By Mike Clark

July 2012 Archives

Palatine to be short-handed for opener

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Palatine, with a deep and talented senior class coming off a 9-2 season, figures to be one of the top football teams in the area this fall.

But the Pirates won't be at full strength for one of the state's marquee Week 1 match-ups, an Aug. 24 home game against three-time defending Class 5A champ Montini.

Two Palatine players will miss the game for disciplinary reasons: linebacker John Serio and cornerback Dan Riddle. And star defensive back Jesse Bobbitt's status is uncertain for the opener because of a stress fracture in his hip.

"We'll get Jesse back at the latest by (the) conference (opener)," Pirates coach Tyler Donnelly said. "It's conceivable he could play against Montini."

Crete-Monee wide receiver Laquon Treadwell will represent the Chicago area at Champion Gridiron Kings, a gathering of 64 of the nation's top prep football players this week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The event features team competition and skills challenges and runs from July 27-29. A highlights show will air at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 29 on ESPNU.

Treadwell, a 6-foot-3, 183-pounder, is considered the state's top uncommitted prospect in the Class of 2013. He's also ranked fifth nationally among wide receivers by Rivals.com and is No. 39 on Rivals' Top 100.

Lyons' Matt Harris another good catch for NU

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Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald again demonstrated his commitment to living up to the Wildcats' marketing slogan - "Chicago's Big Ten team" - by landing a commitment from Lyons' Matt Harris this week.

Harris, a wide receiver/defensive back recruited as a defender, is another high-upside, no-downside recruit for the 'Cats. He joins such other recent commits and signees as Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti, Minooka lineman Blake King and a stable of running backs including Joliet Catholic's Malin Jones, Plano's Joseph Jones, Wheaton Warrenville South's Dan Vitale and Carmel's Michael Panico.

Recruiting was just starting to heat up for Harris, who also had offers from Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin along with several Mid-American Conference schools. But he wanted to be done with the process and saw no reason to wait once Fitzgerald offered.

It's easy to see why Evanston is such a popular destination for players like Harris. NU offers a world-class education, a program that's usually in the bowl mix and a charismatic young coach who seems to have no desire to go anywhere else. For recruits looking for a stable college environment, it's hard to beat.

And Fitzgerald seems particularly adept at spotting talent that others may overlook. In Harris' case, he's got a two-sport star who isn't getting the credit he deserves for his athleticism. Harris, like a lot of top prep football players, is also a track and field star. But he's not a sprinter, which Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said made some colleges look past him.

That was their mistake, because anyone who finishes second in the state in the long jump and qualifies in the hurdles is a pretty good athlete.

As Harris put it: "There's a difference between track-fast and football-fast. Track, you can be fast but it's just running one way. Football, you can be a fast cutter and a fast sprinter at the same time.

"I just work on being fast in general."

Starting next year, he'll be working on that at Northwestern.

Marist's Nic Weishar going slow on recruiting

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Expecting some big news anytime soon from Nic Weishar?

Don't hold your breath, the Marist two-sport standout says.

"I'm not in any rush," Weishar said of his football recruiting, which has been heating up. "I'm just going to see which school is best for me, just going to keep learning about each program and get out to more visits.

"But I'm not going to be in any hurry to make a decision."

Weishar is coming off a breakout sophomore year for the pass-happy RedHawks during which he had 78 catches for 1,160 yards and 13 touchdowns. He followed that up by averaging 13.5 points and 8.1 rebounds for a Marist basketball team that went on a memorable postseason run en route to a 23-7 finish.

With quarterback Ian Woodworth also returning from a team that was 7-3 and made the Class 8A playoffs, those football stats could be even better this fall.

But those aren't the only numbers college coaches like about Weishar. They also appreciate his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame. That's why most of the Big Ten has offered him, along with Notre Dame and Vanderbilt.

"He's one of the top five kids in the state," CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "He runs well, he plays in a great offense. He's got a Division I body, attitude and hands."

Elk Grove seeks help for trip to nationals

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Elk Grove's football program has a problem, but it's not a bad problem to have.

The Grenadiers qualified for a national 7-on-7 tournament in Hoover, Ala., later this month by coming out on top against a loaded field at Wheaton Warrenville South's Red Grange Classic last week.

Now Elk Grove is looking for some local businesses or corporations to step up and provide sponsorships to help defray the cost of the trip to the tourney, which is scheduled for July 25-28.

Anyone interested in helping out may contact Elk Grove principal Nancy Holman (847-718-4410), assistant principal Rick Mirro (rick.mirro@d214.org), athletic director Jon Rowley (jon.rowley@d214.org) or coach Larry Calhoun (calhoun.coach@gmail.com or 214-803-8660).

Notes and quotes: Red Grange Classic 7-on-7

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A few bits of news and opinion from last week's Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 tournament at Wheaton Warrenville South:

* With new coach Larry Calhoun, a Texas transplant, getting the job just days before, it was hard to know what to expect from Elk Grove. But Calhoun's Grenadiers, at first glance, look a lot like the Brian Doll-coached clubs of the past few years: scrappy, opportunistic and dangerous. Junior quarterback Adam O'Malley showed poise and a strong arm, and the Grens' defense stymied East St. Louis and Lyons in bracket play, winning 21-8 and 21-11 respectively. By taking first here against strong competition, Elk Grove demonstrated it's a team to watch again in the Mid-Suburban League and Class 7A.

* When you're in the same district as Glenbard West and the same conference as WW South, it's easy to get overlooked. But anyone who takes Glenbard North lightly is likely to get burned. Coach Ryan Wilkens always seems to get the most out of his talent and the Panthers showed they have a pretty good pitch-and-catch duo with quarterback Brian Murphy (also one of the state's best wrestlers) and receiver Ryan Storto, who scored 15 touchdowns in 10 games at WW South. Also keep an eye on two-way mainstay Justin Jackson and 6-3, 280-pounder D'Angelo Hodges, back to anchor the offensive line.

* Glenbard West isn't necessarily built for 7-on-7s, but the Hilltoppers looked impressive in reaching the semifinals with bracket-play wins over Wheaton North and WW South. "We are as athletic as we've ever been," coach Chad Hetlet said. "At times, we threw the ball as well as we ever have." Everyone knows about Glenbard West tight end Nathan Marcus, a 6-5, 210-pound Vanderbilt recruit, but also keep an eye out for Scott Andrews, who scored 25 touchdowns on the sophomore level. One playmaker the Hilltoppers won't have is senior running back Kendall Johnson, who has been dismissed from the team for violations of the school's athletic code, Hetlet confirmed.

* One team that takes 7-on-7s pretty seriously is Maine South, which makes sense because the Hawks figure to have one of the best passing games in the state. They definitely have one of the top quarterbacks in the country, Northwestern recruit Matt Alviti, who will burn a lot of defenses this fall. Another reason for worry for Maine South's rivals: the Hawks also won the lineman challenge at WW South.

* WW South has a quarterback competition for the second straight year. This season, the candidates are a pair of juniors: Ryan Graham, who split time last season with since-graduated Thaddeus Armstrong, and Casey Paraday, a transfer from Shiloh Christian in Texas. Who'll get the job, or even whether one will play more than the other, won't be clear for a while. One thing that we do know is the Tigers have another big-time receiver in 6-3, 195-pounder Corey Davis, who has offers from Notre Dame and Illinois State, according to Rivals.com.

* Winning individual awards were Alviti (tourney MVP), Lyons' Matt Harris (top receiver) and Wheaton North's Jaylen Howze (top defensive player).

Doll's new house will be overseas

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Brian Doll knows he's walking away from something special.

In three seasons, Doll turned around an Elk Grove football program that had won three games in the three years before he arrived. The Grenadiers reached the IHSA playoffs every year under Doll and finished 10-2 last fall.

Proving there's still talent in the program, Elk Grove went out and won the loaded Red Grange Classic 7-on-7 event at Wheaton Warrenville South last week.

Doll stepped down in May, something he wouldn't have done if he didn't sense he was moving into another great opportunity.

A conversation with Jordan Bressler, president of Deerfield-based sports marketing group TSMGI, led to just such an opportunity.

"We were bouncing around ideas about different things," Doll said recently, "about American football, how to promote it globally. ... They said, 'Would you be interested in spearheading these ideas and going over there and doing it?'"

He was more receptive to the idea of going "there" - to London - than some other high school coaches might be - as was his family. Doll's wife is a native of Australia who lived in London for five tears.

Interest in the American version of football is on the rise in the United Kingdom, according to Doll. "They've gone from the 15th most popular sport to the fourth or fifth most popular sport," he said.

The game is growing at the university level there and some British players are actually earning college scholarships here.

"NFL Europe didn't work, but London has been able to continue to grow American football," Doll said.

Doll's job will be to help keep that growth going, working to develop players and further interaction between U.S. college coaches and their British counterparts.

"The British coaches are behind," Doll said. "They'll admit it."

But then again, the Grenadiers were behind their Mid-Suburban League rivals when he arrived on campus. And look where they are now.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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