Maine West honors player who was killed in auto accident
Senior Nights are always emotional.
But Senior Night for the Maine West football team last week required a few extra tissues.
Prior to kickoff of the Warriors' game last Friday against Maine East, Maine West not only honored the current seniors, they honored a fallen one.
Arturo Quintero would have been a senior this year. He played freshman football with the current seniors and then was killed in a car accident after his freshman year. His father and younger brother also passed away in the accident.
Quintero's mother Josefina and another brother were not in the car.
They were on hand along with two of Quintero's aunts to accept a framed jersey for Arturo on Senior Night.
"It was emotional," Maine West coach Jason Kradman said. "He was No. 99, so we had his jersey for his Mom. We really wanted to honor Arturo with our other 20 seniors who grew up playing with him."
Passing is good too: When Maine West coach Jason Kradman was younger and coming up through the coaching ranks, he was at a high school program in Florida where running the ball was king.
"I was at Miami Beach High School and we were a run-first team," Kradman said. "That's where I came from."
But call Kradman, who moved from Florida because his wife's family is from Illinois, flexible. And not just because he was willing to leave the beautiful weather of Florida.
He's been flexible in his football philosophies, too.
He has happily moved from his run-first mentality because it has better accommodated some of his quarterbacks at Maine West, including current quarterback Danny Kentgen.
Already this season, in seven games, Kentgen has 21 touchdown passes.
Last year, Kentgen passed for 21 touchdowns on the season in 11 total games. And that was a Maine West school record.
"That's a lot of touchdowns," Kradman said. "We have leaned on the pass a lot.
"Danny is a big kid at about 6-foot-5, 205 pounds and he's very cerebral. He's in his third year in this offense. He knows it so well."
As a sophomore, Kentgen learned behind starter George Markakis. Kentgen also closely observed the offense through his older brother Matt, who was an honorable mention all-state tight end two years ago.
"Actually, Danny has really known the offense for the last five years, because he was really watching his brother," Kradman said. "I think he's really getting on the radar of college coaches at the Division I level. He's a really good pocket passer and we've asked him to run some this year, too and he's done a good job with that."
Enough for everyone: With 21 touchdowns this season, Maine West quarterback Danny Kentgen has been spreading the wealth.
Eight different players have caught touchdown passes from Kentgen.
"We've got a really good mix of receivers," Kradman said. "We don't use the run to set up the pass. Our pass game, with all the weapons we have, is actually setting up our run game."
The Warriors' top receivers include Jacob Riedl, Isaiah Siem-Davis, Jaden Dolphin, Sean Collins and David Jackson.
Dolphin, who actually plays tight end for the Warriors, is the team's leading receiver in yards and touchdowns.
"Tight end is a really important position in our offense and a lot of what we need the tight end to do is pass-game stuff," Kradman said. "Jaden is a great tight end because he's a very good receiver but he's also physical enough to block for us. He has played a lot of defense for us in the past as a safety and linebacker, but I think a lot of colleges are seeing him as an offensive player now."
Good perspective: If there is any class that can appreciate Maine West's recent ascension to Central Suburban League North heavyweight, it's the senior class.
The seniors were in the football program on the underlevel teams when the program was struggling, and then they saw the Warriors flip the switch, quite literally in one game.
"I think if there is one game to point to that started everything, it was the Glenbrook North game in 2017," Maine West coach Jason Kradman said. "That changed everything."
In a Week 5 game in 2017, Maine West took to the road and rolled over host Glenbrook North, 42-17.
"We hadn't beaten Glenbrook North in like 15 years at that point," Kradman said. "They were the top dog in our conference and to take down the top dog was huge for us and we went to 4-1 on the season and then we went on to tie for the conference championship, and we won the tiebreaker. It was the first conference championship at Maine West since the 1960s, like around 1963.
"Our seniors, some were up with us then, and they were part of the first team to taste that success," Kradman said. "But they also had older brothers who were on some of our teams that struggled. Our seniors understand the tough times, too. And I think that motivates them"
Kradman says his team's motto this year is unfinished business. Maine West won another conference championship last year, won its most games in a season ever (9) and got to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever as well. But a second-round exit didn't sit well with the Warriors, who have already qualified for the playoffs and are looking forward to a much deeper run this year.
"We feel like we left a lot on the table in the playoffs last year that we can improve on," Kradman said. "We are anxious to do that this year."