Finding the Fox unsung heroes
In what longtime Marmion Academy football coach Dan Thorpe calls a roller coaster of a season given the many nuances related to the pandemic, plenty of positives have come out of the land of Cadets as they head into the curtain-lowering finale Friday against perennial state power Joliet Catholic.
Thorpe has been impressed in particular with the likes outside linebacker Max Lambert and quarterback Paddy Fitzgerald.
"Max is a solid, consistent player with total heart and makes plays on defense," he said. "Paddy has given us leadership in a difficult time and has played well. Against Fenwick he had some great scrambles for first downs and then an excellent release out of the pocket and kept his eyes down field and had a nice throw to inside the 5-yard line."
Linebacker Luke Childers and split end Dan Pardridge also have been standouts. Childers is a key two-way contributor, while Pardridge has impressed with his run-after-catch abilities, Thorpe noted.
St. Charles North update:
North Stars coach Rob Pomazak turned the spotlight to a pair of unsung heroes in Chris Simmons and Jaxson Hinkens.
"Chris is a JV player who has improved tremendously over the final weeks of the season and has been a consistent contributor to our scout team," he said. "Jaxson is our team manager and a tremendous person and leader. In two years, he has been our team filmmaker, timer and all around do it all. His efforts are amazing and we are going to miss him when he graduates next year."
Bartlett coach Matt Erlenbaugh pointed out senior Nick Bucaro is a fixture from bell to bell each week.
"He doesn't come off the field," he said. "He plays multiple positions on offense and defense, and also is a huge threat on all special teams."
Senior tight end-defensive end Alex Palella (headed to Central Michigan) continues to impress.
"Alex is playing on a different level," Erlenbaugh said. "He has been physically dominating opponents. Other teams have to spend a great amount of time preparing and scheming on how to stop him on both sides of the ball."
Sabres coach Keith McMaster took over the team on Feb. 9, "not knowing any of the kids," he explained. "Here we are just more than 60 days later with the first winning record since 2011. That says a lot about the kids on this team. This season has been unique to say the least."
The Sabres are 4-1 heading into the finale Friday against Fenton. Jaydon Varnado and Noah Strickland continue to be bright spots for McMaster.
"Jaydon seems to fill in everywhere," McMaster said. "He's spectacular on defense, can carry the ball on offense, and this past week filled in at quarterback while still playing his normal defensive position. Noah has been a beast at linebacker. He reads his keys an finds open windows to attack ball carriers and quarterbacks."
Linemen Sam Pryor and John Davis are getting it done in the trenches for the 4-1 Knights.
"Both are two-way players who have been paving the way offensively for our strong run game, and defensively have played tremendously," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. "They make a lot of tackles as defensive linemen, including tackles for loss."
Noah Mack and Matt Perez have been two more key components for Maroons coach Anthony Mason this season.
"Noah is doing everything for us and making plays," he said. "He doesn't speak much. He goes out there and gives his all no matter the situation. Matt is a defensive lineman who has played very well the last few weeks. He's making plays from the nose tackle position is difficult, and he is doing a great job at it."
Aurora Cen. Catholic update:
Running back-linebacker Ty Hopp has been a force on both sides of the ball, "and has been very productive again the past two weeks," Chargers coach Dan Lee pointed out. Ryan Lee has a team-best 7 touchdown receptions and has 23 tackles and a pick the past two weeks from his free safety spot.
West Aurora update:
Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer praised the continued elite play of Matt Brown.
"Keeps going into the record books as a wide receiver in our program," he said.
Micah Giesen, Jordan Lishman and Chris Stinson played almost the entire game Saturday both ways due to the team's injuries/COVID issues from the weeks before, Eimer added.
Trevor Matison and Jamarion Stubbs are firing on all cylinders for the Royals heading into the season finale Friday.
"Trevor has stood out in all three phases and has been a consistent leader," Larkin coach Matt Gehrig said. "Jamarion has been our most dangerous player and our most productive."
Bulldogs' coach Dennis Piron said two important factors to the team getting off on the right foot this season have been AJ Sanders and Jalen Buckley. "Both got us off to such a great start overall," he said.
Burlington Central update:
A few last two-week tallies of note for the Rockets. Mark Wisniewski had 8 catches for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns over his last two games, while Steven Langtim had 12 grabs for 95 yards and a pair of scores, plus an interception on defense.
Vikings coach Rob Wicinski has been thrilled with the play of senior running back Konnor Michelsen and senior defensive tackle Caden Naselli. "Konnor for his leadership and consistent play and Caden for his explosive plays and activity on defense," the coach said.
Aurora Christian update:
Quarterback Tyler Brueckner and left tackle Nathan Henry are a couple of offensive stalwarts for the Eagles are intertwined in their success this spring. "Tyler continues to impress me both with his arm and feet," coach Dave Beebe said. "We have only given up two sacks this year and Nathan is a big reason why."