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Ram tough — again: Vikings’ strong second half does in Gordon Tech

  • Written by Ken Karrson

An American automaker describes one of its models as “Ram tough,” but it may want to reconsider that slogan.

Better yet, perhaps the company should think about introducing a Vikings brand. That’s because, for two weeks running, a group bearing that name has been tougher than sets of Rams.

One week after scoring an emotional victory over Burbank neighbor Reavis, St. Laurence drove past Gordon Tech. Like their namesakes before them, this latest collection of Rams was victimized by a third-quarter onslaught.

This time, the Vikings erupted for 23 points over that 12-minute stretch, an uprising that staked St. Laurence to an 18-point advantage at Kavanagh Field. That was enough to get the job done, as the Vikings posted a 36-12 triumph in their home opener Friday night.

While St. Laurence’s overall performance didn’t rate as high a grade as their display the week before, at least in head coach Harold Blackmon’s eyes, there was something to be said for the Vikings’ ability to win a game sandwiched between two higher-profile contests.

In addition to meeting Reavis for the first time ever on the football field, St. Laurence’s early schedule included an encounter with traditional Chicago Catholic League Blue power St. Rita. That game takes place Friday at Pat Cronin Field.

“We kind of warned them about the letdown game [in Week 2],” Blackmon said of his players. “You kind of tend to overlook Gordon Tech in that situation, but they’ve got some talented players over there and they’re a pretty tough team.

Volleyball roundup: Lady RedHawks earning new coach’s admiration

  • Written by Anthony Nasella

Even though Marist competed in just two varsity matches during the first two weeks of the 2013 season, Julie Popp-Hopkins hasn’t been idle.

  The Lady RedHawks’ first-year coach has been taking in the entire new experience and loves everything she is seeing within the program, especially from her own players.

And that love was particularly evident when she watched Marist play with resilience against defending Class 4A state champion Benet Academy. The Lady RedHawks (2-0) fought back from a first-game loss to defeat the Lady Redwings in three sets, 12-25, 25-19, 25-21, Friday night in Lisle.

Ann Marie Stifter put down 11 kills for Marist, while Colleen Riley and Lizzie Zaleski both delivered eight. Riley augmented her work with three blocks. Also lending a hand were Molly Mayo (31 assists, seven digs) and Carolyn Yerkes (11 digs).

“Playing on the road and defeating Benet was a great experience,” said Popp-Hopkins, a Queen of Peace graduate who also had a stellar collegiate volleyball career at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

“Benet is a great program. They’re in our [East Suburban Catholic] conference and they’re back-to-back state champions, so there was a lot preparation on our end to face them.

Refusing to be shorted: Chargers take care of business at homecoming

  • Written by Ken Karrson

 Photo by Jeff Vorva. Oak Lawn quarterback Konrad Lach is brought down by Stagg’s David Griffith during Friday night’s matchup in Palos Hills. Photo by Jeff Vorva. Oak Lawn quarterback Konrad Lach is brought down by Stagg’s David Griffith during Friday night’s matchup in Palos Hills.

A shortened week of preparation didn’t shortchange Stagg.

While the Chargers were glad to win their season-opener, regardless of when it finally took place, there was no denying that a weather-induced reshuffling of the schedule did them no favors. After beating Hillcrest on Labor Day, Stagg coaches had just three days to get their players ready for Oak Lawn’s visit on Friday.

Photo by Jeff Vorva. While the Stagg sidelines erupt, first-year head coach Mike Fahey (in hat) remains stoic after the Chargers score a second-half touchdown against Oak Lawn Friday Night. A 36-14 victory gave Stagg its best start to a season since 2005.Photo by Jeff Vorva. While the Stagg sidelines erupt, first-year head coach Mike Fahey (in hat) remains stoic after the Chargers score a second-half touchdown against Oak Lawn Friday Night. A 36-14 victory gave Stagg its best start to a season since 2005.As if that wasn’t a formidable enough task, it was further complicated by the fact that the Chargers’ home debut was also part of Stagg’s homecoming festivities. And the occasion would be heightened by the appearance of Amos Alonzo Stagg’s grandchildren, who were going to help celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.

But Chargers head coach Mike Fahey never let his athletes forget there was a game to be played. Despite all the apparent obstacles it was forced to clear, Stagg did so nicely, as it collected a 36-14 triumph over the Spartans.

The Chargers opened a season with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2005, which, interestingly enough, was also the last time they qualified for the state tournament. Stagg hadn’t won consecutive games at any point of a campaign since 2009.

“Our kids were pumped and I’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Fahey said. “To play two games in five days and execute a game plan as well as they did [on Friday] says a lot about them. Our seniors led the right way and everything just clicked.

Bartosh: There’s something about Johnny

  • Written by Bartosh

That “Johnny Football” nickname no longer seems to fit.

How about “Johnny Footloose” instead? Or maybe “Johnny Screw Loose?”

Of course, if he refuses to rein in his conduct and keeps acting the knucklehead, he’ll likely start being identified by most individuals as “Johnny Needs A Foot Up His ***.”

Texas A&M University quarterback Johnny Manziel still possesses plenty of football-playing chops, but the notoriety he gained in 2012 by becoming the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner is quickly being replaced by his off-the-field antics in 2013. And actually, his on-field self is nothing to write home about lately, either.

Not in a sheer productivity sense. That much was evident in the Aggies’ season-opener, when Manziel threw three second-half touchdown passes to help defeat Rice University 52-31.

But instead of just leaving well enough alone and walking away as game-day hero once again, Manziel felt it necessary to rub his opponent’s nose in the lopsided outcome. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after taunting two Owls players by pointing at the scoreboard following the last of his TD tosses.

Jack comes up aces: Donegan shines as RedHawks maul Rice

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Photo by Jeff Vorva. Marist receiver Nic Wischar’s helmet flies off, but he hangs onto the ball after scoring his second of three touchdowns Friday night versus Brother Rice. TheRedHawks rolled to a 55-14 win over their neighborhood rival.Photo by Jeff Vorva. Marist receiver Nic Wischar’s helmet flies off, but he hangs onto the ball after scoring his second of three touchdowns Friday night versus Brother Rice. The RedHawks rolled to a 55-14 win over their neighborhood rival.

Ian who?

While Marist fans aren’t likely to soon forget graduated quarterback Ian Woodworth and the pinball-like offensive numbers he helped the RedHawks put up during his two varsity seasons, Jack Donegan gave them something new to remember Friday night.

For sure, visiting Brother Rice players won’t get Donegan out of their minds for a while. That’s what a six-touchdown passing night will do for a signal-caller’s reputation.

And the scoring throws were only part of the damage Marist’s senior QB inflicted upon the Crusaders in just his second varsity start. Donegan completed all but four of his 27 aerial attempts, a show of accuracy that led to 341 yards through the air.

With that assault serving as their linchpin, the RedHawks piled up points in a hurry. Twenty-eight of them in the opening stanza quickly turned this latest edition of a storied neighborhood rivalry ugly, and Marist went on to pocket a surprisingly lopsided 55-14 victory in Mount Greenwood.

“It’s one of those games that can [usually] go either way,” RedHawks coach Pat Dunne said. “I’m very happy with the way the guys came out and proud of how focused they were the entire game. They obviously understood the urgency they had to have.