Adam Blake, Aurora Central Catholic
This three-year starter was runner-up for Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division lineman of the year. When running to his side at right tackle the Chargers averaged 5.7 yards a carry, but he also cleared a swath on backside sweeps and traps. "You certainly don't want to get in his way," coach Brian Casey said of the 6-foot-1, 280-pound Blake, ACC's team MVP and highest-graded lineman. Blake allowed 1 sack in 113 pass attempts. The coachable team co-captain also filled in at center, the position he may play in college. "You really don't see how good he is until you pop that highlight film in, isolate him, and see how he dominated," Casey said.
Mike Brown, St. Charles East
Sitting out junior year to concentrate on track, this 5-foot-10, 160-pound back returned with a vengeance. Brown brought sprinter's speed, and lateral quickness Saints coach Mike Fields "hadn't seen since Michael Ratay." Opposing defenses' near-total focus, Brown still gained 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns on 229 carries, with 241 yards against Streamwood, 200 yards in East's big win over St. Charles North. Brown was Class 8A Academic All-State, St. Charles East's MVP and Upstate Eight Conference River Division offensive MVP runner-up, leading the league in carries and rushing. Brown even dabbled at cornerback "anything we could do to get him on the field," Fields said. "He really became a leader. He raised the bar."
Quinn Buschbacher, Kaneland
For all the veteran talent on Kaneland's Class 5A semifinal football team, this junior led the Knights with 1,617 all-purpose yards. A two-year starting receiver, Buschbacher also played cornerback this season, finishing with 24 tackles, forcing 2 fumbles and intercepting 2 passes. He led the Knights with 56 receptions for 848 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 211 yards rushing with 3 touchdowns, plus another 558 yards returning kicks and punts. An All-Conference selection in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East, the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder caught 8 passes for 153 yards, 3 scores against DeKalb. "If we needed a big play, Quinn came up with a lot of them this year," said coach Tom Fedderly.
Tyler Callaghan, Kaneland
Colleges such as Wisconsin are looking at this 6-foot-5, 230-pound, three-year starter. The senior inside linebacker ranged sideline to sideline for a team-high 69 tackles. Deceptively fast, he forced 3 fumbles, had 5 quarterback hurries, 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions. Voted All-Northern Illinois Big 12 East, as a receiver Callaghan caught his first touchdown pass in Week 7 and added another in Week 8, helping deal Sycamore its first loss to essentially clinch the conference title. "Callie" finished with 34 receptions for 406 yards and 5 touchdowns including the game-winner with 9.8 seconds left against Vernon Hills in the 5A quarterfinals. "He was really a clutch player for us when the games counted," Knights coach Tom Fedderly said.
Joe Camiliere, Kaneland
The Knights' three-year starting quarterback is captain of the 2010 Tri-Cities All-Area Football Team. A consummate leader, he translated film studies and experience into an offense that averaged 38 points. Commanding the spread offense, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,955 yards and 36 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions 3 picks against Vernon Hills in the Class 5A quarterfinals, which Camiliere still won with 4 touchdown passes. A 5A All-State selection and Northern Illinois Big 12 East offensive MVP, Camiliere kept teams honest with his team-high 687 yards rushing, with 9 touchdowns. "Personally," coach Tom Fedderly said, "I just can't say enough about the kid."
Cole Gardner, Batavia
A Class 6A Academic All-State honoree, Gardner played tight end, defensive end, even linebacker. "Any time the game was on the line we needed him on the field, regardless of which way he lined up at," said Bulldogs coach Mike Gaspari. Voted as a 2011 team captain, the junior two-way, two-year starter made 46 tackles with 7 tackles for loss and a team-high 8 sacks and 18 quarterback pressures. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder caught 21 passes for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns. Gardner earned Upstate Eight Conference River Division league honors. Befitting his size, strength and athleticism he thought his best game came against physical Bartlett. Gaspari slightly disagreed: "He was good all year long."
Noel Gaspari, Batavia
Another junior two-year starter voted in as a 2011 Batavia captain, Gaspari's development at quarterback produced a dramatic leap in the Bulldogs' passing game. Joining tailback Emund Kabba as Batavia's most improved player, Gaspari was an Upstate Eight Conference River Division all-conference selection. He completed 64 percent of his passes 13-for-13 against Larkin for 1,885 yards, 16 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. He ran for 262 yards and 4 touchdowns, and tied a program record with 4 TD passes against Streamwood. Gaspari also was a Class 6A Academic All-State choice. "He had an outstanding year and it allowed us to be pretty dynamic offensively for most of the season," said his father, coach Mike Gaspari.
Graham Glasgow, Marmion
Poster boy for the Class 6A state runner-up's intimidating offensive line. The 6-foot-7, 295-pound, two-year starting left tackle commanded respect. He got it by being named All-State and the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division lineman of the year. Despite Eastern Michigan's scholarship offer and college interest from Wyoming to the Ivy League, the senior is relatively raw, completing his fourth year of football. Glasgow helped pave the way for 3,653 yards on the ground, and even had a 6-yard touchdown run against Chicago Christian. "I'm just so proud of where he was, and where he is, and where he could be," said Cadets coach Dan Thorpe. "He doesn't realize how good he is."
Ryan Glasgow, Marmion
"Division 1 potential, Division I motor," praised Cadets coach Dan Thorpe. A quick 6-foot-3, 245-pound junior, Ryan started both ways left guard alongside his brother, and at defensive end. Physical yet athletic enough to drop into man-to-man pass coverage. Ryan made 56 tackles, 5 for loss, 8 sacks and a team-best 10 QB hurries. He grabbed Kenneth Jackson's ankle to help stop a T.F. South 2-point conversion in Marmion's 28-27 second-round playoff win. Ryan also bulldozed Chicago Christian for a touchdown run. Wyoming, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa State are interested. "He plays the game with a chip on the shoulder, which is what you need at the next level," Thorpe said.
T.J. Lally, Marmion
T.J. Lally is flat-out tough. A broken hand Week 2 against Mundelein didn't stop the 6-foot-1, 215-pound whirlwind from avoiding or paving over tacklers toward 1,389 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns, including 125 yards and a 16-yard score in the Class 6A championship against Rockford Boylan. Explosion and acceleration at middle linebacker enabled him to fly sideline to sideline for 152 tackles with a 6A title-game record 18. Lally is a repeat All-State selection, the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division co-player of the year, his second MVP honor. Coach Dan Thorpe cited Lally's humility, and grit. "He's old school," he said. "(Dick) Butkus, (Ray) Nitschke, Johnny Riggins would be very proud of T.J."
Anthony Maddie, Aurora Christian
Even before the junior quarterback transferred from Joliet Catholic, Eagles coach Don Beebe knew of Maddie's athleticism. He'd seen the video, Maddie bouncing a basketball off the backboard and dunking it. Maddie's strong arm and wily legs earned Class 3A All-State honorable-mention and Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division honors. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder threw for 2,468 yards, 26 touchdowns, and ran for a team-high 607 yards, 4 touchdowns. Maddie passed for 6 touchdowns against Oregon, 5 apiece against DuSable and Chicago Academy. On the first play of Aurora Christian's playoff win over unbeaten Wilmington, Maddie ran 85 yards up the middle for a touchdown. "His ability to throw and run is a rare combination," Beebe said.
Andrew Mariotti, Geneva
"One of the best we have ever had," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said of this 6-foot-4, 225-pound, two-year starting defensive lineman. Shifting between end and tackle based on requirements against specific opponents, Mariotti persevered through a Week 2 concussion and a season-long turf toe problem to rank third with 59 tackles, plus 2 sacks. Fast off the ball, he enjoyed the rare lineman's interception against Streamwood. Bringing confidence, high energy and positive attitude while helping younger players, Mariotti was second in Upstate Eight Conference River Division defensive MVP voting. "He had real good quickness for a bigger kid, and his motor runs at all times," Wicinski said.
Josh Mikes, St. Charles North
The back tightness that sidelined Mikes nearly the entire 2009 season was gone; the big-play receiver was back. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior caught 29 passes for a program-record 732 yards nearly half the North Stars' passing yards and 9 touchdowns. Things came in bunches for the all-Upstate Eight Conference River Division honoree, like 212 yards and 4 touchdowns against McHenry or a 25.2-yard average. Mikes seemed more determined, coach Mark Gould said, a good addition to his speed, hands, reactions and leaping ability. "With his speed, he can get open deep, and if he catches a short one he has the possibility of breaking it," Gould said. "You don't get that every year."
Sam Miller, Aurora Christian
Fortitude, technique, leadership. These were the hallmarks of this two-way, two-year starter. At right offensive tackle Aurora Christian's ground game followed him. At inside linebacker the 6-foot-1, 201-pounder gave much more than he got, with a team-high 111 tackles, 6 for loss. The Class 3A All-State selection also all-Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division and Academic All-State made one of the Eagles' biggest plays by blocking a punt Anthony Maddie returned for a touchdown against Immaculate Conception. His career ended in a quarterfinal loss to Stillman Valley with a strained MCL, bleeding from his chin, and 18 tackles. Coach Don Beebe said, "Sam was our leader in all phases of that word."
Jake Mills, Geneva
Voted one of the Vikings' 2011 captains, the junior right tackle graded out the highest among Geneva lineman. Already a two-year starter, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder is a weight-room warrior on the verge of joining coach Rob Wicinski's select "1,000-pound Club" combined lifts on bench, squat and clean. Beginning as a guard, Mills' size warranted a move to tackle, where he retained his quick feet and block-finishing attitude. Mills was voted to the Upstate Eight Conference River Division All-Conference team and helped pave the way for 2,609 yards rushing on the season. "He was our most consistent lineman, no doubt," Wicinski said. "Whenever we needed a yard we went to the right side."
Connor Quinn, Geneva
Positive demeanor, vision, football IQ, a "let's get it done" attitude, a sense of humor that's how Vikings coach Rob Wicinski described this 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior. Quinn's task-oriented mentality was reflected in 1,254 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns at tailback. In one of Geneva's biggest wins, over South Elgin, Quinn ran for 179 yards and a touchdown. Also a two-year starter at outside linebacker-defensive end, he made a team-high 68 tackles in part-time duty. Quinn "ran the table," Wicinski said, in earning Class 6A All-State, UEC River Division offensive MVP, Geneva's MVP and the Vikings' best offensive back. "He was our offense," Wicinski said. "We went as he went."
Nick Scoliere, Marmion
This three-year starter provided great versatility. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior ran inside and outside; caught passes; returned punts and kickoffs; played cornerback and defensive end. The Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division defensive player of the year, Scoliere registered 16 sacks and 10 other tackles for loss among 73 tackles. He helped stuff T.F. South's 2-point conversion at defensive end and next week played cornerback to defend Lemont's receiving height. Scoliere ran for 580 yards, 4 touchdowns, and caught a team-high 28 passes for 469 yards, 6 touchdowns. He scored both ways in the 6A championship. Coach Dan Thorpe called Scoliere a playmaker, a risk-taker with moxie. "It's been fun watching him," he said.
Blake Serpa, Kaneland
Verbally committed to Central Michigan, this 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior and Class 5A honorable-mention All-State pick and Northern Illinois Big 12 East defensive MVP played end after two seasons at linebacker. Third in tackles with 52.5, he led Kaneland in sacks (10), quarterback hurries (12) and blocked 3 punts with a 52-yard return for touchdown. Add 525 yards rushing, 33 receptions for 584 yards, and Serpa scored 20 total touchdowns. He punted, too, and replaced concussed quarterback Joe Camiliere in Kaneland's semifinal loss to Montini. Breakaway speed followed a cat-quick burst Central Michigan loved. Coach Tom Fedderly said, "They offered him as soon as they saw the tape."
Cal Wagner, West Aurora
A 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior lineman, Wagner capped his prep football career as a DuPage Valley All-Conference selection. A leader by example, this year he also added vocal leadership to skills that included good footwork and intelligence, an understanding of the game. A two-year starter at left tackle who played offensive guard when needed, Wagner also made 16 tackles as a defensive lineman and was the Blackhawks' long-snapper. Wagner graded out highest on the team in blocking assignments. He was a team co-captain who earned West Aurora's most valuable offensive lineman award and also its special teams line MVP. "He's real athletic," coach Buck Drach said. "You want a lineman with good feet."
Nate Zinzer, West Aurora
A junior listed at 5-foot-5, 140 pounds and a two-way, two-year starter in the rugged DuPage Valley Conference, Zinzer gets Blackhawks coach Buck Drach's acclaim as "one of the toughest kids I've ever coached in my life." The All-DVC defensive back made 41 tackles and returned a fumble 23 yards for a touchdown. At receiver the 4.65 speedster caught 20 passes for 334 yards and 5 touchdowns, including 3 touchdowns against West Chicago plus the winning 2-point reception. A team captain and Class 8A Academic All-State selection, Zinzer needed little coaching. "He's a great student and a great student of the game," Drach said. "You tell him one thing once, and that's it."
Chad Beebe (Aurora Christian, WR, so.), Jake Bergren (St. Charles North, DB, sr.), Javonta Black (West Aurora, DL, jr.), Jimmy Boyle (Kaneland, DL, sr.), Kevin Dwyer (Geneva, OL, sr.), Alec Lyons (Batavia, RB-DL, sr.), Dirk Schmitt (St. Charles North, RB, sr.), Matt Shiltz (St. Charles North, QB, sr.), Matt Williams (Geneva, QB, jr.); Jake Winkel (Marmion, OL, sr.)
Ben Allison (Batavia, P-LB, sr.), Garret Becker (Marmion, RB, jr.), Kyle Bender (Geneva, DB, sr.), Doug Berthold (Geneva, DB, sr.), Kent Brauweiler (Aurora Central Catholic, TE-DL, sr.), Mike Carbonara (Marmion, RB-DB, sr.), Steve Carroll (Aurora Central Catholic, OL-P, sr.), Sean Carter (Kaneland, WR, jr.), Andrew Cassara (Aurora Christian, WR, sr.), Joe Cella (Geneva, RB, sr.), Todd Clapp (Aurora Christian, OL-LB, sr.), Kyle Clechenko (Aurora Central Catholic, RB-LB, jr.), Kyle Davidson (Kaneland, DB, sr.), Mike Eberth (Marmion, DL, jr.), Connor Einck (Geneva, TE, jr.), Ben Fornek (Batavia, DB, sr.), Vince Fricke (St. Charles North, DL, sr.), A.J. Friedman (Marmion, K-P, jr.), Mitch Holtz (Aurora Christian, LB-RB, jr.), Nick Holzer (Aurora Central Catholic, LB, jr.), Joe Hoscheit (St. Charles East, LB, so.), Emund Kabba (Batavia, RB, sr.), Sam Komel (Kaneland, OL, sr.), Ben Kovalick (Kaneland, OL-DL, jr.), Kyle Kozak (Marmion, DB, jr.), Mitch Loehmann (Marmion, RB-DB, sr.), David Lyon (St. Charles East, OL, sr.), Brandon Mayes (Aurora Christian, WR-DB, so.), Kenny McCracken (Aurora Christian, LB, jr.), Ben Moore (Geneva, K, sr.), D.J. Nelson (West Aurora, LB, jr.), Ryan Noel (Kaneland, OL, jr.), Nick Pappas (Batavia, OL, sr.), David Peskind (Batavia, WR-DB, sr.), Jacob Razo (Kaneland, DB, jr.), Joe Reuland (Aurora Central Catholic, LB, sr.), Mike Reuland (Aurora Central Catholic, TE-DL, sr.), Ben Rogers (Geneva, WR, jr.), Booker Ross (West Aurora, LB, so.), Matt Souvannasing (West Aurora, DB-WR, sr.) Sean Tews (Batavia, OL, sr.), C.J. Van Petten (St. Charles North, OL, sr.), Marcus Waller (West Aurora, RB-DB, sr.), Brandon Warren (West Aurora, LB, jr.), Drew White (Geneva, DL, jr.), Brett Willman (Geneva, OL, sr.), Brian Wilson (Batavia, OL-DL, sr.), Zach Zajicek (St. Charles East, WR-DB, sr.).