Stevenson's football team has a Will, and the Patriots are confident Willie Bourbon will find a way to be a difference maker.
Bourbon burst onto the varsity scene last season, earning all-area honors in his first season as starting quarterback, throwing for 2,400 yards while helping lead Stevenson to a share of the North Suburban Lake Division championship. He threw for a school-record 343 yards and 3 touchdowns in an Opening Night win over eventual state quarterfinalist Lyons.
The Patriots are off to an 0-2 start this year, and equally shocking is that Bourbon has thrown 3 interceptions in each game. Homewood-Flossmoor picked off Bourbon three times in the second half last Friday night and won 28-21. Bourbon's pass on the first play of the second half led to a 12-yard TD drive for the visiting Vikings.
Bourbon will look to turn around his fortunes when Stevenson hosts Zion-Benton tonight in a North Suburban Lake Division opener.
"Willie's a great player," said senior wide receiver/safety Matt Morrissey, who caught 4 passes for 132 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown reception from Bourbon, against H-F. "It's been a tough two games for us as an offense. Willie's going to bounce back. I know he will. We're really close friends. I know that he's got the potential and the ability to do it. I think as we keep working as an offense -- the offensive line, receiving corps and running backs -- we'll all click. We just got keep working day by day and get better."
Bourbon finished 17 of 26 for 218 yards. He also lofted a 6-yard scoring strike to Cameron Green. Two of Bourbon's picks were off deflections.
"He's got to continue to just keep playing and trust his guys," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said of his QB. "It's an 11-man game. It's not just one guy. He made a lot of good plays (against Homewood-Flossmoor), so we're not down on Will. He's a competitor. We ask our quarterback to make plays. We trust him. He's going to be our playmaker in the future."
Sise matters: Stevenson lost junior center Henry Sise likely for the season with a serious right leg injury during its season opener against Indian Trail in Kenosha.
Sise said he suffered a fractured leg and dislocated ankle and will be in a hard cast up to his calf for six weeks. He'll then wear in a walking cast for another six weeks. He wore a "Patriot green" colored cast on the sideline of the Patriots' home opener against Homewood-Flossmoor last Friday night.
Jason Vavrik, who long snaps, started at center against Homewood-Flossmoor. Unlike their problems snapping the ball after Sise went out against Indian Trail, the Patriots did not have any issues against H-F.
Battling back (again): Junior defensive end Patrick O'Connell hopes to be back on the field tonight when Stevenson hosts Zion-Benton tonight, but the Patriots surely won't rush him.
O'Connell was leading the Patriots in tackles through 8 weeks last season before injuring his left knee. Since Nov. 2 of last year, he's undergone four surgeries on the knee. The latest one was last month.
O'Connell said he suffered a meniscus tear soon after the first official day of practice.
"It's nothing special," O'Connell said. "Compared to what I've been through, it's nothing. I'm making good progress."