Football: Stevenson's fine QB tradition is alive and well
They just keep coming.
Talented quarterbacks at Stevenson, that is.
From the Earl brothers, Preston and Kevin, to Willie Bourbon, to Jack Sorenson, Stevenson has produced some of the best quarterbacks in Lake County year after year.
Add Aidan O'Connell to that list.
And now that the senior, who was Sorenson's backup last year, is getting his chance, he might just end up proving that he is the best of the bunch.
He'll try to lead Stevenson (7-4 in 2015) to its 28th straight playoff appearance.
"I'm in my 27th year of being here at Stevenson, and I think Aidan has the ability to be one of the best (quarterbacks) I've ever seen," said Bill McNamara, now in his seventh year as head coach. "He has the 'it' factor. He puts things together in his mind of how things are supposed to be run and he has such an understanding of the offense and when you add in his athleticism, he is the whole package."
On top of all that, O'Connell will have a cast of receivers to throw to that is a quarterback's dream in Stevenson's up-tempo spread offense.
Senior twins Henry and Michael Marchese are both long targets at 6-foot-3. And senior Charlie Bourbon, who will be joining big brother Willie on the Northwestern baseball team next year, is a 6-foot-2 receiver.
Newcomers Noah Lukz (5-foot-10) and Alex Capstick (6-foot-2) will also get targets.
"We've got some great receivers who are skilled, fast, long, big and tough to cover," McNamara said. "It's kind of a 'pick your poison' situation for a defense. You can maybe double-team one, but it will be hard to cover all of them. It will be Aidan's job to distribute the ball and get it to the open guy."
But if the pass game is covered, Stevenson has solid options on the ground, too.
Senior running back Anthony Sibo is a returning starter and will share carries with Lucas Wax and Matt Korinek.
Wax had a knee injury last year and didn't play and Korinek is coming out for the team for the first time as a senior. He played youth football and has impressed coaches even after such a long break from the game.
"The key to our success offensively will be how well we play up front on the line," said McNamara, who welcomes back one starting lineman, senior Brad Drazner.
Defensively, the Patriots return six starters and are particularly strong at linebacker.
"That's going to be our strength. We've got a lot of talent at linebacker," McNamara said. "We've got a great combination of size and speed there. We're thick enough on the inside to stop the run and on the outside, we're fast enough to defend the pass."
Linebackers Sam Marks, Danny Mass and Piotr Niedzwiedzki were starters last year. Alex Iancue and Ryan Greenbury will also be in the mix.
Tyler Kozub and Zachary Pritt are back on the line and Bourbon will split time between wide receiver and cornerback, where he started last year. Michael Marchese at safety and Brandon Crawley at cornerback give the Patriots even more good athletes on defense.
"Offensively, I think we are as skilled as we've ever been," McNamara said. "And we've got some great athletes on defense. I think we have to potential to be great on both sides of the ball."