Brannon Barry, St. Charles East
The 6-foot-4, 208-pound senior receiver and defensive back capped his three-year starting career as a Class 8A all-state honorable-mention selection. He caught 47 passes for 711 yards, 5 touchdowns, including 8 catches for 196 yards in what's believed to be a program record, against Streamwood. The repeat Upstate Eight River all-conference pick returned Larkin's opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, and scored on a 10-yard run to beat St. Charles North in overtime. Ten of Barry's team-high 43 tackles came in the playoffs at Stevenson, and he was the Saints' long-snapper. Fast, athletic, versatile and a vocal leader, Barry has committed to Illinois State. "There are no limitations to what he can do," said Saints coach Mike Fields.
Kyle Brown, Geneva
Coaches game-planned to contain this 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior receiver, often with little luck. Both possession receiver and deep threat, the two-time all-Upstate Eight River pick made 35 receptions for 743 yards, averaging 21.2 yards per catch, with a team-high 10 touchdown grabs. A Class 7A All-State honorable-mention choice, Brown caught 6 passes for 137 yards against Oswego and 5 passes for 138 yards against Metea Valley with 70-yard scores in both games. He used his height and hops to go up and win jump-ball situations. "Some of the catches he's made this year might be some of the best catches I've seen out of all my receivers, and I've had some pretty good ones," Vikings coach Rob Wicinski said.
Micah Coffey, Batavia
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior quarterback is the All-Area Team's co-captain with teammate Anthony Scaccia. A two-time Upstate Eight River all-conference pick and a Class 6A honorable-mention all-state selection this season, Coffey directed an offense that scored a program-record 628 points including 34 in the state title win over Richards. A confident leader, Coffey completed 166 of 259 passes (64 percent) for 2,466 yards and 29 touchdowns, 1 off Noel Gaspari's program record. He also ran for 224 yards, 6 touchdowns. Coffey saved some of his best for last in the championship victory, completing 15 of 18 passes for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns including a 96-yarder to Michael Moffatt. "He's got it all figured out," said coach Dennis Piron.
Reece Conroyd, St. Charles North
This 6-foot, 210-pound middle linebacker shattered the North Stars' career tackles record with 323, which were 65 more than the old mark. A three-year starter, Conroyd set the standard in Week 5 against Geneva. He made a team-high 98 stops, 19 for loss with 6 sacks, forcing 3 fumbles and recovering 2. A repeat All-Area and all-Upstate Eight River pick, he finished second in Upstate Eight River defensive MVP voting. A great practice player with unerring ability to read plays, the mid-major prospect hit Streamwood with 11 tackles, 6 for loss. Conroyd also was a blocking back in Pro-I, goal line or short-yardage situations. "You put Reece anywhere and he'd be the best at that position," said coach Rob Pomazak.
Drew David, Kaneland
The three-year starter was among Illinois' most productive quarterbacks in history. Including senior statistics of 149 of 258 passing for 2,342 yards, 22 touchdowns, David ranks sixth in Illinois High School Association records with 84 career touchdown passes, seventh with 7,521 yards passing and 12th with 448 completions. Three times Class 5A Academic All-State, David was a 2013 Coaches All-State pick. His third all-conference season earned Northern Illinois Big XII East co-offensive player of the year honors with Sycamore's Ben Niemann. David's 534 yards rushing also led the Knights. He threw 5 touchdowns against Streator, passed for 330 yards against DeKalb and ran for 129 yards against Rochelle. "He's one of the best we've had," said coach Tom Fedderly.
Justin Diddell, Kaneland
A 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior lineman, Diddell started three seasons at defensive tackle and this year became a full-time starter at offensive tackle. Playing both right and left offensive tackle he graded out at about 90 percent. "He plays hard all the time," said Knights line coach Pat Ryan. A two-time Northern Illinois Big XII East all-conference pick, Diddell's 49 tackles ranked second at Kaneland, and he made 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and a team-high 6 quarterback hurries. Athletic, quick off the ball and a major defensive disrupter hard to handle one-on-one, Diddell gained offers from Eastern Michigan, North Dakota, Indiana State and South Dakota. "He went above all our expectations, really," Knights coach Tom Fedderly said.
Patrick Gamble, Batavia
The junior center with the playoff beard anchored the Bulldogs' offensive line when guard Mitch Krusz was lost to an injury in Week 7. The 5-foot-10, 245-pound Gamble himself didn't practice the last two weeks of the season, wearing a boot to protect a high ankle sprain, yet still excelled. "He didn't need help on anyone, he was blocking them solo," said Bulldogs line coach P.J. White. Highly accurate with his shotgun snaps, the all-Upstate Eight River selection made offensive line calls and registered 17 pancake blocks. "He's very strong, worked extremely hard in the weight room, and probably was the heart and soul of that group of kids on the offensive line," said Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron.
Chase Gianacakos, St. Charles North
First of all -- and bottom line -- the 6-foot-6, 288-pound senior offensive tackle has committed to play at Michigan State. He's not just big. North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said Gianacakos is technically sound. He utilizes advanced footwork and hip rotation to establish and maintain position and dominate opponents, who he pancaked 37 times this season. The North Stars' highest-graded lineman, the Class 7A All-State choice and three-year starter used his long arms and surprising agility to his advantage in pass blocking at left tackle. He was a major reason why St. Charles North averaged 247 yards rushing per game. When the play call went to Gianacakos' side, which it often did, "he answered the call," Pomazak said.
Gary Koehring, Kaneland
Another of Kaneland's three-year starters, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior middle linebacker was a tackle machine. Also playing a blocking tight end at times, this repeat All-Area choice had his second season of exactly 100 tackles, adding 18 for loss with 2 sacks, 2 forcing fumbles with 2 pass breakups. In his prep career Koehring made 262 tackles, 45 for loss. This year he hammered Rochelle for 15 tackles. A repeat Class 5A Academic All-State and Northern Illinois Big XII East All-Conference pick, this fall he added honorable-mention All-State and the conference's defensive MVP. Koehring was quick, physical and smartly executed the game plan. "He really has a good understanding of what we're trying to do," said coach Tom Fedderly.
Joe Komel, Kaneland
Yet another three-year starting lineman for the Knights, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior came into his own at offensive tackle while also rotating in on the Knights' defensive line. Komel graded out at about 94 percent playing both right and left tackle, using good feet and athleticism to excel particularly in run blocking. The Knights' long snapper the past two seasons, Komel earned Northern Illinois Big XII East all-conference honors and was voted in as a Class 5A Coaches All-State honorable-mention selection. He's got six college offers, including Southern Ilinois and Indiana State, plus a walk-on chance at Northern Illinois. Komel brings an on-field attitude that can serve a lineman well. "He's got a nasty streak," said coach Tom Fedderly.
Evan Kurtz, St. Charles North
One of this season's certainties was this 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior back would be running the football. Kurtz handled the workload wonderfully, averaging more than 22 carries and 148 yards a game. He finished with 1,185 yards rushing for 18 touchdowns. Using his size, 4.65 speed, tenacity and an arsenal of moves -- straight arm, spin -- Kurtz ran for 217 yards against Plainfield Central, 235 against St. Charles East and 196 against Geneva. He broke a 55-yard touchdown on his 29th carry against South Elgin. Second in voting for Upstate Eight River offensive MVP, Kurtz was a rock who remained humble. "He truly was the workhorse, the be-all and end-all of our offense," North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said.
Jimmy Mitchell, St. Charles East
This two-year starting quarterback's numbers exploded after an all-conference season as a junior. Working with new offensive coordinator Shaun Ratay to spread the ball around, Mitchell completed 143 of 263 passes for 2,377 yards with 26 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions. The 6-foot senior completed 18 of 28 passes for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 41-point second half against Jacobs. Mitchell opened the season with 266 yards and 5 touchdowns against South Elgin and passed for 5 and 4 touchdowns against Elgin and Larkin, respectively. The two-time all-Upstate Eight River selection had his timing down and grasped the system. "We wouldn't have been able to do what we did offensively without him," coach Mike Fields said.
Michael Moffatt, Batavia
When Batavia needed a receiver stopped this 6-foot-1, 180-pound three-year starter covered him and he got stopped. The senior cornerback was voted Class 6A all-state and the defensive player of the year in the Upstate Eight River. He made 35 tackles with 5 interceptions and broke up 19 other passes. Moffatt returned an interception 96 yards to score on St. Charles North. At wide receiver he led Batavia with 48 receptions, 727 yards, 8 touchdowns. In the 6A championship Moffatt's interception stalled Richards' opening drive, and his 96-yard touchdown catch and run was the second-longest in title-game history, among 6 catches for 127 yards. "When I grow up," coach Dennis Piron said, "I want to be Michael Moffatt."
Mike Montalbano, Marmion
A two-year, two-way starter at running back and linebacker, this 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior was all-conference in the Suburban Christian Blue. Marmion's overall MVP and its top defensive player, he made a team-high 72 tackles, 4 for loss. About all that held this hustler down was injury, which kept him from running the ball for three games. When active, Montalbano averaged 12.5 yards per carry for a team-best total of 526 yards with 6 touchdowns, plus 108 yards receiving. He started the season with 9 carries for 158 yards against Plainfield Central and began Marmion's Class 6A playoff win over Fenton with an 80-yard touchdown jaunt. "Just a physical attitude," coach Dan Thorpe said. "Just all over the field."
Julian Rios, Aurora Central Catholic
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior running back was a Class 4A All-State pick, just the fifth Charger to earn that honor. First to arrive for training and the last to leave, Rios' work ethic translated to 946 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, 191 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns and a 30.3-yard kickoff return average. The one punt he fielded, Rios returned it 47 yards. The two-year starter was the Suburban Christian Gold's offensive player of the year and ACC's MVP. He ran for 158 yards against Chicago Christian, 114 yards against Marmion with a 101-degree fever. Naturally, the Chargers' co-captain inspired his teammates. "He is a walking example of the phrase, hard work pays off," said ACC coach Brian Casey.
Daniel Santacaterina, Geneva
The difference between Geneva's non-playoff season and a playoff season over the past two years? This 6-foot, 180-pound junior quarterback. Downed by a broken collarbone as a sophomore starter, a healthy "Santa" delivered as anticipated. While the Vikings' inexperienced offensive line developed he carried the responsibility and finished the season completing 116 of 207 passes for 2,266 yards and 27 touchdowns. Able to extend plays and scramble, he also ran for 253 yards and 4 touchdowns. An accurate passer with football smarts, Santacaterina threw for 373 yards and 5 touchdowns against Metea Valley. Of the Upstate Eight River All-Conference pick, coach Rob Wicinski said: "What makes him special is his ability to see the field, and his instincts."
Anthony Scaccia, Batavia
This 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior running back is the All-Area co-captain along with teammate Micah Coffey. Scaccia's diminutive size disguised great power and balance, which accompanied a running style of stops, starts, spin moves and full-speed lateral cuts that can be described as Barry Sanders-like. A two-year starter, Scaccia was selected to the Class 6A All-State Team and was voted the most outstanding offensive player in the Upstate Eight River. He set Batavia records with 279 carries, 1,913 yards and 28 touchdowns, and added 27 receptions for 313 yards and 7 touchdowns. Scaccia did all this while sitting out parts of several blowout wins. "He could have run for 3,000 yards, no problem," Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said.
Zach Siwiec, Marmion
All-conference in the Suburban Christian Blue, Class 6A Academic All-State (owning a grade-point average of 4.372 that ranks ninth in his senior class), honorable-mention all-state and Marmion's most valuable lineman who shared the program's "most dedicated" award, Siwiec is obviously above average. And he was all the time. A 6-foot-1, 230-pound offensive guard and three-year starter, Siwiec had great feet to consistently excel in pass blocking and run blocking both straight ahead or when pulling on traps and sweeps. When the going got tough Siwiec played defensive line, making 22 tackles. Cadets coach Dan Thorpe simply called him the team's best player. "In all aspects of the offensive line," Thorpe said, "he was so proficient at it."
Legend Smith, Aurora Christian
A three-year starting cornerback, the 5-foot-8, 176-pound senior assumed tailback duty with great success. Smith surpassed 100 yards rushing six times with 158 and 163 yards in the Class 3A quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. Against Guerin his 6 touchdown runs tied a program record and his 331 yards rushing -- before halftime -- were 5 yards shy. Smith finished with 219 carries for 1,592 yards, 18 touchdowns. Defensively he made 43 tackles, 4.5 for loss, defended 11 passes and returned his sole interception 26 yards for a touchdown. All-Suburban Christian Blue and All-State, he did it all with humility. "I can't say enough about what a pleasure it has been to coach this young man," said the Eagles' Don Beebe.
Pace Temple, Geneva
A motor runs constantly in this upbeat 6-foot, 180-pounder. Already a two-year starter as a junior, Temple was the Vikings' lockdown cornerback on defense and a great receiver on offense. He was in on 17 tackles while leading Geneva with 3 interceptions and 5 passes defended, plus a fumble recovery. An explosive route-running wideout, the all-Upstate Eight River pick set team highs of 37 receptions, 799 yards and 21.6 yards per catch, with 9 touchdowns. Temple started the season with a bang, 2 touchdown catches and 2 key interceptions in a Week 1 squeaker over Oswego. He also caught three 2-point conversions and could return kickoffs. "He's the Energizer Bunny, he just goes and goes," coach Rob Wicinski said.
Anthony Thielk, Batavia
At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, the senior is a prototype linebacker. Thielk established Batavia's single-season (97) and career (167) records for solo tackles despite missing 2 games to injury. Overall the all-Upstate Eight River pick made 107 tackles, 14 for loss, with 8.5 sacks, caused 3 fumbles and recovered 2. Thielk added 3 interceptions, one in the 6A championship and another he returned 55 yards for a touchdown against St. Charles North. Fast, athletic, able to sniff out screens and draw plays, Thielk made 16 tackles in the Bulldogs' playoff opener against DeKalb and 11 in the semifinal at Rockford Boylan. "Physically he's special, but it's the brain, the football IQ, that sets him apart," said coach Dennis Piron.
Brandon Walgren, Aurora Christian
One of several Eagles contained only by injury. Despite missing three full games the two-year, two-way starter caught 38 passes for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns; at safety he graded out highest among all Aurora Christian defenders. Six feet and 201 pounds, great hands with 4.5 speed, Walgren caught 9 passes for 168 yards in the 3A quarterfinals against Seneca and made 9 solo tackles in the semifinals against Stillman Valley. He surprised IC Catholic on a 74-yard touchdown pass and 98-yard interception return. All-Suburban Christian Blue, twice Walgren scored on interception returns to go with 58 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and 5 passes defended. "He arguably could be our MVP on offense and defense," said coach Don Beebe.
Football All-Area Roster
Player School Pos. Yr.
Brannon Barry St. Charles East RB-DB Sr.
Kyle Brown Geneva WR Sr.
Micah Coffey* Batavia QB Sr.
Reece Conroyd St. Charles North LB Sr.
Drew David Kaneland QB Sr.
Justin Diddell Kaneland OL-DL Sr.
Patrick Gamble Batavia OL Jr.
Chase Gianacakos St. Charles North OL Sr.
Gary Koehring Kaneland LB Sr.
Joe Komel Kaneland OL-DL Sr.
Evan Kurtz St. Charles North RB Sr.
Jimmy Mitchell St. Charles East QB Sr.
Michael Moffatt Batavia WR-DB Sr.
Mike Montalbano Marmion RB-LB Sr.
Julian Rios Aurora Central Catholic RB Sr.
Daniel Santacaterina Geneva QB Jr.
Anthony Scaccia* Batavia RB Sr.
Zach Siwiec Marmion OL-DL Sr.
Legend Smith Aurora Christian RB-DB Sr.
Pace Temple Geneva WR-DB Jr.
Anthony Thielk Batavia LB Sr.
Brandon Walgren Aurora Christian WR-DB Sr.
* -- Honorary captain
Billy Douds (Geneva, sr., DL), Cody Ekstrom (Aurora Central Catholic, sr., RB-LB), Forrest Gilbertson (Batavia, sr., WR-DB), Eddie Gonzalez (Aurora Central Catholic, sr., OL-DL), Garrett Johnson (St. Charles North, sr., TE), Quintez Jones (West Aurora, sr., QB), Mitch Krusz (Batavia, jr., OL), Mitch Munroe (St. Charles East, sr., WR-DB), Alex Snyder (Kaneland, sr., OL), Jonah Walker (Aurora Christian, sr., OL-DL)
-- Honorable mention, teams to watch, see page 3
-- All-area selections and capsules by Dave Oberhelman
Tyler Bell (St. Charles North, jr., DB), Brandon Bishop (Kaneland, sr., WR), Joe Boenzi (Geneva, sr., LB), Brennan Bosch (St. Charles East, jr., OL), Austin Bray (Aurora Christian, jr., QB), Sam Breen (Marmion, sr., LB), Jack Breshears (Batavia, jr., OL), Jack Burke (Aurora Christian, sr., OL-DL), Cole Carlson (Kaneland, sr., LB), Tyler Carlson (Kaneland, sr., LB), Camden Cotter (St. Charles North, sr., OL), Jon Czerwinski (Aurora Christian, sr., OL-LB), Jon Finn (St. Charles East, sr., LB), Noah Frazier (Batavia, jr., TE-DL), Luke Juriga (Marmion, jr., OL-DL), Stephen Kemp (Geneva, so., DL), Donovan Kilker (Batavia, sr., LB), Brock Krueger (Marmion, sr., QB), Josh Leonhard (Batavia, jr., DL), Alec Licar (Aurora Central Catholic, sr., OL-DL), Josh Meyers (Marmion, sr., RB-LB), T.J. Miller (Geneva, sr., RB), James Millette (Batavia, sr., DL), Ryan Minniti (Batavia, sr., DL), Rourke Mullins (Batavia, sr., WR-DB), Dylan Nauert (Kaneland, sr., WR-DB), Jaumaureo Phillips (Kaneland, sr., DL), Ryan Powers (Geneva, sr., OL), John Pruitt (Kaneland, sr., WR), Scott Roback (St. Charles East, sr., DB), Noah Roberts (Aurora Christian, sr., WR-DB), Isaiah Ruffin (West Aurora, sr., RB-LB), Hayden Sak (West Aurora, jr., OL), Matt Schaefer (Aurora Central Catholic, sr., QB), Carson Schmitt (St. Charles North, jr., LB), Drake Spears (West Aurora, so., WR-DB), Luke Spicer (St. Charles East, sr., DL), Joe Talbot (Marmion, sr., DL), Tristan Withrow (Aurora Christian, sr., OL), Jordan Zwart (Batavia, sr., WR).
Aurora Central Catholic, Aurora Christian, Batavia, Geneva, Kaneland, St. Charles East
Aurora Christian, Batavia
Teams to watch in 2014
Aurora Christian, Batavia, Geneva, West Aurora
-- All-area selections and capsules by Dave Oberhelman