Kaneland senior receiver Zack Martinelli and Prospect senior linebacker Andrew Hajek have earned Daily Herald MVP honors for their performances in Week 9 of the high school football season.
Martinelli helped preserve Kaneland's unbeaten regular season with a TD catch against Morris, while Hajek had 19 tackles as Prospect won to earn a share of the Mid-Suburban East crown.
Zack Martinelli, Kaneland: With the game on the line to decide the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior receiver maintained his go-to status. His 5-yard touchdown catch with 27 seconds left beat Morris, 33-30. Martinelli opened the scoring on a 59-yard touchdown catch and run and finished with 6 receptions for 124 yards.
Jack Beneventi, Benet: The Redwings claimed their first East Suburban Catholic Conference title with a 31-21 win over Joliet Catholic, a victory powered by Beneventi. Facing fierce pressure the 6-foot-6, 185-pound sophomore quarterback lit up the Hilltoppers by completing 28 of 34 passes for 388 yards and touchdowns of 5, 20, 40 and 3 yards.
Danny Modelski, Conant: Three first-half turnovers put Conant in a 28-14 hole against Barrington, but Modelski threw 3 of his 5 touchdowns in the second half to lead the Cougars to a dramatic 41-36 win. In all, the junior quarterback passed for 417 yards, including an 11-yard toss to Tim Manczko with 25 seconds left for the game-winner.
Austin Williams, Libertyville: The senior has a knack for three. He's kicked 4 field goals, and in the Wildcats' 40-20 win over Wauconda, he caught 3 touchdown passes for the second time this year. He finished with 7 receptions for 114 yards, hauling in TD grabs of 9, 18 and 31 yards. He also caught a PAT pass.
Hunter Williams, Jacobs: With Jacobs in desperate need of a win to make the playoffs, this junior wide receiver enjoyed a big night in a 21-3 victory at Dundee-Crown. He opened the scoring in the first quarter with an 85-yard catch and run for a touchdown, and he later capped the scoring with a 9-yard touchdown pass in traffic. Williams finished with 4 receptions for 131 yards to lead the Golden Eagles to the playoffs for a school-record third consecutive season.
Andrew Hajek, Prospect: There wasn't much more Hajek could have done in Prospect's 14-10 victory at Elk Grove that gave the Knights a share of the MSL East title. The senior excelled in all three phases, registering 19 tackles from his middle linebacker post while also catching 2 passes for 22 yards and punting 3 times for a 42-yard average.
Robbie Bowman, Batavia: The 6-foot, 195-pound senior strong safety helped insure that Batavia earned a second straight 9-0 record and Upstate Eight River Division title. The two-year starter finished strong, 8 tackles with 2 for loss in Batavia's 49-12 victory over conference foe Elgin. The prior week Bowman made 16 tackles against St. Charles East to decide the title.
Kevin Coppin, Lisle: Lisle's dim playoff hopes -- 4-4 record, 32 points -- didn't deter the 5-foot-9, 175-pound junior linebacker. Coppin's 12 tackles keyed the rare Interstate Eight Small win over a Large Division foe. At crunchtime with Sandwich set up with first-and-goal at Lisle's 2-yard line, he pierced the line, stripped the ball and returned it 55 yards to clinch a 20-14 win.
Brandon Mabry, Huntley: This 5-foot-11, 200-pound linebacker was a central figure in one of the best defensive performances in school history. The senior recorded 3 sacks, 5 tackles (2 for lost yardage) and deflected a pass as the Red Raiders held McHenry to negative-7 total yards in a 41-0 victory over McHenry that guaranteed Huntley its first playoff bid since 2009.
Michael Mariella, Vernon Hills: Be like Michael. The junior defensive back made sure his team's season didn't end with a thud. His 2 interceptions helped the Cougars snap a seven-game losing streak with a 28-21 victory over visiting Round Lake. He also had 3 solo tackles, assisted on a pair of stops and broke up a pass.