Jeff Vorva's ImPRESSions -- Kicking around area football topics

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions


This is the biggest college football game to ever be played in our back yard.

St. Xavier University will host Southern Oregon in the NAIA national semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field on the SXU campus in Chicago. The winner goes to the national championship in Daytona Beach. The loser goes home to either stay in freezing Chicago or snowy Ashland, Oregon,

The Cougars are not new to semifinal games. They have been there four times before, including 2011, when they won the national title.

But they are new to hosting a semifinal game. This will be a first on campus and the place should be rocking, especially after Saturday’s 30-17 victory over Lindsey Wilson in the quarterfinals.

Southern Oregon comes into the game knocking off the then-No. 1 team in the nation, Carroll College of Montana, 45-42, on a snowy field in Helena.

The other semifinal features Marian (Indiana)  against Morningside (Iowa).

In case you forgot, Marian is the team St. Xavier opened the season with and the Cougars won a road game in Indianapolis, 65-38, against the Knights on Sept. 6.

Morningside brings in a load of offense as the Mustangs beat Nebraska Wesleyan, 83-19, Dordt, 72-2, Midland, 68-28, Hastings, 76-14, and Briar Cliff, 63-0, during the regular season.

It should b e a wild couple of weeks.

A game I don’t want to see

Lindsey Wilson, based out of Kentucky, beat Belhaven (Mississippi), 91-14, on Oct. 25.

That’s not a misprint – 91 points! And the Blue Raiders didn’t even score in the final 10 minutes.

So, this Belhaven team must be the worst team in college football, right? Well, it opened the season with a 44-6 win over Texas College and a 32-15 victory over Mississippi College before losing nine straight.

Texas College finished the season 0-11 and was outscored 625-73.

So, if Texas College and St. Xavier decide to hook up for a football game anytime soon, I may have to skip that one.

 Foot note

Yes, I read the game notes. And it’s a good thing, because this is something most people might not notice. I wouldn’t have.

St. Xavier freshman kicker Abdul Mahdi kicks off with his left foot. But when he attempts field goals, extra points and squib kicks, he uses his right leg.

The Bogan High School graduate probably should have used his left foot during a first-half field goal attempt against Lindsey Wilson as the wind took his effort wide, wide left. I was thinking it had enough distance to hit the Shannon Center west of the stadium.

 Providence devine

 Staying with the football theme, the Reporter and Regional do not cover Providence Catholic on a regular basis but there are kids from the area who goes to the New Lenox school – especially from Orland Park – and it’s cool to see the Celtics clean house and not only win the IHSA Class 4A baseball title in June but also win the Class 7A football title on Saturday.

On a personal note, I’ve known a handful of some of their star players when they were little kids and I could have kicked every one of them around with ease.

Not now. They would eat me up and spit me out.

But seriously, it was fun to watch them beat Cary-Grove (an area I lived in a while ago) 31-27 and see friends of the family doing so well.

 Bad karma?

I can’t seem to pin down the exact date that Notre Dame decided to redshirt 2013 Reporter-Regional Player of the Year Nic Weishar but I heard about it the first week in November.

To redshirt someone is to keep them out of game action for a year and they will have the remaining years of eligibility left. Nic will have all four years of eligibility after they beef him up at the school.

Since I heard about the resdshirt, the Fighting Irish lost to Arizona State, Northwestern, Louisville and USC.


Of course.

But the timing is interesting.

 Political football

Hickory Hills alderman Thomas McAvoy spent a part of his Thanksgiving wishing members of the Reporter a Happy Thanksgiving and ended his email with the following crack:

“I am going to do last-minute shopping and then brace myself as the as the Chicago Bears place their heads in the Detroit Lions’ mouths.’’



The death of Catholic League football?

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Photo illustration by Kari Nelson

Will the grim reaper claim the storied football portion of Chicago Catholic League? It’s in the hands of more than 800 school officials this month as they could vote to eliminate conference in favor of districts during the season. Pictured are players from a Brother Rice-St. Laurence game this season during a pass play in the end zone.

By Jeff Vorva

Reporter Editor

Generations of Chicago and suburban football players, fans and coaches have grown up with Chicago Catholic League football.

From the days when Catholic League teams helped draw more than 100,000 fans to Solider Field for the Prep Bowl to the scores of Illinois High School Association state football titles brought home by teams such as Mt. Carmel and Providence Catholic, the Catholic League has been a staple of excellence in football.

Heck, Providence just added another trophy to the collection – its 10th -- on Saturday when the Celtics beat Cary-Grove 31-28 to win the Class 7A title and trail Mt. Carmel by two.

Donovan McNabb, Johnny Lattner and Bill Callahan headline a long list of famous Catholic League players or coaches who came from the Catholic League.

The Catholic League formed in 1912, added football in 1913 and has survived and thrived for more than 100 years.

But are its days numbered?

Officials from all of the 800-plus Illinois High School Association schools on Monday were asked to vote on a list of proposals including Proposal 10, which would be a huge change to football in the state as it would eliminate conference play and install a district system based on enrollment and geography.

That would affect all of our area teams and signal the end of the Southwest Suburban, South Suburban, East Suburban Catholic, Metro Suburban Conference and, yes, the storied Chicago Catholic League.

SUBHEAD – Destroying tradition

St. Laurence coach Harold Blackmon, who played at Leo High School en route to a career that took him to the NFL playing two seasons with Seattle, is hoping this proposal fails. Votes are expected in by the end of the month and the IHSA will announce the results on Jan. 6.

“It’s unfortunate that people are making decisions without looking at the long-term effects on certain schools,” Blackmon said. “The Catholic League has been a staple of high school football for a very long time. To destroy that is very unfair.

‘’As a player and a coach, there are so many neighborhood rivalries. This is a big deal for us. Our games are always in the spotlight. It was special for me as a player to know that you were going to face a quality team and a Catholic team as well and I think that if they break it up into regions the continuity won’t be there.”

The rationale of this 1,700-plus word proposal is not to stick it to the Catholic League. But the Catholic League’s tradition would be a victim in its wake.

Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson submitted the proposal citing that in the last five years, 20 conferences have changed, four new conference were formed, too many teams are loading their schedules up with smaller schools to get into the playoffs and a host of other issues of concern.

Tim O’Halloran, known to many in football circles as “Edgy Tim” runs a website dedicated to Illinois high school football (  and recruiting and appears regularly as Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s football expert, admits that change could be a good idea but this revamp is something he does not want to see.

“There are a ton of questions if, God forbid, this thing does pass.’’O’Halloran said. “Talk about changing the landscape…look at the Catholic League. Are you just going to forget how many years of history and tradition you have with that conference? It’s a lot to take in.

“Look at Mt. Carmel and look at St. Rita – who would be in that 18- or 19-team district. I would guess there would be a lot of Public League schools playing against them. The level of competition would be ridiculously bad. How many of those Public League schools don’t have lower-level football?”

O’Halloran was also a little edgy when talking about the impact it will make all around the state.

“What you do with schools like Edwardsville [near St. Louis]?” he said. “The closest schools district-wise would be Joliet. So, you’re going to have Joliet schools go for what would be like a conference game to St. Louis two or three times a year? What do you do for the lower levels? Do they make the same kind of travel as well?

“And the big question is who would pay for all of this? Well, I know the answer. We [taxpayers] would.”

He’s not buying one of the arguments that some other states – including Iowa – have a similar setup with regions and districts.

“It’s not the same,’’ O’Halloran said. “Chicago is a huge metropolitan city. It’s not Indianapolis. It’s not Des Moines. It’s a big, big, area with a lot of diverse schools and different levels of schools and we probably have more private schools than just about any other state going. You’re trying to paint a picture with a broad brush and there are way too many details that get left out.’’

SUBHEAD – Didn’t see it coming

Many insiders predict this won’t pass. But many insiders, including O’Halloran, didn’t think it would even reach the ballot stage.

"The vote to advance the football proposal was a surprise," said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman in a news release. "At the town meetings there seemed to be little support for a sweeping change like this. But it speaks to the passionate feelings we've heard from both sides of this issue.”

When later asked by the Champaign News Gazette if he was surprised made the ballot, Hickman amped his answer up.

No. I was shocked,’’ he said. “We didn’t see that coming. It’s got a real uphill battle with the membership is my guess.’’

O’Halloran agrees, to a point.

“I don’t think it will pass,” he said. “Look where the majority of the votes are. Two-thirds are north of Interstate 80. There are more issues than solutions. But never say never. That’s the scary part. Once you go to a vote anything can happen.’’

If it passes, it might not be implemented until the 2016 season.

So the wait is on.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t go through,” Blackmon said. “But if it does, it will be interesting to see what happens.’’



CR's decision on auto repair shop still idling

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Chicago Ridge trustees on Tuesday temporarily put the brakes on plans for an auto repair shop at 103rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue.


For the second time in two weeks, trustees delayed a decision on a special-use permit for the property, which has been for sale for five years.


Alsip mechanic Walter Lindish has proposed moving his shop to the shuttered garage located at 10303 S. Ridgeland Ave. adjacent to Penny Lane School.


Lindish provided trustees with an outline of his plans to improve the property, including exterior paint, landscaping, an awning, improved lighting, privacy fencing and the conversion of a garage door into a window.


Lindish said he would complete the improvements over two years.


But the plans were not sufficient for some trustees, including Mike Davies, who said he asked at the previous board meeting that a detailed proposal be given to trustees ahead of the meeting.


“I’m not prepared to act today,” Davies said. “It’s not supposed to be a list. It’s supposed to be a timetable. I told him specifically what I wanted to see. [The delay] is not this board’s fault.”


A detailed plan with completion dates is important as it prevents a business owner from making promises to the village but never following through, Davies said.


Davies and Trustees Dan Badon and Jack Lind have voiced support for the plan, which was unanimously approved by the planning and zoning commission.


But Tokar again expressed his reservations about the proposal.


“I appreciate everything that you’ve done,” Tokar said. “I’m sure you run a very good business. I’m just not convinced at all that this is the best location.”


The mayor added that the village’s comprehensive plan calls for auto shops and similar businesses to be located in the industrial park, while Ridgeland Avenue is reserved for commercial business.


A coffee shop or convenience store likely would be a better use of the property, he said.


Lindish has said the Chicago Ridge shop is ideally located and offers everything his business needs, including a secure storage lot. He added wants his business to reap the benefits of being located on a busy street.


George Ball, the owner of the property, told trustees that the village has made it difficult for him to sell the property.


“I could probably have sold this place 10 times in the past five years,” said Ball, adding that the village has rejected other proposed uses for the property.


Tokar rejected that notion, saying no previous plans for the property have come before the board in the past five years.


Crain pain: EP Mayor Sexton not buying published report about failed Plaza sale

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton isn’t ready to pull the plug on plans for a lifestyle center at the site of the Plaza despite reports that a potential deal to develop the property has fallen through.


Crain’s Chicago Business last Tuesday reported that a potential deal with Tampa-based DeBartelo group collapsed and the foreclosure process has restarted.

DeBartolo's loan purchase was the first step the firm needed to ultimately take over, demolish and redevelop the mall at 95th Street and Western Avenue.

News of the failed deal came just days after Sexton said at the annual State of the Village report that plans for the mall are “inching closer.”

Sexton remained optimistic Monday and said the news is unfounded.

“The jury is still out,” Sexton said. I’m very confident. I fully expect we’re going to get something done.”

S.L. Van der Zanden, CEO of Resolutions, a Chicago-based company that's serving as a court-appointed receiver for the mall during the foreclosure process, told Crain’s the deal fell through.

Additionally, Ben Wineman, principal at Mid-America Real Estate, the Oak Brook-based brokerage selling the Plaza, described the market for the mall as “a wide open playing field.”

But Sexton insists that a deal remains in the works.

“The story is not factual. You can’t believe everything you read,” Sexton told the Reporter.

Sexton reiterated his stance at Monday night’s village board meeting.

“The deal at the Plaza is alive and well and you’re hearing it from me,” Sexton said.

He also chided Crain’s for not speaking to him before publishing last week’s story.

“They didn’t really want to hear the truth so they wrote what they wanted,” he said. “It’s not dead. That’s from me.”

The mayor added that he doesn’t know why Mid-America Real Estate advanced the notion that the deal collapsed.

“I really don’t know what their motive is,” he said. “They haven’t had the decency to call here.”

Sexton was quick to point out that the village’s memorandum of understanding regarding a redevelopment plan with UP Development, a real estate firm based in Nashville, does not expire until the end of January.

Under the terms of the memo, the village said it would consider providing UP with around $10 million in funds raised through a new bonding district on the property, provide a sale-tax reimbursement to the firm and issue other incentives, Crain’s reported.

DeBartolo Development last year said it would buy a defaulted loan on the 733,986-square-foot mall.

The Plaza has just four tenants and more than 458,000 square feet of empty, enclosed mall space and is owned by a group of investors led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Provo Group, which is said to be cooperating with the foreclosure, Chicago Real Estate Daily reported.

In a statement, DeBartolo said it didn’t acquire the loan because it is busy working on other projects and did not want to take on additional regional shopping centers, according to Crain’s.

The Plaza currently has just four tenants: a Carson Pirie Scott department store, a Planet Fitness gym, an Applebee's restaurant and an Enterprise car rental office.



More trouble for ex-Worth Park District Commissioner

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Page-2-Martin-INBOX-857674A former Worth Park District commissioner faces sex crimes in Colorado, 15 months after being charged with a similar offense in Orland Park, police said.


Anthony Michael Martin was charged in Jefferson County, Colo., with Internet luring of a child and Internet sexual exploitation of a child. The charges were filed in October.


Martin remains in custody on $10,000 bond.


Martin resigned as a park board commissioner on Aug. 21, 2013. He cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, said Worth Park District Director Carlo Capalbo.

He became a park district commissioner in April 2013 following a successful write-in campaign for an open seat on the five-member board.

The Colorado charges came after an investigator for the Jefferson County District’s Attorney’s office, portraying a teen under 15-years-old, communicated with Martin on a social networking site, according to a four-page affidavit filed Oct. 22 in Jefferson County Court.


The investigator, who was not participating in chat room communications, received an Oct. 18 message from “olderguy407” ( whom police said was Martin) that said, “You are beautiful and very sexy.”


Martin’s profile said he was from Chicago, but he told the teen that he would be in Colorado beginning Oct. 20, would love to meet her and provided his phone number, the affidavit said.


The investigator then texted Martin using the teen persona. Martin said he liked petite girls. “I like drinking and making out. [Your] house or my hotel room,” he allegedly texted.


Martin allegedly also described his sexual preferences in detail and asked the female persona specific details about her appearance. He also asked if the girl had nude pictures and if she would send some to him, according the affidavit.


Police said Martin added that he liked younger women. “I’d marry one,” he allegedly texted.


The teen persona on Oct. 19 asked via a text if Martin if he wanted to meet. Martin said he did and asked for her address. But on Oct. 21 he told the girl he would be unable to meet her, the affidavit said.



Police learned where Martin was working in Colorado after speaking with Sean Morrison, the CEO of Morrison Security Corp., located in Alsip. Martin was a vice president at the company.


Martin was arrested on Oct. 21 as he was leaving a Denver, Colo., location where he was working on a project. He asked for an attorney before police read him his rights, police said.


Also, on Oct. 21, Martin reportedly admitted during a phone call with a detective that he had talked to a teen persona about meeting and having sex. He also admitted to requesting naked photos of her. Martin told the investigator, “it was just idle chat,” according to the affidavit.


Martin was charged in August 2013 of indecent solicitation of a child, Orland Park police said.


The charge, a felony, stems from text messages he allegedly he sent to a 14-year-old Orland Park girl, who he met at a party, according to 20-page police report.

Martin worked with the boyfriend of the girl’s mother, and the party was thrown by their boss, police said.

Martin was released on $100,000 bond, said Orland Park Police Commander John Keating.

Martin’s texts allegedly asked the girl if she drank, was interested in piercings and if he could sneak her out for an overnight visit so she could get her navel pierced, according to the Orland Park police.

Martin allegedly called the girl a “sexy dork” and asked if she would like to “mess around with” him or consider getting to know him romantically, police said. He allegedly asked her to send him a picture of her belly, face, fully clothed or whatever she wanted to send him, reports said.

Police said the girl also told them that Martin touched her inappropriately while at the party. She said she did not react to being touched and did not tell anyone while at the party, police said.

The Orland Park police said that Martin admitted to sending the messages while he was drinking and added that he probably should not have sent them, according to reports. He allegedly told police he did not recall the entire contents of the texts, but realized the following morning upon reviewing them that he should not have sent them.

Martin said he asked the victim for her email address and added that he knew she was under 18 years old, police said.