Disabato: Who will be football’s preseason No. 1?
Pat Disabato email@example.com | (708) 802-8837 July 2, 2012 8:20PM
Marist's Nic Weishar. | File photo
Updated: August 4, 2012 6:20AM
There are two questions I always can count on being asked at this time of the summer:
“Which (local) football teams are going to rank among the best,” and “Who is going to be the SouthtownStar’s preseason No. 1?”
Folks, no other sport generates as much excitement and discussion among prep enthusiasts than football.
Southland residents love their pigskin, almost as much as I like the pork chop sandwich from Hog Wild.
The region has produced dozens of players in the NFL, from Pro Bowl talents Donovan McNabb and Antwaan Randle El to a future Hall of Famer in Rodney Harrison to a two-time Super Bowl champion in David Diehl.
As far as my response to the first question, it’s generally, “The same teams as usual. Mount Carmel, Lincoln-Way East, St. Rita, Lemont, Crete-Monee. The rich get richer.”
My response to the second query most of the time is, “We haven’t decided yet.”
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Even if we had decided on a No. 1, I would not divulge it.
While there have been times when the selection of a preseason No. 1 has been decided by now, that’s not the case for the upcoming season.
There are at least five schools, both private and public, in the mix. There is one school we are leaning toward at this specific time.
However, there’s still research to be gathered, from key players returning, an ability to fill holes, difficulty of schedule and so on.
Here are the five teams, in alphabetical order, that are in consideration for our preseason No. 1, tentatively scheduled for publication Aug. 19.
Crete-Monee. The Warriors return a bevy of talent, led by quarterback Marcus Terrell (2,822 yards, 29 TDs in 2011) and receiver LaQuon Treadwell (1,391 yards, 18 TDs). The tandem was unstoppable last season. Now a year older, wiser and stronger, those two could rank among the greatest the area has produced at their positions. Lance Lenoir provides another go-to option, and Austin Rosenfeld anchors a skilled line.
Lincoln-Way East. Few teams could lose their All-Area quarterback (Blake Winkler, Illinois State) and wide receiver (J.J. Robertson, Illinois) and still rank among the best. East is one of them. Tommy Fuessal, who already has committed to NIU, will step in for Winkler and Jordan Daniels for Robertson. Pint-size linebacker Kyle Langenderfer, 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, leads an experienced defense.
Marist. What’s there not to like? The RedHawks are more explosive than a Krazy Kaplans fireworks warehouse. Quarterback Ian Woodworth (2,825 yards, 30 TDs) returns, as does his primary target, Nic Weishar (1,149 yards, 13 TDs). It doesn’t matter if Josh Hickey lines up on the O-line or D-line, his presence will be felt. The $64,000 question is whether the defense, which allowed 319 points last season, will improve? It can’t get any worse.
Mount Carmel. The 10-time state champion Caravan appears void of a glaring weakness and well positioned for a run at No. 11. Word has it quarterback Don Butkus will be allowed to flex his passing skills more often. That’s a wise move by the coaching staff, which no longer can expect to defeat elite competition relying exclusively on the run. Butkus has a quality receiving corps, led by Jason Gasser, and a skilled offensive line to provide him with time to throw the rock. Junior D-lineman Enoch Smith has D-I recruiters lined up at his back door. If the Caravan is competing in the Prep Bowl and not marching toward the Class 8A final, fans will likely be disappointed.
Thornton. Coach Bill Mosel has been touting the Class of 2013 ever since it walked into the doors of the Harvey school. Brothers Jamal and Jason Towns are the keys to the Wildcats’ ability to make a long postseason charge. Jamal racked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground last season. Jason can alter a game from cornerback or at wide receiver. Quarterback Jowahn Brown recorded more than 1,000 yards in the air in five games last season. Translation: The Wildcats will be equally dangerous on the ground and the air. There’s plenty of beef on both sides of the line, led by Jerome Jenkins, to allow the Wildcats to thrive.