Wednesday Oct. 27, 2010
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUEMesa Solar Sox Cubs
The Cubs have been using the AFL to showcase some of their young pitching talent and Wednesday was no exception as Mesa upended Scottsdale, 7-6.
David Cales 1 13 innings, Chris Carpenter two innings and Kyle Smit one inning each pitched shutout ball with Smit earning his second victory of the season. Carpenter allowed a hit and a walk while extending his scoreless-inning streak to 4 23. Cales, meanwhile, extended his scoreless streak to four innings.
Brett Jackson was 1-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
In other action, White Sox prospects Eduardo Escobar and Jared Mitchell combined to go 1-for-7 in the Peoria Saguaros 7-0 loss at Surprise.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at [email protected].
Chicago's Phillips Academy (4-0), who is currently state-ranked in Class 6A, will play this season and next in Class 7A according to the IHSA and its recently published IHSA State Playoff Weekly Outlook. The rundown was updated and released earlier Monday on the IHSA website.
The Wildcats are the only football team in the state that has petitioned "up" to play in a higher class.
"The IHSA reached out to us a few weeks ago," Phillips head coach Troy McAllister said. "They planned to void our last year of petitioning up to play in 6A because of the district system that is coming. So we were given the option of staying and playing at our current enrollment level or reapplying to move up again for another two years. We feel that playing in 7A is where we want to be as a program. We want to play in 7A for several reasons including playing in the 1-32 true seeding system and 7A also features several state powerhouse programs. We believe that's where we want to be as a football program. We just felt as a staff that the time to make this move is now."
Phillips, listed with an enrollment of 575 students on the IHSA website, is the only Chicago Public League team in the history of the IHSA state football playoff system schools to win a state football title. The Wildcats won a Class 4A title in 2015 and a 5A state title in 2017. They volunteered to play "up" in enrollment last season to Class 6A and lost to Cary-Grove in the 6A state quarterfinal round.
A move up starting this season for the Wildcats from 6A to 7A would now put Phillips in the same class as defending 7A state champion Nazareth Academy along with state-ranked Mount Carmel, Batavia. Glenbard West and Brother Rice.
There were 312 kickoffs in the NFL this season heading into this weekend. Of those, 221 (70 percent) went for touchbacks.
After Sunday's games, three teams — including the Bears — have yet to have a kickoff return. Half the league hasn't had a return go more than 25 yards.
This is the NFL in 2019, with the league’s efforts to reduce the number of kick returns — for safety reasons — proving effective. It’s also meant the Bears haven’t been able to fully utilize Cordarrelle Patterson’s talents yet.
The 5,276 return yards Patterson has since entering the league in 2013 are by far the most in the NFL in that span (he’s about 1,500 yards ahead of Andre Roberts, who has the second-highest total). Patterson is the only player with more than two kick return touchdowns since 2013; he has six. Among players with at least 50 kick returns, Patterson’s average of 29.98 yards per return ranks No. 1, and he’s one of just 14 players to average more than 25 yards per return.
So Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is itching to unleash Patterson on a return — as long as the opportunity presents itself.
“I want to bring the ball out, I really do,” Tabor said. “And there's going to come a time and point that we want to do that. You want to be able to put pressure on that coverage team. But I think you still have to be smart about when you're doing it.”
Patterson’s last kick return touchdown came last year while with the New England Patriots against the Bears, so this coaching staff has a good idea of how dangerous he can be on kickoffs. So do other teams, though — all four of Brandon McManus’ kickoffs last week went for deep touchbacks in the thin air of Denver, while all three of Mason Crosby’s kickoffs in Week 1 were deemed unreturnable and went for touchbacks.
"These kickers are getting paid a lot of money to try to kick the ball away from me," Patterson said. "And that's what they're doing. It's football. You can't always have everything you want."
The Bears don’t want to see Patterson return a kick so badly that they’d have him take one out from the back of the end zone, though. A drive starting on the 25-yard line from a touchback is more likely to be successful than a drive starting inside the 23-yard line, Tabor said. Still, the Tabor said the team is comfortable with Patterson attempting a return from eight or even close to nine yards deep in the end zone.
With the Bears’ offense struggling — 13 of their 22 drives have ended with a punt — the team hopes it can get a spark from the return game to at least generate good field position.
“A lot of factors that go into that but if you don't bring it out you have zero chance of getting the ball past the 25,” Tabor said. “I think realistically for offenses, all offenses, 75-yard drives in the NFL just don't happen repeatedly so I think you have to try to get something sparked in the return game.”
But as long as temperatures remain warm — the forecasted temperature is in the upper 70’s for kickoff Monday night in Landover — it’ll be easier for kickers to blast touchbacks out of the end zone. And few, if any, of the league’s coaches and special teams coordinators will want to try to kick to Patterson.
So until weather conditions become a little more favorable for kickoff returns, there not anything Tabor can do to generate them.
“I wish I could,” Tabor said. “(Maybe) send the coach a nice bottle of wine or something.”