One football-mad family can't ask for much more.
Capping an official visit last weekend to Western Michigan, Waubonsie Valley senior tailback Austin Guido verbally committed to play at Western Michigan for new Broncos coach and Kaneland graduate P.J. Fleck.
In December Austin's younger brothers, sixth-grade twins Jordan and Brandon Guido, helped the Naperville Patriots Division I Junior Pee Wees to a 13-0 record and national championship of the United Youth Football League. Their father, Mark, is an assistant coach.
"It was cool to watch that," said Austin, who attended the game in Plant City, Fla. "They'll remember that for the rest of their lives, obviously."
It's a big deal. In the semifinals the Guido twins' Pee Wee team laid 45 points on a Buffalo team that hadn't lost in three years and hadn't been scored upon in two. The other Patriots team to win a national title, an eighth-grade group of 14-and-unders, beat a Maryland squad whose offensive tackles went 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, Mark Guido said.
Jordan Guido is a cornerback, Brandon a safety. Austin Guido thrived on running past those types.
Packing 190 pounds on a 5-foot-10 frame, the Class 8A all-stater rewrote Waubonsie Valley's rushing records, setting 12 new program marks, including season and all-time rushing yardage and touchdowns. Toledo, Dayton, Drake, Butler and Middle Tennessee State were on his trail. Guido, though, was keen on Western Michigan ever since he attended a camp there in June.
Timed at 4.50 seconds in successive 40s, they liked him, too. Since Western Michigan has four backs set to graduate after the 2013 season, Guido was told he'll see time on special teams as well as some offensive reps to get him up to college speed.
Offensive line coach and run-game coordinator A.J. Ricker is a holdover from the prior staff while Fleck and running backs coach Charles Huff came in since Guido camped there in June. No matter. Last weekend's trip to Western Michigan was his only official visit, and he went to Kalamazoo twice to watch games.
When Fleck capped Sunday's individual meeting with the offer there was no doubt Guido would accept. It was Brandon and Jordan's turn to be impressed.
"They think it's awesome," Austin said.
That championship feeling
Lake Park boys bowling coach Greg Edwards recalls the Lancers' 2009 state championship and sees similarities between then and now.
"We kind of had our ups and downs. We didn't dominate very many tournaments. We weren't tearing it up, so to speak. Same thing this year. But at the end of the season we made it downstate and we came together as a unit and we won. I see the same thing in this team. Hopefully we can bring about some magic," he said.
The Lancers were headed downstate Thursday for the boys bowling finals held at St. Clair Bowl in O'Fallon on Friday and Saturday. Adalberto Suarez, perhaps better known as an all-Suburban Christian Conference offensive lineman from IC Catholic Prep -- the newly adapted name of Immaculate Conception -- is also competing as an individual, IC's first downstate bowler.
Lake Park, which went 36-4 and won the Upstate Eight Conference title for a sixth straight year, includes senior co-captains Matt Ostrowski and Connor Peck, senior Brandon Pharr, juniors Roarke Dunn, Corben Sadowski and Joey Kauther and sophomore Zach Niemann.
A possible reason for Edwards' déjà vu is older brothers Tyler Sadowski and Marc Ostrowski both bowled on the Lancers' state championship team of 2009 and its 2010 runner-up. The Lancers finished second in 2004 also, when Edwards said he "basically bowled against" his own son, Jon, who finished fourth individually representing St. Joseph.
Edwards said Corben Sadowski, who averaged a team-high 223 pins this season, is ahead of his older brother at this point. Leading Lake Park to the team title at the St. Patrick sectional at Habetler Bowl in Chicago, Sadowski and Ostrowski finished second and third individually with Niemann tied for 12th.
The coach states his strength as a motivator is providing a "positive spark." The bowling buzz may be around defending champion Andrew or 2011-10 runner-up Vernon Hills, but Edwards makes no comparisons. He prefers an "any given Sunday" approach.
"I kind of like the mystique portion about it," he said. "There's no defense in bowling, so why worry and ponder on who's there and what's there. As long as we stay within ourselves and play our game we can be successful."
Comfortable after five years as a Hinsdale Central English teacher and assistant boys basketball coach, Andy Jones had an itch to try something new.
Did he ever. And he's got a tale to tell.
A 1997 Downers Grove North graduate and varsity assistant to Hinsdale Central head coach Nick Latorre, Jones has a debut book out, "Two Seasons in the Bubble," detailing his two-year odyssey coaching and teaching in a high school in Sofia, Bulgaria. Available via Granny Apple Publishing, Jones has gotten good feedback and anticipates more when it launches March 1 on Amazon.com.
What began with a visit to an international job fair led Jones in 2007 to accept an English literature position for two years in Bulgaria where, among other things, he met his wife, Erin Kahle. He liked the international experience so much after his time in Bulgaria he did the same thing two years in Ecuador. He's now in his second school year back at Hinsdale Central.
In Sofia, Jones started a blog about his "wonderful and crazy" daily life, like outwitting the 15,000 dangerous stray dogs in the Bulgarian capitol. His family encouraged him to turn it into a book, but he didn't see a theme. Then it came to him.
"I started to realize that the thing that was kind of defining my time there was as a basketball coach," Jones said.
The allusion is dated, but things he described sound like a "Barney Miller" version of "The White Shadow." The initial panic of his players in the bubble-roofed gym when he announced preseason workouts were required. The full year of convincing it took to play man-to-man defense after a lifetime of zone.
Pipes stuck out of gym walls. Referees smoked cigarettes at halftime -- which was known only to them because there were no scoreboards or clocks.
That first year, he said, "I never knew what to expect one way or another."
Conflict and humor makes for an entertaining read, as Jones has been told.
"One of the most rewarding things for me is to have friends, family or even people I don't know want to contact me and tell me what they think," he said.
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