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Article updated: 11/14/2013 4:36 PM
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Schaumburg's Patterson changes direction, on and off the field
 

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Schaumburg's Patterson changes direction, on and off the field
  • Schaumburg's Sadarriss Patterson celebrates his second-quarter touchdown in the Saxons' key MSL West victory over Barrington.

    Purchase Photo | Schaumburg's Sadarriss Patterson celebrates his second-quarter touchdown in the Saxons' key MSL West victory over Barrington. JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Life can be about change, and how you adjust to it. And Schaumburg's Sadarriss Patterson has become a master of adaptation.

At the end of the school year last year, Patterson was very close to being dismissed from the football team.

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"He wasn't committed to school nearly at the level he needed to be," Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. "We had a little sit-down, and I explained that if continued on that path he could not be part of the program."

So Patterson went home to think about his actions. A few days later, he awoke with the resolve to change his direction and his life.

"It was just like that," Patterson said. "I just woke up one morning wanting to change things.

"I started to focus more on my goals for the future. I also started focusing on my faith and my beliefs. And things just started to fall into place for me. You never know what God's plan is for you."

Stilling was impressed with the change.

"He is one of the most improved human beings I have ever been around," Stilling said. "If our offensive linemen are our backbone, then he is our soul. His energy is unmatched by anyone I have ever coached in any sport.

"The way he carries us emotionally -- it is unfathomable how he has not run out of juice."

And while his grades and attitude have improved dramatically, that plan still included a new change for Patterson, something he never expected.

Patterson looked to be one of the top running backs in the area this year. And being paired with Stacey Smith in the backfield, it gave the Saxons one of the best backfields in the state on paper.

But paper and the football field are way different. With the emergence of junior running back Justice Macneal-Smith, it gave Stilling some options. And that was to move Patterson to the defensive side of the ball at outside linebacker.

"With the way Justice Macneal was playing, we were OK with the change," Stilling said. "We felt that Sadarriss had the ability to be a difference-maker for us on defense."

Patterson was a bit apprehensive about the change. But with his new focus on life, he went at it with all his efforts. Those efforts have paid huge dividends, with Patterson becoming one of the leading tacklers on the team.

"It was a little difficult to adjust to," Patterson said. "But it has been pretty fun. I am always open to challenges and new things.

"It was hard to get my mind completely wrapped around it at first. But I didn't want to lose focus and take my mind off our goal."

Stilling said Patterson took to the change easily.

"He is incredibly spiritual kid," Stilling said. "He is the reason you don't ever stop believing in someone."

Patterson, who had not played defense since his days in youth football, found the change invigorating.

"It is fun to hit people," Patterson said. "It is an adrenaline rush all the time. I was used to trying to set the tempo with my running. But I wasn't expecting that on defense. But it really is."

Stilling not only likes the way that Patterson sets that tempo, but how he has developed into a leader on the defense.

"I think he is one of the best players in the area on defense," Stilling said. "And he had not taken a snap on defense in four years."

So Patterson moved to the outside linebacker spot and has become a force there, despite his lack of prototypical linebacker size.

"My lack of size has never been an issue for me," said Patterson, who is 5-foot-8, 179 pounds. "You have to be disciplined on defense and trust one another because you know the person next to you is going to be the same."

That trust and discipline will be important at 1 p.m. Saturday, when Schaumburg hosts defending Class 7A champion Glenbard West in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.

"We have to be where we are supposed to be on Saturday," Patterson said. "We can't just put things into our own hands."

Patterson helps anchor a defense along with Ryan Woloszyk, Eddy Kelly, Connor Lapinski, Blake Wittkamp, Noah Miller, Mike Fan, Brett Hildebrandt, Chris Abruzzo, Rahsaan Green and Shandall Thomas that looks to control Glenbard West's vaunted running game.

Patterson is looking forward to being at practice on Monday. But should the Saxons fall, it will be straight to wrestling practice for him. Last year, wrestling at 161 pounds, Patterson advanced downstate before losing his first-round match.

"That was a great experience, Patterson said. "I am hoping to get back down there. But my wrestling coaches can wait."

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