High School: Game Recaps

Simeon sets state record with sixth title

March, 18, 2012
PEORIA, Ill. -- Simeon’s players took their shoes off and laid them side by side on the basketball floor at Carver Arena as their fans surrounded them on Saturday night.

It was a sight unseen at the state tournament before. But then again, Simeon just got finished doing something no program in the state had done before.

[+] EnlargeSterling Brown
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Sterling Brown, who scored a game-high 25 points, drives against Simeon's Jabari Parker.
With Simeon’s 50-48 victory over previously-unbeaten Proviso East in the Class 4A state championship on Saturday, Simeon became the first program in state history to win six state titles, surpassing Peoria Manual’s and Peoria Central’s five trophies.

“The kids wanted to leave their footprints on the floor,” Simeon coach Robert Smith explained of the shoes.

Simeon and Smith did set themselves apart on Saturday. The Wolverines won their third consecutive title and fifth in the last seven years. Smith also became the first Illinois coach to win five titles.

“This is not it,” Smith said. “We’re on our way to try to come back again here next year.”

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Brown propels Proviso East into finals

March, 16, 2012
BrownScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Sterling Brown throws down a dunk in Friday's 4A semifinal win.

PEORIA, Ill. –Proviso East junior Sterling Brown has a ways to go to match the accomplishments of his older brother Shannon Brown, a Phoenix Suns guard who starred at Michigan State.

But on Friday, Sterling finally found a way to one-up Shannon, first simply playing in the state tournament and then by starring in it. Brown led Proviso East to a 55-45 win over Rockford Auburn in the Class 4A state semifinals.

“It is really big,” Sterling said. “He was never able to get down here. He lost in the super-sectionals his junior year [at Proviso East]. It just feels good to do something he never did and hopefully we can win a championship like he never did.”

Sterling had begun separating himself from Shannon during his junior season, and he continued to do so Friday. While Sterling’s teammates felt the butterflies of playing on the big stage and struggled early against Auburn, Sterling acted as he had been there before.

Sterling scored all four of Proviso East’s points in the first quarter, had six points and seven rebounds by halftime and kept on producing the rest of the way. He finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and one steal.

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Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comProviso East's Javon Carter pushes the ball up the court in Friday's semifinal.
“I think Sterling understands what it’s all about,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “I think with Shannon being his older brother, he’s played in his shadows. I think he has really stepped out of Shannon’s shadows and has made his own identity.

“I think Sterling has a better overall feeling for the game [than Shannon]. Shannon is more athletic, better outside shooter. I think Sterling, when it’s all said and done, will be the better player because of his length and the many different things he can do on the court.”

With Sterling the only player clicking early, Proviso East (32-0) had to rely on its defense to get it by Auburn. The Pirates threw two defenders at Auburn star guard Fred Van Vleet, a Wichita State recruit, and forced his teammates to beat them.

The plan worked to perfection. Proviso East held Van Vleet to two points and forced him into six turnovers in the first half while the Pirates went ahead 20-13 at halftime. The Pirates extended their advantage to double digits in the third quarter.

Van Vleet got his points by the end of the game, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, but it was too late for Auburn. Proviso East’s lead was never trimmed to less than seven points.

“I thought it obviously wasn’t the best played game,” Boyce said. “I thought in the first half and part of the third quarter we did a great job of shutting down and containing Van Vleet, but he’s such a great point guard.

Paris Burns (14 points) and Javon Carter (nine points) contributed for Proviso East.

It was the second time Proviso East defeated Auburn (31-3) this season. The Pirates first knocked off Auburn off in the Proviso West holiday tournament semifinals in December.

Simeon holds off Curie to win Public League title

February, 17, 2012
CHICAGO -- Simeon prefers to have Jabari Parker, the nation’s No. 1 junior, on the floor, but the Wolverines proved Friday they’re still pretty good without him.

While Parker sat the bench for 11 minutes, 34 seconds in the first half with two fouls, Simeon extended what was a one-point lead to double digits.

It would be an advantage No. 1 Simeon would never relinquish as the Wolverines held on for a 53-49 win over No. 3 Curie at Chicago State to capture their first city championship since 2007. It was the second time Simeon defeated Curie this season.

[+] EnlargeSimeon Curie
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comSimeon celebrates its Public League championship after beating Curie on Friday.
“This is real big for us,” said Simeon senior Jaleni Neely, who had nine points. “We haven’t won a city title since Derrick Rose has been here. It’s not something we would settle for less. We wanted to win city, and we knew we could get it done.”

They even knew it with Parker on the bench. While most coaches would be worried about having their star player on the bench for such a long period, Simeon coach Robert Smith said his expectations never changed.

“I’m never concerned about us losing,” said Smith, whose team improved to 25-1. “Every time we step out here we expect to win. No matter who’s out here playing, what the foul situation is. That’s the difference in our team and everyone else’s. I think no matter who’s here, who’s hurt, we expect to win every time we step out here.”

Simeon proved him right again on Friday. With Parker on the bench, other Simeon players took it upon themselves to lift the load. During that run, Steve Taylor contributed two points, three rebounds, two steals and one block while Kendrick Nunn scored six points. Defensively, Simeon held Curie to three points in the quarter.

“When Jabari went down, I just had to say I got to step up and be a senior and be a leader and carry my team on my back,” Taylor said. “That’s basically what was going through my mind. We didn’t miss a beat. That’s the good thing about our team, once Jabari goes down, we still be rolling.”

Taylor’s offense was helpful, but his defense was also essential against Curie’s 6-9 sophomore center Cliff Alexander. He limited Alexander to four points.

Taylor finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and one block. Nunn had 15 points.

Parker returned to the court in the third quarter and still left his mark, scoring nine of his 11 points in the second half.

Curie (24-2) was able to make it interesting down the stretch. After trailing by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, the Condors pulled within single digits with under a minute left and even trimmed the lead to 47-44 with 12 seconds remaining when Devin Foster banked in 3-pointer while falling to the ground.

Foster, who scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, hoped Curie would see Simeon again come the state playoffs.

“Defense wins games,” Foster said. “We got to stop the ball, but we should have won the game. We’re going to get them the next time when we play them for state.”

Simeon beats Bogan, but coach wants more

January, 25, 2012

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose's shadow continues to loom over Simeon’s basketball program.

Simeon coach Robert Smith doesn’t let his 2011-12 team forget what Rose and his teammates did when they were wearing blue and gold earlier this century. If the current Wolverines are ever going to impress Smith, they need to exceed what Rose and company accomplished.

On Wednesday, Smith was again happy, but not ecstatic. While No. 1 Simeon defeated No. 11 Bogan 68-57 in a matchup of Red-West unbeatens, Smith still wasn’t completely satisfied with his team’s play.

[+] EnlargeJabari Parker
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comSF Jabari Parker's versatile game helped him win multiple state titles at Simeon.
“This team doesn’t have that killer instinct,” said Smith, whose team improved to 19-1 overall and 8-0 in conference. “When Derrick was here, if they had you down by 30, they wanted to get to it 50. They didn’t get bored.

“No, I don’t think we’ve played a complete game yet. I hope it comes. It would be scary if we could get firing on all cylinders and play all four quarters.”

For a half Wednesday, Simeon was at full tilt.

Simeon opened the game playing aggressive defense and contesting every Bogan attempt. After each Bogan miss, the Wolverines snatched the rebound, pushed the ball other way and quickly got the ball into the hoop.

Before five minutes had passed, Simeon already held a 16-3 lead. The Wolverines went up by as many as 15 points in the first quarter and extended it to a 34-12 advantage by halftime.

“That’s a good team,” Smith said. “They can shoot 3-pointers. We just wanted to get out in front and build a cushion before they started making them.”

From the other bench, Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin couldn’t believe his eyes. The Bengals were playing their worst basketball at the worst time. They shot 4-of-29 from the field and 3-of-13 from the free-throw line in the first half.

Goodwin thought his team was possibly intimidated by the packed crowd at Simeon.

“We didn’t play Bogan basketball in the first half,” said Goodwin, whose team fell to 19-2 and 7-1. “You got to hit free throws to beat a good basketball team. In the second half, we played Bogan basketball.”

Bogan was able to make it interesting in the final two quarters. The Bengals began taking the ball to the hoop for easy buckets and then went back to their outside shooting, which finally began to work.

Behind 10 points from Devonte Smith and two 3-pointers by Kendall Wesley, Bogan outscored Simeon 27-16 in the third quarter and cut the lead to 11.

In the end, though, the deficit was too much to make up. Simeon wasn’t going to collapse that far as Kendrick Nunn and Steve Taylor combined for 12 fourth-quarter points to seal the win.

Nunn, Taylor, Jabari Parker and Jaleni Neely each took turns stepping up for Simeon. Parker finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Nunn had 20 points and eight rebounds. Neely had 11 points and Taylor had 10 points and seven rebounds.

“They each came through with big plays,” Smith said. “That’s nice to have.”

Smith had a team-high 13 points and nine rebounds for Bogan. Ronnell Buckner and Donte Jackson contributed 11 points each.

Young simply too strong for Farragut

January, 13, 2012
CHICAGO -- Farragut had an answer for Young’s 6-foot-10 sophomore star Jahlil Okafor on Friday.

The Admirals played Okafor to perfection by limiting his touches and bringing their best defender from the weak side when he did catch the ball. They got him into foul trouble and made him a non-factor for most of the game.

But Farragut’s problem wasn’t Okafor on Friday. It was everyone else.

[+] EnlargeRashaun Stimage
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comFarragut's Rashaun Stimage looks to pass the ball with Young's Paul White defending him.
As much as the Dolphins would prefer to have their star big man on the floor, they showed Friday they’re more than a one-man show. Young’s depth proved to be the difference in its 47-43 road win over No. 17 Farragut in the Red West matchup.

With Young (8-5) trailing to start the fourth quarter and Okafor on the bench with four fouls, Dolphins coach Tyrone Slaughter turned to his bench for the winning spark.

First, Young junior guard Scott Kingsley stepped up. Kingsley drained a 3-pointer to give the Dolphins a 31-30 lead with 6:43 left. A foul on Farragut was called away from the ball after Kingsley’s shot, and Young kept possession. Seven seconds later, the ball made its way to Kingsley again, and he knocked down another 3-pointer to put his team ahead by four points.

“Scott has been a kid who just continues to work and stick in there,” Slaughter said. “We told him his chance was going to come this week, and it did, and he delivered. For that, we’re totally grateful.”

Young senior guard Jordan Smith’s turn was next. He delivered back-to-back baskets during the quarter and sealed with the win with two free throws with 3.4 seconds left. He had seven points, three rebounds and one block in the fourth quarter alone.

“Jordan came off the bench and played really well for us,” Slaughter said. “That’s what we’ve asked him to do. It’s good to have a kid come off the bench play hard and help us win. He did that.”

Senior guard Gabe Snider, a UIC recruit, also contributed five points for the Dolphins in the fourth quarter, and the guard trio combined for 18 of Young’s 22 fourth-quarter points.

On the other hand, Farragut’s bench did it in. The Admirals (7-6) had three starters foul out in the fourth quarter and couldn’t get the same type of production from their backups.

“They were a little deeper than we were at that point,” Farragut coach William Nelson said.

Farragut’s star Rashaun Stimage still kept his team close, though. Stimage scored nine of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter. He also had seven three rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Okafor finished with 10 points and six rebounds. He scored four points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

“At the end of the day, it was a great day tonight at Farragut for an unranked basketball team,” Slaughter said.

The Red West continues to be a heated race. Marshall, which defeated Farragut on Wednesday, is 5-0 in conference. Young improved to 4-1 with win, and Farragut fell to 4-2. Crane, North Lawndale and Orr are still in the mix as well.

Montini wins third straight title in a shootout

November, 26, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Whoever coined the phrase “defense wins championships” would have had to eat his or her words on Saturday, when Joliet Catholic and Montini put on an offensive show that had never before been seen in an Illinois state football championship.

When the scoreboard operator was finally done adding up the numbers in the Class 5A state championship, Montini stood victorious for the third consecutive year with a 70-45 win over Joliet Catholic at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

The two teams combined for a state-record 115 points, 16 touchdowns and 1,644 yards, including 1,013 rushing yards.

“Oh, my God,” said Montini senior Anthony Taylor, who accounted for 113 receiving yards and one touchdown. “Our coach told us it was going to come down to the offense. He told us we had to keep scoring, keep scoring. No matter how far we got ahead, we had to keep scoring. That’s what we did.”

[+] EnlargeJordan Westerkamp
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comMontini's Jordan Westerkamp had 11 catches for 331 yards and five touchdowns against Joliet Catholic on Saturday.
The game will be remembered for its individual stars more than anything. Two players left their footprints all over Memorial Stadium’s field unlike many high school or college players have done before.

Joliet Catholic junior running back Ty Isaac broke the state title game’s rushing record in the first half alone on Saturday. He ran for 376 yards in the first two quarters, breaking the previous record of 373 yards, set by Dakota’s Jake Apple in the Class 1A state championship on Friday.

Isaac finished with 515 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 26 carries. He had touchdown carries of 71, 63, 56, 66, 2 and 69 yards.

“That kid is an unbelievable football player,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “We did everything we could to stop him, and we couldn’t stop him.”

Montini senior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp's day was just as impressive. Westerkamp set the state title game record for receiving yards (331) and longest reception (94 yards).

Westerkamp, a Nebraska recruit, finished with 11 receptions for 331 yards and five touchdowns. He had touchdowns of 3, 54, 5, 69 and 94 yards.

“He made some great catches when we covered him, and there were some catches that we didn’t cover very well that turned into big runs,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said.

Montini (12-2) won by a comfortable 25 points, but the Broncos didn’t build that cushion on Joliet Catholic (11-3) until late in the game. Montini trailed for portion of the third quarter and only led 49-45 when the fourth quarter began.

Contrary to the rest of the game, Montini’s defense proved the biggest difference down the stretch. The Broncos forced and recovered fumbles on two consecutive possessions at the end of the third quarter that allowed Montini to make it a two-score game early in the fourth quarter.

The Broncos’ defense also held strong on Joliet Catholic’s final four possessions and shut out the Hilltoppers in the fourth quarter.

Outside of that, the game was completely offensive. The teams were tied 14-14 after one quarter. Joliet Catholic led 31-28 at halftime. Montini led 49-45 after three quarters.

“It’s very humbling when someone scores that many points on you,” Sharp said. “That was a tremendous offense out there. We picked a bad day to not play well on defense. Their skilled people are as good as we’ve seen, especially Westerkamp.”

Montini’s state championship was the fourth in the history of the program. Andriano has coached the Broncos to all of them.

“We keep reaching and trying to get better, and all of guys and players believe,” Andriano said. “It means a lot. We’re at a level of football now that just says, ‘Wow.’”

Montini junior wide receiver Joey Borsellino struggled to put his emotions into words afterward.

“I can’t even stop crying,” said Borsellino, who scored two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

Montini quarterback John Rhode, who transferred from Marian Catholic for this year, was 29-of-45 passing for 587 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.

Joliet Catholic running back Malin Jones, a Northwestern recruit, rushed for 197 yards. He also intercepted a pass.

Montini’s Franklin Bruscianelli had a game-high 20 tackles, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

WWS wins with its third QB to reach final

November, 19, 2011

CHICAGO -- A year ago, Wheaton Warrenville South couldn’t have been more certain about its quarterback.

Reilly O'Toole, last year’s ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year, was undoubtedly the starter from the opening day of practice to when the Tigers lifted their second consecutive Class 7A state championship.

St. Rita Wheaton Warrenville SouthA year later, Wheaton Warrenville South couldn’t be less certain about its quarterback. Having already lost sophomore Ryan Graham to a season-ending injury, the Tigers also found themselves without senior quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong when he suffered a concussion during the first half of Saturday’s Class 7A semifinal against St. Rita.

With no other options, Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch turned to Jordan Davis, who started on the sophomore team this season. And just as the Tigers have seemed to do just enough each week of the 2011 playoffs, Davis came through with just enough on Saturday in a 21-14 win over St. Rita as the Tigers advanced to their third consecutive state championship game.

The Tigers (10-3) will face Rockford Boylan, which defeated Lake Zurich, for the state title. Boylan won the Class 6A state championship last season.

“Maybe that’s the destiny of this team this year is to play team football,” Muhitch said.

[+] EnlargeColin Schwerin
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comWheaton Warrenville South's Colin Schwerin celebrates after causing a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
If there’s one individual who does stand out on this year’s team it’s Dan Vitale, and he made his presence known in the opening half.

Vitale put Wheaton Warrenville South ahead 21-0 with three touchdowns in the game’s first 15 minutes.

On the Tigers’ first drive, he scored on a 1-yard run to go ahead 7-0. After an interception by Zach Kyllonen, Vitale scored from 4 yards out to go up 14-0. Finally, he added another 4-yard touchdown run with 9:58 left in the second quarter, and Tigers had built a 21-0 advantage.

Vitale had 82 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries in the first half. He finished with 124 yards on 35 carries.

“He’s tough to tackle obviously,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We knew that coming in. We knew he was their guy. We knew he was going to get the ball. That’s a credit to them, when everybody knew who was going to be the guy, and he still did a good job with it.”

St. Rita (10-3) did make it a game. It closed out the first half with a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Thomas to Kenny Golladay to pull within 21-7. Thomas hooked up with Golladay again for a touchdown with 4:35 left in the game to make it a 21-14 contest.

St. Rita got the ball back with 1:51 left and had a chance to drive down to tie the game. But on the first play, Wheaton Warrenville South defensive lineman Colin Schwerin knocked the ball out of Thomas’ hands while he was scrambling, and the Tigers recovered it.

Davis took three knees, and Wheaton Warrenville South moved on to the state title game despite starting the season 1-3.

“We’re just shocking a lot of people,” Vitale said. “We always knew we had it within ourselves, but a lot of other people didn’t. After we lost to [Glenbard] West, I think I said state championships aren’t won in August; it’s won in November.”

Third time charm as Prairie Ridge reaches final

November, 19, 2011

BATAVIA, Ill. -- Prairie Ridge senior Connor Greenwald knew all too well the feeling of losing in a semifinal playoff game.

Greenwald had experienced that crushing disappointment as both a sophomore and junior when the Wolves were halted one step short of reaching the state championship in back-to-back seasons. It was a feeling that stayed with him throughout the last two years.

PROn Saturday, Greenwald was finally able to shake those memories for good and embrace a new feeling after Prairie Ridge defeated Batavia 33-22 in a Class 6A semifinal to advance to its first state championship game.

Prairie Ridge will play Peoria Richwoods, which defeated Lemont, for the state title on Saturday.

After sharing dozens of hugs with teammates and fans, Greenwald wasn’t sure how to express what he was actually feeling at the moment.

“Words can’t describe how awesome it is,” said Greenwald, who rushed for a game-high 231 yards and two touchdowns. “I’m so happy with my whole team. We worked so hard to get to this point. We did it. It’s awesome.”

It didn’t come easy for Prairie Ridge.

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Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comPrairie Ridge's Jordan Getzelman shakes free of Batavia's defender.
Down 14-13 at halftime, Prairie Ridge (12-1) first turned to its defense to create some momentum. On the opening drive of the second half, Batavia’s offense was rolling and got inside the red zone. But with Batavia facing a fourth-and-2 from the 18, Prairie Ridge broke up a pass and gained possession.

“I think if we score on that drive, the game’s ours,” Batavia quarterback Noel Gaspari said.

Instead, Prairie Ridge took over the ball, drove 82 yards and went ahead 20-14 when Jordan Getzelman rushed for an 18-yard touchdown. Getzelman finished with 101 rushing yards.

A possession later, Prairie Ridge’s Josh Hrudicka picked off a pass and ran the ball 37 yards into the end zone to put the Wolves ahead 26-14. They extended their lead to 33-14 when Greenwald scored the second of his two touchdowns.

Batavia (12-1) did make one more push. With the wind at his back, Gaspari got to work in the fourth quarter. He moved the ball quickly and scored on five plays with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter. He added a 2-point conversion pass to pull Batavia within 33-22.

After stopping Prairie Ridge on its next possession, Gaspari again had the Bulldogs advancing the ball. He had one touchdown pass brought back due to an illegal block. He almost threw another touchdown pass, but Prairie Ridge’s Sean Folliard foiled that with a display of athleticism.

As Batavia’s Evan Zeddies was catching Gaspari’s pass in the end zone, Folliard flew at Zeddies, landed a massive hit and snatched the ball in mid-air for an interception.

“It’s the semifinals, man,” Folliard said. “All out. If you think they got the ball, you got to take it away, take it away. He had the ball, and I stripped it out as he was falling down.”

With that, Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp finally was able to exhale.

“Until time ran out, I was nervous,” he said. “[Folliard’s] so athletic. Him coming away with the ball doesn’t surprise me. Some of the things we get to see him do in practice. But a phenomenal play. One of the plays of the year for us.”

Like Greenwald, Schremp felt a lot of pressure taken off of him with Saturday’s win.

“My wife asked me this morning how I feel,” Schremp said. “I said I don’t know how to feel because it’s going to turn out to be one of the best days of your career or one of the worst days of your career. It turned out pretty good today.”

Gaspari was 29-of-46 passing for 374 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Bolingbrook's diligence pays off vs. Mt. Carmel

November, 6, 2011

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. -- Bolingbrook’s preparation for Saturday’s Class 8A second-round matchup with Mount Carmel began a little over a year ago.
On Oct. 29, 2010, Mount Carmel dominated Bolingbrook in a 28-point victory in the Class 8A first round. It was a difficult defeat for the Raiders to swallow.

From that date, Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow vowed he wasn’t going to allow another team to run an option offense with that much success against his defense. He and his staff went on a mission to learn as much as they could about containing that specific offense.

On Saturday, Bolingbrook’s due diligence paid off. The Raiders confined Mount Carmel’s offense to one touchdown, and they defeated the visiting Caravan 21-7.

Bolingbrook Mount Carmel “I’ll be honest with you -- our defensive staff researched and talked to people from California and all over the country on how to stop the splitback veer,” Ivlow said. “That was a long process and started with last year’s loss. We knew we were going to cross paths again.”

Bolingbrook (10-1) will host Downers Grove South (10-1) in the Class 8A quarterfinals next week. Downers Grove South defeated Brother Rice on Friday.

In Bolingbrook’s research, the coaches discovered the best approach to stopping the veer offense was technique, reading keys and switching coverages. Bolingbrook followed through in all three areas on Saturday.

Mount Carmel’s offense struggled throughout the night. The Caravan had 104 yards of total offense in the first half, but nearly half of them came on a 43-yard run by Brandon Greer. Mount Carmel also was shut out in the opening half.

In the second half, Mount Carmel rushed for 23 yards and threw for 129 yards and scored one touchdown. The Raiders picked off Caravan quarterback Don Butkus twice in the fourth quarter.

[+] EnlargeDJ Pruitt
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comBolingbrook's DJ Pruitt follows his blockers against Mt. Carmel on Saturday night.
“It just felt like we couldn’t get in a rhythm offensively,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. “They did a great job. You have to give Bolingbrook credit. They played very well. Our defense I thought did a fine job. We just couldn’t get them off the field. They made a few too many plays.”

Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey was behind a number of those offensive plays. He rushed for 114 yards on nine carries in the first half and finished with a game-high 127 rushing yards. He also threw for 60 yards.

Bailey broke a 38-yard run on the game’s first play, and the drive later resulted with a 2-yard touchdown run by Jaden Huff to put the Raiders ahead 7-0 in the first quarter. Bailey increased that lead to 14-0 with a 34-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Huff added another touchdown run in the second half to go up 21-0.

“We just have to go through our game plan and not think outside of our head,” Bailey said. “Just go out and perform like we have been, don’t try to change things up. We always have certain plays for certain defenses. We just performed the way we have been doing all season long.”

Mount Carmel scored its lone touchdown on a 31-yard pass to Frank Kelly. Butkus was 13-of-26 passing for 141 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Bolingbrook’s Tevin Teamer and Greg Gordon each intercepted a pass.

Stevenson eliminates 3-time champ Maine S.

November, 6, 2011
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. -- Maine South's three-year reign atop Class 8A came to a halt on Saturday as the Stevenson Patriots upset the second-seeded Hawks 24-22 in the second round of the IHSA state tournament.

Despite being injured on his first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Matt Micucci threw pair of touchdown passes and added a field goal to lead the Patriots to their first victory over Maine South in seven tries. All six of Stevenson's previous losses to the Hawks were season-ending defeats.

"Knowing how many Stevenson seniors have gone home because of these guys, and how good of a team that is, it was just a great experience for us to win," said Micucci, who finished 20-for-32 passing for 243-yards and two touchdowns.

Stevenson Maine South Micucci's first touchdown came late in the first quarter as sophomore Matt Morrissey hauled in a five-yard slant. Senior running back Kevin Foley gave the Patriots a 14-0 advantage early in the second with an 11-yard run over the left side just three minutes later.

Though Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti would get the Hawks on the board with a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior Jimmy Frankos, Stevenson responded on the ensuing possession. Micucci led the Pats on a 10-play drive and drilled a 28-yard field goal as the first half expired, giving his team a 17-7 lead at the break.

"I thought Matt Micucci played great tonight," said Stevenson head coach Bill McNamara. "He showed great character, great poise, he found open [receivers] and made unbelievable decisions. He showed that he's a top-caliber quarterback."

Stevenson's lead grew to 24-7 as Micucci found fellow senior Troy Radtke on a 20-yard fade to the back corner of the end zone on the first possession of the second half, and despite a pair of Alviti touchdowns over the final two quarters, the Patriots held on for perhaps the biggest win in Stevenson history.

"I don't know if this is the biggest -- we went to the state finals one time -- but this is a big one. It ranks right up there with them," McNamara said. "But our hats are off to Maine South -- they're the defending state champs. There was no quit in those guys, we knew we needed to play four quarters of football. They had a great year, but we're very proud of our kids and we get to play on."

Saturday marked just the third loss in the past four seasons for Maine South, whose seniors finished with three state championships, four Central Suburban League South titles an astounding record of 50-3.

"They played hard, they had a great game plan and they made plays when they needed to," said Maine South head coach Dave Inserra. "We were right there until the end. Our guys battled. They didn't get it done in the end, but I'm just very proud of these seniors and their efforts. We challenged the entire team at halftime and they responded. It was our game to win and we just didn't get it done today."

Though Alviti passed for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also adding a 15-yard touchdown run, the Patriots were able to limit Hawks running back Paul Preston to just 84 yards on 12 carries.

"We tried to keep a very close eye on Preston and Alviti and tried to take our chances with everybody else," McNamara said. "Our defensive coordinator, Josh Hjorth, had an unbelievable game plan and spent countless hours preparing and our kids were ready to play."

Morrissey finished with seven catches for 105 yards and Foley had 23 carries for 79 yards for Stevenson, which will now play the Palatine-Glenbard North winner in next week's quarterfinal. But in the meantime, Micucci and the rest of the Patriots certainly plan to enjoy the feeling of taking down the three-time defending state champs.

"I went to every one of those Maine South-Stevenson games, and to finally be here and win it, it's unbelievable," said Micucci. "After the 2003 game, my dad put his arms around my shoulders and said as we were walking away, 'One day you're going to beat Maine South.' And it's kind of amazing how life goes full circle like that."

Players of the game: Stevenson senior QB Matt Micucci: 20-for-32 passing, 243 yards, 2 TDs, INT / Maine South junior QB Matt Alviti 16-for-25 passing, 214 yards, 2 TDs, INT and 17 carries for 49 yards, TD.

Stat of the game: This was just the third Maine South loss in the past four seasons. The win was also Stevenson's first over Maine South in seven tries.

It was over when: With less than a minute to play and just one timeout remaining, Maine South was called for encroachment on second-and-5 from its own 33-yard line; the Patriots received a first down and Micucci would kneel twice to run out the clock.

Quote of the night: "This is something I've been waiting for my whole life. My brother lost to Maine South and it's always been a goal in our family to beat them, and now that we've finally done it, I just can't believe it happened." -- Stevenson sophomore WR Matt Morrissey

Lake Zurich shuts down Glenbard West in upset

November, 5, 2011
GLEN ELLYN -- Lake Zurich was able to contain a Glenbard West offense that scored fewer than 21 points only once this year, clawing and scratching its way to a gritty 10-3 upset win on Saturday.

The Bears, who were in the Class 7A state finals just a year ago, pulled it off despite being outsized in the trenches. Dealing with Penn State recuit Tommy Schutt (6-3, 290 pounds) is a tall task for any offensive line. But the Bears held their own on the play that mattered the most: a 15-yard run by running back Mike Shield for the only touchdown of the game.

When asked about the size differential, receiver John Orlando pointed to his chest.

Glenbard West Lake Zurich“We got the heart,” Orlando said. “We like being the underdog and coming out there and showing everyone what we can do.”

The Bears defense was also able to limit the Hilltoppers’ mobile quarterback Justice Odom to only a few big plays. Odom finished 9-for-20 passing for 113 yards but Lake Zurich’s defensive backs did a nice job of not letting anyone get behind them for a big play. Odom also had 15 carries for 84 yards.

When the Hilltoppers look back at the footage, they will be kicking themselves over all the mental mistakes they made. They had seven costly penalties, two of those coming on third-and-short, making things more difficult on an offense that had trouble finding its rhythm all game long.
But no penalty was more costly than the personal foul after an Orlando punt return that placed the ball at the Hilltoppers 15-yard line. The Bears scored on the ensuing play, giving them a 7-0 lead with four seconds left in the first quarter.

The only drive on which the Hilltoppers moved the ball consistently was in the second quarter when they drove 61 yards on nine plays for a 30-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the half.

Yet the Hilltoppers gave up another big play on the Bears’ next possession. A 66-yard run by Orlando put the Bears within field goal range with time ticking down in the half.

“Everyone made their blocks and the lane was just wide open. I just kept going but I got caught from behind, sadly,” Orlando said.

The Bears capitalized and went into halftime up 10-3.

The key story of the second half was the punting game by the Bears. With the offense only being able to muster up two first downs, both of which came on the final drive of the game, the Bears had to punt often and senior Mark Weber stepped up and delivered booming punt after punt, consistently pinning the Hilltoppers deep in their own territory.

“Our punting game was outstanding in helping us with the field position,” Lake Zurich head coach Bryan Stortz said. “That really helped our defense tremendously because they couldn’t take as many shots.”

On the Hilltoppers last drive of the game, they had another mental mistake, being flagged for a delay of game on third-and-9 with under four minutes left. After being pushed back, Odom was only able to scramble for four yards and the ball went back to the Bears.

With 2:47 left in the game and only one timeout remaining for Glenbard West, Orlando took the snap from the Wildcat formation and ran for 12 yards and the first down. That was the first time the Bears were able to move the chains in the second half.

Player of the game: Orlando was the big-play guy for the Bears. He was seen mostly in the Wildcat formation and sprung through a hole at the end of the first half and darted 66 yards to set the Bears up with a field goal attempt.

Stat of the game: Four punts inside the 25-yard line for Weber in the second half alone. He came up huge for the Bears as he never allowed the Hilltoppers to start off with good field position.

It was over when: Orlando took the snap out of the Wildcat and sprinted left, eluding tacklers and stumbling for a 12 yard gain on a third-and-7 late in the fourth quarter. The Hilltoppers were forced to use their final timeout and the Bears ran out the clock from there.

Quote of the night: “We spent a lot of time in the film room this week. We really picked up on their formations and we had it nailed down to the select plays they could have ran before the ball was even snapped. We did a great job of reading and recognizing. Our pass defense was a little shaky but they are going to make plays. That’s inevitable. We just have to make more. “ – Running back/defensive back Mike Shield on their preparation this week.

Naperville Central having twice the fun

November, 5, 2011
NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Redhawks Nation is at full strength in November.

Naperville Central cruised to a 43-3 victory over Belleville East in the second round of the IHSA Class 8A football playoffs on Friday night and though the home stands were nearly filled at kickoff, plenty more fans made their way to Memorial Stadium after watching the Redhawks' boys soccer team advance to the state finals with a 4-3 win over Fremd in penalty kicks.

Naperville "Redhawks athletics -- it's unreal right now," said quarterback Ian Lewandowski, who scored three first-half touchdowns. "I don't think anyone expected the Redhawks to be like this this year. Our soccer team is in the state finals, we're in the quarterfinals and all of our teams are doing a great job. We have the biggest fan base in the state, I think, and with all of the support from the community, it's just awesome. Everybody's in a great mood because of this."

After receiving the opening kickoff, Naperville Central (8-3) jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a five-play drive which ended in the first of two Tyler Gillen field goals. The visiting Lancers (6-4) would respond, stringing together an 11-play drive of their own and evening the score with a 23-yard field goal from Austin Bartle. From that point on, however, everything went the Redhawks' way.

On the ensuing possession, senior running back Matt Randolph (199 yards, 2 TDs) put Naperville Central back on top with a 2-yard touchdown run, and just three plays later, defensive lineman Zach Borta sacked Belleville East quarterback David Carter in the end zone for a safety. Naperville Central would score once more before the first quarter came to a close as Lewandowski reached paydirt on a 1-yard quarterback sneak, giving Naperville Central a 19-3 advantage.

Midway through the second quarter, Naperville Central's Pat Clark recovered a Belleville East fumble and Lewandowski then tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to John Dicianni on the very next play from scrimmage. The Redhawks’ senior quarterback added a 6-yard touchdown run less than two-minutes later and the Redhawks took a 33-3 lead into halftime.

"One thing this group prides itself on is coming out and giving great effort," said Redhawks head coach Mike Stine. "Right from the get-go, we wanted to come out, take the ball down the field and score. They held us to a field goal and then came back and tied us 3-3, but we were able to break [things open] after that.

"Matt was special again tonight, [as was] our offensive line, Ian and our defense. That's a great offense over there and to hold them out of the end zone was a great effort by that group of guys."

The Redhawks didn't let up int he second half either, scoring their final ten points within four minutes of the kickoff and a running clock was put into effect with 7:43 remaining in the third quarter. Naperville Central would force a total of four Belleville East turnovers in the game, but Lancers head coach Tim Funk didn't attribute his team's woes to the 270-plus mile bus-trip his team took for the second week in a row. Rather, Funk acknowledged the strength of Naperville Central's defense.

"That's not why we lost tonight -- we got beat by a better football team," said Funk. "When you play a team like [Naperville Central] you can't make mistakes like we did and they deserve a lot of credit. We're not going to take anything away from them, but at the same time, in order to do the things we need to do to be successful, we can't turn the ball over, we needed to play solid defense and they're a good football team. They played a lot better than we did tonight, obviously."

The win pushed Naperville Central into the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2006, and the Redhawks are now set to host Homewood-Flossmoor next weekend.

"I don't know much about them other than they put 40 [points] on the board every game," Stine said about the Vikings. "We're going to have a great defensive effort and figure out a way to try and slow them down."

Though the Redhawks have a full week of practice on the horizon, Stine's squad will put down their pads and head out to Frankfort on Saturday night, where they'll on the soccer team as it faces Morton High School in the IHSA Class 3A state championship.

"We're one big happy family," Stine said with a smile. "We love each other, we cheer for one another and we're out here practicing and sharing the field with the soccer team. There's no rivalry -- we want them to win the state title, they want us to win the state title and we're going to try and make a run at it."

Player of the game: Naperville Central Sr. QB Ian Lewandowski: 6-of-12, 129 yards, TD and 9 carries, 32 yards, 2 TDs; Sr. RB Matt Randolph: 16 carries, 199 yards, 2 TDs. / Belleville East Sr. RB ReShawn Bean: 20 carries, 49 yards, Jr. K Austin Bartle: 23-yard FG

Stat of the game: None of the Redhawks' eight scoring drives lasted longer than 2:20.

It was over when: Naperville Central went ahead 43-3 after a 76-yard Matt Randolph touchdown run, causing a running clock to be used over the final 19:43.

Quote of the night: "Redhawk pride is so high right now… It's great to be a Redhawk. Everyone in the school, our fans, the entire Redhawk community is rallying behind our teams right now and it's just fun. It's fun to be a Redhawk." Naperville Central Sr. RB Matt Randolph.

Gators make right moves to take out Corsairs

November, 5, 2011
MUNDELEIN, Ill. -- The Carmel defense needed another crunch-time stop.

Coming off last week’s final stand at Addison Trail, the Corsairs had more confidence in themselves to reverse their regular-season fortune and pull out the tight games.

Nazareth GenevaBut on Friday, facing a third-and-3 and trailing by five points, the defense could not stop the Crystal Lake South offense as the Gators marched into Mundelein and beat Carmel, 14-9.

Though the Gators pride themselves on not having any star players, newly converted running back Reese Dziedzic was a handful for Carmel between the tackles, pacing the Gators offense with 30 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown.

“Last game was my first starting two-back game,” the senior said. “I’ve been playing linebacker all year but I’m happy to help the team in any way.”

The key matchup coming into the game was Carmel’s high-powered triple option offense and Crystal Lake South’s impenetrable defense. Carmel had a hard time running up the middle and was not able to get its running game going until late in the fourth quarter when it was too late.

Crystal Lake South head coach Chuck Ahsmann said that his 3-5-3 defense was able to handle Carmel’s offense because of its experience with the triple option within its own conference.

“Fortunately, we see this offense twice in our conference with Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge,” Ahsmann said. “We went to this defense about five years ago to try to stop those two teams and if we matched up against [Carmel] in the playoffs.”

The Gators started off fast on offense with a 13-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a 2-yard touchdown run by Dziedzic. That drive immediately made a statement to Carmel and all of the spectators.

“It set the tone,” Ahsmann said. “Maybe they took us a little too lightly. They’ve pounded us pretty good the past couple times we’ve played them in the playoffs. Coming in and doing that and being able to maintain it for the rest of the game was huge.”

The Corsairs were only able to put three points on the board in the first half as senior running back Jordan Kos (19 carries, 83 yards) was only able to gain 42 yards on 10 carries by the break.

Like the first half, the Gators scored on their first drive in the second half as quarterback Austin Fowler found senior tight end Dom Winiecki on a slant for a 79-yard score putting them up 14-3. That touchdown was also the first of Winiecki’s career.

The momentum seemed to shift slightly in the fourth quarter when the Corsairs were driving and running back Mike Panico (12 carries, 54 yards) seemed to go out of bounds after a couple-yard gain. The Gators defense didn’t realize that he never actually went out and Panico scrambled for a few more yards and a first down. Panico later punched it in from one yard out for Carmel’s only touchdown of the game. The two-point conversion was no good as Kos, Carmel’s all-time leading rusher, ran into a wall of white at the 1-yard line, preventing Carmel from pulling within three.

On the following possession for the Gators, Ahsmann faced a fourth-and- 1 at his own 22-yard line. Ahsmann, who claims to not be much of a gambling man, told his punter Brad Walovitch to run for the first down if he thought he could make it. And if he didn’t make it?

“They’ll score and they’ll win.” Ahsmann said to Walovitch.

Luckily for Ahsmann and the Gators, Walovitch made it. By a nose.

Player of the game: In only his second start this year at running back, Dziedzic was impressive. He used his 6-0, 210-pound frame to plow over defenders and also showed nice ability to cut back to find the open lane.

Stat of the game: Austin Fowler was 1-for-4 passing for 79 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His only completion was a 79-yard strike that gave the Gators a boost to start the second half that continued for the rest of the game.

It was over when: After Carmel used up all of their timeouts, Dziedzic ran for seven yards on a third-and-3 to essentially seal the deal for the Gators.

Quote of the night: “We moved Reese from linebacker to running back and it’s made a huge difference. He’s a hell of a football player. During the course of the season, we felt we needed him on defense. We thought that we needed to stop teams first and then score a couple of points and we’ll probably win the game. Now that we are in the playoffs, some other guys have come along. But Reese is a heck of a running back.” – Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann on senior Reese Dziedic’s transition to running back.

WWS blanks Lincoln-Way East for upset win

November, 5, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ill. – Wheaton Warrenville South senior Jack Lipinsky was asked by classmates throughout the day Friday if he felt the Tigers had a real shot at beating undefeated Lincoln-Way East in the evening.

Lipinsky, a defensive end, assured them Wheaton Warrenville South would win as long as the offense could score once.

Lincoln-Way East Wheaton Warrenville South On Friday night, Wheaton Warrenville South’s offense gave him exactly what he sought, and Lipinsky and the defense handled the rest. The Tigers shut out Lincoln-Way East’s high-powered offense, and the two-time defending Class 7A state champs advanced to the state quarterfinals with a 7-0 upset win over the Griffins.

“Our defense has been outstanding the entire year,” said Lipinsky, who had 2.5 sacks in the win. “We put it on our back. Our offense just has to give us one score, and we’ll win the game.”

Wheaton Warrenville South (8-3) will play the winner of Saturday’s matchup of Oswego and East St. Louis in the Class 7A quarterfinals next week.

Wheaton Warrenville South’s offense did its part midway through the second quarter. Mike Shelton put the Tigers in favorable field position when he returned a punt 20 yards to Lincoln-Way East’s 24-yard line. After two consecutive runs, quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong connected with Sam Prete for a 17-yard touchdown with 6:33 remaining in the half.

[+] EnlargeLincoln-Way East
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comLincoln-Way East defenders gang-tackle Wheaton Warrenville South running back Dan Vitale.
It would the game’s one and only score.

“Coming back from two state championships back to back, we didn’t think we could get any better,” Prete said. “But our philosophy was to reach higher ground and work hard every day. We do have a lot of potential on this team, and it’s really starting to come together. It’s an awesome feeling.”

Lincoln-Way East (10-1) moved the ball on the Tigers, but couldn’t capitalize when they got into Wheaton Warrenville South’s territory. On the Griffins’ first two possessions, they missed field goal attempts of 38 and 46 yards. On their fourth drive, Lincoln-Way East quarterback Blake Winkler was intercepted by Zach Kyllonen on Wheaton Warrenville South’s 2-yard line.

Wheaton Warrenville South’s defense was even more dominant in the second half. The Griffins’ best chance to score was on the game’s final play when Winkler heaved the ball in the end zone from the Tigers’ 27-yard line, and the pass was broken up.

“We got [near] the red zone three times in the first half and came away with zero points,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “You didn’t want to believe that was going to be the difference in the game, but what a defensive effort, especially in the first half.

“That’s why they’re the two-time defending state champs. We tip our hat off to Wheaton Warrenville South.”

Lincoln-Way East had been averaging 38 points and hadn’t scored less than 20 points in any of its previous 10 games.

Few gave Wheaton Warrenville South a chance to win its third consecutive state championship when the playoffs began, but Lipinky felt Friday’s win would change a lot of people’s minds.

“We definitely made a statement,” Lipinsky said. “I don’t believe there’s any team out there that wants to play us. We’re going up. We’re still peaking.”

Winkler was 13-of-17 passing for 129 yards.

Williams powers Downers S. past Brother Rice

November, 5, 2011
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. -- Downers Grove South notched a crucial second win in Class 8A of the IHSA playoffs by routing Chicago Southside hopefuls Brother Rice 41-14 on Friday.

The Mustangs opened the scoring within three plays, as Josh Williams caught a tight pass from quarterback AJ Simoncelli for a 48-yard touchdown.

Downers Grove South Brother RiceBrother Rice struggled with the ball early, unable to convert on fourth down twice and barely able to get within their opponents' territory.

The Mustangs, in contrast, did well by capitalizing on Crusader turnovers. An early punt to Brother Rice was fumbled at the Crusaders' 38 yard line, putting Downers Grove South in scoring position. Kicker Anthony Farinelli put up his first of two field goals make it 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Crusaders would also fumble on first down in the second quarter again handing the Mustangs another scoring opportunity.

"We made way too many mistakes in the first half. We gave them great field position, gave them the ball," Brother Rice coach Steve Nye said. "But our guys didn't quit. They never quit."

Before the end of the half, Williams, who had 151 total yards on the night, scored the second touchdown, and a third right after the next Brother Rice fumble at their own 20. Farinelli kicked another 3-point strike with 0:04 left in the half to make it 27-0.

The Crusaders took some points back six minutes into the second half, as Andrew Walker raced in a 27-yard touchdown off a handoff. Walker, who had 82 total yards, followed it up five minutes later with another touchdown on the next possession to make it 27-14.

"We got comfortable a little in the third quarter and [Brother Rice] got some momentum," said Mustangs offensive tackle Sean Eslit. "But we found our rhythm and worked hard to get it done the last 12 minutes."

Downers South's defense contained Rice throughout the fourth quarter, as Crusaders quarterback Pat Parilli exited the game injured with nine minutes to go.

Simoncelli's fourth-quarter 18-yard pass to Kaylon Miller bumped the Mustangs' lead to 20 points. John Wauer later ran in a 1-yard handoff to seal the deal for Downers Grove South.

Player of the game: Josh Williams, whose power and consistency gave Downers South three early TDs.

The game was over when: At 34-14, the Mustangs' defense clamped down on Brother Rice, ending their scoring hopes.

Stat of the game: Three touchdowns and 151 yards by Williams in a dominant Downers South first half.

Play of the game: Kaylon Miller's sneaky TD reception off the right side at the start of the fourth.

Quote of the game: AJ Simoncelli, "It was our offensive line. Those guys won the game for us."

What it means: DGS moves on, and Brother Rice's season ends. Martez Walker and Andrew Walker, the Crusaders' top two all-time leading rushers, graduate to college ball.