High School: Plainfield North
1. Taking their place in history: Wheaton Warrenville South was dominant from the 2010 season’s opening kickoff to its final seconds. The Tigers began the season by knocking off Maine South on ESPN, followed that up by rolling through one of the toughest conferences in the state, battled through a deep Class 7A field which included last year’s state runner-up Glenbard West and ultimately defeated Lake Zurich and its stellar defense for their second consecutive state championship. They finished No. 1 in ESPNChicago.com’s area poll and No. 13 nationally in ESPN RISE’s poll.
2. East St. Louis’ dismissal : If anyone was going to give Wheaton Warrenville South competition, East St. Louis was the team. The Flyers were also nationally ranked and full of college prospects. Just before the playoffs began, the IHSA ruled East St. Louis would be removed from the Class 7A playoff field because they used an ineligible player. The Flyers appealed the IHSA’s judgment, were granted a temporary restraining order and won their first-round playoff game before the IHSA finally ruled again and East St. Louis was removed from the playoffs for good.
3. The unlikely 3-peat: Maine South’s chances of winning its third consecutive state championship looked much in doubt when the Hawks opened the season with back-to-back losses, including a 44-7 one to Wheaton Warrenville South on national television. Maine South never lost faith, though. The young Hawks got better and better each week, and when it was all said and done, they were on top again. They defeated another historic program, Mount Carmel, in the Class 8A state championship.
4. The best by far: Wheaton Warrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O'Toole ran away with the ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year award. While leading the Tigers to their second consecutive state championship, he completed 186-of-252 passes for 3,187 yards, 42 touchdowns and three interceptions. An Illinois recruite, he could give the Illini’s young quarterbacks a run for their money sooner rather than later.
5. Bibbs’ day: The question Kapri Bibbs received more than any other this season was whether his commitment to Colorado State was still firm. The reason everyone asked that was because they assumed bigger schools would come calling for him after the Plainfield North running back rushed all over the competition this season. His biggest game was when he ran for a state-record 520 yards against Oswego in Week 6. He also added seven touchdowns in the win. To his credit, Bibbs is loyal and will be playing for the Rams. He was the ESPNChicago.com Offensive Player of the Year.
6. Hiben’s day : Glenbard West isn’t known for its passing game. The Hilltoppers like to run the ball as much as possible. But in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, Glenbard West senior wide receiver Mark Hiben put his team’s passing game in the record books. Hiben caught 12 passes for a state-record 319 yards in the Hilltoppers’ 42-28 win over Lincoln-Way East.
8. The greatest show in Vernon Hills: The state of Illinois possessed two ESPNU Top 150 players this season, and they both happened to belong to the same team. Vernon Hills was blessed with two of the state’s most dynamic players in DaVaris Daniels and Evan Spencer. Daniels, a Notre Dame recruit, had 23 catches for 513 yards and five touchdowns, threw for 173 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 637 yards and 10 touchdowns, returned two punts for touchdowns, intercepted six passes and scored one defensive touchdown. Spencer, a Ohio State recruit, had 23 catches for 410 yards and six touchdowns, rushed for 266 yards and eight touchdowns, returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns, intercepted two passes and had two defensive touchdowns.
9. Catholic League trio: Before the season, the Catholic League title was thought to be a race between Loyola, Mount Carmel and St. Rita. While it was expected to be close in the end, no one could have imagined that all three would share the title. Loyola defeated St. Rita, St. Rita defeated Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel defeated Loyola, and they all tied for first place.
10. The turnaround : Craig Buzea took over a Homewood-Flossmoor program that a season ago was one of the worst in the area, going 1-8. In just a year’s time, Buzea transformed the Vikings’ culture and their record. Homewood-Flossmoor went 10-3 this season and fell just short of reaching the Class 8A title game, losing 28-21 to Mount Carmel in the semifinals. With quarterback Tim Williams returning and Buzea still making strides to improve the program, watch out for the Vikings down the road.
Kane’s biggest player was 6-2 and 215 pounds while most of them were around 5-10 and 205 pounds. The linemen opened holes, but the holes weren’t exactly the same as the ones a line of 260-plus pounders can produce. That’s just a fact.
“I know there are some great running backs in the state of Illinois,” Kane said. “I think we had a bunch of kids who worked their tail off, but he wasn’t running behind linemen who are 6-4 and 295 pounds. I’m not taking anything away from our kids, but there are kids running behind offensive lines that size.”
Not only did Bibbs have an average-sized line, but his opponents knew he was going to get the ball and prepared every week for him. Yet, Bibbs still ran wild.
He rumbled for 338 yards and six touchdowns against Grant. He had 306 yards and four touchdowns against Plainfield Central. He rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns against Romeoville. He had 354 yards and five touchdowns against rival Plainfield South.
Those were just his good days. His best one came when he ran for a state-record 520 yards against Oswego on Oct. 1.
“I thought he was going to be better than last year, but to put up the numbers he did, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that or anticipated that,” Kane said. “When I sit down to put together the highlight tape for his senior year, it’s going to be an amazing sight.”
Staying on the subject of sight, Kane and Bibbs agreed it was his vision that separated him from most backs. Bibbs ran this season as if he saw the play unfold before it actually unfolded. He cut at the right moment. He stopped at the right moment. He burst through a hole at the right moment.
“Definitely, it’s my vision,” Bibbs said. “That’s what I appreciate most as a running back. Speed can’t get you everywhere. If you can have speed, vision and power, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. There’s no stopping that.”
Colorado State, where Bibbs is headed next season, is surely hoping that continues. While other schools have continued to call during Bibbs’ historic season, he’s continued to stay firm on his original commitment.
For one, Bibbs is loyal, so he says he wouldn’t change his mind no matter what school was interested. Secondly, he wants to create something of his own at Colorado State.
“I want to be able to build something,” Bibbs said. “I don’t want to go somewhere that’s already built. I want to be able to build a legacy.”
Curie senior defensive lineman James Adeyanju
Adeyanju was the premier defensive lineman in the Public League and one of the best in the state this season. He had 71 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He will play at Wisconsin next season.
“He was able to go out and control football games despite being double- and triple-teamed every week,” Curie coach Tyson LeBlanc said. “He’s got a motor. He would fight through the first guy, fight through the second guy and go find the ball.”
St. Rita senior running back Jahwon Akui
Akui capped of his career by becoming St. Rita’s all-time leading rusher. As a senior, he ran for 1,650 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was co-Catholic League Offensive Player of the Year. He is being recruited by a number of schools for football and wrestling.
“He was the most physical running back that I have ever coached and was as sound a blocker as he was a runner,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “Jahwon was as competitive a player as I have seen and will definitely be hard to replace”
Hinsdale Central senior offensive lineman Jack Allen
In his third year starting for Hinsdale Central, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Allen continued to be a menace for defensive linemen. Also a star wrestler, Allen possesses a perfect mix of strength and speed. He is committed to Michigan State.
“Jack Allen is one of the most intense players that I have had the pleasure to coach,” Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo said. “He brings a relentless attitude to practice each and every day. It’s one thing to be a great player, but Jack also has the ability to make those players around him better, thereby making his team better. He is one of a kind.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior defensive back Caleb Bednarz
A four-year varsity player, Bednarz has been a consistent fixture in the Tigers’ secondary and in their return game. He will play in third state championship game this weekend. He had a team-leading seven interceptions this season. He picked off two passes in the state quarterfinals against Glenbard West.
“Defensively, I think he’s a great playmaker,” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. “He has natural instincts to read and move athletically and jump on passes. He’s very cunning in that regard.”
Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs
The area possessed a number of quality running backs this season, but Bibbs was at another level. He rushed for 2,654 yards and 38 touchdowns on 300 carries. He also passed for two touchdowns. In his biggest game this season, he rushed for a state-record 520 yards and seven touchdowns against Oswego. He was the ESPNChicago.com Offensive Player of the Year. He is committed to Colorado State.
“Kapri had an outstanding year … the type of year that should put him on anyone’s all-state list and player of the year ballot,” Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said. “He is a well-rounded runner in that he runs between the tacklers for tough yards and has elite speed in the open field. He is ultra-competitive and did all he could to help us win games this year.”
Fremd senior offensive/defensive lineman Brian Bobek
Bobek, who is 6-3 and 275 pounds, is considered one of the top offensive lineman in the country. He helped pave the way for much of Fremd’s offensive attack this season while the Vikings reached the second round of the Class 8A playoffs. He is headed to Ohio State.
“Brian Bobek has lived up to his All-American status,” Fremd coach Michael Donatucci said. “He dominated at center against some of the top teams in the state and was also a mainstay as a defensive tackle. A leader on and off the field, Brian has been a huge part of our success as a program.”
“He just continued to do the things we needed him to do,” Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. “It’s become harder and harder for him because people continue to focus on him. He didn’t put up the big numbers as he did last year, but he continued to put up the performances that we needed.”
Simeon senior offensive lineman Chris Bryant
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Bryant was one of the state’s biggest offensive linemen, but also one of the most talented. Bryant was the key piece on a line that led to the Wolverines scoring 40-plus points in 11 games this season. He is being recruited by a number of elite schools.
“He was incredible in the things he was doing out there,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “He was dominant out there.”
Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler
Butler emerged as one of the area’s top dualthreat quarterbacks this season. He led the Falcons in rushing and passing. He ran for 608 yards and six touchdowns. He was 187-of-275 passing for 1,956 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“I just think he’s more confident,” Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. “Last year, he felt a lot of pressure trying to fill in for Taylor Graham, who was a Big Ten recruit. He now feels like this is his team. He’s a senior. Guys look to him as a leader and not a fill-in guy. He’s always been kind of level-headed, a cool character. He doesn’t seem to get rattled too much.”
Kaneland senior quarterback Joe Camiliere
Camiliere had high expectations leading up to the season and met them. He was 194-of-299 passing for 2,955 yards, 36 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 687 yards and nine touchdowns while leading Kaneland to the state semifinals.
Vernon Hills senior wide receiver/defensive back DaVaris Daniels
Daniels did a lot of everything for the Cougars this season. He caught 23 passes for 513 yards and five touchdowns. He was 11-of-23 passing for 173 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 637 yards and 10 touchdown on 59 carries. He returned two punts for touchdowns. He intercepted six passes with one for a touchdown. He also had 20 tackles. He will play at Notre Dame next season.
“He’s the most gifted athlete I’ve coached and an even better person,” Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. “ We’re going to miss him, but also can’t wait to watch him on Saturdays.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis
Davis emerged as the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver in the season and continued to flourish throughout the year as Reilly O’Toole favorite target. He caught 52 passes for 1,135 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is being recruited by a number of Division I schools.
“He’s unbelievable, just a great athlete,” Wheaton Warrenville South senior Reilly O’Toole said. “He can always get open. He has great hands. He’s just an unstoppable receiver. I want to get the ball in his hands.”
Prospect senior quarterback Steve Dazzo
Dazzo stepped in perfectly in the shoes of Illinois-bound quarterback Miles Osei and was one of the area’s top dual-threat quarterbacks this year. Dazzo threw for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 1,476 yards and 23 touchdown for one of the state’s top offenses.
“It was his first year playing quarterback,” Prospect coach Brent Pearlman said. “He led us not only with arm and his legs, but with his spirit.”
Maine South junior linebacker Tyler Fahey
Fahey was a major reason behind Maine South’s run to the Class 8A state championship game. After missing the first two games of the year – both losses – Fahey was an impact player on the defensive side the rest of the way. He had 81 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
“He’s very athletic,” Maine South coach David Inserra said. “He probably studies more film than anyone I’ve coached. He’s always so prepared for a game. Sometimes, he’s coaching us. He hits. He’s our second biggest hitter.”
Marist senior kicker/punter Ben Falloon
Falloon was one of the area’s most accurate kickers this season. He connected on 7-of-11 field goals this season with all seven coming from 30-plus yards. His longest was from 50, and all four of his misses were from 50 yards and beyond. He also made 32-of-33 extra points and punted for a 38.2-yard average on 43 punts.
“He is by far the most mentally tough player I’ve been around,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “The kicks he’s had in high-pressure situations, I’ve never seen anyone so mentally tough. He also has one of the best work ethics I’ve been around.”
Lemont senior defensive back Clayton Fejedelem
Fejedelem was one of the area’s biggest threats whenever he touched the ball. He returned three punts for touchdowns and one kickoff. He also had 69 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and blocked three kicks.
“He was the strongest player on the team,” Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. “He has a nose for the ball and is physical and fast.”
Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson
Ferguson was good for a first down almost every time he touched the ball. He rushed for 1,886 yards on 144 carries, giving him a 13.1 average. He finished with 25 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and one kickoff return touchdown. He will play at Illinois next season.
“I think he had to be one of the greatest running backs I’ve had a chance to see let alone to coach,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said.
Gregory was the motor for one of the state’s most high-powered offenses. He completed 84-of-120 passes for 1,600 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 919 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is being recruited by a number of big-time schools.
“I was impressed with the way he was able to pick up the offense and run the team,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “He did a good job with the offense this year. He ran the team better. His decision-making got better. He got stronger. He got faster. I believe he got better overall.” Marmion senior linebacker/running back T.J. Lally
There were few in the state as good as Lally on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 1,264 yards and 16 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 130 tackles and six sacks while leading the Cadets to the Class 6A state title game. He is being recruited by a number of Division II programs.
“He’s an old-school football player,” Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. “He’s tough, physical and has a great heart. He’s just a playmaker. He has a lot more speed than people give him credit for, and he’s so physical.”
Naperville North senior linebacker Nick LifkaLifka was the Brian Urlacher of Illinois high school football this season. Wherever the ball was, Lifka was. He had 168 tackles (113 solo), 13 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. He also had an offensive touchdown. He was the ESPNChicago.com Defensive Player of the Year. He is committed to Boston College.
“A throwback player who plays the game the way it was meant to be played,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said. “The best player I have ever coached, and quite possibly as good as a person as he is a player. We will never be able to replace a Nick Lifka.”
Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little
Little made up for lost time after missing last season. He rushed for 1,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes. Against Simeon in the playoffs, he rushed for three touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. He is uncommitted.
“I think his vision is good,” Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. “I think he’s sneaky powerful for his size. I don’t think you expect someone of his size to hit you like he does. His ability to hit you and make you miss, that’s the tough part. His speed is good, but it’s not great. He’s not going to run past everyone on Friday night, but he’s going to make everyone miss.”
Lincoln-Way East senior linebacker Pat Meehan
Meehan led one of the top defenses in the area. He had 123 total tackles with 79 solo. He had 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and one touchdown. He is committed to Illinois State.
“Pat has set a new standard of linebacker play at Lincoln-Way East,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “He has every tool necessary to become a dominate college football player. A tremendous young man both on and off the field.”
Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer
No player in the state may have meant as much to his team as Meyer did to Elk Grove. He was the Grenadiers’ offense. Meyer was 180-of-293 passing for 2,258 yards and 20 touchdowns. He rushed 1,011 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had 44 tackles and one interception on defense. He is uncommitted.
“Every time Nick touched the ball this season, you realized there was a chance he could do something very special,” Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said. “His ability to change the game so quickly put him in a special class of football players. He broke almost every offensive Elk Grove High School record during his three seasons on varsity. He will be missed.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole
Expectations were high for O’Toole this season after starting for last year’s state championship team and committing to Illinois , and he surpassed everything people thought he was capable of this season. O’Toole was named the ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year after completing 172-of-229 passes for 3,005 touchdowns, 40 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also rushed 393 yards and six touchdowns. He will play for the Illini next season.
“He’s a special kid,” Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet.
Lake Zurich senior linebacker JJ Raffelson
Raffelson was the catalyst behind the state’s top defense. He had 111 tackles and 23 tackles for a loss while helping the Bears to the Class 7A state championship game. He is being recruited by a handful of Division I schools.
“He spent a tremendous amount of time in the offseason working his speed development as well as in the film room,” Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. “He has logged a lot of hours studying the opponent. He knows how they’re going to act and what we’re going to do.”
Glenbard West junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Schutt is considered one of the top junior defensive lineman in the country. He had 67 tackles, 14 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks this past season. He is being recruited by a number of high-profile schools.
Vernon Hills wide receiver/defensive back Evan Spencer
Spencer and DaVaris Daniels made for one exciting pair. Spencer had 23 catches for 410 yards and six touchdowns. He rushed for 266 yards and eight touchdowns. He returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns. He also had 25 tackles, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He’s committed to Ohio State.
“He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever been around, and his ability to play the ball high, run strong with the ball and pull away from defenders sets him apart from all others,” Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. “He’s been a tremendous leader and role model for our program, and they’re going to love him at Ohio State.”
Mount Carmel senior quarterback Chris Sujka
No one in the area ran the option offense better than Sujka. A two-year starter for the Caravan, Sujka rushed for 1,344 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. He also was 50-of-104 passing for 728 yards and four touchdowns. He was named the co-Catholic League Offensive Player of the Year.
“He told me right from the beginning of the season that the game had slowed down for him,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. “As a junior, he was always real frantic. He made me nervous out there watching him. This year when he runs the option, he’s very confident and comfortable with what he does.”
Loyola senior defensive lineman Mark Sullivan
Sullivan was the Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year. He had 88 tackles, 10 sacks and one forced fumbled for one of the area’s top defenses. He is uncommitted.
“Mark is incredibly athletic for a defensive lineman,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “He has a great motor, good instincts and pursuits to the ball like no other defensive lineman I have coached. He has had a dominant senior year, ending the regular season as the total tackle, sack, and QB pressure leader for one of the best defenses in the area. While not yet the size of a D-I interior lineman, he has the height and frame to gain muscle and be a real force at the next level.”
Carmel senior linebacker Luke Venegoni
Venegoni was the defensive leader for one of the best defenses in the state. He was a three-year starter. He had 120 tackles, 63 solo tackles, six tackles for a loss and two sacks this season. He is being recruited by a number of schools.
“Luke Venegoni is extremely fast and strong,” Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. “He worked very hard in the offseason to position himself to be the defensive player of the year in the ESCC.”
Barrington junior offensive lineman Dan Voltz
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Voltz was a rock for this year’s Barrington offensive line. He opened many holes for the Broncos’ successful running game this season and helped Barrington turn last year’s losing record until a winning one this season. He is being recruited by some of the country’s top football programs.
“Dan is a relentless performer whose best attribute I believe is that he is a finisher,” Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. “He is very athletic for his size and is always looking to improve. He is a tremendous role model for our players both on and off the field. I firmly believe his best football is still front of him.”
Glenbard West senior offensive lineman Jordan Walsh
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Walsh is one of the top offensive linemen in the country. His blocking has been vital to the Hilltoppers’ offensive success the past few seasons. He will play next season at Iowa.
“Jordan, he’s an incredible player," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "He goes 100 percent all the time. When he gets that helmet on, and he gets between the lines, he flips that switch and gets that attitude. He'll just bury people.”
Montini junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp
Coming off a breakout sophomore season, Westerkamp took his game to another level this year and became the most dominant wide receiver in the area. He caught 82 passes for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s being recruiting by a number of Big Ten schools.
“He is a special football player and the best I have ever had in my 32 years at Montini,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “A 40-inch vertical jump with great hands and body control, he makes all the catches in traffic with defenders all around him. His toughness and strength are also seen in his yards after catch and his blocking. He is a complete receiver and a Division I player at the college level.”
Glenbard North senior offensive lineman Paul Wisniewski
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Wisniewski has been a dominant offensive lineman in the DuPage Valley the past three seasons as a starter for the Panthers. He’s uncommitted, but has a number of schools recruiting him.
“He can run and pass block equally well for a player that is 6-4 and 300 pounds,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “He has exceptional feet and is a great blocker.”
Richards senior defensive back/wide receiver Jarrell Williams
Williams was a jack of all trades for Richards this season. He had 65 tackles, three tackles for loss, five deflections, two caused fumbles and three interceptions. Offensively, he rushed for 402 yards and six touchdowns, caught 18 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns and had one punt return touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown. He will play at Northwestern next season.
“Jarrell was asked to do a lot for us this year,” Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. “He did a great job. He is so valuable, he can cover, hit, run the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball, and we asked him to do it all. He very rarely ever came off the field. He is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands.”
Stevenson senior linebacker Brion Wood
Wood anchored one of the area’s top defenses. He had 130 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. He is committed to Penn.
“He does a lot for us,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “He’s basically another coach on the field. He’s a very smart young man. He scored a 33 on the ACT. When we need to make adjustments or an opposition comes out with a unique formation, he has the ability to line us up correctly and be ready to play football. He’s able to combine the physical and mental parts of the game.”
Sandburg senior kicker/punter Taylor Zalewski
Zalewski is ranked among the top kickers in the nation by ESPN. He connected on 11-of-13 field goals this season with his longest coming from 48 yards. He also was 28 for 29 on extra points and sent 41 of 55 kickoffs in the end zone. He is being recruited by Michigan, Minnesota and other Division I schools.
“He was a huge offensive weapon for us because of his ability to score points for us,” Sandburg coach Dave Wierzal said. “He also helped control field position because he also punts for us.”
Honorable mention all-area
Minooka senior running back Kyle Banks
Mount Carmel senior running back Michael Banks
Thornton senior running back Damien Bell
Crystal Lake South senior offensive lineman Jake Bernstein
South Elgin senior running back Brad Birchfield
Prospect senior running back/defensive back Peter Bonahoom
Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello
Minooka senior defensive lineman Zach Colvin
Wheaton Warrenville senior defensive lineman Will Davis
St. Patrick junior wide receiver Guy DiBalsamo
Stevenson senior quarterback Kevin Earl
Glenbrook North junior offensive lineman Brian Ermel
Montini senior defensive lineman Ross Ferraro
Mount Carmel senior linebacker Conor Flaherty
Bishop McNamara senior offensive lineman Matt Frazier
Glenbard West senior wide receiver Mark Hiben
Morgan Park junior quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley
Schaumburg senior quarterback Mark Iannotti
Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos
Naperville North senior quarterback Matt LaCosse
Glenbard West senior defensive back Mike Laning
Warren senior running back Tom Lindal
St. Rita senior offensive lineman Brian Lurquin
Plainfield South senior quarterback Sheldon Magee
Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall
Joliet Catholic senior linebacker Mike Mettille
Stevenson junior kicker Matt Micucci
Lincoln-Way East senior offensive lineman Joe Mizera
Waubonsie Valley senior defensive lineman Devon Morgan
St. Rita senior linebacker Matt Mullen
Maine South senior offensive lineman Victor Nelson
Homewood-Flossmoor senior running back Malik Norman
Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth
Downers Grove South senior wide receiver Ryan Oruche
York senior defensive back Joe Paparone
Marist senior wide receiver Alex Puhar
Neuqua Valley senior linebacker TJ Rhattigan
Joliet Catholic senior offensive lineman Kyle Rouse
Homewood-Flossmoor senior offensive lineman Michael Rouse
Simeon senior defensive back Darius Scott
Kaneland senior defensive lineman/running back Blake Serpa
Lyons senior defensive back/wide receiver Mark Sewall
T.F. South senior linebacker Robert Sterling
Marian Catholic junior running back Jeruel Taylor
Prairie Ridge senior defensive back Devon Vance
Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver
Loyola senior wide receiver EJ Webb
Downers Grove South junior running back Josh Williams
Glenbard North senior defensive lineman Alex Wynn
ESPNChicago.com’s Player of the Year race is heating up. It’s down to six players. It’s still Reilly O’Toole’s award to lose, but the opening few playoff rounds could decide it all.
1. Reilly O’Toole, SR, QB, Wheaton Warrrenville South (previously ranked No. 1)
Last week: O’Toole closed out an impressive regular season by completing 13-of-16 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 71 yards on six carries in a 42-6 win over West Aurora. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 9-0.
Season: 106-of-145 passing for 1,946 yards, 29 touchdowns and one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
2. Kapri Bibbs, SR, RB, Plainfield North (2)
Last week: Bibbs had another remarkable week to keep himself near O’Toole. Bibbs rushed for 395 yards and five touchdowns on 56 carries in Plainfield North’s 43-35 win over Plainfield South. Plainfield North improved to 7-2.
Season: 2,519 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns on 280 carries.
3. Nick Meyer, SR, QB, Elk Grove (3)
Last week: Anyone outside of Bibbs and O’Toole are likely a long shot at this point, but Meyer kept himself in consideration this past week. He was 15-for-24 passing for 257 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 58 yards and one touchdown in a 35-21 win over Rolling Meadows. Elk Grove improved to 7-2.
Season: 159-of-258 passing for 2,092 yards and 19 touchdowns; 885 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
4. DaVaris Daniels, SR, WR, Vernon Hills (2)
Last week: Daniels rushed for 68 yards and one touchdown on three carries, completed 2-of-3 passes for 29 yards and caught two passes for 51 yards in Vernon Hills’ 55-6 win over North Chicago. Vernon Hills improved to 8-1.
Season: 9-of-20 passing for 141 yards and one touchdown; 13 receptions for 341 yards and four touchdowns; 431 rushing yards and seven touchdowns; two punt return touchdowns; three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
5. Robert Gregory, JR, QB, Simeon (5)
Last week: Gregory’s numbers don’t compare to the others, but it’s not his fault. Simeon has been rolling through opponents, and he’s not needed much. In last week’s 48-14 win over Brooks, he completed 2-of-2 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for one yard and one touchdown on one carry. Simeon improved to 9-0.
Season: 46-of-77 passing for 971 yards and 14 touchdowns; 777 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
6. Josh Ferguson, SR, RB, Joliet Catholic (6)
Last week: Ferguson ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in Joliet Catholic’s 45-0 win over Benet. The Hilltoppers improved to 8-1.
Season: 1,362 yards and 20 touchdowns on 104 carries.
“I probably won’t be able to move in the morning,” said Bibbs.
Plainfield North needed every yard the senior running back could give them en route to a 43-35 upset win over the previously undefeated Cougars.
“We just had a feeling coming into this game tonight that it was ours to take hold of,” Bibbs said.
Bibbs certainly made it his game, especially early on, as a first-possession turnover gave the Tigers the ball inside the Cougars’ 30. Four plays later, Bibbs scored from five yards out to give North a quick 7-0 lead.
However, the Cougars struck right back on the very next possession evening the score on Austin Howarth’s 40-yard touchdown strike to Darrell Collins.
But Bibbs would fix that in a hurry, as his 48-yard touchdown scamper followed by a 92-yard touchdown pass would balloon the Tigers’ lead to 21-7.
The 14-point lead would not last long, as Plainfield South scored 15 unanswered points to lead 22-21 at the half, but Plainfield North remained confident.
“Even when we were down, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before we retook the lead,” said Bibbs.
The opening drive of the second half was all Bibbs, as the senior ran it eight straight times, capped off by a 31-yard touchdown run, to help the Tigers regain the lead. Back and forth each team would go until a costly missed extra point with less than eight minutes remaining left the Tigers with a one-point lead. From there, Plainfield North constructed a brilliant 14-play drive that was highlighted by a fourth-and-goal touchdown run by Bibbs.
“I just kept my feet driving and my head up,” said Bibbs.
The touchdown would hold up as the Tigers sealed the victory to earn a share of the Southwest Prairie Championship.
Player of the game: Kapri Bibbs, RB, Plainfield North. Bibbs made a case for himself for player of the year with Friday night’s performance. The senior running back carried the rock 54 times for over 400 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He threw for a score as well.
Stat of the game: Plainfield South was held under 44 points for the first time all season.
It was over when… Austin Howarth and the Cougars offense could not convert on a fourth-and-10 trailing by eight points late in the fourth quarter.
Quote of the night: “People like to talk about how great their offense is…well our offense showed we’re not too bad either.” -- Plainfield North coach Tim Kane
The story:Wheaton Warrenville South looks to put the finishing touches on its second consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have been perfect in the regular season three of the past four years. They will be the favorite to win the Class 7A state championship when the playoff pairings are released on Saturday night.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 49, West Aurora 7
No. 14 Loyola (7-1) at No. 2 St. Rita (8-0) on Friday
The story:The Catholic League championship will be decided with this game. If St. Rita wins, it takes full possession. If Loyola wins, the Ramblers, St. Rita and Mount Carmel could all finish the conference season with one loss. Mount Carmel is the lone team to defeat Loyola this season. The Ramblers are led by junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver. St. Rita has relied on running back Jahwon Akui. ESPN 1000 will be in attendance.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver receives a lot of the press, but his receivers also make him look good. E.J. Webb has been his top target.
St. Rita player to watch: Mustangs linebacker Matt Mullen came up with a couple huge tackles last week. St. Rita will look for more of the same against a talented Loyola offense.
Quote:Loyola coach John Holecek -- “Rita’s O-line and running back are awesome. They’re fast and have a physical defense. We must score on all opportunities to keep up and must have no errors in the passing game. Running back Spencer Perry has to have a game if they decide to cover everything. We need to try and limit the big plays and withstand their muscle and speed. … Hope for divine intervention.”
Prediction: St. Rita 28, Loyola 27
Lyons (7-1) at No. 3 Glenbard West (8-0) on Saturday
The story:Lyons stands in the way of Glenbard West’s third consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Lions have been in a handful of close ones this season. Four of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Their lone defeat was to York. The Hilltoppers have been dominant on both sides of the ball all season. They’ve out-scored opponents 288-62. They defeated York 27-10 in Week 7.
Lyons player to watch:Chris Klotz caught a touchdown pass and blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone in the Lions’ win over Leyden last week.
Glenbard West player to watch: Beau Warden has been one of the best linebackers in the state this season. He has 91 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Quotes:Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet -- “LT is a well-balanced offense even though they run a four- and five-receiver set. To be successful, we need to be able to run the ball and keep the chains moving.”
Prediction:Glenbard West 31, Lyons 17
No. 4 Carmel (8-0) at Elder (Ohio) (2-5) on Saturday
The story: Carmel closes out its season by traveling to Ohio on Friday. Elder has had a rocky season, going 2-5. The Panthers are coming off a bye week and have had time to prepare for Carmel’s arrival.
Prediction: Carmel 42, Elder 20
Brooks (3-5) at No. 5 Simeon (8-0) on Thursday
The story: Simeon has rolled through the Public League, and this city playoff opener shouldn’t be different. The Wolverines’ focus will be on the state playoffs as they try to become the first Public League team to win a state title.
Prediction: Simeon 56, Brooks 7
No. 6 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Benet (5-3) on Thursday
The story:In a rare Thursday East Suburban Catholic game, Joliet Catholic travels to play an inconsistent Benet team. The Redwings likely clinched themselves a playoff spot with last week’s 10-7 win over St. Viator. Joliet Catholic’s offense has been unstoppable lately. The Hilltoppers have scored 48 or more points in their last four games.
Prediction:Joliet Catholic 49, Benet 17
McHenry (1-7) at No. 7 Crystal Lake South (8-0) on Friday
The story: Crystal Lake South clinched the Fox Valley Valley title last week. The Gators have won with a balanced offense and defense. They’ve out-scored their opponents 253-86.
Prediction:Crystal Lake South 42, McHenry 6
Naperville Central (4-4) at No. 8 Glenbard North (7-1) on Friday
The story:Naperville Central needs to win this game to have a shot at the playoffs. Glenbard North is looking to bounce back from its 49-6 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South last week.
Prediction:Glenbard North 23, Naperville Central 17
No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (7-1) at Joliet Central (0-8) on Saturday
The story:Lincoln-Way East has been playing well heading into the playoffs. The Griffins have won their past six games since losing to Wheaton North.
Prediction:Lincoln-Way East 56, Joliet Central 7
No. 10 Stevenson (8-0) at Antioch (7-1) on Friday
The story: Stevenson is the top team in the North Suburban Lake, and Antioch is in second place behind Vernon Hills in the North Suburban Prairie. Prairie teams haven’t fared well against Lake teams this season.
Prediction: Stevenson 35, Antioch 14
No. 11 Lake Zurich (7-1) at Lake Forest (6-2) on Friday
The story: Lake Forest is coming off a 21-0 win over previously-unbeaten Vernon Hills. It was the first time Vernon Hills had allowed a point this season. Lake Forest’s two losses came to conference foes Stevenson and Warren. Lake Zurich’s defense has been among the best in the state this season. The Bears have allowed 10 or less points six times this year.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Lake Forest 10
No. 12 Wheaton North (6-2) at Glenbard East (3-5) on Friday
The story:Wheaton North is hoping that this won’t be another nail-biter. The Falcons’ last two wins came down to the final minutes. They defeated Naperville Central 23-21 two weeks ago and Naperville North 14-7 last week.
Prediction:Wheaton North 41, Glenbard East 13
Providence (2-6) at No. 13 Mount Carmel (6-2) on Friday
The story:The season hasn’t gone according to plan for Providence, which was the 6A state runner-up last season. The Celtics began the year 0-4 and never could bounce back. If they could upset Mount Carmel, that might help their offseason. The Caravan have scored 40-plus points in five games this season.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 38, Providence 20
No. 15 Plainfield South (8-0) at Plainfield North (6-2) on Friday
The story:This has the potential to be a fun one. Plainfield South has one of the state’s premier offenses. The Cougars have scored 397 points this season. They haven’t scored less than 41 points in a game. Plainfield North has scored 33 or more points six times this year and possesses running back Kapri Bibbs, who has run for 2,000-plus yard this season. The game will decide the Southwest Prairie championship.
Plainfield South player to watch:Running back Dondre Adams is the Cougars’ offensive threat.
Plainfield North player to watch:Bibbs is in the running for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He has 2,166 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns this season.
Quotes: Plainfield North coach Tim Kane -- “They have an explosive offense with weapons at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Defensively, we will need to do all we can to eliminate big plays -- long runs and the deep pass. Offensively, obviously, we will need to get the ball in Kapri Bibbs' hands often. However, we will make some adjustments with formations and plays to maybe get it to him in different ways than we had previously as I am sure South has us very well scouted.”
Plainfield South coach Greg Banner -- “Gonna be great a high school football atmosphere, two strong teams battling for either a share of the conference title or the outright title. The biggest two keys are who makes the least mistakes, and who can stop the other from making big plays on offense. North has a strong rushing attack led by Bibbs. They have a lot of guys playing both sides of the ball, and they are talented. Should be a really exciting game.”
Prediction:Plainfield South 63, Plainfield North 54
Buffalo Grove (4-4) at No. 16 Prospect (7-1) on Friday
The story: Prospect has been one of the year’s bigger surprises. The Knights lost their season-opener and now have won seven straight, including an overtime win over Elk Grove last week. Buffalo Grove needs to win this game to be playoff eligible.
Prediction: Prospect 35, Buffalo Grove 20
No. 17 Schaumburg (6-2) at Hoffman Estates (1-7) on Friday
The story:Barrington, Fremd and Schaumburg all enter the final week with one Mid-Suburban West loss. Schaumburg’s only MSL West loss was to Barrington.
Prediction:Schaumburg 41, Hoffman Estates 10
Clark (4-4) at No. 18 Morgan Park (7-1) on Friday
The story:Morgan Park opens the Public League playoffs with Clark. The Mustangs are coming off a narrow win over previously-unbeaten Hubbard. Morgan Park quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley was this week’s ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week.
Prediction: Morgan Park 47, Clark 6
No. 19 Marmion (8-0) at Montini (6-2) on Friday
The story:This should be one of the better games in Week 9. Marmion started off the year with a couple of narrow wins and has since been crushing opponents. Montini opened the season with back-to-back losses to Joliet Catholic and Loyola and has been on a roll ever since. The Broncos have allowed six points in their past four games. The Suburban Christian Blue championship will be decided here.
Marmion player to watch:T.J. Lally ran for 209 yards on just seven carries last week.
Montini player to watch:Jordan Westerkamp has been one of the state’s top wide receivers this year. He has 52 catches for 967 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Quote: Montini coach Chris Andriano -- “The key to this week’s game is for our defense to shut down their dangerous running attack. If they are able to sustain long drives and win the time of possession, we will be in trouble. Our defense will need to get off the field on 3rd down to give our offense more possessions. Offensively, we will need to be able to run the ball to keep their defense honest. Our QB will need to continue to make good decisions and distribute the ball to all of our receivers.”
Prediction:Montini 31, Marmion 24
No. 20 Lemont (8-0) at Hillcrest (0-8) on Friday
The story: The Indians haven’t lost more than three games in a season since 2003. That won’t change this season.
Prediction:Lemont 31, Hillcrest 13
With only a few games remaining, the ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year award is O’Toole’s to lose. Either he’ll need to have a really poor game or someone will need a really great one for that to change.
The number of candidates was cut down to 11 this week.
1. Wheaton Warrrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole (previously ranked No. 1)
Last week: O’Toole only needed to play one half in Wheaton Warrenville South’s 56-0 win over West Chicago. He completed 8-of-9 passes for 145 yards and four touchdowns. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 7-0.
Season: 79-of-107 passing for 1,518 yards, 23 touchdowns and one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
2. Vernon Hills senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (3)
Last week: Daniels’ 86-yard punt-return touchdown against Grant was one of the more electrifying plays of his season. According to Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken, Daniels made 10 or 11 guys miss, and a couple of those missed a few times. Daniels also had four tackles, one forced fumble, one reception for 13 yards and 12 rushing yards on three carries.
Season: 4-of-6 passing for 71 yards and one touchdown; 11 receptions for 290 yards and four touchdowns; 258 rushing yards and six touchdowns; two punt return touchdowns; three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
3. Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs (2)
Last week: Bibbs was slowed down -- at least for his standards -- in Plainfield North’s 35-34 loss to Minooka. He rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Plainfield North fell to 5-2.
Season: 1,887 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns on 190 carries.
4. Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer (5)
Last week: Meyer was 18-of-20 for 225 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in Elk Grove’s 28-13 win over Hersey. The Grenadiers improved to 6-1.
Season: 118-of-193 passing for 1,553 yards and 15 touchdowns; 679 yards and 11 touchdowns on 114 carries.
5. Naperville North senior linebacker Nick Lifka (4)
Last week: Lifka was his usual defensive beast in Naperville North’s 49-21 win over Glenbard East on Friday. Lifka had 11 tackles to lead the Huskies. Naperville North improved to 5-2.
Season: 88 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
6. Simeon junior quarterback Robert Gregory (6)
Last week: Gregory was very efficient in Simeon’s 55-6 win over Lincoln Park on Saturday. He completed 2-of-2 passes for 79 yards and ran for 63 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries. The Wolverines improved to 7-0.
Season: 41-of-71 passing for 787 yards and 10 touchdowns; 674 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.
7. Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little (7)
Last week: Little, the ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week, rushed for 99 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries in Schaumburg’s 42-21 win over Conant. The Saxons improved to 5-2.
Season: 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns on 155 carries; two receiving touchdowns.
8. Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson (10)
Last week: Ferguson ran wild again. He scored three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder, in the Hilltoppers’ 73-27 win over St. Patrick. Joliet Catholic improved to 6-1.
Season: 929 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 74 carries.
9. Lake Zurich senior running back Jacob Brinlee (9)
Last week: Brinlee scored one of his team’s two touchdowns in a 14-0 win over Warren on Saturday. He finished with 114 rushing yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Lake Zurich improved to 6-1.
Season: 949 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 90 carries; one receiving touchdown.
10. Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver (12)
Last week: Weaver completed 13-of-22 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns in Loyola’s 45-7 win over Fenwick. The Ramblers improved to 6-1.
Season: 97-of-172 passing for 1,513 yards and 22 touchdowns.
11. St. Rita senior running back Jahwon Akui (13)
Last week: Akui rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries in St. Rita’s 31-19 win over Providence. The Mustangs improved to 7-0.
Season: 917 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 186 carries.
“You have a job to do and you just go out there and do it,” Lizalek said.
The night did not start off great for Minooka, as Plainfield North running back Kapri Bibbs sparked the capacity crowd on the game’s first play. Bibbs broke a 79-yard touchdown run just seconds into the game, picking up right where he left off after last week’s near record-setting 520-yard, seven touchdown performance.
But the Indians responded, thanks to the efficient play of senior quarterback Mitch Brozovich. Brozovich finished the game with 171 total yards and a touchdown, but his biggest contributions came in crucial situations.
Time and time again Brozovich and his running back trio of Kyle Banks (42 yards, TD), Kalvin Hill (122 yards, 2 TDs) and Taylor Salazar (21 yards, 2 TDs) converted on key downs, keeping the ball away from Bibbs and the Tigers.
“Offensively we knew we were going to have to step up and make plays,” said Brozovich. “They have such an explosive offense, we had to keep them off the field.”
Bibbs finished with 206 yards on 33 carries, a mediocre night by his other-worldly standards. In the end, however, it was an unlikely hero who propelled the Indians to victory.
“This was my first game-winning field goal,” Lizalek added. “And it feels pretty good.”
Player of the game: Brozovich, with a lot of help from his trio of running backs
Stat of the game: 7. That’s the number of plays the Tigers ran in the second quarter, a testament to the steadiness of the Minooka offense.
It was over when… Lizalek’s second point-after sailed through the uprights.
Quote of the night: “Our offense was more physical than their defense.” Brozovich, on how his team was able to move the ball so effectively.
The story: York has been one of the year’s more surprising teams. After going 4-5 last year, the Dukes are off to their best start in school history and are coming off a big win over previously unbeaten Lyons. Despite their success, Glenbard West will still be a grand challenge. The Hilltoppers have been ranked in the top 5 all season and are dominant on both sides of the ball. York should benefit from being at home. ESPN 1000 will be in attendance.
Glenbard West player to watch: Nick Burrello is in the running for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He’s dangerous in the running, passing and return game.
York player to watch: Running back Ryan Kent leads York’s offense. He ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries in last week’s win.
Quotes: “[Nick Burrello] has always had great speed, but now he has the vision to go along with it. He’s played really confident and has had over 1,500 all-purpose yards.” -- Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet
“Ryan Kent is a kid who works hard, and he’ s really matured over the years he has been at York. I think there is a solid cohesiveness within this group that makes them special.” -- York coach Bill Lech
Prediction: Glenbard West 34, York 21
No. 12 Vernon Hills (6-0) at Grant (3-3) on Friday
The story: Vernon Hills has outscored its opponents 290-0. The 290 points scored was expected. The zero points allowed was not. The Cougars look to extend their unlikely shutout streak against Grant in a North Suburban Prairie game. The Bulldogs have put some points up this season. They’ve scored more than 40 twice and have 178 points on the season.
Vernon Hills player to watch: DaVaris Daniels, who is committed to Notre Dame, is among the front-runners for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He does a lot of everything for Vernon Hills.
Grant player to watch: Fullback Steven Niewiedzial has been racking up yards and touchdowns all year. He ran for 244 yards and three touchdowns in a win two weeks ago.
Quote: “Over the years our two programs have been the most consistent in the Prairie and [it] has kind of become our rivalry game. Everyone knows to win the Prairie you have to beat two teams, Grant and Vernon Hills. Two years ago, we beat them in the regular season and then they knocked us out in the playoffs in double overtime. We expect it to be a hard-hitting rivalry game Friday night with a playoff-type atmosphere.” -- Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken
Prediction: Vernon Hills 38, Grant 10
Waubonsie Valley (5-1) vs. Neuqua Valley (4-2) at North Central College on Friday
The story: This is a key game in the Upstate Eight Valley. Waubonsie Valley is still undefeated in the conference, and Neuqua Valley is only a game back. Waubonsie Valley has been faced with a handful of injuries and illnesses over the past few weeks and have handled them well. Quarterback Matt Schapen has filled in for Tom Kolzow (concussion) the past three weeks and has kept the Warriors afloat. Neuqua Valley lost to South Elgin two weeks ago, but bounced back with a 42-0 win over Metea Valley last week. Both teams have quality defenses.
Waubonsie Valley player to watch: Sophomore linebacker Austin Lacke is one to watch for the future. He’s been among the Warriors’ top defensive players this season.
Neuqua Valley player to watch: Safety Sami Khalil is among the Wildcats’ best defensive players. He had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown, in last week’s win.
Quote: “Our defense is averaging three turnovers per game. When they give the offense great field position, it is a lot easier to score. Our offense has also been able to get big plays during the games as well. So we basically can score from anywhere on the field, which makes it harder for the defenses to defend us.” -- Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy
“We have been playing well in all aspects of the game. Our defense has shown the ability to stop the run, and our offense has had success running the ball. When a team is able to do both of those things, it will have success.” -- Neuqua Valley coach Bryan Wells
Prediction: Waubonsie Valley 24, Neuqua Valley 21
Bolingbrook (4-2) at No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (5-1) on Friday
The story: The Southwest Suburban Blue will likely be decided by this game. Lincoln-Way East has a one-game lead on Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor. The Griffins have already defeated Homewood-Flossmoor and will now host Bolingbrook. The Raiders will again be without quarterback Aaron Bailey, who also missed last week’s loss to Homewood-Flossmoor with an ankle injury. Lincoln-Way East junior Blake Winkler is quickly becoming one of the area’s better quarterbacks.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Quarterback DJ Pruitt has been making strides since taking over for Bailey. He’ll look to take another step in his progress against Lincoln-Way East.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Wide receiver J.J. Robertson had two touchdown catches of 50-plus yards last week. He’s one of the area’s top wide receivers.
Quotes: “Quarterback Blake Winkler has shown tremendous progress. He has stepped up time and time again in crucial situations and made the big plays. Most impressive is the way he responds to adversity or a negative play. He lets it go and usually makes a very positive play soon after.” -- Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar
“No turnovers and being able to run the ball are the keys to the game.” -- Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 31, Bolingbrook 17
Minooka (5-1) at Plainfield North (5-1) on Friday
The story: Two of the state’s best running games will be on display in this Southwest Prairie matchup. Plainfield North running back Kapri Bibbs has ran for nearly 2,000 yards despite missing the season’s first game and is coming off a state-record 520-yard performance. No one has been able to stop him this season. Minooka has a number of players capable of carrying the ball. Running backs Kalvin Hill and Kyle Banks and quarterback Mitch Brozovich have all been dangerous. Minooka’s only loss was to undefeated Plainfield South. Plainfield North lost in its season-opener against West Chicago without Bibbs.
Minooka player to watch: Indians running back Kalvin Hill rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Oswego East.
Plainfield North player to watch: Kapri Bibbs is putting together an incredible season. He’ll be playing at Colorado State next season.
Quotes: “We won't stop Kapri, but we do hope to limit his touches. We also hope to limit his long plays. Our offense must put long scoring drives together that eats up clock. Special teams must play well. We are a much better football team than we have shown. We are still waiting to throw the ball consistently and kick the ball consistently. We need to improve our third-down defense and reduce the number of big plays on defense." -- Minooka coach Bert Kooi
“We need to find a way to stop their powerful running game. They have four very good weapons in the backfield. Their quarterback does an outstanding job faking and running the ball. Obviously, Minooka will be very aware of Kapri and have a game plan to stop him. We will need to make necessary in-game adjustments to be able to move the ball.” -- Plainfield North coach Tim Kane
Prediction: Plainfield North 55, Minooka 49
No. 4 Carmel (6-0) at Marian Catholic (5-1) on Friday
The story: Carmel faces another difficult test as it travels to face Marian Catholic in the East Suburban Catholic matchup. Carmel is undefeated with a combination of strong offense and defense. The Corsairs lead the conference with 243 points scored and 78 points allowed. Marian Catholic enters the game on a five-game winning streak after losing to Homewood-Flossmoor in Week 1. Spartans coach Dave Mattio has been pleased with his team’s effort, but said it has yet to put together a “signature” win, which he described as a “contest played with 48 minutes of intensity if all three phases of the game.”
Carmel player to watch: Running back Jordan Kos has been a nightmare for defenses for much of the season. He had 168 yards and two touchdowns last week.
Marian Catholic player to watch: Junior running back Jeruel Taylor has a big reason for the Spartans’ success. He had 221 yards in last week’s 31-27 win over Crete-Monee.
Quotes: “We need to run the ball well and prevent Marian from having big plays. We need to be sure their skilled backs do not have 20-yard-or-more plays. -- Carmel coach Andy Bitto
“Carmel plays with a great deal of energy and confidence. It is important for Marian Catholic to play with the same two attributes from the start of the contest. There have been a number of contests this year where the Spartans have shown a resiliency to come back from a deficit or to make big plays to change momentum of a contest.” -- Marian Catholic coach Dave Mattio
Prediction: Carmel 35, Marian Catholic 20
The ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year race has been trimmed down to 18 spots after Week 6. Most notably, Kapri Bibbs put himself right with Reilly O’Toole at the top after rushing for a state-record 520 yards this past week.
1. Wheaton Warrrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole (previously ranked No. 1)
Last week: A day before making a visit to his future school Illinois, O’Toole completed 14-of-15 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-14 win over Wheaton North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 6-0.
Season: 71-of-98 passing for 1,373 yards, 19 touchdowns, one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
Last week: No one had a bigger week than Bibbs. He rushed for a state-record 520 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-43 win over Oswego. Plainfield North improved to 5-1.
Season: Rushed for 1,689 yards and 26 touchdowns on 158 carries.
3. Vernon Hills senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (2)
Last week: Daniels had a quiet week for his standards. He rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown on three carries, was held without a reception and scored a 68-yard touchdown on a blocked field goal.
Season: 4-of-6 passing for 71 yards and one touchdown; 10 receptions for 277 yards and four touchdowns; 246 rushing yards and six touchdowns; one punt return touchdown; three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
4. Naperville North senior linebacker Nick Lifka (4)
Last week: Lifka was all over the field again on Friday. He made 11 tackles, including one for a loss and forced one fumble in Naperville North’s 27-24 win over Naperville Central. Naperville North improved to 4-2.
Season: 77 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
5. Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer (5)
Last week: Despite throwing a career-high four interceptions, Meyer completed 24-of-41 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns in Elk Grove’s 35-14 win over Wheeling. Elk Grove improved to 5-1.
Season: 100-of-173 passing for 1,328 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions; 618 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 87 carries.
6. Simeon junior quarterback Robert Gregory (8)
Last week: Gregory was back to being a do-everything quarterback for Simeon after an average Week 5. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 114 yards and two touchdown on four carries in the Wolverines’ 63-32 win over Dunbar. Simeon improved to 6-0.
Season: 39-of-69 passing for 708 yards and 10 touchdowns; 611 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
7. Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little (7)
Last week: Schaumburg stuck right with Barrington thanks to Little. He rushed for 184 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in the Saxons’ 34-32 loss. Schaumburg fell to 4-2.
Season: 1,175 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 143 carries, 11 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
8. Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson (10)
Last week: Ferguson didn’t need the ball much to do his thing on Friday. He ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns on six carries in Joliet Catholic’s 48-19 win over St. Viator. Joliet Catholic improved to 5-1.
Season: 779 yards and 12 touchdowns on 63 carries.
9. Lake Zurich senior running back Jacob Brinlee (6)
Last week: Brinlee had a couple of long runs, but was contained for much of the night in Lake Zurich’s 24-23 loss to Stevenson. He rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries and caught one pass for 35 yards. Lake Zurich fell to 5-1.
Season: 835 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 carries; one receiving touchdown.
10. Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello (12)
Last week: Burrello continued making big plays in Glenbard West’s 41-7 win over Addison Trail. He ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, which included an 80-yarder, on 16 carries. Glenbard West improved to 6-0.
Season: 699 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 74 carries, 12 receptions for 284 yards and one touchdown; two punt/kick return touchdowns.
11. Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos (14)
Last week: Kos continued his recent success in Friday’s 42-0 win over Benet. He rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Carmel improved to 6-0.
Season: 842 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 92 carries.
12. Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver (19)
Last season: Weaver had his biggest game of the season in Friday’s 49-27 win over Brother Rice. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 370 yards and six touchdowns. Loyola improved to 5-1.
Season: 84-of-150 passion for 1,362 yards and 20 touchdowns.
13. St. Rita senior running back Jahwon Akui (9)
Last week: Mount Carmel concentrated on stopping Akui after he burned the Caravan last season. He ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in St. Rita’s 35-14 win over Mount Carmel on Friday. St. Rita improved to 6-0.
Season: 722 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 152 carries.
14. Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis (13)
Last week: Davis again was Reilly O’Toole’s favorite target in Friday’s 42-14 win over Wheaton North. Davis had seven catches for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Season: 27 receptions for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns.
15. Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler (11)
Last week: Wheaton Warrenville South troubled Butler like it has all of its opponents this season. Butler completed 25-of-37 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Wheaton North’s 42-14 loss. He also ran 68 yards on 23 carries. Wheaton North fell to 4-2.
Season: 111-of-153 passing for 1,262 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions; 276 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
16. Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall (20)
Last week: McCall was the hero in Thornridge’s 31-25 win over Andrew. He rushed for 283 yards and four touchdowns, including one in overtime, on 42 carries. Thornridge improved to 3-3.
Season: 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns.
17. Stevenson senior running back Joe Cassata (16)
Last week: Cassata didn’t pick up a whole lot of yards, but he got them when they were needed most in Stevenson’s 24-23 win over Lake Zurich. He rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, on 15 carries. Stevenson improved to 6-0.
Season: 655 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 84 carries; six receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown.
No. 18 Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth (17)
Last week: Ormseth did enough for the Crystal Lake South to get by Jacobs with a 28-14 win. He completed 6-of-13 passes for 93 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Crystal Lake South improved to 6-0.
Season: 33-of-65 passing for 697 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, 318 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Just days after receiving the honor, Plainfield North’s Kapri Bibbs rushed for a state-record 520 yards and seven touchdowns in a win over Oswego on Friday.
Bibbs’ performance tops another highlight-filled week.
1) Bibbs could fill all five top-playmaker slots with the game he had Friday. Colorado State is probably feeling pretty good about its future running back.
2) Maine South sophomore Matt Alviti has the makings of another star quarterback for the Hawks. He threw for 307 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for two more in Maine South’s 49-8 win over Evanston.
3) Plainfield South wide receiver Alex Flores caught four passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns in his team’s 59-20 win over Plainfield Central.
4) Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver was 18 for 29 for 396 yards and six touchdowns in Loyola’s 49-27 win over Brother Rice.
5) Lincoln-Way East wide receiver J.J. Robertson had touchdown catches of 60 and 77 yards in the Griffins’ 30-14 win over Sandburg on Friday.
1) Glenbrook South’s John Strickland intercepted two passes in the Titans’ 30-0 win over Waukegan. He also ran for 161 yards.
2) Vernon Hills’ defense shut out its sixth consecutive opponent Saturday with a 48-0 win over Wauconda. The Cougars have outscored opponents 288-0 this season.
3) Fenwick’s Joe Kelly had three interceptions in the Friars’ 17-7 win over Providence on Saturday.
4) Bartlett picked off five passes in its 42-23 upset win over South Elgin.
5) Crystal Lake South had two sacks and two interceptions in its 28-14 win over Jacobs. The Gators have allowed 58 points this season.
1) York 26, Lyons 16: York is off to its best start in school history after the Dukes knocked off previously-unbeaten Lyons. York running back Ryan Kent rushed for 140 of his 195 yards in the second half.
2) Lemont 37, Tinley Park 33: Lemont’s Clayton Fejedelem returned a punt for a 67-yard touchdown with 11 seconds remaining to defeat Tinley Park.
3) Stevenson 24, Lake Zurich 23: Stevenson drove down the field and scored with three seconds remaining to upset Lake Zurich on the road.
4) Hubbard 24, Amundsen 14: Hubbard rallied from a 6-0 halftime deficit for the win. The undefeated Greyhounds were led by Jonathan McClellan’s 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
5) Barrington 34, Schaumburg 32: The Broncos stopped Schaumburg on a two-point conversion with 46 seconds left to pull out the Mid-Suburban West win. Quarterback Matt LeMire threw four touchdowns in the victory.
An elite group of 20 players have put themselves in the running for ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year award after five weeks of play.
As of right now, Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O’Toole is leading the pack. Over the coming weeks, check back at ESPNChicago.com to see how that changes as this list will be updated weekly with additions and subtractions and ultimately trimmed down to one player with the announcement coming at the end of the season.
Coming off a junior season where he helped the Tigers to a Class 7A state championship, O’Toole has taken his game to another level this year. He has the ability to throw short and long and remains accurate either way for the No .1-ranked Tigers. He’s committed to Illinois.
Last week: Completed 11-of-18 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-13 win over Naperville North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 5-0.
Season: 57-of-83 passing for 1,082 yards, 15 touchdowns and one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
2. Vernon Hills senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels
Daniels’ future may be at wide receiver, but he does everything at the high school level. He passes, runs, catches, returns kicks and defends for the undefeated Cougars. He’s the state’s highest-rated college football prospect and just recently committed to Notre Dame.
Last week: Rushed for 27 yards and one touchdown, caught four passes for 70 yards and one touchdown, completed one pass for 13 yards and intercepted one pass in a 34-0 win over Antioch. Vernon Hills improved to 5-0.
Season: 4-of-6 passing for 71 yards and one touchdown; 10 receptions for 277 yards and four touchdowns; 203 rushing yards and five touchdowns; one punt return touchdown; three interceptions and one defensive touchdown.
3. Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs
Bibbs has been one of the season’s biggest surprises. A mixture of power and speed, Bibbs has been nearly unstoppable. He’s put up massive numbers despite missing the season’s first game. He’s committed to Colorado State.
Last week: Rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries in 28-0 win over Romeoville. Plainfield North improved to 4-1.
Season: Rushed for 1,169 yards and 19 touchdowns on 119 carries.
Lifka is the Brian Urlacher of Illinois high school football. A combination of strength and mobility, Lifka finds a way to be around the ball wherever it may be. Against Glenbard North earlier this season, he made 18 tackles. He’s committed to Boston College.
Last week: Made 11 tackles, including one for a loss, in a 41-13 loss to top-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South. Naperville North fell to 3-2.
Season: 66 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery.
5. Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer
Few players mean as much to their team as Meyer does to Elk Grove. He does it in the air and on the ground as the Grenadiers’ quarterback, but he also is a starting defensive back. He rarely gets off the field, and his game doesn’t suffer for it. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries and was 10-of-17 passing for 116 yards and one interception in a 23-7 win over Buffalo Grove. Elk Grove improved to 4-1.
Season: 76-of-132 passing for 986 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions; 603 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 81 carries.
6. Lake Zurich senior running back Jacob Brinlee
Brinlee is a threat to break one whenever he touches the ball. There’s no running back in the state that needs as few carries as he does to pile up yards. His vision puts him into that elite category. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for a school-record 281 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries in a 44-22 win over Libertyville. Lake Zurich improved to 5-0.
Season: 734 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 57 carries; one receiving touchdown.
7. Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little
Little sat out last season, but he’s making up for it this year. The Saxons have become a state contender thanks to the speed and vision of Little. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 174 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries and caught two passes for 24 yards in a 17-14 win over Fremd. Schaumburg improved to 4-1.
Season: 991 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 120 carries; 10 receptions for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
8. Simeon junior quarterback Robert Gregory
Gregory showed signs last season that he could be a star quarterback. He opened the 2010 season with a bang throwing for three touchdowns and running for three more in an upset win over Simeon. Ever since, he and the Wolverine have been on a roll. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Ran for 59 yards and three touchdowns and completed 1-of-8 passes for 10 yards in a 42-0 win over Curie. Simeon improved to 5-0.
Season: 34-of-61 passing for 530 yards and seven touchdowns; 497 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Akui made a push for the Player of the Year award as a junior after rushing for 1,870 yards and 31 touchdowns. He did all that despite suffering a couple of injuries. Also a state wrestling champion, Akui can run with power and speed despite his 5-6, 195-pound frame. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 42-21 win over Bishop McNamara. St. Rita improved to 5-0.
Season: 652 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 132 carries.
10. Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson
Ferguson has all eyes on him much like Wheaton Warrenville South’s Reilly O’Toole because he’s committed to Illinois. Ferguson has a knack for finding a hole and getting to the outside. He’s already broken a handful of runs this season.
Last week: Rushed for 243 yards and four touchdowns in a 57-0 win over Nazareth. Joliet Catholic improved to 4-1.
Season: 594 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 57 carries.
11. Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler
Butler was an emergency quarterback for Wheaton North last year and steadily improved while leading the Falcons on an unlikely playoff run. This season, he’s emerged as one of the state’s top quarterbacks. He excels because he knows his strengths and weaknesses. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 11-of-18 passes for 153 yards and rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown in a 21-13 win over West Aurora. Wheaton North improved to 5-0.
Season: 86-of-116 passing for 1,076 yards, 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions; 208 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
12. Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello
Opponents have to account for Nick Burrello in so many ways. He’s equally as good of a running back, wide receiver and kicker returner. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Caught a 51-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt for a 60-yard touchdown in a 41-15 win over Proviso West. Glenbard West improved to 5-0.
Season: 542 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 58 carries; 12 receptions for 284 yards and one touchdown; 562 punt and kick return yards and two touchdowns.
13. Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis
Davis has become one of the state’s top wide receivers after barely playing a season ago. With added confidence this season, Davis has become quarterback Reilly O’Toole’s favorite long-ball target. The two have hooked up for six touchdowns of 40-plus yards. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Caught four passes for 86 yards and one touchdown in a 41-13 win over Naperville North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 5-0.
Season: 20 receptions for 507 yards and nine touchdowns.
14. Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos
Kos has had to share carries with Carmel’s other running backs for most of the season, but he has especially stepped up the last few weeks in the team’s narrow victories over Joliet Catholic and Marist. Kos has breakaway speed and has torched defenses with it this season. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 213 yards and one touchdown in a 20-16 win over Marist. Carmel improved to 5-0.
Season: 674 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 76 carries.
15. Barrington junior running back Chase Murdock
Murdock is the type of back that just wears down defenses. Barrington gives him the ball time after time, and he picks up yards time after time. Murdock, who is 6-1 and 205 pounds, is uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries in a 38-21 win over Conant. Barrington improved to 5-0.
Season: 740 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 132 carries.
16. Stevenson senior running back Joe Cassata
Cassata has taken the lead in Stevenson’s running game. Also a linebacker, Cassata, who is 5-11 and 200 pounds, is a combination of speed and power. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in a 41-20 win over Lake Forest. Stevenson improved to 5-0.
Season: 594 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 69 carries; six receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown.
No. 17 Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth
Ormseth entered the season with high expectations and has lived up to them. Ormseth has shown off his ability to pass and run while helping the Gators to an undefeated record. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 5-of-8 passes for 156 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and rushed for one touchdown in a 40-0 win over Dundee-Crown. Crystal Lake South improved to 5-0.
Season: 27-of-52 passing for 604 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception; 312 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
18. Mount Carmel senior running back Michael Banks
Banks has bounced around positions at Mount Carmel, but now has found a home at running back. With incredible speed, Banks is a defensive nightmare whenever he tries to get outside. He missed the Caravan’s last game. He is uncommitted.
Last week: Sat out a 35-14 win over De La Salle due to an injury. Mount Carmel improved to 4-1.
Season: 527 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries.
19. Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver
Weaver stepped in Loyola’s quarterback position this season and has taken off with it. He’s thrown for 200-plus yards in four games and has the Ramblers again competing for the Catholic League title. He’s uncommitted.
Last week: Completed 14-of-20 passes for 216 touchdowns and four touchdowns in a 35-0 win over St. Ignatius. Loyola improved to 4-1.
Season: 66-of-121 passing for 992 yards and 14 touchdowns.
20. Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall
Thornridge isn’t having the season it hoped, but McCall is. McCall has shown game after game why he’s headed to play for Michigan State next season.
Last week: Rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-19 loss to Bradley. Thornridge fell to 2-3.
Season: 791 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
One to latch onto to him. A second to slow him down. A third to put him to the ground.
Opposing defenses have been discovering that the hard way this season. Bibbs, the ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week, has not only been envisioning that no one can stop him, but he’s also been proving it.
Despite missing Plainfield North’s season opener, Bibbs has rushed for 1,169 yards and 19 touchdowns in four games. He’s run for 300-plus yards on three occasions and has scored four or more touchdowns in all of his games.
“Whenever you see him run and do some of the things he does, you expect them to a certain extent,” Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said. “We knew he had made quite some progress, but some of the things he has done during games quite honestly have been special.”
Bibbs’ season did get off to a slow start as he had to miss the season opener because he hadn’t participated in enough preseason practices to be eligible.
In Week 2, he quickly made up for lost time. Against Grant, he rushed for 338 yards and six touchdowns, both career highs.
From there, Bibbs knew this season would be one to remember.
“My sophomore year I was real dominant at the sophomore level, but I was jittery my junior year,” Bibbs said. “This year I’m putting out all my weapons. I’m not holding back, and I love it.
“I feel stronger. I feel faster. I feel like those 11 guys on the defense don’t stand a chance against the offense. That’s how I feel.”
For anyone who thought Bibbs’ first game was a fluke, he went out the next week and ran for 177 yards and five touchdowns against Plainfield East. The following week he had 306 yards and four touchdowns against Plainfield Central. Finally last week, he rushed for 340 yards, a new career high, and four touchdowns.
Bibbs’ combination of power and speed has always impressed Kane, but it’s his vision that amazes him.
“He has the ability to make a big play out of what would be an average play,” Kane said. “He can take a 4-, 5-yard run and turn that into a 40-yard touchdown run. He’s made some pretty good plays where defenses have blitzed right into him or we missed a block up front.”
Bibbs can credit his 4.3-second 40-yard speed and 350-pound bench press to hard work, but he’s not sure where his vision comes from. It doesn’t run in his family. His family was a basketball one until Bibbs took up football in fifth grade.
However he’s acquired it, he is thankful for it.
“I think it’s the best attribute I have,” Bibbs said. “It’s natural. It’s just natural ability cutting back and finding an open field.”
With Bibbs putting together such a remarkable season, colleges have been calling. The problem is when Bibbs answers, he lets everyone know he’s already committed to Colorado State, and he has no plans of changing that no matter how yards or touchdowns he runs for this season.
“They’re committed to me, and I’m committed to them,” Bibbs said. “I thought about the Big Ten. I was learning toward Purdue and [Illinois]. But I kind of wanted to get away, see some new places. Going West will open up new things for me.”
Kane has no doubt that Bibbs will continue his football success at Colorado State.
“The thing people don’t realize about him is he’s such a fierce competitor,” Kane said. “This kid hates to lose. It’s not about how many carries or yards he gets. He wants to win. He wants to be the best running back in the field. He’s pretty motivated to be successful.”