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Tuesday, November 30, 2010's Best of 2010

By's high school football reporters hand out their "Best of 2010" awards.

Best game

Scott Powers
: Stevenson 24, Lake Zurich 23 in Week 6 -- This game had been hyped since the start of the season, and it lived up to expectations. Stevenson pulled out the win when it drove 80 yards in the final two minutes. Joe Cassata scored at the goal line with three seconds left, and Matt Micucci added the extra point for the win. Lake Zurich's next loss would be in the Class 7A state championship game.

Willie Mullen: Prospect 42, Elk Grove 41 OT in Week 8 -- Led by quarterback Nick Meyer's 350 yards and six touchdowns, Elk Grove scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes to tie the game late, but lost in overtime when it failed to convert a two-point conversion.

Andrew Braverman: Maine South 29, Loyola 22 in Class 8A semifinals -- Maine South led 13-7 at the start of the fourth, lost the lead, trailed by nine, then fought back. The Hawks recovered a Loyola fumble in the end zone with under three minutes to play and hung on for the win in the best high school atmosphere I saw all year ... Tailgating in Wilmette, standing-room only crowd, true pandemonium.

John Venerable: Homewood-Flossmoor 34, Waubonsie Valley 28, 2OT in Class 8A second round -- This was hands down the top game I saw during the 2010 season. Waubonsie Valley came back from the dead after trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter. However, it was the Vikings rallying back in the game's second overtime to advance to the quarterfinals. Craig Buzea would be my coach of the year.

Best individual performance

: Glenbard West isn't a passing offense, but Mark Hiben turned it into one against Lincoln-Way East in the Class 7A second round. Hiben caught 12 passes for a state-record 319 yards and four touchdowns. He was incredible.

Mullen: Elk Grove quarterback Nick Meyer passed for 350 yards and six touchdowns against Prospect.

Braverman: Schaumburg running back Shepard Little ran for 302 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo Grove. A close second would be Homewood-Flossmoor running back Malik Norman's 162 rushing yards, 79 receiving yards and four touchdowns against Naperville North in the 8A quarterfinals.

Venerable: Following Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O'Toole's first interception of the season on his first pass attempt against Wheaton North, he would go on to complete his next 14 passes for over 250 yards and four scores in a 42-14 win.

Best overall player

: Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O'Toole had more competition than expected with Plainfield North's Kapri Bibbs, Joliet Catholic's Josh Ferguson, Naperville North's Nick Lifka, Vernon Hills' DaVaris Davis and others had outstanding seasons, but O'Toole was the best.

Mullen: Plainfield North running back Kapri Bibbs and Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O'Toole were the best.

Braverman: Vernon Hills wide receiver DaVaris Daniels was the best.

Venerable: Plainfield North running back Kapri Bibbs. In my opinion, no one player did more for his team than Bibbs. After missing the first game of the season, Bibbs put together a magnificent run in which he rushed for nearly 2,700 yards and 38 touchdowns all while averaging an astounding 8.8 yards per carry. Reilly O'Toole obviously had a great season, but Bibbs was a one-man wrecking crew.

Favorite player to watch

Naperville North linebacker Nick Lifka. To see someone make 19 tackles in a game is a lot of fun.

Mullen: Bolingbrook sophomore quarterback Aaron Bailey has my vote.

Braverman: Five-foot-four Maine South running back Paul Preston was the best I saw.

Venerable: Joliet Catholic running back Malin Jones. It just seemed like every time he touched the ball, whether it be on offense or special teams, he scored. He's a phenomenal player.

Best fans

There are so many great fans' sections. I guess the one that sticks out to me is Lake Zurich's student section because they wear white and they're such a massive group. It's impressive to get that many people to color coordinate.

Mullen: Glenbard North.

Braverman: Lake Zurich and Fremd.

Venerable: Lincoln Way East. Classy fans to go with a classy program.

Most memorable play

: Wheaton Warrenville South quarterback Reilly O'Toole to wide receiver Titus Davis on the opening play of almost every game. With the old Chicago Bears, it was almost a given that Jim McMahon was going to air it out to Willie Gault on the first play from scrimmage. It was the same for O'Toole and Davis. They hooked up for a touchdown on their first play of the 7A state championship on Saturday.

Mullen: St. Rita's TJ Verdun's punt return for a touchdown against Mount Carmel

Best concession stand

: York. I think it's the only one I ate at this season.

Mullen: Naperville North

Braverman: Glenbrook North and Stevenson

Venerable: Marist. I'm sure it helped that I hadn't eaten all day.

Best quote

: "Jordan's just a junior, so I guess I'm coming back next year." -- Montini coach Chris Andriano on junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp returning next season and his prospects of returning to the Class 5A state championship.

Mullen: "We got a shootout!" -- Bolingbrook QB Aaron Bailey when asked what was going through his mind after Downers Grove South responded to his 81-yard touchdown run with a 90-yard kickoff return during the Raiders' 14-7 win over Downers Grove South in Week 1.

Braverman: "Did you guys see those hawks flying over? I had a hawk almost take my hair off this morning as I walked out my door, and I told the boys, ‘It's going to be a great day for the Hawks.' Restore the soar as we said after Week 2." -- Maine South head coach David Inserra after the Hawks' 29-22 Class 8A semifinal win over Loyola.

Venerable: "We could have gone for steaks in the first half and been back in plenty of time." -- Joliet head coach Dan Sharp in reference to only running 10 offensive plays in the first half against Providence.


: I wasn't tackled this year. I was knocked down at least once last year when reporting from the sidelines and had a lot of really close calls. Whether I was quicker or just plain luckier, I wasn't close to hitting the ground this year.

Braverman: When I went to cover Crystal Lake South's Week 6 contest at Jacobs, I went down to the field prior to kickoff to talk to a photographer on the Crystal Lake South sidelines. After about a three-minute conversation, I asked the very kind woman I was speaking with if she'd be able to email me a picture of Gators' quarterback Drew Ormseth, so I could use it for my recap. "I believe he's No. 8," I told her. She nodded and said she'd love to, and as I gave her my card, I had asked for her name. She gave me her first name, and then started to spell her last name, "O-R-M-S-E...." and as I looked up in pure embarrassment, about five or six Crystal Lake South students who were standing near us began laughing hysterically at me. Drew's mother simply smiled and said she'd be happy to send a picture of her son."