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BOYS SECTIONAL PREVIEWS
By Aaron Brown
The following previews for each sectional site contain pertinent information about the state playoffs in addition to a variety of truly random facts. Note #1...the team listed as The Favorite is the #1 seed, the teams listed as The Contenders are the #2, #3, and #4 seeds, and the teams seeded #5, #6, and possibly #7 are considered Sleepers. Note #2...This section contains NO predictions.
The Favorite: Fenwick
The Contenders: Lyons, Oak Park, Curie
Sleepers: St Patrick, Morton
The Play-In: (8) R-B vs (9) Westinghouse
Best First-Round Game: (4) Curie vs (5) St Patrick
Sectional Final Time: 1:30pm
The Outlook: It doesn't seem to make much sense that the #1 team in the state would be a #2 seed in a sectional. Such is the case at the Fenwick Sectional, where defending champion Lyons enters the playoffs as the "underdog" even though they haven't lost since Week 2. Nevertheless, expect fireworks in the title game if the host Friars and LT meet for the lone state tournament bid awarded from this group. The Lions won last year's sectional final 8-7, lost in Week 2 to the Friars 6-5, but won the latest meeting 9-5 on April 27. Neither team can overlook the rest of a stacked field, with Oak Park and Curie both looming in the semifinals if both respective teams can grab a quarterfinal round win. The Condors face the toughest test of the opening round, as they will have to deal with an always postseason-ready St Patrick team on Thursday night. Morton has been improving late in the season and will look to cause problems for OPRF in the opening round, while Little Village enters the fray with a 9-2 record and R-B is coming off an 18-4 preliminary round victory over Westinghouse.
Random Alumni: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (Fenwick). Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's (Oak Park). Arthur Nielsen, the founder of TV's Nielsen Ratings (Morton). Author and Nobel Prize recipient Ernest Hemingway (Oak Park). Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette (Fenwick). University of Illinois AD Ron Guenther (York). St Louis Rams defensive end Victor Adeyanju (Curie). State senator Dan Cronin (Fenwick).
The Favorite: Conant
The Contenders: Fremd, Hoffman, Hersey
Sleepers: Schaumburg, Prospect
The Play-Ins: (8) Barrington vs (9) Elk Grove; (7) St Viator vs (10) Meadows
Best First-Round Game: (3) Hoffman vs (6) Prospect; (4) Hersey vs (5) Schaumburg
Sectional Final Time: 1:00pm
The Outlook: Conant enters the playoffs on a roll, winning the Mid-Suburban League in convincing fashion and leading the field at the Fremd Sectional that features all but one team from their own conference. That bodes well for the Cougars, who haven't lost a league game since March 14. That loss, however, came at the hands of second-seeded Fremd, so they could be in a battle if both teams can survive until the sectional final round. Standing in their way are a handful of teams looking to make some waves with their respective seasons on the line; Hoffman and Hersey seem like the most likely candidates to pull off a semifinal round upset, but they could be stymied by teams like Schaumburg, Prospect, or St Viator, who on their best day are more than capable of earning a big-time win. Viator and Elk Grove both have the potential of earning a surprise win or two, but they'll have to be at their best from the get-go against the top teams in the field.
Random Alumni: Jonathan Spector, a US National Team and West Ham United soccer player (St Viator). Kristen Cavallari of The Hills (Barrington). Co-host of The View, Sherri Shepherd (Hoffman Estates). Top Chef All-Stars competitor Dale Levitski (Prospect). YouTube co-founder Steve Chen (Hersey). Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran (Barrington). Former MLB star Dave Kingman (Prospect). Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson (Barrington).
GLENBROOK NORTH SECTIONAL
The Favorite: New Trier
The Contenders: Loyola, Glenbrook South, Niles West
Sleepers: Maine South, Evanston
The Play-In: (8) Glenbrook North vs (9) Maine West; (7) Maine East vs (10) Highland Park
Best First-Round Games: (4) Niles West vs (5) Maine South
Sectional Final Time: 12:30pm
The Outlook: New Trier has had a comfortable season as the #4 team in the state from start-to-finish. They came into 2013 knowing that their nemesis, Loyola, had lost the majority of their lineup to graduation. Then, the Ramblers took their usual late-season surge to the next level, beating Fenwick last weekend for the Catholic League title. That means that the Trevians and Ramblers could be in for another epic sectional final if the two teams can make it through the GBN Sectional unscathed. That won't be easy, as Glenbrook South, Niles West, and Maine South all could pose serious problems for the top two teams in the sectional. The Titans are solid defensively and played Loyola tough a few weeks ago, so that could make for an intriguing semifinal round game. Niles West will need to bounce back from a rough CSL Tournament where they were upset by both GBN and Maine East, but they have shown earlier this season they are capable of some major victories (like in Week 6, when they beat both Brother Rice and Fremd). Fifth-seed Maine South beat Niles West 14-11 in Week 8, so the opening round matchup between those two teams is probably the one to watch the closest. Evanston also has the weapons to make a deep postseason run if they can swing an upset over GBS in the opening round. The rest of the teams coming from the preliminary round have already shown they can make things difficult for the top seeds, so look for GBN and Maine East to make things interesting after winning their respective openers.
Random Alumni: Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley (Loyola). Actor and NRA President Charlton Heston (New Trier). Hillary Clinton (Maine East & Maine South). Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers running back (Niles West). Derrick from MTV's Road Rules and just about every Real World/Road Rules Challenge show (Maine East). Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel (New Trier). Chef and restaurant owner Charlie Trotter (New Trier). Jim Irsay, owner of the NFL Indianapolis Colts (Loyola). William Goldman, the author of The Princess Bride (Highland Park). Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Conor Dwyer (Loyola). Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel (New Trier).
LINCOLN-WAY NORTH SECTIONAL
The Favorite: Homewood-Flossmoor
The Contenders: Lincoln-Way North, Lockport, Bradley
Sleepers: Bremen, Lincoln-Way East, Andrew
The Play-In: (8) Lincoln-Way Central vs (9) Lincoln-Way West
Best First-Round Game: (4) Bradley vs (5) Bremen
Sectional Final Time: 1:00pm
The Outlook: The Lincoln-Way North Sectional is always a tough one to predict. Top-seeded Homewood-Flossmoor beat Lockport 8-7 before the seeds were determined, then lost to the Porters 10-8 in Week 8. LWN also earned a 7-4 regular season win over Lockport, but the Porters have been on a role ever since and snagged a share of the SWSC Blue division title after sweeping their two-game series with Sandburg. In the end, the Porters will have a difficult road to defend their title, since they have to beat both teams to make a triumphant return to the state tournament. Meanwhile, the rest of the field could make for some unpredictable results, as Bradley, Bremen, Lincoln-Way East, and Andrew have the potential to pose a threat to any of the favorites. Even the winner of the play-in game between rapidly-improving LWC and LWW could make things difficult for the top-seeded Vikings in the quarterfinal round. This sectional almost always produces at least one big upset in the quarterfinal round. That should keep all four of the top teams on high alert come Thursday night.
Random Alumni: WGN anchorman Mark Suppelsa (LWC). Toronto Raptors forward Julian Wright (H-F). WWE wrestler CM Punk (Lockport). 49ers offensive lineman Tony Pashos (Lockport). Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones (Andrew). NFL defensive back Rodney Harrison (Marian). LA Dodgers pitcher John Ely (H-F). Nolan Harrison (H-F), former NFL DL lineman. Larry Rothschild (H-F) was a pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs and is currently pitching coach for the New York Yankees. Olympic swimming medalist Christine Magnuson (Andrew). New England Patriots DE Rob Ninkovich (LWC).
The Favorite: Stevenson
The Contenders: Lake Forest, Palatine, Mundelein
Sleepers: Libertyville, Buffalo Grove
The Play-Ins: (8) McHenry vs (9) Vernon Hills; (7) Wheeling vs (10) Deerfield
Best First-Round Game: (4) Mundelein vs (5) Libertyville
Sectional Final Time: 2:00pm
The Outlook: Unpredictable. That would be the word to describe the Mundelein Sectional, where it isn't out of the question that any of the teams in the field could emerge with a sectional title. Stevenson comes in as the favorites, but they lost to fifth-seeded Libertyville late in the season and could face the Wildcats in a potential semifinal game. Libertyville has to get past the host Mustangs, who will likely have a few tricks up their sleeve after a solid season has them geared up to wreak havoc on their half of the bracket in the comfort of their new facility. On the other side of the bracket, a potential showdown between Lake Forest and Palatine is possible; the Pirates won their Week 7 meeting with the Scouts 9-7 at the Glenbrook South Tournament. Palatine has to do battle with fellow MSL opponent Buffalo Grove in the quarterfinals, so don't discount the fact that the Bison could pull off an upset. Rebuilding teams like McHenry and Wheeling could also make things rough for their quarterfinal round opponents after surviving their play-in games with Vernon Hills and Deerfield, respectively.
Random Alumni: NFL head coach Rex Ryan (Stevenson). Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens (Wheeling). Detroit Red Wings' defensemen Brett Lebda (Buffalo Grove). NASCAR Truck series driver Ted Musgrave (Stevenson). Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rosenthal (Lake Forest). Former White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas (Libertyville). Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski (Buffalo Grove). America's Next Top Model winner McKey Sullivan (Lake Forest). Houston Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter (Libertyville).
NEUQUA VALLEY SECTIONAL
The Favorite: Naperville North
The Contenders: Naperville Central, Hinsdale Central, Neuqua Valley
Sleepers: York, Waubonsie Valley
The Play-In: (8) STC North vs (9) Hinsdale South; (7) STC East vs (10) Metea Valley
Best First-Round Game: (4) Neuqua Valley vs (5) York
Sectional Final Time: 12:30pm
The Outlook: The deepest sectional in the state should get a lot of attention this week, with so many teams vying for a chance to get to the state tournament. It starts with defending champion Naperville North, who hasn't lost to any team in the field and have their sights set on a return trip to Stevenson in 2013. it will take a monumental effort from any challenger to dethrone the Huskies, but teams like Naperville Central, Hinsdale Central, Neuqua Valley, and York will come in with the confidence that they can make a deep postseason run. The Redhawks and Red Devils could be in for quite the showdown if they meet in the semifinals; the teams did not meet in the regular season, which could make for an unpredictable outcome on Friday night. The quarterfinal game between Neuqua Valley and York should be interesting, as the fifth-seeded Dukes beat the Wildcats 11-8 on April 22. Sixth-seeded Waubonsie has the potential to make life difficult for Hinsdale Central in the opening round, while St Charles North could be the best eighth-seed in state history and might cause issues for the Huskies after making it out of the preliminary round. Rounding out the field is a St Charles East looking like they have found their early-season form after beating Metea Valley on Tuesday evening.
Random Alumni: Saints' head coach Sean Payton (Naperville Central). Tennessee Titans running back Chris Brown (Naperville North). Former White Sox owner Bill Veeck (Hinsdale Central). Cleveland Cavaliers guard Anthony Parker (Naperville Central). Bob Dudley, current CEO of BP (Hinsdale Central). WNBA player Candace Parker (Naperville Central). Former Phillies' and NFL Films announcer Harry Kalas (Naperville Central). Tennessee Titans wide receiver Justin McCareins (Naperville North). MLB players Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Scott Hairston (Naperville North). Poet and novelist Carl Sandburg (York). Olympic gold medalist figure skater Evan Lysacek (Neuqua Valley).
The Favorite: Sandburg
The Contenders: Brother Rice, Stagg, St Rita
Sleepers: Morgan Park, Argo, Mt Carmel
The Play-In: (8) Shepard vs (9) Gage Park
Best First-Round Game: (4) St Rita vs (5) Morgan Park
Sectional Final Time: 12:30pm
The Outlook: Sandburg enters the Stagg Tournament as the top seed. The Eagles lost to second-seed Brother Rice 13-3 back on April 20. That should make things quite interesting if the two squads can outlast the rest of the competition and make it to the sectional finals on May 11. Since that game, both teams have been on a roll, as Sandburg won a share of the SWSC Blue title and Brother Rice finished third in the Catholic League Tournament. The Crusaders will have to avoid last year's scenario, where they lost to Stagg in the sectional semifinals. The Chargers have been surging in the latter stages of the regular season and have the potential to repeat last year's feat if Brother Rice has any sort of a letdown. St Rita and Morgan Park should have quite the duel in the opening round, with the winner looking to harass the top seed in the semifinals. Meanwhile, teams like Argo, Mt Carmel, and Shepard will hope to pull off a dramatic upset in the quarterfinal round after a long and arduous season.
Random Alumni: White Sox announcer Ed Farmer (St Rita). NBA star Dwayne Wade (Richards). John Kass, Tribune columnist (Richards). Blackhawks' announcer Eddie Olczyk (Brother Rice). NY Giants offensive lineman David Diehl (Brother Rice). Northwestern University football coach Pat Fitzgerald (Sandburg). NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb (Mt Carmel). Former NHL player Chris Chelios (Mt Carmel). Dick Portillo (Argo) is a restaurateur and founder of the Portillo Restaurant Group, the most notable business of which is Portillo's.
The Favorite: St Ignatius
The Contenders: DeLaSalle, Whitney Young, Northside
Sleepers: Lane, Von Steuben, Latin, Payton-Jones
The Play-In: None
Best First-Round Game: (4) Northside vs (5) Lane
Sectional Final Time: 7:45pm
The Outlook: A young St Ignatius team comes in as the favorites to win their own sectional, but they shouldn't overlook a handful of teams that have been coming on strong late in the season and will be looking to pull off a dramatic upset. The second-seeded Meteors have several talented playmakers that are built for a deep postseason run, so they could pose the biggest threat to the Wolfpack's state tournament chances. Also on the rise are the Seth Hughes-led Dolphins, who earned a second place finish at the CPS Tournament and have the type of scorer in Hughes that can easily effect the outcome of a game. Also looming and looking to pull off an upset are CPS squads like Northside, Lane, and Von Steuben, who know their respective opponents well and could make things difficult in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. Don't discount a team like Latin, the sectional winners in 2012, pulling off an opening round upset if they can get things together on Thursday night.
Random Alumni: Michelle Obama (Whitney Young). ESPN show host and journalist Michael Wilbon (St Ignatius). Former First Lady Nancy Reagan (Latin). John Tobias, the creator of Mortal Kombat (Whitney Young). Steve Wilkos, the bodyguard from The Jerry Springer Show (Lane). Former Blackhawks' owner Bill Wirtz (Latin). Mayor Richard M. Daley (DeLaSalle).
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