Four Downs: News, notes and observations from Week 6

Simeon worries about a strike, injuries hit top teams, Loyola’s offense and more.

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Simeon quarterback Jacquez Woodland (1) rolls out and looks to pass against Phillips.

Simeon quarterback Jacquez Woodland (1) rolls out and looks to pass against Phillips

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Will the Chicago Teachers Union strike on Oct. 17? No one knows for sure and that unknown weighs on Public League football players and coaches. 

Even minutes after beating Phillips in one of the biggest games of the season, Wolverines senior Chau Smith was thinking about it. 

“I don’t really know what is going to happen and there is nothing we can do about it but we are worried,” Smith said. “We talk about it every day. It is definitely on our minds.”

The Oct. 17 date puts Week 8 and Week 9 games in jeopardy. That impacts Simeon more than most teams. The Wolverines were unable to schedule a game Week 2 and a team must play eight games to qualify for the state playoffs. 

So there is a scenario in which Simeon could be 6-1 and possibly not qualify for the playoffs if the strike went on past Week 9 and was settled shortly before the playoffs began. 

Injuries take a toll

Antioch junior Athan Kaliakmanis, one of the state’s best quarterbacks, will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his collarbone in the Sequoits’ 34-0 win against Grayslake Central on Friday. 

Kaliakmanis, a Minnnesota recruit, led Antioch to the Class 6A state quarterfinals last season. The team has won 25 consecutive conference games, but this season’s playoff hopes have taken a major hit. 

Providence and Montini both had to play the second half on Friday without their starting quarterbacks. Kevin Conway missed the last two quarters of a shutout loss to St. Rita and Deontay Bell didn’t return after halftime at Notre Dame. 

Richards is surviving without star running back Leshon Williams. Trishawn Lott filled in for Williams and ran for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in a win against Reavis. 

Rambling on

Beware, Loyola has appeared to figure things out on offense. 

Junior JT Thomas has taken over for Perrion McClinton at quarterback and for the first time in several years the Ramblers appear to have settled on one go-to running back: Vaughn Pemberton. Pemberton missed last season with a broken leg. 

“I felt 100 percent during the summer basketball season,” he said. “I felt like I finally got back my athleticism.”

The junior had 25 carries for 208 yards and four touchdowns against Brother Rice. That’s a massive total to put up against the Crusaders. 

Thomas passed for 155 yards and a touchdown. 

Loyola coach John Holecek is practically guaranteed to produce a lockdown defense by playoff time, so it is easy to see how a settled offense could lead to yet another state title game appearance for the Ramblers. 

Warren appreciation

The Blue Devils have quietly been rising up the Super 25 since the season began. They were 10-2 last season and had one of the state’s top defenses. 

It’s even scarier so far this season. Warren has outscored its opponents 191-18 and shut out three teams. Up next is a solid test at Lake Zurich, but it very likely the Blue Devils will enter the Class 8A state playoffs undefeated. 

Contributing: Mike Clark

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