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A rivalry that doesn't get enough recognition
 

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A rivalry that doesn't get enough recognition
  • Daniel White/dwhite@dailyherald.com ¬ Playoffs - Round Three- Marian Central at Montini football playoff game

    Daniel White/dwhite@dailyherald.com ¬ Playoffs - Round Three- Marian Central at Montini football playoff game

 

If you thought football's regular season flew by, you won't want to blink during the playoffs.

With hopes of not missing a thing, this week's Eyes on Five again scatters its thoughts as the first-round survivors prepare to show us another dose of everything.

Story Continues Below

1. You ... again?:

When it comes to top football rivalries, how come there isn't more mention of Montini and Marian Central Catholic?

Those familiar with the series know how hard-fought it is, but in the private school realm you're more likely to hear about Chicago Catholic League Blue rivals St. Rita, Mt. Carmel, Providence, Brother Rice and Loyola. In terms of public school rivalries, all the talk surrounds cross-town games or matchups between district schools.

In the last decade, though, few showdowns match the heat of Montini-Marian Central.

They meet again at 6 p.m. Saturday in Woodstock for a berth in the Class 5A quarterfinals. For schools nearly 60 miles apart, it's a familiar landscape.

They'll cross playoff paths for the fifth straight year and for the seventh time in the last 10 years. Montini's won the last four meetings en route to state championship runs, but Marian's claimed four of the nine overall postseason games.

That's in addition to the yearly meetings in the Suburban Christian/Suburban Catholic Conference. In four of the last 10 years, the team that won the regular-season game lost in the postseason. If you're wondering, Montini won this season's SCC game 40-35 in Lombard.

The level of competition between the two stellar programs is stunning when you consider Montini's had to go through Marian Central in all five of its state title runs.

While you'd have to say the four-time defending state champion Broncos are favored this weekend, history doesn't lie.

Especially on the Hurricanes' home field, it's anyone's game.

2. An update:

Those of you who checked in last week read about a theory from a coach who prefers to remain nameless.

He believes you can accurately determine the winners of first-round games by adjusting playoff points, a strength-of-schedule number representing the total number of wins by the opponents on a team's schedule.

Basically, you give every team an extra two playoff points for each win over five. A 9-0 team, for example, would get 8 extra playoff points for the four wins above five. A 5-4 team would remain at its current total of playoff points.

Based on that new adjusted number, you can determine first-round winners. Teams with the higher number is the likely winner, or so the theory goes.

It's designed as a way to determine if an upset on paper is an upset in reality.

So how did it turn out?

In 12 of the 16 first-round games in Class 8A, the team with the higher number of adjusted playoff points won. The four exceptions were Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley, Notre Dame and Glenbard North, who won with fewer adjusted playoff points than their opponents.

That means No. 9 Notre Dame beating No. 8 Fremd, which had a higher number of adjusted playoff points, was a true upset. Tenth-seeded Warren's victory over No. 7 Glenbrook South, however, should not be considered an upset because Warren had a higher number of adjusted playoff points.

It's not exactly a surefire way to figure out first-round winners, but it's something to think about -- especially with so many proposals to change the playoff format running around out there.

3. The next step:

Speaking of playoff format changes, three IHSA football bylaw proposals were submitted last week. One of local interest came from the minds of Naperville Central coach Mike Stine and Naperville North coach Sean Drendel.

On Monday Stine drove to central Illinois to present the proposal to the IHSA Legislative Commission, which gave him a positive reaction. The proposal now pushes to the next step of a series of town meetings before hopefully being placed on a statewide ballot for approval.

The proposal expands the football playoff field from 256 teams to 384 and extends the state title games from one weekend to two. It maintains Class 1A-4A at 32 teams apiece to allow for closer enrollment numbers, and it expands Class 5A-8A to 64 teams apiece.

The rationale for the proposal is that expansion would allow all 4-5 teams and many 3-6 teams into the field, which not only benefits schools in tough conferences but allows for easier regular-season scheduling because of the reduced pressure to reach five victories.

It'll be interesting to see if the Naperville proposal has the legs to make it through a successful vote. There's general agreement that something needs to change, but deciding the best route is proving dicey.

4. Personal time:

I debated whether or not to write about the well-publicized bullying accusations made against Miami Dolphins veteran lineman Richie Incognito.

But when I look at Incognito on television, I can't help but wonder what he was like in high school. Did he terrorize teammates back then? Did he terrorize the general student populace while taking advantage of his physical dominance?

I'm not proud to admit it, but I was a victim of bullying during my freshman year at Buffalo Grove High School. This was back in the mid-1980s when it seemed like being bullied was just part of growing up.

My point in bringing this up is that athletes were not the ones bullying. It was the students rarely showing up to school and having little engagement with school activities who pestered poor little guys like myself.

The football players were far too involved forging a path to a state championship, something they achieved my senior year in 1986. Their engagement with the team and the school held much higher priority for those few athletes who might have even considered bullying. Besides, the team leaders wouldn't allow that type of negative influence.

I wonder what Incognito's engagement was like in high school? In stories I've read, his former head coach and teammates aren't shy about saying he was far from the most well-liked member of the team. Being a superstar player, that could not have been a positive influence on the team or the school.

I wonder if his engagement had been stronger -- his priorities pointed in a more positive direction -- if we'd be hearing these horrible stories about Incognito?

There are so many examples of local prep football players doing wonderful things in their communities, being model student athletes in the hallways of their schools. While I'm not naive enough to think bullying doesn't exist in high school sports, it makes me feel better knowing there are a bunch of positive influences on today's gridiron.

A strong argument can be made that more student athletes remain engaged with their schools and communities, the more they understand the proper life decisions to make.

5. Stat time:

Every year I love to look at how the local conferences performed in the first round of the playoffs.

Here's a breakdown of how the area conferences did last week ...

East Suburban Catholic -- 5-1 (. 833 winning percentage)

DuPage Valley -- 4-1 (. 800)

Upstate Eight -- 3-2 (. 600)

Interstate Eight -- 4-3 (. 571)

Suburban Christian -- 4-4 (. 500)

Metro Suburban -- 1-1 (. 500)

West suburban -- 3-4 (. 429)

kschmit@dailyherald.com

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit

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