Barrington, Prospect fired up for MSL Super Bowl
It's been a long wait between Super Bowls in the Mid-Suburban League.
On Friday, Prospect will play at Barrington at 7 p.m. for the MSL football championship. It will be the first time that there has been a title game in the sport since 1974 when Schaumburg beat Hersey 7-6.
"This is a pretty cool situation for our players to take part in," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf, who wasn't even born when the last championship game was played.
"The fact that we have a game with significance at the end of the season is awesome. Many teams around the state have just another game but this one has the playoff atmosphere feel."
Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, who was 1-year-old when the last MSL Super Bowl took place, said this game s a huge reward for his team.
"With everything our players and coaches have been through this past year, it means a lot," Sanchez said. "To get through the always challenging MSL West and be in this position is a testament to the hard work, sacrifice and commitment to the standard in our program of giving our best both on and off the field."
The MSL, which at that time was a North-South conference, discontinued its football championship game after the 1974 season. That was because that was the same year the IHSA began its state playoff series.
Friday's game will have that Super Bowl feel to it with a pair of undefeated teams that have dominated their respective divisions.
Prospect (5-0) comes into the game averaging close to 50 points per game. The Knights have a great one-two punch on offense in quarterback Gary Moeller and running back Luke Zardzin.
Moeller, who recently committed to be a preferred walk-on at Wisconsin, has thrown for 985 yards this season with 16 touchdowns passes and just 1 interception. Noah Marx, Frank Covey, Tyson Splinter, Owen Walter and Zardzin have all been targets from Moeller.
Zardzin, who has a PWO to Northern Illinois has been a terror on the ground for the Knights. He has piled up 654 yards and scored 13 touchdowns while Moeller has accounted for 187 rushing yards.
"We are playing at a high level on both offense and defense," DeBoeuf said. "We believe in this group and can't wait to take the field with them on Friday."
Barrington (5-0) is no slouch on offense either. The Broncos are averaging nearly 36 points per game, which is near their average the past few seasons.
Peter Anderson has taken over the quarterback reins for the Broncos with relative ease. The senior has thrown for 1,070 yards with 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He has also rushed for 70 yards and 5 touchdowns. Joey Gurskis and Ben Cocoma are Anderson's main two targets.
Bryan Smith, who has rushed for 662 yards and 5 touchdowns along with Jack Kapcheck, who has gained 291 yards and scored three touchdowns, pick up most of the load on the ground for Barrington.
"I am very happy with our improvement from week to week," Sanchez said. "And the ability of this group to take on every challenge that has been put in front of them. It has not been easy, but I am proud of what they have done to be in this position."
In 1974, there was a reported 7,000 fans in attendance for that title game. On Friday, that number will be nearly a tenth of that due to COVID restrictions.
The game will be broadcast online and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNQcCdl9rdKP_UrPRzU5ubQ
Super Bowl in the future:
Most every sport in the MSL has a championship, except football. That ended in 1974 with the birth of the state playoff system.
But with some rearranging of the schedule, it is entirely possible to return to a Week 9 championship game.
Right now, the MSL has just one crossover game. That is in Week 2 when the East plays the West. Those games are set up on a rotational basis, which each school playing a two-year home and home series, before moving on to another matchup.
With the COVID schedule this year, the MSL has gone to a 1 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 3, etc., games for Week 6. Now you have six games with teams of identical records playing each other.
It also has given rebirth to the old MSL Super Bowl, which could continue under a new name like: "The Bob Frisk Bowl." It would be named after legendary Daily Herald sports editor Bob Frisk, who passed away in 2020.
The game would be the only conference title game in the state, bringing notoriety to the MSL.
It could also create the opportunity for teams to earn their way into the playoffs, should there be a couple of 4-4 teams playing each other. It would also allow teams to significantly add to their playoff points, giving them better seeds in the state playoffs.
The only challenge is the current Mid- Suburban-Central Suburban series of games that are in weeks 3 and 4. If they can be moved up a week, it would open the door for this format.
Both coaches involved in Friday's MSL Super Bowl said looking into the idea has merit.
"If possible, I think it would be great if we could find a way to work it out in the schedule," said Barrington's Joe Sanchez, who is the dean of football coaches in the MSL with 19 seasons as head coach.
Dan DeBoeuf, who is in his third year as head coach and is also the athletic director at Prospect, likes the idea as well.
"I think for this year it creates a great opportunity for kids to play for something at the end of a year that has been filled with ups and downs," DeBoeuf said. "I am fairly new to the MSL and I do think our relationship with the CSL has been great for crossover games."
End of an era:
In 1978 Jim and Bill Lohan of Holy Cross in River Grove became the first in a long line of stories that an old freelance sports reporter/youth football coach was able to write about his former players. That ends Friday night when St. Viator's Jeremiah Pittmann, Palatine's Peter Russchenberg and Ronald Todd along with Fremd's Jason Haas and Jack Walsh take the field.
To them and all those who came before them, thanks for the honor you brought to this game. And thanks for making an old coach so proud.