The DuPage County All-Area Football Team
Matt Appel, Neuqua Valley
Whenever Appel pulled from the right side of the offensive line, you knew the Wildcats were about to plow for some ground yardage. The 6-foot, 240-pound senior guard and tackle, who will throw the discus and shot at Yale, was the DuPage Valley Conference offensive lineman of the year. "He's just tenacious," coach Bill Ellinghaus said. "He's an absolute terror once he gets engaged with you."
Jeremiah Banks-Wall, Montini
A two-time CCL/ESCC all-conference pick, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound senior offensive tackle has committed to Bowling Green from among 14 scholarship offers, according to Rivals.com. A three-year starter, Banks-Wall earned Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 5A all-state honorable-mention honors this season. "Just a tremendous character kid, very humble," said Broncos coach Mike Bukovsky.
Deontay Bell, Montini
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior quarterback was voted IHSFCA Class 5A all-state and CCL/ESCC Green offensive MVP. Bell ran for 1,038 yards and 9 touchdowns and passed for 1,417 yards and 20 touchdowns. The two-year starter accounted for 508 yards and 6 touchdowns in a 45-35 win over St. Rita. "I think he is one of the most explosive offensive players we've ever had," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky.
Jack Belskis, Neuqua Valley
As soon as Belskis transferred in from Metea Valley in the off-season, the Wildcats knew they'd found their middle linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior quickly learned a new defense and became the quarterback of the unit. Belskis notched 69 tackles, including 13 for loss. "It was a pleasant surprise when he came here," coach Bill Ellinghaus said. "He fit right in with our defense."
Andre Bess, Fenton
The Bison's offensive MVP, the 5-foot-9, 152-pound senior back ran 221 times for 1,102 yards, 13 touchdowns. He added 174 yards receiving, 240 yards returning kickoffs, made 2 interceptions and recovered 2 fumbles. Bess won Fenton's Ciancio Leadership Award, was all-Upstate Eight and an IHSFCA Class 6A all-state honorable-mention pick. "One of the best human beings I've ever coached," said Fenton's Matthew Lynch.
Drew Bielawski, Downers Grove North
A major impact player as a junior, Bielawski's role will continue to grow next season. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound linebacker saw a bit of time on offense but he'll see a lot more next year. Dedicated to film study and improving, Bielawski had 102 tackles, including 3 sacks and 11 for loss. "I don't know that I've seen a kid so serious about being a good football player," coach Joe Horeni said.
Ben Burger, WW South
After previous seasons at offensive line and linebacker, Burger made a leap into the unknown and this season was named the DKC's defensive lineman of the year. The 6-foot, 225-pound senior added strength and speed and quickly attracted double teams up front. That didn't stop Burger from piling up 76 tackles. "He's got a dogged attitude getting to the ball," coach Ron Muhitch said.
Drew Cassens, Downers Grove North
The latest in a long line of hard-nosed Trojans quarterbacks, Cassens was a physical presence on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback and safety was an IHSFCA all-state pick and co-MVP in the WSC Silver. Cassens rushed for 1,513 yards and 18 scores, and threw for 620 yards. "It takes a special kid to play both ways in a conference like ours," coach Joe Horeni said.
Johnny Cassidy, Glenbard North
A two-year starter and son of the Panthers' offensive line coach, it came natural to the 5-foot-10, 285-pound senior center to make offensive line calls. That unit produced three running backs who each gained at least 570 yards rushing. An all-DuKane Conference selection, Cassidy helped Glenbard North average 195 yards rushing a game. "Johnny was the leader of the offensive crew," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens.
Deon Cook, Glenbard East
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound receiver was named Glenbard East MVP and all-Upstate Eight Conference. Against Fenton the senior caught 13 passes with 63- and 64-yard touchdowns. His 252 yards receiving against Larkin were 3 shy of the Glenbard East record. Overall, Cook caught 59 passes for 969 yards, 10 touchdowns, second in Rams history in each. "All year long he made big plays for us," coach John Walters said.
Kevin Cooke, IC Catholic
An IHSFCA Class 4A all-state linebacker, the repeat Metro Suburban Blue defensive MVP capped his three-year reign as the Knights' all-time tackles leader with an incredible 491 stops. This season the high-IQ 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior made 153 tackles, 11 for loss with 3 sacks and 5 interceptions. Ranging the width of the field, stuffing gaps, defending the pass, Cooke was as good as it gets. "I couldn't ask for more," coach Bill Krefft said.
Danny Cronin, IC Catholic
At quarterback and safety the 6-foot-2, 192-pound senior earned all-Metro Suburban Blue and IHSFCA Class 4A all-state honorable-mention. A true dual threat, Cronin accounted for 26 touchdowns on 797 yards rushing and 1,629 yards passing. He completed 62 percent of his passes. On defense Cronin made 20 tackles, 3 interceptions. "He's done an outstanding job of being a field commander," said Knights coach Bill Krefft.
Angelo Cusumano, Glenbard North
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior earned IHSFCA Class 7A all-state and all-DuKane Conference. A three-year starting linebacker, he made 67 tackles, 12 for loss, with 4 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions, 4 sacks, 8 hurries and a defensive touchdown. At tailback-receiver he supplied 361 yards, 8 touchdowns. Also the Panthers' long snapper. "When we needed a big play, 'Ang' made it happen," coach Ryan Wilkens said.
Angelo Eklou, Naperville Central
A blue-collar leader of the defense, Eklou was named the DuPage Valley Conference's defensive lineman of the year. A 30-win wrestler, the 5-foot-9, 215-pound senior tackle used leverage from a strong bottom half to dominate inside. Eklou had 45 tackles, including 26 solos. "If he were 6-3 he'd be going anywhere he wanted to play for college," coach Mike Stine said. "He's relentless."
Kyle Franklin, IC Catholic
With still a year left to play, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior running back's 74 rushing touchdowns rank top-17 in state history. An IHSFCA Class 4A all-state honorable-mention and repeat all-Metro Suburban Blue pick, this fall he ran for 1,504 yards, 26 touchdowns. A team leader, his vision, pass blocking and pass receiving all improved this year. "He's the next-generation Kyle Franklin," coach Bill Krefft said.
Joey Gits, Waubonsie Valley
Gits showed what weightroom dedication can do for a football season. The 5-foot-11, 250-pound senior defensive lineman overpowered opponents from the interior of the line. Gits used his hands well and his motor never stopped, freeing up linebackers by drawing double-teams and still notching 35 tackles with 3 sacks. "He always tried getting involved in the play," coach Paul Murphy said.
Mark Gronowski, Neuqua Valley
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior quarterback, committed to South Dakota State, was an IHSFCA all-state selection and the DuPage Valley Conference co-offensive player of the year. Gronowski completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,663 yards and 15 touchdowns against 1 interception. He also rushed for 721 yards and 12 touchdowns. "His growth was just tremendous," coach Bill Ellinghaus said.
Deandre Holliday, Willowbrook
Holliday could play anywhere but the 6-foot-2, 177-pound senior was a three-year starter at defensive back and receiver. And don't forget the impact of his 45-yard average on punts. The co-offensive player of the year in the WSC Gold had 48 catches for 840 yards. He also had 58 tackles and 5 interceptions. "Deandre might be the most underrated player in DuPage County," coach Nick Hildreth said.
Sam Jackson, Naperville Central
Committed to Minnesota but courting numerous other big-time offers, Jackson exploded at quarterback after a season away from the position. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior was equally dangerous with his rocket arm and lightning legs. Jackson threw for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns against 4 picks. "The growth he'll have from this year to next year will shock people," coach Mike Stine said.
Kobie Jamison, Glenbard North
Three-year starter, repeat all-DuKane Conference pick, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior added an IHSFCA Class 7A all-state honorable-mention nod this fall. At receiver he scored 3 touchdowns on team highs of 28 catches for 486 yards. At defensive back Jamison made 49 tackles, 5 for loss, with 2 interceptions and 4 pass deflections when teams dared to challenge him. "Outstanding execution," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens.
Andrew Johnson, Glenbard West
The offensive lineman of the year in the West Suburban Silver was also an IHSFCA all-state selection. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound senior had a rare combination of strength, power and athleticism that allowed the Hilltoppers to play him anywhere up front. Great on run plays, Johnson was even better at pass blocking. "He's one of the best captains we've had," coach Chad Hetlet said.
Jayden Lambert, Downers Grove South
Lambert gave everything to the Mustangs for three seasons. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound senior thrived at receiver but also played running back and quarterback and became a valuable cornerback. The co-offensive player of the year in the WSC Gold had 434 rushing yards, 307 receiving and 198 kick return yards. "He was willing to do whatever we needed," coach Mark Molinari said.
Sean Larkin, Neuqua Valley
For all the targets in the Wildcats' potent passing game, Larkin stood out. The 6-foot, 185-pound senior receiver, committed to Southern Illinois, was the go-to guy in the slot. Despite missing time due to injury, Larkin caught 46 passes for 479 yards and 6 touchdowns. He had 2 interceptions on defense. "He's got great hands and he can get open anywhere," coach Bill Ellinghaus said.
Matthew Maschmeier, Naperville North
The 6-foot, 182-pound senior receiver and defensive back was co-offensive player of the year in the DVC. Maschmeier scored 9 receiving and 2 rushing touchdowns, threw 2 touchdown passes and had a kick return and interception return for a touchdown. He had 41 catches for 697 yards. "Whenever he touched the ball you knew something special could happen," coach Sean Drendel said.
Josh Mathiasen, York
Mathiasen spent his first two varsity seasons playing almost exclusively on the offensive line. In preparation for his senior campaign, Mathiasen lost 20 pounds to be in shape to play on both sides of the ball. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound guard and defensive tackle was co-lineman of the year in the WSC Silver and had 58 tackles. "With his effort he knows how to finish plays," coach Mike Fitzgerald said.
T.J. McMillen, St. Francis
It quickly became obvious this was no ordinary freshman. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, the unanimous all-Metro Suburban Blue pick centered the Spartans offensive line and created havoc defensively. Explosive with great hands and feet, McMillen made 44.5 tackles with 15.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles. "Everything he did this year was way beyond what I thought he could do this year," said his father, coach Bob McMillen.
Greyson Metz, Glenbard West
After three years as a starter, Metz will decide among more than a dozen scholarship offers. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior outside linebacker was physical enough to stop the run but athletic enough to cover the other team's top receiver. The co-defensive MVP in the WSC Silver had 55 tackles, 4 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles. "He covered ground like no one else we've had," coach Chad Hetlet said.
Charlie Millington, Waubonsie Valley
Everyone knew the Warriors were running behind their third-year starter at left guard, but it didn't matter. Millington still got the job done. The 5-foot-11, 240-pound senior was a master technician who was adept at pulling and at pass blocking. Millington was the leader on the offensive line. "He was very valuable making sure everyone knew what to do out there," coach Paul Murphy said.
Jalen Moore, Glenbard West
Moore literally burst onto the scene this season. The first taste of varsity football was a huge success for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior running back. Moore rushed for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns but he also proved to be a strong blocker and an explosive player in the pass game and on special teams. "We had a lot of good running backs, but he was our workhorse," coach Chad Hetlet said.
Xander Mueller, Wheaton North
Committed to Northwestern, Mueller was a three-year starter who this season was named to the IHSFCA all-state team. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior likely projects as an outside linebacker but played inside for the Falcons to take advantage of his quickness. Mueller made 83 tackles, including 5 for loss. "When we needed a play out there, he delivered for us," coach Joe Wardynski said.
Nate Muersch, Montini
Great in the air, the 6-foot-5, 212-pound receiver caught 40 passes for 770 yards and 11 touchdowns. A three-year starter who committed to Miami (Ohio) before his senior season, he earned IHSFCA Class 5A all-state honorable-mention and all-CCL/ESCC honors. He improved his blocking on the perimeter and also could play tight end. "He became so much more of a complete player," said Broncos coach Mike Bukovsky.
Connor Nigro, Lisle
Lisle's MVP, a unanimous Illinois Central Eight all-conference pick, is a three-year starting safety and a two-year starting receiver and running back. The senior accounted for 483 offensive yards and 6 touchdowns, one on a 56-yard punt return. Nigro made a team-high 75 tackles and also averaged 37 yards a punt. "I've got the utmost amount of respect for him," said coach Paul Parpet Sr. "Anything you asked him to do, it was done."
Jack Olsen, WW South
Olsen's records are too numerous to mention, but no one in WW South history kicked more field goals in a season or all-time. The 5-foot-10, 168-pound senior, committed to Michigan State, made 10 field goals this year and all 42 extra points. Fifty-four kickoffs were touchbacks. He had 18 catches at receiver. "He was a main cause for our wins," coach Ron Muhitch said.
Patrick Peters, Montini
Possessing great strength, lateral quickness and a ceaseless motor, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior dominated at defensive tackle. A two-year starter named all-conference in the CCL/ESCC this season, Peters made 55 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Peters also earned two program awards for character. "His character is just impeccable," said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky.
Luke Phillipp, Benet
Phillipp had an uncanny ability to take control of defensive players at the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior guard gained tremendous strength through weightroom work in the off-season, allowing him to power the Redwings' ground game with his drive blocking. "His sheer strength was awesome," coach Pat New said. "He became one of our team leaders."
Nick Plaso, Glenbard South
An IHSFCA Class 5A all-state quarterback, honorable-mention in 2018, the 6-foot-2, 184-pound senior set program records for touchdown passes and passing yardage. This fall he accounted for 2,191 yards and 24 touchdowns. Twice Upstate Eight all-conference, Plaso earned the UEC sportsmanship award, his team's overall MVP, offensive MVP and the Coach John Smith Award. "He's really driven," coach Ryan Crissey said.
Luke Pyle, Hinsdale Central
A third-generation captain for the Red Devils, Pyle brought a diverse skill set to the defensive line and to the linebacker level. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior used his speed to excel at linebacker, but he also had the strength to go toe-to-toe with offensive linemen. Pyle had 83 tackles, including 12 for loss. "He knows what the Red Devil expectation is all about," coach Brian Griffin said.
Ben Radel, St. Francis
The 6-foot, 176-pound senior running back repeats as All-Area and all-Metro Suburban Blue. A three-year starter, after two years at safety Radel focused on offense. He ran for 841 yards and 14 touchdowns plus a team-high 37 catches, for 381 yards and a score. On defense he made 18 tackles, 3 for loss with 1.5 sacks and an interception. "Every position you put Ben Radel at he's going to be successful," coach Bob McMillen said.
Ryan Ranieri, Willowbrook
Given the Warriors' up-tempo style of play, it's critical they have linemen who can keep up. Ranieri was perfect for the system. A rock at center, the 5-foot-11, 235-pound senior was the lineman of the year in the WSC Gold. The Warriors had no trouble asking him to pull. Ranieri also had 39 tackles. "He's the most versatile two-way lineman we have ever coached," coach Nick Hildreth said.
Jahquell Reese, Glenbard North
A powerful, three-year starting lineman, the 5-foot-11, 295-pound senior was a road grader at left guard and tackle. All-DuKane Conference, he helped lead Glenbard North's ground game as well as its best passing game in years. He came in on defense to destroy double-teams. "When we needed tough yards we ran behind Jahquell," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens. "We could always count on movement from him."
Tommy Rittenhouse, St. Francis
Coach Bob McMillen called his 6-foot, 165-pound junior quarterback "the magic man." IHSFCA Class 4A all-state honorable-mention and Metro Suburban Blue offensive MVP, Rittenhouse scrambled for 493 yards, 5 touchdowns, and completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,967 yards, 24 touchdowns. He's got interest from Cincinnati, Iowa State, Miami (Ohio). "I didn't see a better quarterback on the field this year," McMillen said.
Michael Rogers, WW South
The last of three brothers to play linebacker for the Tigers, Rogers averaged double-digit tackles, including a stunning run of 19 and 15 tackles in a pair of games. Incredibly consistent over two seasons, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior used a quick read and burst of speed to make 137 tackles, including 80 solos. "He always wanted to be a linebacker for the Tigers," coach Ron Muhitch said.
Connor Schmidt, St. Francis
A mentor for younger Spartans linemen, the powerful 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior earned IHSFCA Class 4A all-state and Metro Suburban Blue honors. A three-year starting offensive lineman and a two-year, two-way starter, this season at left tackle the smart Ivy League candidate didn't allow a sack, and on defense he demanded a double-team. "I don't think we're 10-2 without Connor Schmidt," said St. Francis coach Bob McMillen.
Lucas Schwartz, Hinsdale Central
After a great junior year, Schwartz managed to be even better this year. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior defensive lineman had a passion for the game and was deceptively athletic for his size. Of his 47 tackles, Schwartz had 8 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. He forced 2 fumbles. "You like to see kids make that leap as a senior, and he did that," coach Brian Griffin said. "He kept us going as a leader."
Will Skowronski, Glenbard West
Skowronski made remarkable improvement from being a Freshman B receiver and sophomore team cornerback to varsity inside linebacker the last two seasons. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, the co-defensive MVP in the WSC Silver, was a sideline-to-sideline beast while amassing 97 tackles, including 21 for loss and 11 sacks. "He was super explosive for us this year," coach Chad Hetlet said.
Jacob Snell, Benet
Offenses had two choices when dealing with Snell. You could either double-team the 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive lineman or run away from him. Committed to Miami of Ohio, the three-year starter was a menace to quarterbacks. Snell had 47 tackles, including 16 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He also had 8 quarterback hurries. "He was really unblockable at times," coach Pat New said.
Everett Stubblefield III, Willowbrook
Stubblefield didn't just transition from quarterback to receiver. He learned everything he could about the position to become one of the area's most dominant receivers. The 5-foot-11, 168-pound senior was the WSC Gold co-offensive player of the year after catching 58 passes for 1,145 yards and 13 touchdowns. "He really became invested in improving," coach Nick Hildreth said.
Jadon Thompson, Naperville Central
After transferring from Marist, Thompson fit in with the offense and became an impact player on defense. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Illinois-bound senior receiver scored in every phase, including kick and punt returns, and an interception return for a touchdown. Thompson had 46 catches for 657 yards. "We only had him for 10 weeks, but he was a special athlete," coach Mike Stine said.
Sam Tumilty, Willowbrook
The 2019 Daily Herald DuPage County Red Grange Football Captain carried the Warriors to success not seen in 40 years during three varsity seasons. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior quarterback and safety, an IHSFCA all-stater, threw for 2,525 yards, rushed for 1,551 and scored 42 touchdowns. Tumilty led his team with 107 tackles. "He's what high school football is supposed to be," coach Nick Hildreth said.
C.J. Wilcox, Metea Valley
Because of Wilcox, the Mustangs' offense became dangerous. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior was potent at running back and receiver depending on where he was needed. Wilcox also played defense. He rushed for 798 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 658 yards and 5 touchdowns. "He was the most dangerous offensive player in our league," coach John Parpet said.
Kevin Akins (IC Catholic, sr., OL-DL), Jake Arthurs (Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., RB), Mohammad Ayesh (Willowbrook, jr., LB), Anthony Beacom (Lake Park, sr., LB-RB), Nick Benn (Fenton, jr., QB), Ben Bonga (Wheaton North, jr., WR), Michael Brescia (Hinsdale Central, jr., QB), Elijah Brockie (Willowbrook, jr., DL), Parker Brown (Wheaton Warrenville South, jr., QB), Josh Brown (Willowbrook, so., DL), C.J. Bufkin (Montini, sr., RB-DB), Trevor Burnett (Glenbard South, so., WR-RB-DB), Michael Bumpus (St. Francis, jr., OL-LB-DL), Hunter Campbell (Downers Grove North, sr., OL), A.J. Carlson (Addison Trail, sr., WR-DB), Will Cassin (Wheaton Warrenville South, sr., LB), Connor Cerkas (Glenbard East, so., QB), Braden Contreras (Hinsdale Central, sr., WR), Trevor Donna (Wheaton Academy, jr., LB), Ryan French (St. Francis, sr., WR), Marquese Garrett (Hinsdale South, sr., QB), Jeremy Gelino (Glenbard South, jr., LB), Colin Gillespie (Benet, sr., QB), Tim Glavan (York, sr., OL), Dan Glimco (Benet, sr., LB), Owen Goss (Hinsdale Central, sr., DB), Grayson Griffin (Waubonsie Valley, jr., LB), Rory Hills (Glenbard North, sr., WR-DB); Patrick Hoffmann (Neuqua Valley, sr., WR), A.J. Howard (IC Catholic, jr., OL-DL), Demetrius King Jr. (Lisle, sr., WR-RB-DB), Dave Lanciloti (Glenbard West, sr., DL), Chauncey Lee (IC Catholic, jr., WR-DB), Cole Loebig (Naperville North, sr., LB), Josh Lumpkin (Downers Grove North, sr., RB), Mike McGivney (Benet, sr., OL), Luke Meyer (St. Francis, sr., DL), Sean Michel (Glenbard West, sr., DB), Jamarri Moore (Naperville Central, sr., DB), Armani Moreno (Neuqua Valley, jr., RB), Eric Moreno (Fenton, jr., OL-DL), Connor Murphy (Glenbard South, so., OL-DL), Mason Pardy (Westmont, sr., WR-DB-P), Doug Pham (Glenbard East, sr., LB), Mark Pinkevich (West Chicago, sr., WR), Alex Rapinchuk (Downers Grove South, sr., DL), Eli Reed (Downers Grove South, so., WR), Enzo Rendina (St. Francis, sr., LB), Joey Richmond (Glenbard West, sr., RB), J.J. Robertson (Neuqua Valley, sr., DL), Trevor Swier (Montini, sr., LB), Jake Tangorra (St. Francis, sr., WR), Jason Torrevillas (Glenbard East, sr., DB-P), Mike Vazquez (Glenbard North, sr., QB); Mike Walker (Lisle, jr., RB-LB).