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Disabato: One-and-dones by H-F, Marist stunning

Marist's Flynn Nagel.  | Patrick Gleas~ For Sun-Times Media

Marist's Flynn Nagel. | Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 30, 2012 6:10AM



Quite a start to the postseason, eh?

What began with 23 local teams now stands at 12 — after one stinking round.

There were first-round one-and-dones that were anticipated: Rich East to Morris, Bremen to Montini, Lincoln-Way North to Richards.

But No. 3 Marist and No. 7 Homewood-Flossmoor? I thought I had a better chance seeing Mila Kunis ordering a Crave Case at the Blue Island White Castle at 2 a.m.

The Vikings and RedHawks, though, were among the first-round casualties, left lying among the local carcasses whose seasons ended in a blink of an eye.

H-F lost to O’Fallon; Marist to Lyons. Both in the comforts of their own stadiums, among loyal fans and followers.

So much for homefield advantage.

Certainly, prognosticators will boldly state they saw it coming all along, like a Lindsay Lohan arrest.

Fact is, I, like many others, had anticipated the Vikings and RedHawks playing each other Friday in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.

An epic rematch of last season’s 8A first-round tilt that saw H-F prove victorious.

Ain’t going to happen, folks. Which also means a much-anticipated quarterfinal between Marist and Mount Carmel is kaput.

Yes, the signs were there — H-F was young and Marist had been somewhat sluggish — but I figured each would find their playoff mojo.

It’s worth noting that their opponents hardly resembled first-round road kill.

O’Fallon, H-F’s foe, was 7-2 against quality competition.

Marist’s opponent, Lyons, was 5-4 — a smokescreen bigger than Donald Trump’s ego. Yes, the Lions, 2-4 at one point, needed to win their final three games to qualify for the postseason. But they were a team regaining its health and playing its best ball at the most opportune time.

Marist, not so much.

The results: O’Fallon 37, H-F 35; Lyons 34, Marist 28.

Ouch.

“We’re not shocked,” H-F coach Craig Buzea. “It was one of those things where we flipped on their film and we knew they were good. O’Fallon is as good as the two teams that knocked us out (of the playoffs) the last two years in the semis (Mount Carmel, 2010) and quarters (Naperville Central, 2011). A game like our’s was something you see in the third or fourth round.”

The Vikings’ schedule, which included undefeated Lincoln-Way East and defending 8A state champion Bolingbrook, had prepared them for a quality opponent.

But when two evenly matched teams line up, it’s generally a break here or there that’s the difference.

O’Fallon coughed the ball up five times, but H-F was unable to recover a single one.

“We knew they had a tendency to put the ball on the ground,” Buzea said. “We just didn’t come up with any of them.”

H-F is young, boasting a sophomore class that was 7-2 and a freshman squad that was 9-0. The frosh squad beat every opponent by at least 40 points.

I don’t put a tremendous amount of stock in lower level success, but if H-F’s frosh class continues to develop and work hard, it could be something special. Remember the name Bryce Gray, who will not only make an impact on the grid, but the baseball diamond as well.

“We have some classes coming up that are special,” Buzea said. “But we also, as coaches, have to do some self-evaluating. We averaged like 35 points scoring this year; 40 last year. Defensively, we had a whole new staff and system that’s going to take time. You never stop learning.”

Marist is in a different boat. This year’s team was built for a state championship. A returning All-Area quarterback in Ian Woodworth, a superb running back in Peter Andreotti, a Division I caliber receiver in Nic Weishar, an experienced offensive line and improved defense had RedHawk Nation thinking big.

As was I, having crowned Marist this publication’s preseason No. 1.

And Marist lived up to the lofty honor during an 8-1 regular season, which included victories over Catholic Blue foes Brother Rice and St. Rita and perennial power Joliet Catholic.

Though, Marist’s offense never found its high gear as consistently as it did in 2011 and the defense began to sputter some in the second half of the season.

But that’s being awfully picky.

Marist coach Pat Dunne is too committed and knowledgeable to allow the train to veer far off the tracks.

Remember, Weishar returns, as does speedy sidekick Flynn Nagel.

The RedHawks will, as far as I can see, remain a consistent playoff program.

But it’s going to be a while before a cast as talented and experienced as this year’s team arrives on the scene again.



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