, a three-year-old Shar-Pei/Beagle, took home the award for the Most Spooky Costume. Roxy was dressed with a shark around the body and it gave the appearance that the dog was being eaten by the shark.
Resized SuzySuzy-Q was more interested in earning a goody bag filled with treats rather than winning an award at the first Pet Parade in Palos Hills.  “A lot of people were commenting on how much they liked her costume as we were walking up to the parade,” Roxy’s owner, Roger Schweikert, 30, of Palos Hills said. “I kind of had a feeling she was going to win.”
  Judging was done by some of the Riviera residents who did not participate in the parade. Each dog who participated in the parade was given a goody bag filled with bones and rawhide treats before leaving for the day. For four-year-old shih-tzu, Suzy-Q, dressed as a bumblebee, is seemed as if the goody bag was better than winning an actual award.

  The parade was organized by Riviera and Palos Improvement and officials are planning to continue the event again next year.

EP is getting juiced up for Binny’s

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Village is a hard-hat haven with beverage store

 opening and Mariano’s grocery on horizon

  Ground will be broken in Evergreen FRONT-COLOR-2-col-binnyBinny’s, which took over Bleekers Bowl in Evergreen Park recently, could be open by Thanksgiving. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Park next Thursday for an upscale grocery store, while one mile away, workers will be busy converting a long-time bowling alley into a liquor store in time for the holiday season.

  Mariano’s Fresh Market is not expected to open its doors until August 2014, but store and village will turn over the first shovels of soil at a groundbreaking ceremony, which is scheduled for 10 a.m.
  Meanwhile, Binny’s Beverage Depot hopes to open before Thanksgiving at the site of Bleeker’s Bowl and Tavern, 3447 W. 95th St., a veritable landmark in the village since 1950s.
  “I’ve never seen so many hard hats on 95th Street,” Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said.
  Binny’s held a hiring fair last week at Evergreen Park Village Hall and is expected to fill 25-30 positions. The business has received more than 300 online applications and another 100 at the job fair, Sexton said.
  The store has 29 locations in the Chicago area. The Evergreen Park store will be the third in the southwest suburbs and will employ approximately 300 employees.
  The 70,000-square-foot Mariano’s will be built on the site of the shuttered Webb Ford, 2601 W. 95th St. The site has been vacant for five years and convincing the upscale grocer to come to town was not accomplished overnight, Sexton said.
  The mayor first contacted Bob Mariano, the store’s chairman, in February 2009. Sexton had a previous relationship with Mariano from his days as CEO of Dominick’s.
  “There’s just a whole lot to it,” Sexton said.
  In addition to negotiations with the property owner and the grocery store, governmental agencies such as the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District were involved, he said.
  Mariano’s also is opening a store in Oak Lawn, which will anchor a retail development at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue.
  Dominick’s, Kmart and some small businesses were previously located on the site. That store is expected to open in 2014. Village officials are hopeful the store will draw other businesses to the retail center.
  Mariano’s is owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets, which operates four other supermarket chains in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The store features an Italian coffee shop, sushi bar, wine and cheese bar, salad bar and prepared meals to take home.
  As Binny’s and Mariano’s prepare to join the Evergreen Park business community, Sexton is taking the next step toward resurrecting the Plaza.
  An informational meeting about development plans for the mall is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Nov. 4 at village hall, 9418 S. Kedzie Ave.
  “We want to get this thing moving along,” Sexton said.
  Trustees in August authorized the village attorney with Carson’s to negotiate so that demolition of the mall, 95th Street and Western Avenue, can proceed.
  The retailer is only one remaining at the otherwise shuttered mall, which closed on May 31. Applebee’s, which is located on an out lot, and Planet Fitness, remain open.
  Plans calls for an outdoor mall that would a feature a variety of retailers and restaurants.
  “The indoor thing is over,” Sexton said.
  The 61-year-old shopping mall, formerly the Evergreen Plaza, has been in foreclosure since 2011. The property is currently in receivership.
  DeBartolo Development wants to demolish the mall and replace it with a “lifestyle center,” Chicago Real Estate reported. The development firm is owned by former San Francisco 49ers’ owner Eddie DeBartolo.

WHATIZIT? 10-24-13

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


  Once again, it’s hard to fool the WHATIZIT Whatizz-10-24wunderkinds as we had a handful of people correctly guess the top of an upright that you see in the end zone at football games.

  The red thing-a-ma-bobber on top of it is a wind indicator flag.
  We had five correct guesses by people from five different towns.
  Those football heroes who guessed right were Worth’s Robert Solner, Oak Lawn’s Maline Zolna, Chicago Ridge’s Dana Oswald, Evergreen Park’s Jen Merchantz, Hickory Hills’ Jack and Griffin Burke Faddis.
  Wrong guesses were football slalom poles and a soccer corner kick stick.
  This week’s photo is not sports related. The clue is that this thing can cause a buzz.
  Send those guesses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with Whatizit? on the subject line by Monday night. Provide your name and home town as well.

Photo by Jeff Vorva.


Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook -- Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and … Kara Kentner?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


COLOR - Jeff I wouldn’t suggest to the students or faculty members of Moraine Valley Community College that they should bow or say “I’m not worthy” when they pass sophomore volleyball player Kara Kentner in the hallway.
  But it might be appropriate.
  Earlier this month, the national junior college rankings came out and she was second in the country in hitting with a .427 hitting percentage. And she was hitting .541 in conference play as well.
  For those who don’t follow volleyball statistics, those are just numbers.
  For those who do, those are numbers that could make you want to bow or say “I’m not worthy” when you are in her presence.
  See, hitting stats in volleyball are rougher than baseball hitting numbers.
  In baseball, you get credit for a hit and no credit for an out. If you get a hit and then strike out and ground out, you are 1-for-3 and are hitting .333.

  In volleyball, you get credit for a hit. You get no credit for a ball that you hit but gets returned. It’s similar to baseball. But in volleyball, you also get penalized for a hitting error such as bashing the ball out of bounds, hitting it into the net or into a successful defensive block.
  Thus, you can hit the ball into the net, have one returned and then get the match-winning kill and be carried off the court as a hero, but your hitting percentage is .000.
  I compare these stats with baseball stats.
  In major league baseball, just 28 players have hit .400 or better and no one has done it since 1941. Legends such as Ty Cobb, Ted Williams and Joe Jackson have done it.

  But imagine if the criteria was more like volleyball…2013 vball action 6Moraine Valley Community College volleyball star Kara Kentner has an incredible hitting percentage. Submitted photo.what if each of these .400 hitters were penalized a hit every time they struck out or hit into a double play?
  Back in 1894, Boston’s Hugh Duffy set the all-time major league record for hitting with a .440 average. It’s a record that stands today and it’s unlikely that it will ever be broken unless some really wonderful miracle steroid is invented.
  He was 237-for-519. Back then, the stat of grounding into double plays was not kept but strikeouts were. He had 30. So subtracting 30 from his 237, he was 207-for-539, which is .384. That’s still pretty good, but no .400.
  For those who think volleyball stats and baseball stats are apples and oranges, let’s go with the Joe Smalzer argument.
  Smalzer is a former Marist volleyball star from Palos Heights who is now playing for Loyola. He is a 6-foot-8 hitting machine who was named first-team All-America as a junior last year. He had 430 kills in 32 matches for 11.2 kills per matchto help the Ramblers reach the NCAA Final Four.
  This kid is really good.
  But this first-team All-America stud had just a .261 hitting percentage because he made 188 hitting errors. And the Final Four Ramblers had a .291 hitting percentage at a team while opponents were held to .231.

  So if one of the best volleyball players in the nation has that low of a hitting percentage, it makes me appreciate Kentner’s accomplishments even more. The Sandburg High School graduate had 316 kills in 657 attempts and just 40 errors a few weeks ago.
  So, if anyone sees Kentner, you don’t need to bow.
  But a high-five might be in order.

Supper with the Snakes
  My favorite excerpt from a press release this week comes from out of the area, but still made me sssssssnicker:
  “October is a spook-tacular month at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum with a plentiful Halloween program schedule catering to guests of all ages. Young Frankensteins are invited to paint a pumpkin and get up close and personal with some of the ssssssslithery members of the Museum’s Living Collections for its popular dinner party, Supper with the Snakes.
  Guests are encouraged to show off their Halloween costumes while enjoying asssssscrupmptious pizza dinner. Following dinner, the Museum’s biologists will introduce the evening’s guests of honor, their slithering counterparts. Attendees will have the chance to get up close and personal with more than eight species of native and exotic snakes and enjoy a variety of sssssseriously fun activities, including a relay, scavenger hunt, crafts and more. Plus, the Museum’s newest exhibit, Animal Secrets, will be open where kids can see more of the Museum’s slithering residents.”
  The dinner is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Museum, 2430 N Cannon Drive in Chicago. The cosssssssst is $20 for non-members and $10 for children over 3.