It’s that time of year again—football season—and the first week of Friday night high school games is only a few days away. With that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time to unveil the very first edition of my South Shore Power Rankings! New for this year, I’m going to try and churn one of these out before kickoff time for every week of the season.
Eligible schools are those that play within the geographical area that can be more or less defined as, yes, the “South Shore”. This includes the Woodland Conference trifecta of Cudahy, St. Francis and St. Thomas More; Oak Creek and South Milwaukee from the Southeast Conference; and Bay View from the City Conference. My “poll” is entirely subjective, determined by only one pollster (that’s right, me), and vaguely contrarian in that I’m less likely to elevate any team pumped up by the histrionics of Lance Allan on Today’s TMJ 4.
This is the point in the column where the sharper minds among you may wonder how I can possibly compile a set of Week One Power Rankings when I haven’t seen so much as a single practice involving any of the local teams. This is actually a very good question, and like a Senator from Illinois asked to explain how he’d handle the Georgian crisis if he were somehow elected to the Presidency, I have no decent answer.
So I have to admit that, yes, for the first week at least, my rankings are based completely on tradition, emotion, and pure dumb luck. Let me be perfectly clear about this: I know absolutely nothing about any of these teams so far. Which means this list is really no different than the initial AP Poll in college football.
Let’s get on with the show!
South Shore Power Rankings – Week One Since nobody’s played anyone else yet and we have no actual observations to go on, this week’s rankings will consist of a brief capsule describing whatever ludicrous and purely whimsical factors went into my initial evaluation. Which really isn’t worth the pixels it’s written on, so don’t get mad if your school doesn’t get much respect from me here. At the end of the day, I’m just some guy blogging.
6. Bay View: In recent years, Bay View’s had some talented individual players come through the ranks and has put up a fair showing in the City Conference. They’ve yet to break through a la Riverside and win a playoff game against a decent suburban/private school, though, so I have to start them out at #6 just because they’re from the City. That’s not a slam. It’s just the sad truth.
5. Cudahy: Used to be, Cudahy played smash-mouth, hard-nosed football and was darn good at it. This is what you’d expect from a working-class town that prides itself on its toughness and tradition. But somewhere along the way, Cudahy lost its mojo. You can cite any number of reasons why Cudahy football just isn’t… well, Cudahy anymore, but to me it’s directly related to the Packers adopting the spread offense. How is this in any way aligned with their identity? I don’t see how you take kids from a hard-nosed city like Cudahy and ask them to hang their hats on a cowardly offense predicated on winging the ball around and having your receivers set picks like a bunch of contact-shy basketball players. Ugh. That might work in Franklin, but that’s not Jerry Bowe football. That’s not Carey Venne football. Go back to lining up and punching guys in the mouth, Cudahy. You were better that way.
4. St. Thomas More: Okay, so TM is small and will probably have a rough time with some of the Woodland’s bigger schools again if they can’t stay healthy, but this was a young team last year that took its lumps. Chris Clarey is a guy who takes teams to the playoffs more often than not, so it’s hard to see a veteran team like this one winning less than four games. Five wins gets you in, and that’s very attainable. Just stay healthy, Cavaliers. Besides, my wife’s TM alumnae and my dad played for Jim Haluska at Don Bosco. You want tradition? Forget Cudahy and go look at those Don Bosco championship banners in the Saint Thomas More gym. This program bleeds tradition.
3. Oak Creek: If they still had Joe Koch, Oak Creek would be ineligible for this poll because in those days they were more like a de facto WIAC member school. As it is, they’re in their second year under a new coach and some continuity will probably help. Still, I can’t help thinking that with Koch gone, Oak Creek has reverted to the pre-wishbone form we all remember so fondly in South Milwaukee… that’s right, an annual 2 - 7 finish, a regularly-scheduled loss to my Rockets and a random OC player picking at least one fight during the postgame handshakes every year.
2. St. Francis: In a fair poll, Doug Sarver’s second most successful franchise (behind the ubiquitous Playmakers Sports) would top the rankings for Week One based on recent success. These guys are always there at the end of the season. But this isn’t a fair poll, because I personally played and coached and watched years’ worth of my brothers’ games for….
1. South Milwaukee: Okay, okay, you got me – this may be my only chance to rank my Rockets this highly all season, so I had to take it. We’re what… three years into the Galewski Era and I still haven’t figured out what they’re doing with that wacky offense? No, don’t answer… “Scoring points” will be good enough for me. Though I honestly think that if you took them out of the murderous “SEC” (it drives me crazy that my alma mater plays in an athletic conference that shares its name with the single most arrogant/overrated conference in NCAA D-I football) and put them into a division with the five teams above, these guys would finish 4 – 1 at worst. Trust me, you haven’t met a crooked ref until you’ve played an away game at Horlick Field vs. Racine Park or Racine Horlick. (I’m not sure why Case doesn’t benefit from the "Refs In Racine Give Calls To Racine Schools" rule; maybe even Racine-based refs realize that would be a lost cause.) Anyhow, I hear Coach Dums retired from teaching… I hope for the Rockets’ sake he’s not retired from calling the defense. They’ll really miss his wisdom (and his eyes in the booth—nobody’s better) if he’s gone.
Next Week: How I fared in the CNI Preps contest, a recap of Wisco vs. Marquette, and see how the rankings get reshuffled after actual results!