St. Viator’s game against St. Patrick on Friday will be for more than just CCL/ESCC Purple division title, if that wasn’t enough motivation.
The Lions enter the game with a 3-5 overall record while the Shamrocks are 4-4, both 2-0 in the division. While the winner of the game will win the division outright, it is not an automatic qualifier to the playoffs since there are four teams in the division.
Five wins would earn St. Patrick automatic qualification, but four wins might help St. Viator make it in. The Lions are in the 40s when it comes to opponent wins, which is how playoff teams are determined if some four-win teams are needed for the postseason. St. Patrick has 40 entering the final game of the regular season.
While the Lions are trying to focus on just winning this game, they know in the back of their minds that there is a lot attached to Friday’s game.
“We’re trying to take like we normally would, which is let’s prepare and try to go 1-0 this week,” St. Viator coach David Archibald said. “But we know we have a division title and knowing we haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention gets you more excited as well.”
St. Viator’s fighting back after losing some key players throughout the season. The Lions lost senior quarterback Alex Konopka in the first game of the season to an ACL injury, forcing sophomore Charlie Dolsen to step in.
Archibald has watched his team battle adversity throughout the year, and with a moment to still earn playoff qualification despite the obstacle, he wants his team focused on one thing: St. Patrick.
“This is a team that is clearly playoff worthy, just knowing that if we can get to 4-5, we’re not eliminated, I think it’s a nice thing going in,” Archibald said. “But we’re focused on the division and the 1-0 goal.”
Marist senior linebacker Jimmy Rolder thought he would play his last few games of football this season and then focus on baseball as he prepared to play collegiately at the University of Illinois.
Then everything changed.
Illinois offered Rolder his first scholarship to play football on Oct. 9, which opened the floodgates.
“It just happened so fast,” Rolder said. “I think about how crazy it is how close I was to probably playing baseball in college to getting all these big-time offers to play football. I was really excited about it. It’s very crazy.”
Minnesota offered the next day after the Illini, followed by Michigan, Purdue, Cincinnati, Iowa, TCU and finally Ohio State, who offered him a scholarship on Monday. Rolder thinks that after Illinois offered him, other schools looked into his tape and saw just how good he is.
Rolder said that all his offers have been special in different ways, but Michigan caught him off guard because he never spoke to any Michigan coaches but head coach Jim Harbaugh called him out of the blue.
Rolder has already visited Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and will take a few more visits before making his decision soon.
“I think I’ll take a couple more visits, see a couple more schools, then maybe just evaluate my options not too far in the future,” Rolder said. “I really want to find a school that fits and then I’ll make my decision.”
Battling for the crown
Teams across the CCL/ESCC will fight for outright and shared division titles.
St. Viator and St. Patrick will play for the CCL/ESCC Purple on Friday while St. Ignatius and Fenwick will battle for the CCL/ESCC White crown.
Loyola has already won a share of the CCL/ESCC Blue title but Mount Carmel can earn a share with a win. Brother Rice could also earn a share of the crown with a win over Marist coupled with a Loyola loss.
St. Rita has likewise earned a share of the CCL/ESCC Green division with a 2-0 record and could win the outright title with a win over Niles Notre Dame. Benet or Nazareth can earn a share of the title if St. Rita loses and they win.
Joliet Catholic has earned a share of the CCL/ESCC Orange and can win it outright with a win against Montini. St. Laurence could earn a share with a Joliet Catholic loss and win over Providence.
Marian Central can win the CCL/ESCC Red with a win over DePaul Prep.