Patch sports reporter Ross Jacobson ranks the North Shore’s football teams.
The regular season ends with seven North Shore teams making the playoffs. Highland Park was the only team that was playoff-eligible, but failed to qualify because of a weak strength of schedule. Although Glenbrook North and Niles North had disappointing seasons, both finished off 2011 with a big win. Loyola Academy finishes the regular season at No. 1 because of a statement victory over St. Rita for its conference championship, but a third straight playoff matchup between the Ramblers and Maine South seems inevitable.
is in parentheses.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS
1. Loyola Academy (3) – The Ramblers dominated St. Rita 34-7 to win the Catholic League Blue title outright. Because of Loyola’s tough schedule, it garnered a No. 1 seed in the Class 8A playoffs. The Ramblers play Evanston in the first round in a rematch of their week one matchup.
2. (1) – Even if a conference title isn’t the ultimate goal, 11 in a row speaks for Maine South’s dominance in conference. The Hawks beat a good Glenbrook South team 45-21 and ended up as a No. 2 seed in the Class 8A playoffs that start this weekend.
3. (2) – The Raiders couldn’t complete an undefeated regular season, losing a tough game to Mooseheart 17-7. North Shore got a No. 6 seed in the Class 1A playoffs and will be looking to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
4. (4) – The Titans put up 21 points against a stout Maine South defense, but couldn’t contain the Hawks’ high-octane offense. Glenbrook South has a real chance to win two playoff games as a No. 5 seed in the 8A playoffs. The Titans face New Trier – whom they defeated earlier in the season – in the first round.
5. (5) – Deerfield completed an impressive turnaround this year with its six straight win and its first conference title since 2003. The Warriors received a tough draw in the 6A playoffs, playing Nazareth Academy in the first round as a No. 14 seed.
6. (6) – New Trier’s ground game was too much for Waukegan in a 34-10 victory. The Trevians reached the playoffs for the second straight year under coach Dan Starkey. New Trier will get another shot at CSL South rival Glenbrook South in the first round.
7. (8) – Evanston earned back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in the new millennium with a 34-0 victory over Niles West. Unfortunately for the Wildkits it might be a short stay as Evanston drew Loyola Academy in the first round.
8. (7) – The Giants lost out on a conference title and a playoff berth with a 45-21 loss to Deerfield last weekend. It’s a disappointing end to the season for Highland Park, which rallied from an 0-3 start to the season to become playoff-eligible.
9. (9) – The Spartans . Glenbrook North wasn’t able to compete with the area’s top teams as injuries played a big role in the Spartans’ regression from last year.
10. (10) – The Vikings ended their season on a high note, defeating Maine West 50-17 on Friday night. It was a trying season for Niles North, who lost QB Billy Voitik for the season with a concussion, but had a bright spot in freshman QB Tony Granato.
11. (12) – The Wolves continued to use Jake Glotzer and Jeremiah Jordan in the wildcat, but couldn’t put points on the board against Evanston. Expect more of that next season as Niles West builds on a season that saw a lot of underclassmen get valuable experience.
12. (11) – Maine West finished the 2011 season winless after a loss to Niles North on Friday. The 0-9 record doesn’t look pretty, but the Warriors had three games decided by eight points or less, including a seven-point loss to Glenbrook North in Week 7.
(Covering the Patch communities of Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka, Niles, Highland Park, Glenview, Deerfield, Morton Grove, Des Plaines and Northbrook.)