Lake Forest High is a perfect example of a winning football program that is built around a smothering defense. Here, a Hubbard ball-carrier gets stuffed during last month’s playoffs. | SUN-TIMES MEDIA FILE PHOTO
Updated: February 11, 2014 3:22AM
Random thoughts from someone who, twice in the last three days, has left a store and gone home one bag short — both times leaving paid-for items on one of those bag carousals that are located at the end of the checkout counters in way too many stores.
■ Used the phrase “Catch 22” during family dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and got asked by someone at the table what that meant.
Didn’t have Wikipedia available, so offered up this example.
A local condo association has just jacked up its monthly dues 43 percent — it used to be a lot and starting January 1, it’s going to be a lot more — probably because many of the units are unoccupied due to occupants not being able to make their monthly home mortgage/association dues payments and opting to go the foreclosure route and walking away, so there’s less money coming in each 30 days.
But hiking the dues up that much might push even more people over the financial edge, creating even more foreclosures and more vacancies and even less money coming in each month.
Which, in turn, will require dues to go up another big percentage next year, which might send even more people into foreclosure, and so on, and so on and so on.
■ Football fans may be in love with five-wide alignments on offense, and a no-huddle attack, and passing on every play, but if you watched the state football finals on TV from NIU in DeKalb, you learned something important.
Defense wins championships.
Springfield Griffin (5A), Batavia (6A), Mount Carmel from Chicago (7A) and Naperville Central (8A) all won state titles the Saturday after Thanksgiving because they had the best defenses on the field that day.
Wide-open offenses can win games, and can even lead an inferior team to an upset win, but when push comes to shove in high school football, defense wins.
Our area’s three best defensive teams in 2013? Lake Zurich, Stevenson and Lake Forest. One of them played in the state finals, one played in the state semifinals, and one played in the state quarterfinals.
It’s not coincidence.
And for all three of those area teams, they lost in the playoffs to teams that had defenses that were even greater.
And, by the way, those three area playoff teams aren’t the only area schools that have figured this out.
Carmel’s Andy Bitto, Antioch Brian Glashagel, Grant’s Kurt Rous, Waukegan’s Nick Browder ... the list goes on and on and on. They all know you can a game with wide-open offenses, but you win championships with defense.
The year that Waukegan finally beats mighty Maine South in football, it’s not going to happen because Waukegan outscores Maine 56-49. It’s going to be because Browder has a defense on the field that can contain Maine South’s high-octane offense.
In the playoffs this year, Loyola Academy beat Maine South 35-0. And then, of course, in the state-championship game against Naperville Central, Loyola’s defense again didn’t allow a touchdown. Only this time, Naperville’s defense didn’t allow one either, and Loyola lost.
■ Zion-Benton, Lakes and Carmel are the area teams competing later this month in the Jacobs holiday boys basketball tournament in hard-to-get-to Algonquin.
The Bees are in a four-team pool with Crystal Lake South, Marian Central and Bartlett.
Carmel’s in with Crystal Lake Central, Cary-Grove and Rockford Jefferson.
Lakes is in with Jacobs, Johnsburg and Tilden from Chicago.
As we speak Zion’s opponents are a combined 17-4: Bartlett is 6-1, CL South is 7-0, and Marian Central is 4-3.
It’s conceivable that Z-B, Bartlett and CL South are the three best teams in the tourney. If so, one of them will be playing in the bracket for teams trying to finish in places 9-12 in the 16-team field.
■ At the 32-team Proviso West tourney, unbeaten Stevenson opens against Chicago Urban Prep West and Libertyville drew Homewood-Flossmoor.
This tourney takes seven days to complete, with the 16 first-round games spread out over three days.
■ Don’t know how much flying you guys do, but for the record, when it comes to air fares, what used to be a “bargain price” is gone.
These days, what used to be considered a high price is now a “bargain price.” Apparently, this merging of airlines has done nothing to help the consumer. This is especially true when looking for flights from New York to Milwaukee.
Where once there were bargains to be had, it’s now way cheaper to fly New York to O’Hare.