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Maine South makes most of second chance against Loyola, wins state

Monday, November 28, 2016 2:36:57 PM America/Chicago

Maine South players celebrate after defeating Loyola 27-17 in the Class 8A state final on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. (Bradley Leeb / AP)Dan ShalinPioneer Press
Maine South football

But in Saturday night's Class 8A championship game at the University of Illinois, the 26th-seeded Hawks not only aced their retake against top-seed and defending state champion Loyola, but they graduated with honors.

Maine South earned a 27-17 victory, outscoring the previously undefeated Ramblers 17-3 in the second half. By avenging a loss to the Ramblers in Week 2, the Hawks captured the sixth state title in program history and first since 2010. Maine South also ended Loyola's 30-game winning streak.

"We're legends now. We created history. We're the only three-loss team (in program history) to win state," said Maine South senior safety Jack Hoffman, who lives in Park Ridge.

That detail is significant because the Hawks (11-3) clearly learned from their mistakes. They also avenged a Week 3 loss to Barrington in the second round of the playoffs, and improved as the season progressed.

"To be the first Maine South championship team to have three losses and to have some payback for two of those losses, shows what these kids can do in terms of preparation," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. "They understand what needs to be executed and how to get the job done on the second go-around."

The Maine South team that lost 44-43 to Loyola in Week 2, was a squad best suited for an offensive shootout against quality opponents.

But at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, the Hawks' defense took center stage, holding Loyola (13-1) to its lowest point total of the season.

Maine South caused two turnovers: Hoffman picked off a pass — just the second interception Loyola senior quarterback Tommy Herion threw all season — and collected a fumble that resulted from a hit by senior linebacker Jack Pistorius. Loyola's standout wide receiver Jake Marwede, who has verbally committed to Duke, caught one pass and was targeted just twice.

"Our defense early in the season was sort of a crutch for our team," Hoffman said. "But after games, we'd come back in Sunday morning, work and do drills and watch extra film together. That brought us together as a unit. We really started to trust each other. Once we started to do that, we started making plays."

Offensively, Maine South junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis carried 18 times for 106 yards in the championship game. Senior quarterback Nick Leongas ran 20 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns, and also completed 11-of-20 passes for 124 yards and a score. Senior receiver Luke Hinkamp caught the touchdown.

Maine South senior offensive tackle, linebacker, punter and kicker Sean McNulty may have been the team's MVP in the game. He played every down on offense, had punts settle inside the 20-yard line four times, kicked field goals of 25 and 18 yards and had the hardest hit of the night on a third-quarter pop of Herion.

However, McNulty admitted his team was somewhat demoralized when it went into the locker room trailing 14-10 after Loyola had scored a late first-half touchdown.

But McNulty said Inserra came in and rallied the Hawks, reminding the team it was always going to be a 48-minute battle.

Then, Inserra kept the starters back in the locker room while the other players went to warm up. The moment was significant, according to McNulty.

"He said, 'This one is on us. If we play our game, we're going to come out on top,' " said McNulty, who lives in Park Ridge. "We came out with a passion in the second half. We made a few plays, a few plays went our way and the rest is history."

The previous week, Loyola had led Glenbard West 14-7 at halftime before the Ramblers scored on their first possession of the second half and took over the game, eventually winning 42-13.

But there was no Ramblers second-half surge on Saturday. Instead, Maine South held Loyola to a three-and-out on its first possession of the second half. Then, on the Hawks' first possession, they regained the lead and the momentum with Leongas' 20-yard touchdown pass to Hinkamp.

Though Loyola would tie the game at 17-17 late in the third, the opening minutes of the second half were an indication the game would remain close.

Leongas gave his team the lead for good with a 17-yard run right up the middle with 10:22 remaining. It came on the first play after Herion fumbled and two plays after McNulty punted the ball 66 yards. McNulty added a late field goal.

When the clock hit zero, Leongas and Hinkamp tried a chest bump, which resulted in the smaller Leongas landing on the ground. Then all the Hawks piled on Leongas, who said he started to cry.

"Honestly, the greatest feeling in the world," said Leongas, who lives in Park Ridge.

The quarterback added: "The legacy of this team is its grit. No matter what came at us, the two early losses and the New Trier loss (in Week 7), which stunned us. But we bounced back, did everything we needed to, trusted the coaches and our system. We just bounced back."

Dan Shalin is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Posted By All-American 7on7

AAU Junior Olympics Games Adds 7on7 Football

Monday, December 21, 2015 5:37:00 PM America/Chicago

CHICAGO -- For the first time in its 50-year history, the AAU Junior Olympic Games welcome football to the competition.

The 2016’s AAU Junior Olympic Games, taking place July 27-August 6 in Houston, has added 7on7 football to the list of competitive team sports.  The games will feature a total of 72 teams divided among three grade levels: 5-6, 7-8 and 9-11.  There will be separate divisions for all-star teams, high school teams and youth programs.

As an AAU-certified 7on7 league, the top 2 finishers in the All-American 7on7 spring passing league will qualify to compete in the AAU Junor Olympic Games!  The 2016 league begins on Sunday, April 3 and concludes on Sunday, May 29.  The age divisions will include 4th thru 11th grades (11U-18U).  For information, please contact All-American 7on7 at 224-764-1328.

Posted By System Administrator

Montini completes perfect season

Monday, November 30, 2015 11:38:00 AM America/Chicago

DEKALB -- With all Montini's success on the football field, the Broncos topped it Saturday.

Montini beat Crete-Monee 38-15 to claim the Class 6A title and reach uncharted territory, its first unbeaten record in 48 seasons of football.

"You never say out loud that you're going to go undefeated, 14-0. You'll never say that out loud. But in the back of my mind I could tell the speed factor for us was going to be a chance for us to beat anybody," said Montini coach Chris Andriano, among seven coaches to have won at least six championships after Nazareth's Tim Racki did the same in the Class 5A game at NIU's Huskie Stadium.

"From freshman year we were a below-.500 team to being the first perfect team to win a state title in Montini history," said senior defensive end Tommy Hyland, whose 7 tackles and 2 sacks helped limit Crete-Monee to 92 yards rushing, 215 yards total.

"This is probably the best feeling I've ever had in my life," he said.

Montini scored 28 unanswered points, rallying from a 15-10 second-quarter deficit to drop the Warriors (11-3). Quarterback Justin Blake's 64-yard touchdown run at 1:13 of the second quarter, cutting inside receiver Tyler Millikan's perimeter block, regained the mojo with an 18-15 halftime lead.

"I was just waiting on the edge to get set. I looked up and I saw Millikan's back was going outside. So I just followed his block and came outside," said Blake, who ran for 192 yards and passed for 104 more of Montini's 506 yards.

"It was real important. We needed that momentum back," Blake said.

Montini had it at the start. On the first play from scrimmage running back Prince Walker bounced 69 yards off right tackle Justin Cajigas to the Warriors' 11-yard line. Walker broke the ice on a 4-yard run at 10:28 of the first quarter.

Walker played with Crete-Monee players such as Xavier Ledet and Juwaun Treadwell when he lived in Crete from the second through fifth grade.

"It was more fun playing against them, just having a good time out there playing against old teammates," said the junior, who ran for 169 yards on 22 carries. "It motivated me to win more, just make sure I got the 'W' against my old town."

Mitch West intercepted on Crete-Monee's first possession and Montini drove 55 yards then settled for Michael Cooney's 30-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 1:50 left in the first quarter.

Uninterested in allowing a fifth straight running clock in these championship games, Crete-Monee scored the next 15 points to lead 15-10 with 2:03 left before halftime. The Warriors' Wildcat-style quarterback Clint Ratkovich led the charge -- with throwing QB Isiah Rucker adding a 50-yard completion -- and capped the second drive on a 1-yard run. Datuan Carter added a conversion run.

"We thought we saw something on film where we were able to hit the ball on the perimeter then come back inside. And obviously the 2-point conversion, we knew they were gassed," said Warriors coach John Konecki.

"I thought we had things rolling."

As Konecki added, Montini got back off the canvas with Blake's long touchdown run less than a minute later.

"We just knew we had to tighten up the little things. We knew we could get it done as a team," said middle linebacker John Embrey, who collected a team-high 11 tackles, linebacker Nick Foster notching 10 with 3 for loss.

"Just consistency and perseverance, without a doubt," said two-way lineman Joe Spivak.

Montini scored on its first two possessions of the second half to open a 32-15 lead with 2:50 left in the third quarter. Blake scored on a 1-yarder between center Sam Detmers and Spivak at right guard, and Walker added a 5-yard run.

Montini didn't let Crete-Monee outside its own 48-yard line thereafter. Walker scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run with 5:54 left to play as the Broncos readied the Gatorade cooler.

"This is the best team that we've ever had record-wise, defense-wise, speed-wise," Andriano said, "just a great group of young men to work with and they bought into everything we were selling. Here we are at the top of the mountain again, it feels really good."

Posted By System Administrator

USA TODAY: Loyola Academy (Ill.) completes perfect season with 8A state title

Sunday, November 29, 2015 6:10:46 PM America/Chicago

By Associated Press November 29, 2015

DEKALB, Ill. – For all the dominance on offense displayed by unbeaten Loyola Academy on Saturday, the key to its 41-0 victory over Marist for the Class 8A title was defense.

In scoring their sixth shutout of the season, the Ramblers (14-0) forced a pair of turnovers and held the RedHawks’ running attack to minus-2 yards.

Quarterback Brendan Skalitzky was held to 17 yards on 13 carries, after rushing for 186 yards and a touchdown against Waubonsie Valley in the semifinals.

“We knew if we went after him on every play, he wasn’t going to want to run,” defensive lineman Ben Leroy said. “In passing situations, the pressure would get to him.”

With Skalitzky struggling, the RedHawks (9-5) made it inside the Loyola 20 only twice on 10 possessions. The RedHawks entered the end zone once, but an illegal block penalty wiped out Skalitzky’s second-quarter touchdown pass to James Dunican.

“I wouldn’t say (the pressure) was something we haven’t seen. But it was the best defense we saw, definitely,” Skalitzky said. Marist coach Pat Dunne added: “We thought if we could get the ball off and into certain zones, we’d have a chance.” Loyola running backs Dara Laja and Jake Marwede each scored twice as the Ramblers piled up 403 total yards.

The win marks the first state championship for Loyola after second-place finishes in 2011 and 2013. “It’s a relief,” Loyola coach John Holacek said. “It’s not the worst thing in the world to be the Marv Levy of Illinois high school football, but it’s nice to kick through the door.”

Marist was held to 73 yards, including minus-14 yards rushing, before Marwede’s second touchdown triggered a running clock with 3:56 left in the third quarter. Quarterback Emmett Clifford’s 4-yard touchdown run on Loyola’s first series opened the scoring. Laja’s 9- and 6-yard runs in the second quarter expanded the lead to 20-0, and Clifford’s 9-yard pass to John Isaac with 1:07 left in the half made it 27-0 at halftime.  more >>

Posted By System Administrator

2016 7on7 Spring Football Passing League

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 11:59:04 AM America/Chicago

Grade School and High School Passing Leagues and Tournaments

All-American 7on7 is excited to announce the 2016 season of the 7-on-7 spring passing leagues and 7v7 tournaments in Illinois. The sport is rapidly growing across the nation, as more and more coaches, players and parents are discovering that 7-on-7 football is a fun and inexpensive way for football players to practice their skills and prepare for the upcoming high school season.  This season, there will be 6 age divisions 4-5th, 5-6th, 6-7th, 7-8th, high school JV, high school Varsity.  The 7v7 league will have almost 100 TEAMS THIS SEASON!

Posted By All-American 7on7

Edgy: High school football expanding through 7-on-7

Monday, March 23, 2015 5:52:35 PM America/Chicago

If you needed any more proof that high school football is becoming a year-round sport, all you needed to do was spend some time at the Canlan Sportsplex in Lake Barrington on Sunday.

The 7-on-7 event has also seen increased growth on the high school team level. The All American Passing 7-on-7 League will feature over 80 teams this spring and could surpass 100 teams by April 1. This group runs passing leagues from the high school and grade school level and has games played at three separate locations in the north and west suburbs. The high school-aged leagues play only on Sundays to allow athletes in various spring sports to compete.

So what's the appeal of 7-on-7 for players?  read more >>

Posted By AllAmerican 7on7

After further review, 7-on-7 passing league looks like a winner

Friday, May 23, 2014 6:55:15 PM America/Chicago

By Marty Maciaszek

Ray Glassmann didn't think he was in 7-on-7 heaven back in 2008.

After a couple of years of organizing and running local basketball tournaments, Glassmann decided to see if an off-season spring football league would work. The early returns on the All-American 7-on-7 Passing League were about as favorable as the United States Football League's ill-fated attempt at competing with the NFL in the mid-1980s.

"I was going to cancel it," Glassmann said of having only five teams and 60 players the first year. "I thought, ‘I guess in Chicago this doesn't play well.

"One of the guys involved said as long we've gone this far, let's play each other twice. I'm glad we did."

The next year it grew to 16 teams. Then it doubled to 32.

Now it has exploded to 83 teams and more than 1,200 players from middle school to high school.

The seventh and eighth grade teams played their championship games early this week, and the high school varsity and junior varsity play a postseason tournament Saturday and Sunday at Canlan Sportsplex (formerly Lake Barrington Fieldhouse).

It isn't much of a surprise where this idea originated from for Glassmann.

"Every other sport has an off-season, almost to a fault," said Glassmann, whose son Riley was a Fremd basketball standout. "I talked to a friend in Texas years ago with a son the same age and I said, ‘What are you doing this weekend?' He said they were going to a 7-on-7 tourney and I said, ‘What?'

"As soon as I got off the phone I said that needs to come to Chicago. I had a vested interest (with Riley playing football then), but I thought there needed to be an off-season and it's a fun game."

It originally started with kids in middle school who wanted to get ready for high school. But Glassmann said there were a variety of reasons it took off at the high school level about three years ago.

The kids who were exposed to it in middle school wanted to stick with it when they got to high school. Glassmann said the IHSA eliminated its restrictions on the number of kids from one high school who could participate on the same team in the off-season during the school year.

While the high school coaches aren't allowed to coach their teams in practices or games -- similar to spring basketball or fall baseball -- some of them did start to see the potential benefits.

"Coaches said if kids want to play, they're going to play on an all-star team, so why not keep them together?" Glassmann said.

Glassmann knows nothing like this is perfect, but he has tried to make sure there aren't conflicts for kids who want to play a spring sport by putting most games in Sundays. And, not surprisingly, he is seeing more and more all-star teams being put together.

But Glassmann said interest continues to grow. There are even teams with players who just finished their high school careers and are looking to stay sharp for college.

And like it or not, being able to compete year-round is a big part of today's youth sports culture.

"I call it extra credit," Glassmann said. "The mistakes kids make in the spring, hopefully they aren't making them in the fall.  The bottom line is no one cares who won the 7-on-7 championship in the spring. It's who won a state championship in the fall."

Posted By System Administrator
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