First down: The Class 8A playoff bracket will be a gauntlet to go through this season. Through seven weeks, there are 10 undefeated teams and 10 one-loss teams. Brother Rice owns the top seed at 7-0 and 40 playoff points, while Loyola is second at 7-0 and 37 playoff points. Some of those undefeated teams will have at least one loss by the end of the regular season due to upcoming matchups (Palatine at Barrington in Week 8, Loyola at Brother Rice in Week 9). Included in the group of six teams with two losses is New Trier, which ended Maine South’s 77-game winning streak in the Central Suburban League South on Friday with its 27-21 win in Park Ridge. A few Loyola fans on the sideline at Friday’s Leo game talked about a possible playoff game against the Trevians. Don’t count Loyola senior linebacker Mickey Kane among those wrapped up in projecting the playoffs. He said Loyola’s first order of business is to win the Catholic Blue, which starts with taking care of Providence Catholic at home Saturday. “I am not thinking about winning a state title right now,” he said. “I want to make sure we beat Providence and Brother Rice and win the conference championship. I am grateful of what we did last year, but to get to Champaign this year, we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Second down: Loyola sophomore receiver Noah Jones (No. 21 in picture above) caught his first touchdown pass of the season in Friday’s 51-8 win over Leo on Friday in Chicago. It came in the second quarter on a 35-yard pass from junior quarterback Quinn Boyle. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jones is a player Loyola receivers coach Pat Naughton said in the preseason will be “our guy in the future.” Senior receiver Jack Martinus agreed. “He’s beginning to figure out how good he can be,” he said. “He has so much talent, and he’s learning how to harness it all. It’s unbelievable how much potential he has.”
Third down: With Friday’s loss to Loyola, Leo dropped to 2-5 on the season and is guaranteed its third consecutive losing season. Although the Lions won 10 games in 2013, good seasons are few and far between for the once-dominant Catholic League program. In its heyday of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Leo was a powerhouse. The Lions won the Catholic League eight times in those three decades and won the Prep Bowl three times. In 1937, they finished second to Austin in front of an estimated 120,000 fans at Soldier Field, according chicagocatholicleague.com. But Leo’s last Catholic League title came in 1956.
Fourth down: Since the IHSA started archiving conference standings on its website in 1996, Mount Carmel has never gone winless in the Catholic League. Heading into Week 8, the Caravan are 0-3 in league play. They close out the Catholic Blue schedule Oct. 21 at Providence Catholic. At 4-3, Mount Carmel also is on the playoff bubble. The Caravan is in if they beat Montini on Friday and the Celtics in Week 9. They probably are in with a victory in one of those games. But two losses, and they miss the playoffs for the first time since 1985, which was Frank Lenti’s second year as head coach at the school. During his first 32 seasons, Lenti has won 18 conference championships and 11 state titles.