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October 12, 2012Week 8: Bloom Township Blazing Trojans vs. Rich East Rockets
PARK FOREST - It's no surprise that Rich East, which has become a regular in the Class 5A playoffs over the past few years, is in line for another postseason appearance. The shock in the Southland Conference this season has been Bloom. The Blazing Trojans haven't reached the playoffs since back-to-back appearances in 1988 and 1989. They were 2-7 last year and Coach Tony Palombi, in his 10th overall season coaching the program, held a record of only 19-62 coming into this season.
But the two teams enter Saturday's game each with 5-2 records, with a win clinching a playoff spot. The game will be shown on CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14, and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16. You can also find the game throughout Chicagoland with Xfinity On Demand.
"They are improved all over the place," Rich East coach Barry Reade said of Bloom. "They do a good job of running and passing. They're very solid, very balanced, balanced on defense too, they have good size."
Bloom's resurgence centers around dynamic junior quarterback Kendal McGinnis. He is a prolific passer and also the team's leading rusher. Fellow junior Justus Brantley offers support at tailback. Kevin McGinnis. Zerrel Jackson and Jonah Wiley are among Kendal McGinnis' top targets in the passing game.
"We coaches are proud of the players with the way they work hard every week preparing for each game," Palombi said. "They are taking each week one game at a time." Last season, Rich East posted a narrow 12-7 win to clinch its fourth playoff spot in five seasons. The quarterback of that team remains the same, as Malcolm Miller is back in his third season. Running back Kenneth Naylor and fullback Nick Horne benefit from operating behind an experienced line, led by Jamal Greenwood, Devon Haynes, Josh Inyang and Steven Rowzee.
"Malcolm is doing a good job leading us," Reade said. "He is throwing well, getting guys in position. It's nice having a guy back there for three years that has that experience." Rich East controls its own destiny in the Southland race, with Bloom and undefeated Crete-Monee left on the regular-season slate. That's just where Reade wants to be.
"We just want to be playing our best football now," Reade said. "We want to win conference every year. Now is the time to be playing our best. Bloom is on a playoff run and Crete is already in the playoffs. It really does help (to get ready for the postseason playing a tough late-season schedule). We have to do our part and play well. If you don't play well and don't win, you're back to ground zero and hoping you get in. The best thing for us is that we control our destiny, that's what you want to have."
For Palombi and the Blazing Trojans, they are playing a program in Rich East that they can try to emulate as they get their program back on track. This is only their fourth winning season since last reaching the postseason 23 years ago.
"Rich East has a great winning tradition," Palombi said. "They are a program which seems to reload every year, not rebuild."
Be sure to tune in to see Edgy Tim's "Keys to the Game." Get more Edgy at edgytim.com
- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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