Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Disabato: While some may have counted Mount Carmel out, Frank Lenti and Co. rise to occasion ]]> Lead story image

During most every season in the past 29, Frank Lenti could begin looking ahead toward the playoffs around Week 6 or 7 of the regular season. By that time, the Caravan already had locked up a playoff spot. That wasn’t the case this season. Mount Carmel was 2-4 after Week 6, hanging from the edge of the proverbial playoff cliff. “We told the guys after we lost to Brother Rice (26-17 in Week 6) that the playoffs don’t start in three weeks, they start right now,” Lenti said. “It’s time to be good or be gone.” Of course, the Caravan … ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:17:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Southland teams thrust into head-to-head first-round meetings in state football playoffs ]]> Lead story image

Would you like the good news or the bad news first? Since I’m a glass-is-half-full type of guy, let’s start things off on the positive side. Twenty-two of our local football teams qualified for the 256-school postseason party. From Evergreen Park in Class 4A all the way up to 8A, the Southland is represented. That’s a pretty solid achievement. The bad news? That number will significantly be reduced after the first round by way of multiple head-to-head local matchups. Go ahead. Pound your fist on the table — just don’t spill that cup of coffee. Let out a frustrating scream … ]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 20:02:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Bubble time for some Southland football teams ]]> Lead story image

The playoff bubble. It’s not a particularly comfortable position for those with weak stomachs and a propensity to bite their fingernails. Or for prep football teams with playoff aspirations. But that’s where as many as 16 Southland teams wanting entry into the postseason find themselves in Week 9 of the regular season. For those unfamiliar with playoff guidelines, here’s a brief summation: Six wins automatically qualifies a team for the postseason, which 12 area teams already have accomplished: Lemont (8-0), Lincoln-Way West (7-1), Lincoln-Way North (7-1), Lincoln-Way East (7-1), Richards (7-1), Bloom (7-1), Providence (7-1), Reavis (6-2), T.F. South (6-2), … ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:47:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Tom Cappel out, then just as quickly might be back in, as boys hoops coach at Crete-Monee ... but will he return? ]]> Lead story image

I’ve been made aware of some coaching firings and hirings through my career, but what happened at Crete-Monee the past three days is without equal. And in no way, shape or form should that be considered a compliment. On Monday, Crete-Monee boys basketball coach Tom Cappel found a termination letter in his school mailbox. He was blind-sided. Cappel attempted to get an explanation from Crete-Monee athletic director Linda Peete, but she had a “do not disturb” note posted on her office door, according to Cappel. On Wednesday, Cappel received another termination letter via certified U.S. mail to his home — … ]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 02:17:43 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: After losing his father to ALS, Illinois State’s Pat Meehan carries on as dad would want him ]]> Lead story image

Though many of his teammates choose to gather together, Pat Meehan prefers to sit by himself inside the locker room for about 15 minutes before every Illinois State football game. A redshirt junior linebacker, Meehan sits alone, the sounds of Van Morrison soothing his ears; the thoughts of his father, Mike, tiptoeing to the forefront of his mind. “It was my dad’s favorite artist,” Meehan said of Morrison. “It gets my mind ready for the game.” Mike Meehan often is on the mind of Pat. The two were more than father and son. They were best friends. In January 2013, … ]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 02:16:09 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Brother Rice football players certainly a class(room) act ]]> Lead story image

They play different positions on the football field: offense, defense, special teams. They graduated from different elementary schools: St. Germaine, St. Gerald, Most Holy Redeemer, Annie Keller Regional Gifted Center and St. Michael’s. With one exception, they reside in different communities: Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park, Mount Greenwood and Homer Glen. Some of their parents earned college degrees. Others didn’t. In other words, they largely come from different walks of life. However, there is one commonality among these five football players from Brother Rice: academic excellence. Spencer Scott, Patrick Hosty, Michael McGinley, Matt Pikowski and Alex Nemeh — each an integral … ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:21:50 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: From week to tweak, football things change in Southland ]]> Lead story image

Some observations with one-third of the 2014 high school football season in the books: Oak Forest and Lemont are 3-0 and undoubtedly will qualify for the postseason. However, it’s difficult to gauge their validity, considering the combined record of their first three opponents is 1-8. With the success each program has attained the past 10 or so seasons, it’s beyond time the Bengals and Indians search out better competition to fill their two nonconference games. With that said, kudos to Tinley Park coach Nick Johnston for agreeing to play Joliet West in the Titans’ season opener. Joliet West might not … ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:53:04 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: With an offense featuring the big three of Justin Hunniford, Miles Boykin and Nate Vejvoda, Providence playing to its strengths ]]> Lead story image

What may seem obvious to the rest of us sometimes doesn’t resonate with high school coaches. Take, for instance, when Zak Kustok constantly was in scramble mode behind an inexperienced offensive line his senior season at Sandburg, yet the coaching staff refused to implement a shotgun formation that would have provided its star quarterback with additional time to work his magic. Why? It wasn’t their style. Kustok went on to have a record-setting career at Northwestern, and Sandburg was left wondering “what could have been?” Or how about watching Tevin Coleman exhibit the massive skills of a Division I college … ]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:13:02 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: After claiming Burbank football bragging rights, Reavis aiming for bigger things ]]> Lead story image

I’m pretty certain you, like I, heard the buzz this summer surrounding Reavis football — that after going 5-4 but failing to compile enough playoff points to qualify for the postseason a year ago, the Rams were a team to keep a close eye on this season. Much of the optimism surrounded a group of returning skill-position players who had earned their stripes as sophomores on the varsity in 2013. The thinking was that with a year of seasoning under their belts, those kids would be ready to take the next step and lead Reavis to a more successful 2014 … ]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 07:29:51 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: In just five years, Homewood-Flossmoor goes from 1-8 to the top of Southland football ]]> Lead story image

If someone would have told me back in fall 2009 that Homewood-Flossmoor would be the SouthtownStar’s preseason No. 1 football team in 2014, I would have suggested that person adhere to a drug test. At that time, H-F was coming off a 1-8 season. If not for a victory in Week 9, the Vikings would have been winless. The fact the victory was over Joliet Township, itself winless, tells you everything you need to know about the then-state of the Vikings. A program that once had been the envy of many was on the verge of irrelevancy. At a crossroads, … ]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:55:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: A new coaching perspective for Steve Nye ]]> Lead story image

For the first time in 15 years, Steve Nye isn’t a head coach. He’s OK with that. Better than OK. He’s good. Just months after losing his job at York, there’s no hint of bitterness in his voice, no overwhelming desire again to guide his own program. Nye’s actually enjoying the life of an assistant coach, free of the stressful head coaching duties that have nothing to do with making kids better football players and better men. After 13 years guiding Brother Rice and two at York, Nye is an assistant coach at Montini. “I’m kind of enjoying not seeing … ]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:21:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Lemont football finds itself in good hands with addition of All-Area wide receiver Flynn Nagel ]]> Lead story image

Bret Kooi knows a special football player when he sees one. He coached Craig Duppong, Steve Walker, Jake Christensen, Nick Setta and Tony Pashos, among others, during a 17-year career at Lockport. As offensive coordinator last season at Lincoln-Way North, Kooi was afforded the opportunity to see Julian Hylton, now at Illinois, up close and personal. Running backs, quarterbacks, linemen, kickers, Kooi has coached some of the Southland’s most decorated talents. You can add Flynn Nagel to the mix. “Flynn’s the real deal,” said Kooi, beginning his first year as Lemont coach. “He’s special.” Like $100 bills falling from the … ]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:29:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Time to start thinking ‘football’ ]]> Lead story image

In four days the high school football season officially begins. Can it be? Didn’t the high school baseball season just start? On Monday, football teams will take to the practice field, largely with the same goal: qualify for the playoffs. Without achieving that, there’s no chance of experiencing the ultimate goal: a state championship. Here are a few observations, focusing heavily on the Catholic League Blue, as we prepare for the start to the 2014 season: A year ago, Mount Carmel was coming off a Class 8A state championship and considered the favorite to win the Catholic League Blue. What … ]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:39:17 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Former Southland standout Steve Sabatino finding groove with Peoria Chiefs ]]> Lead story image

Steve Sabatino saw the writing on the wall. Extended spring training isn’t where a 24-year-old pitcher beginning his third year in professional baseball wants to be. That’s where recently drafted high school players are assigned before their short season Class A minor league season begins or where players rehab from an injury. Sabatino, a 26th-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, was neither. “Being in extended spring training is not a good sign for a 24-year-old,” said Sabatino, a 2008 Lockport graduate. “I felt like I was on the verge of being released. They (Cardinals) don’t have … ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:14:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Chicago Christian baseball proves it belongs with the big boys ]]> Lead story image

In spite of winning at least 23 games the past six seasons and topping 30 wins twice, Chicago Christian isn’t considered by most an elite baseball program. Why? Because in many instances, our minds are programed to think bigger is always better. Chicago Christian has approximately 360 students, 180 of whom are boys. Comparatively, Sandburg has nearly 10 times that amount. Other coed private schools, such as Providence and Marist, exceed that number by four or five times. Even all-boys private schools Brother Rice, Mount Carmel, St. Laurence and St. Rita dwarf Chicago Christian in regard to enrollment. The larger … ]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:44:09 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: It’s full-throttle Mustangs ]]> Lead story image

St. Rita football coach Todd Kuska is extremely optimistic about the upcoming season. In fact, when asked for an honest assessment of his team, he didn’t mince words. “I’m really, really excited,” Kuska said. “I think we’re going to be pretty good.” “Pretty good” is coachspeak for “watch out.” Let’s be clear: The Mustangs, under Kuska’s guidance, generally have been very good. With the exception of 2012, St. Rita has qualified for the postseason in 13 of the past 14 seasons. Of course, the high-water mark came in 2006, when the Mustangs won the Class 7A state championship. The common … ]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:23:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Important season ahead for St. Laurence football ]]> Lead story image

St. Laurence came within one victory of qualifying for the playoffs in 2013. A win in Week 9 against Fenwick would have qualified the Vikings for their first postseason since 2009. It didn’t happen. The Vikings lost 28-14 to the Friars and finished with a 4-5 record. Entering his third season at St. Laurence, coach Harold Blackmon is confident the Vikings will return to the postseason in ’14. There’s a reason, beyond blind hope, for his optimism. He likes what he sees from his players, whom he said have exhibited tremendous effort and dedication during offseason workouts. “I’m really pleased … ]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:08:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disabato: Ron Czarnecki grateful for second chance to run Oak Forest’s baseball program ]]> Lead story image

When Oak Forest suspended varsity baseball coach Ron Czarnecki for one season in 2009, he saw the writing on the wall. He never reapplied for the position once he served his penance for violating a District 228 rule by allegedly using smokeless tobacco on school grounds. Of course Czarnecki had hoped, even prayed, to one day get another chance to lead the storied Bengals varsity program. That day came Tuesday. Czarnecki was named Bengals coach, succeeding Thad Gatton, who resigned upon completion of the 2014 season. Who says dreams can’t come true? That prayers aren’t answered? “No I didn’t think … ]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 06:35:12 -0500