Jeff Vorva's Extra Point: Football playoff seedings are a joke, but it's the best we have

  • Written by Jeff Vorva




I am not ripping on the Illinois High School Association, but its football seeding system is a joke.

I’ve been thinking about this for years and I can’t come up with a better way to seed teams that would be fair. The state is just too big and diverse to be able to have a committee seed the teams the they NCAA does for its basketball tournaments. There would be major outrage.

So what the IHSA does is set up a system based on wins and losses and number of victories for all nine opponents.

That’s about as fair as it can get. But it still produces some very strange-looking numbers and matchups in the first round because some teams play a better brand of football than others.

The IHSA decided to seed Class 7A and 8A schools from 1 to 32 regardless of geography this year. Combine that with the way it seeds team and there is what looks like a whopper of a mismatch in 7A. Chicago Public League Power Whitney Young (9-0) drew the number 2 seed and will play 31st seed Niles North (5-4).

Judging by the seeding, some might view it as a shock if Niles North wins. I would view it as a shock if North doesn’t win by at least two or three touchdowns.

Young never ventured out of the Public League and ran the table.

The Dolphins went 9-0 outscoring their opponents 381-33.

They beat Roosevelt, 63-0, Lake View, 54-0, Schurz 42-0. We have some freshmen teams in our area that might be able to beat Roosevelt, Lake View and Schurz by similar scores.

Niles North opened the season whomping on Shepard, 63-32 and broke even the rest of the way. The Vikings  pretty much beat who they were supposed to and lost to who they were supposed to although a tight 34-30 loss to 8-1 Glenbrook North showed they can be dangerous.

So what we have is a so-so team from the Central Suburban North taking on one of the best teams from the Public League. I’ll take the so-so team in a heartbeat.

Over in Class 5A, where they seed from 1-16 in two brackets, St. Laurence fans should have been turning cartwheels and kissing their TV sets after the pairings were announced on Saturday night.

Even though the Vikings picked up the fifth seed, their road to the final four is not all that daunting.

They open with Rich Central and a second-round showdown with either King or DuSable awaiting.

I would be stunned if the Vikings didn’t total up at least 100 points in those two games.

The top seed in the bracket is Westinghouse, who I am sure will fall to 16th-seeded Glenbard South.  St. Laurence could face Glenbard South or Tinley Park in the quarterfinals. Neither team strikes a lot of fear in me.

Meanwhile, in the lower part of the bracket, defending Class 6A champ Nazareth, Sycamore, 13-time state champ Joliet Catholic, Marian Central and Belvidere are some of the eight teams who will be fighting it out for a spot in the final four. 

Is that fair?


But that’s as fair as it’s going to get right now.

And until we can come up with a better system, it’s going to stay that way for a long time.


State tennis preview: Big first impressions from young Eagle

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 1 tennis


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sandburg freshman Anna Loureiro, left, shakes hands with Stagg freshman Karolina Wolowiec after sectional quarterfinal action on  Friday. Loureiro won the match 6-1, 6-0 and Wolowiec was the only player in the sectional to take a game from her.


Moments after she secured her first state tournament bid late Friday afternoon, Sandburg freshman Anna Loureiro couldn’t say enough nice things about her teammate Natalie Schultz.

“She’s an amazing player and an amazing person,” Loureiro said. “She’s helped me out a lot this year. She’s helped me during some of my matches. She’s cheered me on a lot, so I’m really grateful for that.’’

But on Saturday, the freshman was all business and even her “amazing” friend wasn’t going to catch a break.

Loureiro topped Schultz 6-0, 6-0 to claim the Sandburg Sectional individual title. The top four individuals and doubles teams make it to the Illinois High School Association State Tennis Tournament, which starts Thursday, Oct. 22 at various northwest suburban sites.

The freshman made it look easy with four sectional victories, two were 6-0, 6-0 wins and one was a 6-0, 6-1 triumph. Her semifinal match against Lemont’s Grace Horky was an injury default victory.

Loureiro said she is not sure what to expect at the state tournament. She has played in various national events on the USTA circuit so she will likely not be too awed by the state meet.

“I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “I heard it is intense and a lot of fun, so I’m really excited. And it is great Natalie will be there, too.’’

The two singles player helped Sandburg win the sectional title with 26 points. Andrew took second with 19, Stagg took third with 18 and Shepard claimed fifth with 11.

Also qualifying from this sectional were three doubles teams -- Stagg’s Leeza Bodnar-Silvia Kulbokas, which won the sectional title, the Sandburg doubles team of Julia Adduce-Stephanie Garoufalis and Shepard sophomores Rachel Habbal-Brooke Zielke.

The Stagg tandem enjoyed a long stay at state last year, finishing 3-2 before losing in the fourth-round consolation round, 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 to Prairie Ridge’s Natalie Favia-Mikaela McNally.

The Sandburg duo qualified last year and finished 1-2, which included a first-round consolation victory over Reavis’s Kate LoRusso-Elizabeth Doory, 6-2, 6-4.

Shepard coach Kelly Myron said it was the first time in eight years she had anyone from her squad qualify for the state tournament and added that this is the youngest doubles team in school history to qualify.

“It seems like every year we’re getting beat out by someone from Sandburg or Stagg,” she said. “This year we finally made it. I’m proud of the girls and they said they wanted to do this for [assistant coach] Dmitri Cooper since it’s his last season.’’

Cooper has been an assistant for the girls for 19 years and in the spring it will be his 32nd and final year of being the boys head tennis head coach.

At the St. Ignatius Sectional, Mother McAuley took fifth and Bridget Halleran-Grace Turcich took place, which was good enough to qualify for state.

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sandburg freshman Anna Loureiro, left, shakes hand with Stagg freshman Karolina Wolowiec after sectional quarterfinal action on  Friday. Loureiro won the match 6-1, 6-0 and Wolowiec was the only player in the sectional to take a game from her.

Ain't that a kick in the head

  • Written by Phil Arvia




Photo by Jeff Vorva

Richards and Eisenhower players keep their eye on the ball as Andrew Calderon’s first-quarter kick from 29 yards out was good to give Richards a 3-0 lead Friday night. Calderon nailed a 51-yarder late in the game to give Richards momentum but the Bulldogs lost, 33-27 in Blue Island.



It’s not often that Gary Korhonen sees something he’s never seen before on a football field.

The 75-year-old coach, who gave up the Richards reins in 2008 after 36 seasons and 306 wins, toils now as the linebackers coach at Dist. 218 rival Eisenhower. Friday in Blue Island, he watched as Bulldogs kicker Andrew Calderon booted a 51-yard field goal.

Asked if he believed it to be a school record, Korhonen said, “I’m sure it is. We barely kicked extra points.”

Later, he added, “That’s the longest one I’ve ever seen kicked against me — the longest one I’ve ever seen standing on a sideline. The longest one we ever made was probably about 40 yards back in 1997 — I can’t remember the kid’s name. He was Swedish. We called him Sven.”

Calderon’s kick brought a flicker of hope to the Richards sideline, as it brought the Bulldogs within a touchdown with 6:26 to play. However, two snaps after the ensuing kick, Eisenhower’s Rayshawn Graham sprinted 79 yards around the left end for a backbreaking touchdown in what became a 33-27 Cardinals win. It was just the second time in 20 meetings Ike beat Richards.

The decision left Eisenhower (6-1, 4-0) in the South Suburban Red driver’s seat, though the Cardinals must go to Reavis (6-1, 4-1) this week. Richards (4-3, 3-1) needs at least one win over its final two contests with Evergreen Park (3-4, 2-2) and Oak Lawn (1-6, 1-4) to have a shot at a seventh state qualifier in coach Tony Sheehan’s eight seasons.

Calderon’s kick, said Richards linebackers coach Rick Pratl, “put us right where we needed to be. But we couldn’t get over the hump.”

Calderon got Richards off on the right foot, kicking a 29-yard field goal at the 8:00 mark of the first quarter to give his team a 3-0 lead.

“Coach Sheehan has a lot of confidence in him,” Pratl said. “(Calderon) is a soccer and baseball player, he came to us after spending his freshman year at St. Rita. He was up on the varsity all season last year, and as the season went on his kicking got better and better and better.

“He’s just a tough kid. He got hurt last year making a tackle. He’s working out this year with the safeties. But I’m sure he’d rather have a win than the record.”

Calderon, a junior, concurred.

“Richards is a special school,” he said. “I’d do anything for this school. But this is a loss.”

The record-breaker, which was kicked into a steady breeze coming out of the north, cleared the crossbar with room to spare. Calderon had never made one of that distance even in practice.

“Fifty was my best,” he said. “I’ve tried a couple of 55-yarders but didn’t make them.

“This one, I saw the snap was perfect, the hold was perfect. I knew I had it all the way.” 

Calderon’s mark won’t crack the IHSA record books, which show 28 field goals of 52 yards or longer in state history. Tucker McCann of O’Fallon set the state mark of 60 yards in October of 2014.

Neither could the Bulldogs crack Eisenhower, which scored three straight touchdowns to grab 20-3 lead with 3:20 to play in the second quarter then held on.

Graham led the way, scoring three touchdowns and carrying 21 times for 109 yards. Eisenhower quarterback Cortez Jackson had a pair of one-yard touchdown runs and added 183 on 8-of-12 passing.

Running back Pat Doyle provided the bulk of Richards’ offense, carrying 30 times for 151 yards. He had a three-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter and an 11-yarder in the third, while Jake Moran threw a seven-yarder to Noah Petro in the game’s final minute.



Kilbane lifts Eagles to third straight state appearance

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


page 1 hannah sectional

Supplied photo

Freshman Hannah Kilbane is lifted by her teammates after she led the team with a 73 in sectional play on Monday.




In 2013, Hannah Kilbane was a seventh grader at St. Michael School in Orland Park when Sandburg’s girls golf team qualified for the Illinois High School Association State Tournament for the first time in school history.

The Eagles finished 11th in class 3A that year.

“I sort of heard about them,” she said.

Kilbane was an eighth grader when the Eagles qualified again and finished fifth in the state.

“I heard a lot about them when they made it last year.’’ she said.

Now that she is a freshman at Sandburg, people are hearing about Kilbane. She had not only been in the middle of a successful season, she has been a leader.

Kilbane’s 73 led the Eagles to a runnerup finish in sectional play Monday and the team advanced to the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.  Chicago Christian’s boys team is the only other area team to make it down state as the Knights won by two strokes to finish third in the Class 1A Byron Sectional. They will play over the weekend at the Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington.

Sandburg’s girls finished second in the Neuqua Valley Sectional with a 312, 17 shots behind defending state champion Hinsdale Central and nine shots ahead of Downers Grove North. Mother McAuley finished 12th in the 12-team sectional with a 371.

Senior Emily Cosler added a 74, junior Emilyee McGiles had a 79 and senior Erin Cronin had an 86.

Kilbane won the SouthWest Suburban Conference championship to help lead the Eagles and finished second on the team in regional play before taking the lead in the sectional.

“It’s been a really fun year because my team is awesome,’’ Kilbane said. “They have been really kind and understanding with me. No one is putting pressure on me except me because I want to do really well.’’

Chicago Christian shot a 337 at the Byron Sectional, edging out Aurora Christian by two strokes for the final state-qualifying slot. Junior Pete Vos led the Knights with an 80, junior Nate Kamp had an 82, senior Bobby Schaaf fired an 85 and senior Sean Ozinga carded a 90.

The Knights have qualified for state twice in school history finishing 13th in the state in Class 1A in 2005 and ninth in the state in Class 2A.

The area also is sending three individual golfers to state.

In Class 3A Brother Rice junior Liam Sweeney advanced individually with a 79 at the Alton Sectional.

In Class 2A, St. Laurence junior Angel Sandoval qualified with an 81 t the Nazareth Sectional.

In Class A girls, Evergreen Park’s Liz Stalla qualified at the Nazareth Sectional with an 84.

On Sept. 6, Sandburg, Brother Rice and Marist’s boys advanced to the sectional thanks to their play at the Class 3A Stagg Regional at Silver Lake North in Orland Park.

Sandburg was the regional champion with a 311, one shot better than Brother Rice. Sweeney was the medalist with a 72.

For Sandburg, Brett Katalinic and Brett Been each carded 76s while Andrew Barvinek had a 78 and Brad Vetter 81.

Things didn’t go as well for the area teams in the Alton Sectional as Sandburg finished 10th, one shot ahead of Brother Rice and Marist took 12th in the 12-team event.

In Class 1A, Chicago Christian was the Seneca Regional champion at Nettle Creek in Morris with a 315, 12 shots ahead of IC Prep. Ozinga fired a 76, Kamp a 77, Pete Vos a 78 and Lautenbach an 84.

In Class 2A, Evergreen Park advanced to sectional as a team with a third-place finish at the U-High Regional at the Brian Ridge Country Club in Schererville, Ind. Danny Smith led the way with an 85.

Sandburg’s girls dominated the Marian Catholic Regional with a 302 on Sept. 7. McGiles shot a 68, Kilbane fired a 72, including a 32 on the back nine, Cosler rang up a 75 and Jenna Perdue had an 87.


It's a Fun 'N' Dunne Era at Marist

  • Written by Jeff Vorva





Photo by Jeff Vorva

Marist coach Pat Dunne has brought an exciting offense to the school foe more than seven years.

It's a good thing that Friday’s homecoming treat of shooting off fireworks after every touchdown is not a regular occurrence.

Otherwise tuition at the school to pay for all of that could reach six figures a year, the way the RedHawks offense operates.

Since Pat Dunne returned to his alma mater to coach football, his teams have gone 58-26 -- including Friday night’s 45-21 victory over St. Patrick in an East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown -- in 7 1/2 seasons. Prior to that, Marist was 31-43 in the previous eight years.

And while winning is fun, the coach brought in a spread offense to make things even more enjoyable for the team’s followers.

Call it Fun N’ Dunne.

In his tenure, the team has scored 2,711 points in 84 games for a 32-point-per-game average. The previous eight years, the RedHawks scored 1,436 points in 74 games for a 19-point average.

In October, 2011, the RedHawks scored 64 points against Carmel and 56 against Joliet Catholic Academy in back-to-back games for 120 points. In 2006, the team scored 118 points total for a nine-game season.

Dunne, a Palos Heights native who graduated from Marist in 1998 and was a kicker on the team his senior year after injuries robbed him of a chance to play receiver, said offenses are different than when he played.

“Back then, the spread offense wasn’t as big in high school,” he said. “It was just coming about in college. We had close games but not by any means with we have 45 or plus-50 games. As the game has evolved, there are more opportunities. Athletes have gotten better with time, too.’’

In Friday’s triumph, Marist racked up more than 500 yards and quarterback Brendan Skalitzky threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns while running back Darshon McCullough had two rushing touchdowns and a reception for another score.

Skalitzky is the latest in a series of Fun N’ Dunne quarterbacks who has the luxury of throwing or handing off to a ton of talented skill players.

“For four years, it’s been a great experience,” the quarterback said. “We come in as freshmen and it’s a little tough to learn. Now that we’re all seniors, we are experienced and it’s fun to use it to the full potential.’’

On the other end of the coin…

Dunne’s clubs have also experienced some defensive breakdowns over the years, causing some wild scores.

Those back-to-back games in 2011 with Carmel and JCA? The RedHawks won the Carmel game 64-63 in double overtime in Mundelein and came home the next week to beat the Hilltoppers 56-51.

“Some of those games, I aged a little quicker than I hoped to,” Dunne said. “But at the end of the day, they were great games and they created great memories for the kids that they won’t forget.’’

This year, the tradition continues. The team beat St. Viator 45-28 on Sept. 11 and Niles Notre Dame 49-42 the following week.

All is well when the team wins, but the defensive players are not fond of giving up an average of a touchdown or more per quarter.

“I personally think we should play four quarters and not two,” linebacker Dennis Dickman said. “As a defense, we get bummed out but we’re a family so we can enjoy winning. It’s not just about us.

 “They [offensive players] always have our backs,” he said. “They have been backing us up and we need to get a little better and back them up.’’

Skalitzky has fun with some of the shootout games.

“As long as we win the game, I’m fine with it,” he said. “The defense had our back against Notre Dame when we struggled in the first half. We had their back the second half. I get drained after a game like that but during the game, it gets more exciting as the game goes on, especially when you are scoring points.”

Dunne said it’s all a part of teaching.

 “Honestly, I view it as winning and still learning,” Dunne said. “Obviously, you love the offense but there is still a lot to work on and teach. My no means are these perfect games but it’s great when you can win them. The exciting thing is that we know the potential is there and we can keep increasing it by eliminating those mistakes.’’