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Kyle Anderson Hampshire
This 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior commanded the offense and was a cornerstone of the defensive secondary. As a safety, he led Hampshire with 51 solo tackles and 39 assists and grabbed an interception. The athletic, second-year quarterback completed 31 of 92 attempts for 505 yards and 3 touchdowns and rushed 83 times for 403 yards and 4 scores. "As a quarterback he was the leader on the offensive side, and he was somebody we really depended on defensively," Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "He made plays all over the field and he had the ability to put his team on his back on both sides of the ball."
Quinn Baker Cary-Grove
A 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior quarterback, this repeat all-area pick overcame a late-season hand injury to lead the Trojans to second place in Class 6A. The option trigger man finished fourth in the area with 1,111 rushing yards on 206 carries (5.4 avg.) and scored 16 touchdowns despite missing 3½ of Cary-Grove's 14 games. Baker also completed 22 of 49 pass attempts for 477 yards and 7 touchdowns. He finished his two-year varsity stint with 2,214 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 385 carries (5.8 avg.), 10 scoring strikes and nearly 800 yards passing. "I think Quinn would have been an all-state quarterback had he not gotten injured in those three games at the end of the season," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He was such a dependable leader. He was tough and he made some great decisions. He'll go down in Cary-Grove history as one of the best quarterbacks that we've had for those reasons and the so many intangibles he brought."
Bryce Beschorner Huntley
A 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver, this talented senior led the area in receptions (44), receiving yardage (818), and touchdown catches (11). He averaged 18.6 yards per reception for a team that won 6 games and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009. "It's easy for coaches to have selective memories, but I've coached some great ones and Bryce is the best all-around wide receiver I've ever had," Huntley coach John Hart said. "Whatever college lands him will wonder how they ended up with him because he's that good. He's a special player and a special kid on top of it." Beschorner holds a 4.0 grade-point average and scored 33 on the ACT.
Brock Bussenger Cary-Grove
This linebacker played through a knee injury to remain a key component of a defense that won 13 games. Injured in Week 3, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior missed a game against Hampshire before returning. Bussenger not only gutted out the rest of the season, he excelled, totaling 69 tackles for a unit that held opponents to 13.9 points and 263 yards per game. "We were fortunate to have him the whole season after Hampshire," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He was a tough player for us on defense, a dependable guy who played through a very bad injury. We always knew that if Brock could walk, he was going to play. He's just that kind of player."
Brendan Chrystal Crystal Lake South
This 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior took on a larger role when he moved from safety to inside linebacker this season. He finished second with 52 tackles, 45 of them solo, on a team that won 7 games. Chrystal registered 7 tackles for loss, 1 sack, broke up 9 passes and forced 2 fumbles for a defense that limited opponents to 266 yards per game. "He's just a tremendous competitor," Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "He was a leader for us on defense, just a tough-nosed kid."
Zevin Clark Crystal Lake South
The CL South staff hoped to use this 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior primarily on defense but realized early on he was needed at running back, where he gained 406 yards and scored 5 touchdowns as a junior. Clark finished the season with 1,033 yards on 157 carries (6.6 avg.) and raced to 11 touchdowns, 7 of which were scored on rushes of 20 yards or more. "For him to pass 1,000 yards says a lot about how hard he ran and what kind of ability he has," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "He really helped to solidify our offense."
Joe Crivolio South Elgin
This fearless wide receiver proved his mettle in Week 2 against Benet when he snared 14 catches in traffic — 2 for touchdowns — absorbing multiple hits en route to a 159-yard afternoon. Despite an ankle injury that forced him to miss time late in the season, this 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior finished with 39 receptions for 505 yards (12.6 avg.) and 6 touchdowns. "He played with some pain and made some crazy catches," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "A lot of times receivers only want to run the safe routes and not go inside. Not Joe. He took a ton of shots and bounced right up."
Robert Cuda South Elgin
Without a strong running game to rely upon, the pressure fell squarely on this first-year quarterback to move the South Elgin offense. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior responded by completing 137 of 274 attempts (50 percent) for 1,711 yards and 20 touchdowns, finishing with a 117.8 quarterback rating. Quick enough to avoid sacks and scramble for daybreak, Cuda gained 193 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in 60 attempts. He was named to the academic all-state team. "Teams knew we had to throw the ball so they were dropping eight, sometimes nine guys into coverage," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "For Robert to have the kind of first year he had against competition like Neuqua Valley, Benet, Waubonsie Valley and Bartlett shows how much time he put into studying coverages and learning reads. It's a credit to him because it didn't happen by accident."
Aaron Everson Bartlett
This durable running back carried the Bartlett offense after the team's starting quarterback was injured on the first series of the season. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior finished with 1,984 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on 286 carries (6.9 avg.) in 11 games. He also returned 3 kickoffs for touchdowns of 82, 90 and 96 yards. His powerful burst and breakaway speed resulted in 9 scoring runs of 34 yards or longer. Everson surpassed 100 yards in 10 of 11 games, and he gained at least 224 yards six times. He scored 17 touchdowns in 3 consecutive wins over Elgin, East Aurora and Metea Valley and finished as the area's scoring leader with 185 points, including 17 point-after kicks. And he did it all with a broken toe suffered during track season last spring. "We knew he was a good player, but we didn't realize what we had in him," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "He was amazingly durable, able to bounce off and still make plays using his power, agility, quickness and lateral movement. He worked hard and should be pretty proud of what he accomplished."
Dennis Gardeck Crystal Lake South
This senior linebacker didn't see the field much as a junior only because the senior class ahead of him was arguably the most talented in school history. Gardeck stepped into a starting role this season and delivered for the Gators, leading the team with 56.5 tackles (50 solo). He posted 9 tackles for losses of 29 yards, 1 sack, broke up 4 passes and forced a fumble for a defense that held opponents to 16 ppg during the regular season. He was voted team MVP by his peers. "The guys really rallied around him," Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "He didn't get a chance to play a lot last year but he stepped up when he got his chance and did a great job."
Jake Gierlak Jacobs
The area's third-leading receiver, a repeat all-area pick, was a dependable target in an explosive offense. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound wideout led Jacobs' school-record third-straight playoff team with 41 receptions for 547 yards (13.3 avg.). He caught 3 touchdowns, including plays of 13 and 46 yards in a Week 8 loss to Crystal Lake South. "It was tough for him at the beginning of the season, but he came back strong like we expected and made some great catches," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. An Illinois state scholar, Gierlak is receiving Ivy League interest.
Blake Holder Streamwood
Committed to Northern Illinois, this wide receiver and sectional track champion had the ability to change games whether he was playing offense, defense and special teams. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior finished with 28 receptions for 430 yards and 5 touchdowns. Playing in the secondary, this repeat all-area pick intercepted 5 passes and recovered 2 fumbles. He also scored on a 75-yard punt return. "He was a difference maker for us in a lot of situations," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "He came up with big plays, turnovers and changed field position for us. Even when he wasn't directly involved, people had to focus on someone with his ability and it opened up other things. It's hard to put a value on that."
Chris Kantzavelos Bartlett
One of the toughest players in the Upstate Eight Conference, this all-UEC Valley pick and two-way starter helped Bartlett attain 7 victories and its 12th playoff berth in 13 years. Committed to Central Michigan as a defensive end, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior totaled 29 tackles, 3 sacks, 15 hurries and 2 fumble recoveries. He led the team in receiving as a tight end with 15 catches for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns. "He was an exciting player to watch and he hasn't capped out yet," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "He's going to be a good one at the next level. He worked his tail off in the offseason, got a lot stronger and changed his body."
Kevin Kirchhoff Bartlett
This third-year inside linebacker and all-Upstate Eight Valley selection led the area's stingiest defense with 56 tackles. The 5-foot-10, 245-pound senior also totaled 5 tackles for loss, forced 3 fumbles and recovered a fumble and snagged 3 interceptions. Offensively, he played fullback in goal line situations and rushed 12 times for 72 yards, including a first-down run that sealed a victory over Lake Park. "He's just a hard-nosed kid and he's been pushing other kids for the last couple of years," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "He never wanted to come off the field. Never. He was the guy on defense."
Adam Kulon Jacobs
This team captain and repeat all-area selection committed to Toledo last summer and delivered this fall for a program that made the playoffs in each of his three varsity seasons, establishing a new school record. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end finished the season with 74 tackles and 5 sacks. "I'm very happy for Adam that he's going to play at Toledo, which is great for him and great for our program," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "I can't wait to see where he ends up. He could be 280 pounds or 290 and play tackle end or even offensive guard."
Jake Lackovic Huntley
This senior missed his junior year due to injury, switched positions under a new coach and enjoyed a big season for a playoff team. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound wide receiver was a big-play threat, leading his team in average yards per catch (18.7). He hauled down 27 receptions for 512 yards and 8 touchdowns. "A lot of his catches were really dynamic," Huntley coach John Hart said. "He has a little Randy Moss in him. He might drop an easy one, then he'd come back and make an incredible play. He was a big play always ready to happen."
Cody Lane Dundee-Crown
This second-year varsity running back enjoyed a breakout junior season and helped Dundee-Crown to its best season since 2008. Lane pounded away relentlessly until he broke free, often for big gains. He finished as the area's third-leading rusher with 1,247 yards on 161 carries (7.7 avg.). Lane could score from anywhere on the field. Of his 18 touchdowns, 11 were rushes of 30 yards or more and 8 were rushes of 49 yards or more. "When we needed a play, we gave him the ball," Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola said. "He's quiet but he's a leader in the weight room and an integral part of leading by example with us turning it around a little. People tried to stop him first, which is the ultimate compliment."
Joel Lopez Burlington Central
A 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior, Lopez was a two-way standout who earned an all-Big Northern East selection as a defensive lineman. He was Central's leading tackler among linemen with 60 tackles, including 6 tackles for loss and 1 sack. As a tight end, Lopez lent a solid block and was versatile enough to make 8 catches for 94 yards. "He's a good kid and he's hoping to go play at the next level," Burlington Central coach Rich Crabel said. "He was the strongest kid in our weight room and can play very good defense."
Ryan Mahoney Cary-Grove
This third-year varsity performer returned from an ankle injury late in the regular season to provide the big-play threat needed to reach the Class 6A title game. Does the 5-foot-11, 170 pound back possesses breakaway speed? Of his 12 touchdowns, 8 covered at least 33 yards. He rushed for 842 yards and 8 touchdowns on 79 carries for a team best 10.7 yards per carry. Mahoney led the Trojans with 304 receiving yards (11 rec.) and made 3 touchdown catches, including a highlight-reel quality grab for a touchdown in the state championship game. He was at his best in the playoffs, demonstrated by a 95-yard kickoff return against Rockford Auburn, the only touchdown in a 7-0 victory over Crystal Lake Central and 195 yards and 2 scores in a semifinal win at Lake Forest. "Ryan really added that third dimension in the playoffs for us, that perimeter threat," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He had breakaway speed and he really came through for us in the playoffs."
Nathan Marotta South Elgin
A hard-hitting inside linebacker and dependable tight end, this 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior was a key figure on both sides of the ball in his second varsity season. Marotta made the calls and adjustments on defense and finished the season with 56.5 tackles, 30 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups and a forced fumble. Offensively, he caught 19 passes for 233 yards and 2 touchdowns and was a key blocker on play-action passes and in goal line formations. He was named to the academic all-state team. "He's just an outstanding kid," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "He's a great athlete, a great student and a great player to coach. We're lucky to have him back for one more year."
Zach Marszal Cary-Grove
Also an all-area baseball selection, Marszal (6-0, 182) was the only full-time, two-way player for a team that went 13-1 and finished second in Class 6A. As a hybrid linebacker/safety, the senior notched 41.5 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2 sacks and grabbed 3 interceptions. Offensively, the wideout was a big-play threat. He made 13 catches for 231 yards and 4 touchdowns (17.8 avg.) and added 162 rushing yards and 3 more touchdowns on just 6 rushing attempts (27.8 avg.). "We got everything out of Zach every game," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He'd come back to the huddle drained like he fought a 15-round boxing match. And most of those matches he won." Marszal's most memorable game was against Huntley, when he caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, scored on a 63-yard reverse and returned one of his 2 interceptions for a 32-yard touchdown.
Bret Mooney Jacobs
Installed as the starting quarterback last summer, Mooney used his field vision and smooth release to lead area signal callers with 2,092 yards on 131-of-240 passing. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior threw 17 touchdown passes, eclipsed 250 yards four times and rushed for 3 more scores. "We thought he would have a big year and he did," Jacobs hall-of-fame coach Bill Mitz said. "His work ethic and dedication are bound to make him one of the better ones I've seen. I expect him to be a leader of our team next year."
Kyle Norberg Cary-Grove
Already a two-year varsity starter at linebacker, this 6-foot-2-, 211-pound senior accepted a switch to fullback and turned a good offense into a powerhouse. Norberg used his 4.6 speed and ability to bounce off tackles and burst through holes to turn in the area's only all-state season. He carried the ball 228 times for an area-best 2,334 yards (10.2 avg.), breaking the program's single-season rushing mark. He scored 26 rushing touchdowns. Norberg led the Trojans in a 33-26 loss in the Class 6A state title game with 121 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. He also played defense part time and made 2 interceptions. "Our offense took off with Kyle," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He really made us explosive and not just a ball-control offense. He had more big plays in a season than I've ever seen at Cary-Grove." Of Norberg's 26 touchdowns, 11 were scored on rushes of 30 yards or more.
Kameron Sallee Huntley
This athletic quarterback was dangerous whether he was throwing, rushing or kicking the football. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior finished a 6-win season with 21 touchdown throws, most in the area. He threw for 1,444 yards on 92-of-201 passing (45.8 percent) and rushed for 656 yards and 5 touchdowns on 114 carries (5.8 avg.). Sallee also possesses a strong leg. He averaged 38 yards per punt and booted 31 extra points and 3 field goals, including a 24-yarder that gave Huntley a 9-7 lead at halftime of an eventual playoff loss to Fenwick. "There are not many guys at this level who can do what Kam did as far as playing quarterback, running with the football and, on top of that, punting and kicking as well as he did," Huntley coach John Hart said.
Alex Schabert Larkin
A three-year starter and three-time all-Upstate Eight River selection, this two-way lineman was a steadying force in the trenches for the Royals. Schabert demonstrated his do-anything attitude on offense by playing guard, tackle and center, wherever he was needed. A workhorse, he doubled as a defensive tackle, notching 32 tackles and 3 sacks. "He was the heart of the team," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "He comes from good stock. He was kind of like a coach on the field and he's a good kid. He'll have some college coaches coming through in the next couple weeks and I think something good will happen for him."
Hunter Williams Jacobs
This big-play wide receiver's 4.6 speed lit the match to a powder keg offense that averaged 28.7 points and 388 yards per game. The 6-foot, 190-pound junior made 31 receptions for 747 yards, an average of 24.1 yards per catch. The area's second-leading receiver provided instant offense. His 7 touchdown receptions included catches of 40, 42, 49, 75 and 85 yards. "Hunter did a great job for us," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "We started off playing him on both sides of the ball, them moved him to just offense and he responded. He's a deep threat with great speed and he's powerful for 190 pounds."
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