Loyola, Maine South meeting a little early
The high school football playoffs are here.
That means a Class 8A instant classic between Loyola and Maine South is in the works.
The two titans have battled seven times in the playoffs.
"It's not the playoffs unless Loyola and Maine South play each other," Maine South coach David Inserra said.
This year's version of Loyola-Maine South is right out of the gate. The Hawks host Loyola at 7 p.m. Saturday in a first-round game, and officials expect a bigger than normal crowd for an opening-round game.
"Usually, our playoff game with Loyola happens later, like in the quarters or later," Inserra said. "They are always big games and you can add that it's a neighborhood rivalry because they are only about 6 to 7 miles from us."
Inserra says the Maine South-Loyola rivalry stands at 5-4 in Loyola's favor, and the biggest postseason moments for both teams have involved each other.
"Our last four state titles went through Loyola. Their two state titles went through us," Inserra said. "In 2016 we actually beat them in the state championship game after they had beaten us during the regular season that year. It's been a great rivalry."
Brother vs. brother: It's probably been an interesting week in the Gianaris house.
One brother, Teddy, is a defensive lineman at Maine South. The other, Peter, is an offensive lineman at Loyola. Peter is a three-year starter.
Maine South hosts Loyola in a Class 8A mega-tilt playoff game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"There are some families in our town (Park Ridge) where siblings take different paths," Maine South coach David Inserra said. "We've had kids in the same family send a kid to Maine South and another to Loyola or even to Notre Dame. I think this mostly happens because kids want to stay with their friends, so they go to different schools (than siblings).
"In this case we'll have two brothers playing against each other in a football game. That's going to be pretty neat for that family."
For kicks: The strategy for what to do in some kicking situations changed about halfway through the season for Maine South.
Starting place-kicker John Sassan went out in Week 4 with a hip injury due to wear and tear.
Michael Velazquez took over but has handled only kickoffs and punts.
"For the last few weeks of the season, we just always went for 2 (points)," Maine South coach David Inserra said of his team's decision about what to do after touchdowns. "And we don't kick field goals either. It's been working."
Big change: What a difference a year has made for the Prospect football team.
Last year, under first-year coach Dan DeBoeuf, the Knights slipped into the playoffs with a 5-4 record. This year, Prospect stormed in at 7-2.
The No. 14 Knights host No. 19 DeKalb in a Class 7A battle at 7 p.m. Friday.
"As a program, we have taken a big step forward," DeBoeuf said. "And last year, we had a running clock on us in the Hersey and Rolling Meadows games and this year, we were very competitive in those games against two very good teams.
"I think a big key is that we have really seen our guys enjoy being together, enjoy practicing together and playing together. We've really revved our energy in the last couple of weeks."
Anchor players: Two players have keyed Prospect's season and will be vital to its playoff hopes.
"Our quarterback has really had a nice year," Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf said of senior Gary Moeller. "He's done a nice job running the show and we will go as far as he'll take us."
Moeller has rolled up 2,000 passing yards and 23 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions.
Defensively, Prospect is steered by middle linebacker Adam Mekky, who has fought back from a shin injury.
"We are so excited to see Adam back at 100 percent and full speed," DeBoeuf said. "We thought he had a broken leg at one point but it wasn't and he really fought to get back. He's been huge for us on our defense."