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Phillips shakes off 504-day layoff in win; All-Area basketball honors

High School Sports Weekly
Thank you for subscribing to the High School Sports Weekly newsletter! Here’s our latest coverage after the third week of the football season and handing out postseason basketball awards.

Good morning,
A reader recently asked me if this season’s basketball Player of the Year choice was the most difficult I’ve had. It wasn’t, but I would understand why someone might think so. Max Christie and Bryce Hopkins were both very deserving of the award. I don’t think we could have gone wrong picking either player. 
I’m still a little haunted by 2011, when Wayne Blackshear beat out Ryan Boatright in our vote. Back then we had a quite a few more voters. The Sun-Times covered a lot more games and had a large freelance budget. These days it is down to just me, Joe Henricksen and Jack Gleason. That’s the panel that votes on All-Area and Player of the Year for basketball. I pick the All-City team myself. 
There isn’t an actual process for football. I’ll usually talk with Mike Clark and maybe a couple coaches and if there is a real debate at a position for All-Area I might give Edgy Tim a call to pick his brain. 
Make sure to check out this year’s full All-Area basketball team to see who earned the honors, and let’s move on to football.
— Michael O'Brien, high school sports editor (@michaelsobrien)
Top story
Phillips’ Jacoby Erving (3) runs for a touchdown against Westinghouse. Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Phillips’ Jacoby Erving (3) runs for a touchdown against Westinghouse. Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Phillips senior Jacoby Erving waited for his moment. He was the fourth-string running back last season. And it has been 504 days between football games for the Wildcats. That’s a lot of time for anyone, but it feels even longer to a high school kid.
So when Erving finally had his chance, he took advantage. Erving took his first touch, a handoff on Phillips’ second play, to the house on a 50-yard run.
The Wildcats beat Westinghouse 46-6 on Saturday at Solorio. Erving and fellow running back Jamel Britt each scored three touchdowns.
“Throughout these 500 days, I’ve been working and working and working,” Erving said. “We only have four games, but I’m going to show out and ball.”
Erving had seven carries for 133 yards. He also scored on a three-yard run and a 20-yard run.
“When I’m back there, they think I’m a speed back and I can’t run people over,” Erving said. “And when [Britt] is back there, they think it’s for short yardage. But he is versatile, too. He can run and bust through a hole just like me.”
Super 25 update
Loyola remains No. 1 after beating then-No. 9 Brother Rice while Phillips sneaks into the updated Super 25 in the final spot after showing some real signs of potential in the rout of Westinghouse.
The other new arrivals are Lake Forest, which has won its first three games, and Wheaton North, which replaces Wheaton Warrenville South after its big win Saturday.
Check out the full Super 25 below:
Super 25 high school football rankings for April 4, 2021
Week 3 news and notes
The challenges facing Public League football are well-documented. Most stem from financial disparities between Chicago Public Schools and their suburban and private counterparts.
There aren’t enough coaches, equipment or practice fields for the average Public League school to field a competitive program.
The pandemic has dealt another significant blow to Public League football. The schools weren’t allowed all the contact days and practices that other schools had over the last year. And CPS high school kids still aren’t attending school in person, which has made gathering players for practice or anything at all a challenge.
To put it plainly, the Public League players are out of shape and months of practice behind everyone else.
That showed in Taft’s 37-0 loss to visiting Crystal Lake South on Saturday. The Eagles are one of the best-coached and most capable programs in the Public League and they couldn’t manage to score against a Fox Valley team that came in winless.
Phillips was clearly rusty in its season-opening win and many CPS schools have totally opted out of the football season. In many ways it is just a lost year for CPS sports, even the high-profile basketball teams averaged less than nine games during the season.
There is one positive on the horizon. It seems likely that CPS will start school in August instead of the traditional post-Labor Day start. That would be a major boon for Public League football programs, which usually have to begin the season before school starts, making it difficult to find players.
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What to watch this week
Top-ranked Loyola is off this week but the rest of the Super 25 will be busy. Here’s a look at some of the key games on the Week 4 schedule, which you can check out in its entirety here.
Key matchups set for Friday:
  • No. 2 Lincoln-Way East vs. Lockport
  • Wheaton Warrenville South vs. No. 3 Batavia
  • Maine South vs. Glenbrook South
Key matchups set for Saturday:
  • No. 6 Marist vs. No. 11 Nazareth
  • No. 8 Naperville Central vs. No. 20 DeKalb
  • Waubonsie Valley vs. No. 22 Neuqua Valley
Wheaton Warrenville South gets a chance to redeem last week’s loss by taking on Batavia, one of the best teams in the area. Saturday provides a couple top-20 showdowns in Marist-Nazareth and Naperville Central-DeKalb.
Team of the week
Lockport Porters
The Lockport football team | via Twitter
The Lockport football team | via Twitter
Lockport is 2-1, with wins against Sandburg and Bolingbrook since the season-opening loss to Homewood-Flossmoor. The 42-14 victory against the Raiders on Friday was the first for the Porters since 2015. 
Junior running back Andrew LoPresti led the way with 152 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Riley Pfeiffer scored twice. 
Lockport has a major test in Week 4. The Porters host undefeated, No. 2-ranked Lincoln-Way East.
Want your school featured in Team of the Week? Send us an update on your team’s season, your name and hometown, and (if possible) a photo to newsletters@suntimes.com.
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