Photo by Jeff Vorva
Mother McAuley players pile on after Saturday's supersectional win over Geneva.
Food for thought for those who aren’t very hungry:
The hangover of the Cubs World Series title is gone.
The last clown to climb a light pole has come down. The players will go into hibernation at their homes across the country and most of us won’t see them again until the Cubs Convention in January.
Now it’s time to focus on something more important – getting this area another Illinois High School Association state championship.
Since 1980, the 12 high schools in this area have produced at least one state championship each season except 1996-97 and 2003-04 (and you are not allowed to blame Steve Bartman for that). That’s an amazing standard of excellence. Sandburg and Mother McAuley have done the heavy lifting on this and McAuley’s volleyball team has a chance to keep the string going with an appearance in the final four of the Class 4A championship, which opens Friday in Normal. They are hoping to win their 15th title.
The Macs, considered the top team in the nation by prepvolleyball.com have not looked like the top team in the nation in a two-set sectional title win over Marist Thursday and a three-set supersectional title win over Geneva on Saturday.
When you think of a top team in the nation, you think of Godzilla-sized hitters who can dent the gym floor with their power. You think of a team that slams and opponent down right away and steps on its throat.
This year’s McAuley team is not like that. It’s a team that is made up of players with no one over 6-foot tall with pretty decent power. Lately, it seems to take a lot of punches and kicks until a talented team gets tired and then starts making mistakes and it’s the Macs who are lifting a trophy.
All they do it win.
Style points? That’s for others. The Macs have made it down state more on grit and determination.
And then there are their fans.
I covered the Cubs for 10 years and have found the “Go Cubs Go” song to be irritating. Now the spirited Mighty Macs fans are changing the lyrics to “Go Macs Go.” Some find it funny. Some find it annoying. But this is their thing and if it means the Reporter/Regional area will collect another state title – sing away.
Jinxing the no-hitter
On Oct. 20, I wrote about Tony “Taps” Cantafio, a stat keeper from Pennsylvania who died earlier this year after getting creamed by a player on the sideline of a high school football game.
I mentioned how in close to 40 years in this racket, I had never been hit.
That changed Saturday.
In the closing minutes of the first half of St. Laurence’s Class 6A second-round playoff win over Crete-Monee, Vikings quarterback Romello Washington was coming my way.
Phil Arvia, who wrote the outstanding front page story on the game, was next to me and as we were bailing, I thought he said “We’re gonna get killed!”
He was OK, but Washington plowed into me as I was scooting away and he undercut me and I fell on top of him.
I don’t care how much protection a player has there is not enough equipment in the world to save someone from having a Vorva fall on top of you. I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was.
Then he ran back on the field and at the time, things were not looking good for his squad. But then he did a classy thing. He jogged back over and asked if I was OK. And I said I was.
I am happy I did not suffer the same fate as Tony “Taps” Cantafio.
After the incident, Arvia insisted he said “We’re gonna die!” and not “We’re gonna get killed!”
I would hate that the final words I would hear on Earth would be a misquote.
Disappointment x 2
I thought when favored Marist and Brother Rice bowed out in the first round of the Class 8A football playoffs, their opponents would go on to do great things.
But they both lost in the second round.
New Trier, which knocked off Marist 31-24 in the opening round, went on to lose to St. Charles East, 17-10. Fremd, which shocked Brother Rice 45-42 in the first round, was topped by Huntley, 38-30.
A year after Marist beat Barrington 59-56 in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs, some smaller schools put on a couple of shows that made that game look like a defensive battle.
On Friday night in Class 5A, Peoria beat Decatur Eisenhower, 96-40.
But on Saturday in Class 2A, Deer Creek Mackinaw beat Chicago’s Hope Academy, 91-70.
“I felt like we’d win the game, that we had the better team,” DCM coach Job Linboom told the Peoria Journal Star minutes after the game. “But that they’d score 70, never in a million years would I have seen that. I’m totally shocked.’’
Deer Creek led 64-42 at halftime.