Scouting Stevenson: Patriots acting like they want more
For a change of pace during the dog days of summer practice, Stevenson put on the "Patriot Games."
It was the chance for the players and coaches to get to know each other better and to have some fun.
"We would have fun little competitions, the players would also do impersonations of the coaches," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "The guys had fun with it."
Senior linebacker Michael D'Angelo might have even discovered a hidden talent.
"Mike did this impersonation of me that was right on," Hjorth said. "He had all the hand movements, the body language. I tip my hat to him. He got me really really good."
The rest of the Patriots are catching on to Hjorth as well. Now in his second season as head coach, Hjorth is looking to hit the ground running this season with everyone on the same page. Stevenson was proud to get its 29th consecutive playoff appearance last season, but was not excited about its 6-3 regular season record or its first-round playoff exit.
The Patriots are hungry to get back to the level of the 2014 team that won the Class 8A IHSA state championship.
"Well, we didn't win (the North Suburban) conference last year. That was a major problem. That's always a major goal of ours," Hjorth said. "And we lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two years. The question for our kids is what do you want your legacy to be? And I know these kids want a lot more."
Leading the way will be junior running back JM Etienne, who turned heads last season by rolling up nearly 1,000 rushing yards as a sophomore.
Etienne has spent the off-season bulking up to make himself more durable and college ready.
"He was about 155 pounds by the end of last season and now he's about 190 pounds," Hjorth said of Etienne. "He's stronger and faster. He worked really hard in the weight room. It was dedication and a lot of extra work."
Quarterback Cole Okmin also beefed up, adding 15 pounds of muscle since last year. He started about half of Stevenson's games in 2017.
"Cole is one of the best leaders we've ever had," Hjorth said. "He works really hard, his decision-making is really good and he's smart. He's a straight-A student."
Wide receivers Sam Farber, Ryan McElhinny and Eli Fishbein have been playing together since youth football and give the Patriots athleticism and experience at the position.
Meanwhile, tackle Ivan Gleyzer is 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds and is getting Division I offers. He will anchor the offensive line.
On defense, Maema Njongmeta is back after a breakout season in 2017. In just his second year ever of playing football, Njongmeta recorded 11 quarterback sacks. He has more than 10 Division I offers.
"He is very explosive," Hjorth said of Njongmeta. "And he is even quicker and faster this year. We're hoping he just builds on what he did last year." Along with Njongmeta, the Stevenson defense returns its core of linebackers in David Pentek, D'Angelo, Danny Hynes and Jordan Vincent.