Two weeks ago, Reavis played arguably its worst game of the season, absorbing a 34-14 shellacking from T.F. South.
Offense, defense, special teams, the Rams were outplayed in every facet by the Rebels.
“One team showed up, and we didn’t,” Reavis coach Tim Zasada said.
The first round of the Class 7A playoffs provides the Rams (7-2) with a chance at redemption. T.F. South (6-3) returns Friday to Burbank for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Zasada is confident his team will deliver a much better performance than it did in Week 8 vs. the Rebels.
“We felt sick at how we played the last time,” Zasada said. “We’re excited to get another chance at them. I don’t know if we’re good enough to beat them, but we’re expecting a good game.”
There are two factors that support this rematch being more competitive. The most glaring is the presence of junior linebacker/running back Travis Liszewski, who was held out of the first meeting for family reasons.
Liszewski, a two-way impact player, will shadow T.F. South’s Torian Lewis, who shifts to quarterback when the Rebels line up in the Wildcat formation.
The other factor is how T.F. South responds a week after its gut-wrenching 31-27 Week 9 loss to archrival T.F. North.
“We could not stop him (Lewis) running,” Zasada said of the Rams’ previous go-around with the Rebels. “He was good. We’ve got to do a lot better job of stopping their running game.”
At the same time, the Rams hope to get their running game, behind Liszewski, Khalid Norvell, Isiah Alpuche and Calvin Jordan, up to speed.
“We struggled offensively against them,” Zasada said. “We have to do a better job getting into the end zone. We’ll make some adjustments and see what we can do.”
Rice is ready
Brother Rice certainly has its work cut out in the Class 8A playoffs.
The No. 5 Crusaders open up on the road Friday against defending state champion Naperville Central, a No. 4 seed. If Rice can survive that, a likely date vs. No. 1 seed Waubonsie Valley awaits in the second round.
“What are you going to do?” Rice coach Brian Badke said. “You can sit here and complain or you can get to work. We plan on getting to work.”
The Crusaders, without question, had one of the toughest regular-season schedules of any team in the state. Their 56 playoff points indicate as much. Beyond competing in the Catholic League Blue, which qualified all five of its teams for the postseason, Rice played out-of-state powerhouses Brother Rice of Michigan (8-0 record) and Brebouf of Indianapolis (6-3).
The only Illinois team on the Crusaders’ schedule this season that didn’t qualify for the playoffs was archrival Marist (4-5).
“Our schedule has us prepared to play anyone,” Badke said. “We’ve pretty much seen it all. We’re hoping it pays off in the playoffs.”
Even against such elite competition, Crusaders quarterback Alex Alarcon (1,961 yards passing; 529 yards rushing), running back Marcus Jones (752 yards) and wide receiver Ricky Smalling (830 yards) rank among the top 10 in the south suburbs at their respective positions.
Player of the Week
Clint Ratkovich, of Crete-Monee, is the SouthtownStar Player of the Week.
The junior rushed 35 times for 350 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Warriors to a 42-27 win over Prairie Ridge.