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"The Moment" was not designed to be Will Cronin's. Little did he realize then, but it was.
A senior finance major at Notre Dame, through serendipitous events and his own skill the quarterback for Immaculate Conception's 2008 Class 2A championship football team is now scout team quarterback for the Fighting Irish.
This week the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder is mimicking University of Southern California's Cody Kessler. Two weeks ago it was Arizona State's Taylor Kelly, which to that point thrilled Cronin the most, Kelly being a gunslinger heading a spread attack.
Cronin is a chameleon in Navy blue and gold.
"My goal is to be prepared to give the defense the best look," he said. "The way I approach it is that my time to have my biggest moment is during practice so that I'm giving these guys a realistic look of what they're going to see on Saturday."
Dressing for home games, sharing training table fare and locker room talk, high-fiving starting quarterback Tommy Rees, lifting, readying the defense and absorbing the occasional grilling by Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly — it seems a long way from Cronin's first three years as signalcaller for Alumni Hall in the university's interhall football league, the rare collegiate full-pad, tackle-football, intramural program.
Credit reality television.
Cronin was drafted by league captains to play on an all-star interhall squad for an episode of the USA Network show, "The Moment." The episode, filmed last fall but airing May 13, highlighted a man whose dream of being a football coach had been shelved by family and financial concerns. Coaching a game in South Bend between the intramural stars gave him a second chance. Cronin, too.
"Will played very, very well in front of the right people at the right time," said his father, Bob Cronin, IC Catholic Prep boys and girls track coach and a Notre Dame graduate, Class of 1982.
Obviously. After one returning quarterback transferred and 2012 starter Everett Golson left the program, in July Notre Dame director of player personnel Dave Peloquin sent Will Cronin an email asking if he had any interest in trying out for the big team.
Will asked Bob and Beverly Cronin what they thought: "It was interesting circumstances, so I wanted to talk to them first," Will said.
The answer: absolutely. They submitted the requested high school film and additional video of Will doing quarterback drills. After Kelly and quarterbacks coach Chuck Martin evaluated the film, in late July Cronin was asked to come to South Bend for concussion baseline screenings. Three days later, "wide-eyed," he was a member of the Fighting Irish.
"They had three quarterbacks competing for playing time and they needed someone to come in and play scout-team quarterback, which in the past had been an incoming freshman," Cronin said. "But they didn't have anyone like that this season."
Friends were proud, congratulatory, saying he deserved it. Now with the bloom off the rose Cronin heads to practice — he said it's about a 25-hour weekly commitment — and they give him good-natured ribbing.
More telling comments came when at a football luncheon Kelly approached his parents and complimented Will on his ability running scout team.
"That was very, very nice to hear," Bob Cronin said.
Watching from the stands his first three years at Notre Dame, Will Cronin marvels being on the field, the game-day experience being the highlight of this unexpected chain of events. On Nov. 23, senior day against Brigham Young University, his parents will greet him at the 50-yard line of Notre Dame Stadium, where Bob Cronin used to take his son to watch the Irish.
"Being an alum myself and having this opportunity for him to be part of a great and storied tradition means a lot," Bob said. "It really allows him to live his dream."
Is it fair to say both their dreams?
"I think a part that is cool for me," Will said, "is that we can kind of mutually enjoy what's happening. He can look down on the sidelines and see me."
Metro Suburban Conference 2.0
The Metro Suburban Conference has announced its expanded alignment starting next school year, 2014-15, reflective of the seven incoming schools from the Suburban Christian Conference. The scheme reflects an east-west setup.
Division 1 includes: Aurora Central Catholic, Fenton, Glenbard South, IC Catholic Prep, Riverside-Brookfield, St. Edward and Wheaton Academy.
Division 2 includes: Chicago Christian, Elmwood Park, Guerin, Illiana Christian, Ridgewood, Timothy Christian and Walther Christian.
For football, St. Edward will play in Division 1 to replace Timothy Christian and Illiana Christian, neither of which have football programs.
St. Francis presents its third annual Youth Coaching Clinic at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the school's Spyglass Gymnasium. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Open to any and all girls and boys youth basketball coaches at any level, the clinic offers the players and staffs of Spartans boys coach Bob Ward and girls coach Mike Phillips running drills and outlining strategies used by their programs. Opponents can tell you their stuff works.
The clinic is free with no preregistration required. A post-clinic social will be held at The Bank Restaurant in Wheaton.
"We're a good, solid team, that's what we are, and we like playing with other good, solid teams," said 36-year Glenbard South boys golf coach Scott Iliff.
The Raiders will get their fill of that this weekend at the Class 2A golf finals at Weibring Golf Club in Normal.
Glenbard South's three-week, title-winning run through the Metro Suburban Conference, the St. Rita regional and the Nazareth Academy sectional was a first for the Raiders, who've known only two coaches in program history, Iliff and Jim Hayes.
A huge round — "lightning in a bottle," Iliff called it — was the school-record 283 regional score at The Meadows Golf Club in Blue Island. Headed by Christopher Dufort, who earned medalist honors over fellow sophomore teammate Russell Matos by a sudden-death playoff both at 68, Glenbard South's 283 joined defending 3A champion Hinsdale Central as lowest round in the 2013 state series thus far.
"During practice sessions we told the guys to be a little careful of their shot selections, because they thought the course was wide open," Iliff said Tuesday. "We experimented with club selection. I think that really helped us out for the next week and for yesterday at (sectional site) Broken Arrow."
Matos, Dufort, and junior Michael Wittenberg all return from last year's sixth-place finish in Class 2A. Most improved Raider, junior Kevin Uvodich, senior team captain John Marks and all-conference junior Dakota Marino round out the group competing against the likes of St. Francis and Burlington Central this weekend.
Assisted by Steve Young and one of his former Raiders golfers, Phil Yudys, Iliff doesn't feel his boys are content with three straight winning rounds.
"I'm proud of them," Iliff said, "and I can tell they're still a little hungry."
Follow Dave on Twitter @doberhelman1