High School: Oak Forest

Defense keeps Lemont perfect this season

October, 22, 2011
LEMONT, Ill. -- Lemont's suffocating defense claimed another victim, and the No. 11 Indians notched another unblemished regular season.

Next up: a home playoff game and a daunting task for the opposing offense.

Lemont Oak ForestLemont forced four first-half turnovers, and only two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter blemished what could have been a sixth shutout of the season. Instead, the Indians settled for a 41-13 win over Oak Forest on Friday night.

Lemont (9-0) had already claimed the South Suburban Blue title and its eighth straight playoff berth, but the regular season needed a punctuation mark. The Indians delivered it in convincing fashion.

The defense forced five turnovers in all, and quarterback Damon Aleman threw three touchdown passes. Two went to Tyler Jay, his only receptions of the game.

It wasn't another blanking, but it was a dominating performance in a rivalry-game win.

"Can't ask for anything better," said Aleman, whose defense entered the game allowing just four points per game. "I'm sorry they didn't get their shutout, but they still played great."

The perfect regular season is Lemont's second in a row and third in four seasons. But nine wins in nine games is more of a beginning than an end.

"Our next goal is to win as many games in the playoffs as we can," Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. "There's a lot that goes into that."

Oak Forest (6-3), too, had already qualified for the playoffs, but the Bengals struggled mightily on Friday. Three straight drives to end the first half resulted in interceptions: two by Lemont's Jake Lemming and another by Mike Monaco. They also lost a fumble, recovered by Justin Lulek, and allowed a kickoff to be recovered by Lemming.

Oak Forest coach Brian McDonough gave his players a lengthy speech after the game. He hopes those words help translate into a first-round win next week.

"It's our national championship. It our Super Bowl," McDonough told his team. "Whatever you want to call it, we need a big win."

Lemont got one in the regular-season finale. Its players are preparing for a few more.

"We're going to prepare for them like we'd prepare for any other team," Aleman said of his team's next opponent, not yet determined on Friday night. "We're not going to take them easy."

Players of the game: Lemont -- QB Damon Aleman (Sr.) 6-of-10 passing, 181 yards, 3 TDs; Mike Anzalone (Sr.) 23 attempts, 126 yards; WR Tyler Jay (Sr.) 2 receptions, 111 yards, 2 TDs; DB Jake Lemming (Jr.) 2 INTs, kickoff recovery. Oak Forest -- RB Matt Barry 22 attempts, 88 yards, TD.

Stat of the game: Before halftime, Lemont's defense forced twice as many turnovers (4) as Oak Forest's offense had first downs (2).

It was over when: Christos Giatras' 15-yard touchdown run -- and two-point conversion reception -- capped Lemont's 14-play drive to start the second half and gave the Indians a 27-0 advantage.

Quote of the night: "The thing is, we have so many things that we have to improve upon," Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. "We can always work on tackling and blocking. We can always do that better. We're not going to come out and be complacent."

Week 9 prep football preview

October, 19, 2011

Here's a look at the final regular-season week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.

Glenbrook South (7-1) at No. 1 Maine South (8-0)

Maine South Glenbrook South
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Maine South takes a 54-game Central Suburban South winning streak into this game. The Hawks’ last division loss was in 2000 to New Trier. Glenbrook South has often finished second to Maine South and is hopeful to change that this year. The Titans’ lone loss this season was to Stevenson early in the year. Glenbrook South has gone undefeated in conference and put up similar overall numbers to Maine South.
Glenbrook South player to watch: Fullback Kevin Schroeder has been key to the Titans’ offense.
Maine South player to watch: Running back Paul Preston has been stellar all season for the Hawks.
Prediction: Maine South 38, Glenbrook South 28

No. 2 Glenbard West (8-0) at Downers Grove North (2 6)

Downers Grove North Glenbard West
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West has already clinched the West Suburban Silver title. The Hilltoppers have shut out their last two opponents. Downers Grove North is better than its record. The Trojans have been in every game this season, but just haven’t found a way over the hump.
Glenbard West player to watch: Senior offensive lineman Johnny Caspers recently committed to Stanford.
Downers Grove North player to watch: Quarterback Riley McGinnis has a big arm.
Prediction: Glenbard West 31, Downers Grove North 7

No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Joliet West (2-6)

Joliet West Lincoln-Way East
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East should close out its Southwest Suburban Blue title run with an easy win. The Griffins had no trouble last week and beat Joliet Central 42-0. Joliet West has won two conference games, but is coming off a 56-19 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Defensive end Joel Magrum returned an interception for a touchdown last week.
Joliet West player to watch: Wide receiver Korey Rogers knows how to find holes in a secondary.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 42, Joliet West 7

No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 4 Loyola (8-0)

Loyola Academy St. Rita
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: The Catholic League Blue championship comes down to this game. Loyola has had St. Rita’s number for the past few years. A season ago, the Ramblers beat St. Rita on its home field and forced a three-way tie for the conference crown. Both teams have stellar defenses. It could be a game decided by a field goal or a lone touchdown.
St. Rita player to watch: Defensive back Ryan Leonard is a big hitter.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver got dinged up last week, but will be needed this week.
Prediction: Loyola 17, St. Rita 14

No. 6 Downers Grove South (8-0) at Addison Trail (7-1)

Addison Trail Downers Grove South
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South hasn’t been tested in the West Suburban Gold in recent years. That could change this week. Addison Trail has proven to be among the area’s top teams, especially with its defense. Its only loss was a narrow one to Glenbard West. Addison Trail will have to find a way to stop Josh Williams, who is approaching 2,000 yards for the season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Defensive lineman Jeremy Ulrich had a sack and a fumble recovery in last week’s win.
Addison Trail player to watch: Anthony Messina had three touchdown runs in last week’s win.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 24, Addison Trail 10

Cary-Grove (6-2) at No. 7 Prairie Ridge (8-0)

Prairie Ridge Cary-Grove
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge has been one of the state’s most dominant teams this season. The Wolves have out-scored their opponents 360-65 through eight weeks. Cary-Grove is out of the Fox Valley Valley title race, but it could spoil Prairie Ridge’s outright championship. The Trojans did upset Lake Zurich early in the season and possess one of the area’s top defenses.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Junior quarterback Quinn Baker has the Trojans’ option offense running smoothly.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Corey Barcoft is one of the key players on the Wolves’ defense.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 31, Cary-Grove 14

Lockport (6-2) at No. 8 Bolingbrook (7-1)

Bolingbrook Lockport
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Bolingbrook will likely have to settle for second place in one of the area’s toughest conferences. The Raiders have allowed only three points since losing to Lincoln-Way East. Lockport is headed to the playoffs, but hasn’t fared well against the top talent in the conference. The Porters lost to Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East by a combined 66 points.
Lockport player to watch: Dexter Taylor scored two rushing touchdowns in last week’s win over Sandburg.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Quarterback Aaron Bailey will be in consideration for ESPNChicago.com’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 35, Lockport 14

Providence (5-3) at No. 9 Mount Carmel (6-2)

Mount Carmel Providence
When:Friday at 7 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Mount Carmel fell out of the Catholic League Blue race last week with a loss to rival St. Rita. The Caravan will be looking to get back on track against Providence. Mount Carmel’s offense has struggled in its defeats this season. Providence is 0-3 against conference opponents this season.
Providence player to watch: Running back Andrew Hoffmeister leads the Celtics’ offense.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer scored the Caravan’s lone touchdown last week against St. Riva.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Providence 20

No. 10 Crete-Monee (8-0) at Rich East (6-2)

Rich East Crete-Monee
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee can win the Southland title outright with a win over Rich East, which has one conference loss. Crete-Monee hasn’t scored less than 30 points in a game this season. Rich East has allowed more than 30 points just once. Something will have to give in this game.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Recruiting attention is picking up for wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell.
strong>Rich East player to watch: Running back Rondell Willingham has been key to the team’s offensive success this season.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 35, Rich East 20

Oak Forest (6-2) at No. 11 Lemont (8-0)

Lemont Oak Forest
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Lemont has already secured itself the South Suburban Blue title. The Indians have put together a memorable defensive season. They’ve allowed one opponent more than six points. Oak Forest should be another challenge. The Bengals have scored 40 or more points five times this season.
Oak Forest player to watch: Running back Tevin Coleman is one of the state’s best.
Lemont player to watch: Jake Lemming is among the Indians’ defensive playmakers.
Prediction: Lemont 31, Oak Forest 14

Streamwood (6-2) at No. 12 Batavia (8-0)

Batavia Streamwood
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Batavia can put the finishing touches on its Upstate Eight River title this week. The Bulldogs have held six opponent to seven points or less and are coming off back-to-back shutouts. Streamwood guaranteed itself a playoff spot with a win last week. It’ll be the Sabres’ first playoff appearance since 2002.
Streamwood player to watch: Running back Alex Morrow rushed for 228 yards in last week’s win.
Batavia player to watch: Quarterback Noel Gaspari has been among the area’s best this season.
Prediction: Batavia 42, Streamwood 14

St. Viator (2-6) at No. 13 Nazareth (7-1)

Nazareth Nazareth
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Nazareth will earn a share of the East Suburban Catholic title with a victory over St. Viator. The Roadrunners’ offense and defense have been clicking the past few weeks and out-scored their last two opponents 86-19. St. Viator’s defense has struggled this season, but did shut out Benet in a 28-0 win last week.
St. Viator player to watch: John Balas had four receptions for 129 yards and two touchdown in last week’s win.
Nazareth player to watch: Joshua Moore has been having some remarkable rushing performances.
Prediction: Nazareth 42, St. Viator 14

No. 14 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Marist (6-2)

Marist Joliet Catholic
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: There’s a good chance that this could be a high-scoring affair. Marist put up 64 points in last week’s win over Carmel. Joliet Catholic is among the state’s offensive leaders with 376 points this season. The winner will get at least a share of the East Suburban Catholic title.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Defensive back Brody Wilhelmi blocked a punt last week.
Marist player to watch: Ian Woodworth threw eight touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Marist 42

No. 15 Wheaton North (7-1) at Wheaton Warrenville South (5-3)

Wheaton Warrenville South Wheaton North
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton North can win the DuPage Valley outright with a win over Wheaton Warrenville South. The Falcons haven’t done much against Wheaton Warrenville South in recent years. Their last win over the Tigers came in 2002. Last year, Wheaton Warrenville South beat them twice. The Tigers are riding a four-game winning streak since their early struggles.
Wheaton North player to watch: Running back Patrick Sharp gives the Falcons a balanced offensive attack.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Running back Dan Vitale is one of the area’s most versatile players.
Prediction: Wheaton North 17, Wheaton Warrenville South 14

Wheaton Academy (1-7) at No. 16 Montini (6-2)

Montini Wheaton Academy
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Montini’s offense has been scary lately. Last week, the Broncos put up 75 points. Two weeks ago, they scored 59 points. They should have another big offensive day against Wheaton Academy. The Warriors lost 42-0 to Aurora Central Catholic last week.
Wheaton Academy player to watch: Isaiah Rosas is an offensive threat for the Warriors.
Montini player to watch: Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is in the running for ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year.
Prediction: Montini 49, Wheaton Academy 0

Conant (6-2) at No. 17 Palatine (7-1)

Palatine Conant
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Palatine can win the Mid-Suburban League West outright with a win over Conant. Aside from a narrow win over Schaumburg, the Pirates have been dominant against conference competition. Conant should be up for the test. The Cougars are playoff bound and their two losses came by a combined five points.
Conant player to watch: Tim Manckzo is the Cougars’ premier offensive weapon.
Palatine player to watch: Linebacker Kurt Becker is playmaker on defense.
Prediction: Palatine 28, Conant 17

Grayslake Central (7-1) at No. 18 Crystal Lake South (7-1)

Crystal Lake South Grayslake Central
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: This could be an interesting Fox Valley crossover game. Crystal Lake South has proven itself throughout the season and will be favored. The Gators are one of the area’s top defensive teams and have allowed only one opponent more than 12 points this season. Grayslake Central has the same record, but hasn’t played the same level of competition. This will be a chance for the Rams to earn some respect.
Grayslake Central player to watch: Joel Valdivia was unstoppable last week. He rushed for 365 yards and six touchdowns against rival Grayslake North.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Reese Dziedzic rushed for two touchdowns in last week’s win over Jacobs.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Grayslake Central 10

No. 19 Marian Central (8-0) at Marmion (5-3)

When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Marian Central will take the Suburban Christian Blue with a win. The Hurricanes have proven themselves with narrow wins over Montini and Oswego this season, and they’ve dominated everyone else. Marmion has been up and down this season after reaching the Class 6A title game last year. It defense has been its strength and will need to be again against Marian Central. The Hurricanes have scored 40-plus points in their last four games.
Marian Central player to watch: Quarterback Chris Streveler has been consistent throughout the season.
Marmion player to watch: Running back Jake Ruddy is a threat to run or catch the ball out of the backfield.
Prediction: Marian Central 24, Marmion 14

Kaneland (8-0) at No. 20 Morris (8-0)

Morris Kaneland
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This game will decide the Northern Big 12 East championship. Both teams have been dominant most of the season. Morris’ defense has probably been slightly better than Kaneland’s, and Kaneland’s offense probably has the edge between the two teams. They both were tested last week and prevailed. Kaneland rolled in last year’s meeting, winning 47-7. There isn’t much separating the two teams this season.
Kaneland player to watch: Wide receiver Quinn Buschbacher scored five touchdowns in a game earlier this season.
Morris player to watch: Quarterback Austin Feeney was the difference in last week’s 14-10 win over Rochelle. He scored on a 58-yard run to give his team the lead.
Prediction: Morris 28, Kaneland 24

Kaneland, Lyons win IHSA titles

June, 12, 2011

JOLIET, Ill. -- Kaneland’s focus was locked into winning its first baseball regional title when the playoffs began last month.

The Knights thought whatever that came after a regional title would be an added bonus.

[+] EnlargeState baseball
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comKaneland won 13 consecutive games en route to the state title.

That bonus turned out to be the Class 3A state championship Saturday when Kaneland defeated Oak Forest 11-4 at Silver Cross Stadium in Joliet.

After losing six games during a seven-game stretch in early May, Kaneland flipped the switch in the season’s final month. The Knights won their last 13 games, capped off by Saturday’s victory, and surprised the Class 3A field by capturing their first state baseball title.

“In the regional, we were pretty nervous because we hadn’t won a regional before,” Kaneland senior second baseman Brian Dixon said. “After that, we were just like, ‘Let’s go up from there.’ It feels great to kind of be that underdog and go in here in with nothing to lose, and everyone else has something to lose.

“I don’t even know how to take this in right now. My last game as a senior at Kaneland, winning state, it’s the best feeling ever. I couldn’t ask anything better right now.”

Dixon lived the perfect dream ending to his high school career. Although he had his struggles at the plate during the season, hitting just .215, and was slotted in the eighth spot in Kaneland’s order on Saturday, he emerged as the Knights’ offensive hero against Oak Forest.

Dixon went 3-for-4 with one run and four RBIs. He drove in his first run with a single to left field in the fourth inning to put Kaneland ahead 3-2. He added another RBI with a single to right field in the Kaneland’s six-run fifth inning. Finally, he closed out his day with a two-run double in the sixth inning.

“I’m happiest for Brian Dixon, great game, great way to end his senior year,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. “He’s wanted to contribute so much. He’s been such a great defensive player for us, and finally he busted open the last game of the year and did a wonderful job getting all those runs in for us and putting the ball in play.”

Kaneland’s entire lineup found its groove at the plate on Saturday. Eight different hitters had at least one hit, and four of them had multiple hits. Joe Camiliere contributed three hits and three runs. Bobby Thorson went 2 for 3 with a run and two RBIs. Jake Razo, the No. 7 hitter, was 2 for 3 with one run and two RBIs.

“Most pitchers think of the bottom of the order that we’re not good hitters or anything,” Razo said. “Me and Brian go in there, we just think we’re the better players on the field than the pitcher, and that’s how we played today.”

Oak Forest’s offense didn’t lack hits. It just couldn’t produce timely ones. The Bengals put together 10 hits and also had two players reach base after being hit by a pitcher, but only had three runs to show for it.

Oak Forest was led by John Zubek (3 for 4, run), Brain Richard (2 for 3), Bobby Sheppard (2 for 4, run) and Jason Hine (1 for 3, two RBIs).

Illinois all-time home run king Tim Barry went 1 for 4 with a RBI. He finished with 12 home runs for the season and 53 for his career at Oak Forest.

Kaneland pitcher Drew Peters (5-1) picked up the win after going four innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs. Kyle Davidson pitched the final three innings for the Knights and allowed four hits and one run.

Lyons tops Providence in 4A

Lyons defeated Providence 8-3 in the Class 4A title game. The Lions (37-4) scored three runs in the first inning and two more in the third to put away Providence (37-4).

Lyons was led by Steve Heilenbach (3 for 4, two runs), Spencer Mahoney (2 for 2, two runs), Brian Rodemoyer (2 for 2, two runs, one RBI) and Connor Cuff (1 for 3, four RBIs).

Cuff also picked up the win, improving to 11-0. He pitched seven innings and allowed five hits and three runs.

Providence’s Sam Travis was 2 for 2 with a double, home run, one run and two RBIs.

POTW: Barry has record-setting week

May, 8, 2011

OAK FOREST, Ill. -- Few baseball records can be deemed unbreakable, but Oak Forest coach Thaddeus Gatton believes Tim Barry’s Illinois home run record is just that.

[+] EnlargeTim Barry
Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comTim Barry will play his college baseball at Kansas State.

After Barry, an Oak Forest senior, cranked his 50th career home run and broke the state’s record on Friday, Gatton immediately stamped it as one that will stand forever.

“You talk about baseball records all the time,” Gatton said. “This obviously isn’t a Major League record, but I don’t think it is something that will ever be broken. You don’t have four-year starters anymore. You don’t have players who hit consistently for power their entire career. Plus, the bat regulations are changing next year. Hitting a home run is going to be a 100 times harder.”

With his two-run home run on Friday, Barry also broke the state’s career RBI record. Barry has 194 RBIs in his career.

For his achievements, Barry is the ESPNChicago.com/Muscle Milk Prep Athlete of Week.

Barry, who 6-feet and 215 pounds, has been terrorizing area pitchers since he first stepped to the plate at Oak Forest. As a freshman, he slugged 14 home runs. He hit 10 more as a sophomore and had a career-best 17 home runs last season. His home run on Friday gave him nine for this season.
Earlier in the week, Barry hit four home runs in a doubleheader to tie the state’s record.

“He caught up to it quickly,” Gatton said. “He didn’t have much time to think about it.”

p>Barry was unable to break the record on Thursday. On Friday, he took care of it in the fifth inning on a changeup. His shot sailed well over the fence in left-center field.

“He crushed it,” Gatton said. “He probably hit it 450 feet.”

Barry said, “I was told by people that it hit the street on the fly.”

As nearly a dozen family members celebrated in the stands, Barry circled the bases, received a hug from Gatton as he rounded third base and was mobbed by his teammates after stepping on home plate.

“It was exciting, joyful,” Barry said. “Everyone was cheering and excited I finally broke the record. I was very proud of myself.”

It was a moment, as Gatton said, that may not be seen again.

Oak Forest's Barry breaks state records

May, 7, 2011

Oak Forest senior Tim Barry broke Illinois' career home run and RBI records with a single swing on Friday.

Barry crushed an approximate 450-foot home run against Bremen at Oak Forest on Friday, setting new state records with 50 career home runs and 194 RBIs.

Odin’s Curtis Parrish (2000-2003) owned the previous home run record with 49. Greenville’s Stefan Neece (2002-2005) had the RBI record with 193.
Iowa’s Jeff Clement (1999-2002) holds the national record with 75 career home runs. Michigan’s Drew Henson (1995-1998) possesses the RBI mark with 290.

“It was exciting,” said Barry, who bats righty and uses a 31-ounce, 34-inch bat. “I was very proud of myself. I knew I could do it. It means a lot. I put my name out there and also my family’s.”

Oak Forest coach Thaddeus Gatton stopped Barry after he rounded third base, hugged him and told him he was proud of him.

“It was very touching,” Gatton said. “It was a neat little moment. I think it was a huge burden off him. I think it was finally good for Timmy to get it out the way, and he can now just play baseball.

“He’s the best high school, let alone college, maybe even higher hitter I’ve ever seen. I say this all the time. My assistant coach played juco and Division I, my other assistant played Double-A with the Dodgers, and I played Division III, and none of us have seen a hitter like him in our lives.”

Barry set up the record-breaking day by knocking in four runs during a doubleheader on Wednesday. He went without one on Thursday.

Barry hit 14 home runs as a freshman, 10 as a sophomore, 17 as a junior and has nine this season. Pittsfield’s Scott Riley holds the single-season home run record with 19 in 1999.

“I think it’ll be possible to break my record, but I’m going to make it extremely difficult for them,” Barry said. “I will be hitting more. I’m trying to push it up to 60.”

Gatton doesn’t believe anyone will touch the home run record wherever Barry leaves it at.

“You talk about baseball records all the time,” Gatton said. “This obviously isn’t a Major League record, but I don’t think it is something that will ever be broken. You don’t have four-year starters anymore. You don’t have players who hit consistently for power their entire career. Plus, the bat regulations are changing next year. Hitting a home run is going to be a 100 times harder.”

Barry is signed with Kansas State, but could opt to play professional baseball depending on where he’s selected in June’s draft.

“I’m not worried about it,” Barry said. “Right now is right now. I worry about how I play now.”

Oak Forest will hold ceremony to commemorate Barry’s accomplishment at a future home game.