If there were any doubts about Charlie Goro being crowned as Player of the Year in the Chicago area, they were answered--to my satisfaction--on Saturday in Park Ridge.
Many critics were convinced that the Maine South quarterback claimed the honor the week before when he stepped into his end zone and threw a 25-yard pass to Joey Orlando on a third-and-19 play to trigger an 84-yard drive that was capped by Orlando's 28-yard field goal with 5.9 seconds to play, lifting Maine South to a 30-27 victory over Glenbrook South.
That's the stuff of legend, the kind of play that helped to define John Elway's career.
But Goro might have been even better in last Saturday's 55-24 victory over New Trier.
He completed 27 of 42 passes for a career high and school record 469 yards and five touchdowns.
Goro, who is committed to Vanderbilt, is more athletic than the great quarterbacks who preceded him at Maine South--John Schacke, Sean Price and Tyler Knight.
Still, I wonder if the 6-2, 195-pounder is called upon to carry the ball too much in offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss' spread offense. I covered last year's state quarterfinal when Gore was injured in a loss to Mount Carmel at Gately Stadium. It definitely affected the outcome of the game.
But Goro believes his ability to run out of the pocket only puts more pressure on the defense, which already has enough to worry about trying to keep up with three or four receivers and running back Matt Perez.
"I like running with the ball as much as I can," Goro said. "When a pass play breaks down, I try to run and get yardage. I never let last year's injury worry me. You can't play timid. Our offense has opened up more than previous years. We have more running plays, more rollouts."
Another question that will be answered in upcoming weeks as the state playoff unwinds: Is Maine South the best team in the state? Are the Hawks better than defending Class 8A champion Naperville North or Mount Carmel, which has been very impressive since losing to Providence and St. Rita in Weeks 3 and 4?
Goro thinks this year's Maine South squad is better than last year's 11-1 quarterfinalist because it has more overall speed and better chemistry. He also points out that he is more experienced and so are Orlando, his go-to receiver, the defensive line and the linebackers.
Naperville North has lost quarterback Jordan Tassio, the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year in 2007, but coach Larry McKeon has reloaded with running backs Nick Mlady and Pat Waite and 6-5, 275-pound Arizona-bound offensive tackle Jake Baratz.
I saw Mount Carmel lose to St. Rita 35-21 and said St. Rita was as good as any team I had even seen in 50 years--for one night, for one game--but St. Rita was demolished by Loyola 24-0. Then Loyola was dismantled by Mount Carmel 35-14 in a game in which Caravan quarterback Jordan Lynch resembled Juice Williams. So which team will show up for the state playoff?
Maine South's offense doesn't need an introduction. As long as Goro is healthy, the Hawks can score against anyone. But the defense is shaky, prone to give up big passes. Glenbrook South did it. So did New Trier. The trick for Maine South is to throw six-yard passes and eat up yardage and minutes, keeping the opponent's offense off the field.