I was anxious to see St. Rita play at Loyola on Saturday, to see if the Mustangs could play on somebody else's turf as well as they played on their own against Mount Carmel three weeks ago, to see if they could be as good or better, to see if they have what it takes to be an elite team, one of the best in state history.
Loyola 24, St. Rita 0.
As I wrote at the time, one great game doesn't make a season. St. Rita isn't the first team to show signs of greatness, then fizzle. It wasn't pretty--unless you were wearing Maroon and Gold.
Now it is Loyola's turn to demonstrate if it can put two good performances back-to-back, if it can pull off a rarity in the Catholic League's Blue Division--win on the road. The Ramblers will test Mount Carmel Friday at Gately Stadium.
One thing I have learned in 50 years of observing high school football is 17-year-old kids are emotionally immature and unsteady. They can be whipped into a firestorm one week, then turn into a glass of warm milk the next.
It is rare to see a high school team that is mentally tough enough to handle the pressure of a high ranking, a competitive schedule and a 14-game schedule. The ones that can are acknowledged among the best of all time--Mount Carmel 1950, St. Rita 1963 and 1971, Fenwick 1962, Geneseo 1976, Evanston 1971, Joliet Catholic 1975, East St. Louis 1985 and Wheaton Warrenville South 1998.
St. Rita obviously isn't in that class. What about Maine South, the Chicago area's top-ranked team? How good are the Hawks? The Central Suburban is woefully weak this season. Their only regular-season test likely will be Friday at Glenbrook South.