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Clark: Monee time for Crete

Highly recruited wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell warms up for seasopener against Thornton-Fractional South.  |Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Highly recruited wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell warms up for the season opener against Thornton-Fractional South. |Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 28, 2012 9:26PM



There’s no use pretending otherwise for Crete-Monee: The game it has been waiting for all season is finally here.

The Warriors, who haven’t been beaten and rarely have been tested in 10 games this season, will host Peoria Richwoods (8-2) in a Class 6A second-round game this weekend.

The teams also met in the second week of the playoffs last season in Peoria. In that game, Richwoods jumped out to a big early lead and coasted to a 51-36 victory against previously unbeaten Crete-Monee.

Richwoods went on to win its fourth state football trophy, taking second in 6A. The Warriors went home and started thinking about this season.

Crete-Monee also kept thinking about Richwoods, which is what the Warriors want to be: one of the premier mid-sized programs in the state. Richwoods has been very good for a long time, with state titles in 1984 and 1988 and a 40-24 record in 27 trips to the IHSA playoffs.

Crete-Monee has been moving in that direction since coach Jerry Verde took over in 2007. The Warriors had one postseason victory before Verde became head coach, but they have had seven since, including trips to the quarterfinals in 2009 and 2010.

Verde is part of the reason for Crete-Monee’s rise; talent is another. The school has become a mandatory stop for college recruiters. And it’s not just because of Laquon Treadwell, a once-in-a-generation talent who’s rated the No. 1 receiver in the country in the Class of 2013 by Rivals.com.

Treadwell isn’t only a tremendously gifted athlete, but he also appears to have the leadership qualities a team needs to play deep into November. In Week 9 of the regular season, he took charge when the Warriors started slowly against Southland Conference rival Rich East, making sure his teammates understood the stakes.

‘‘I knew how it felt two years ago, last year,’’ Treadwell said after that game. ‘‘I told them, ‘This is going to happen in the playoffs. This is something we’re going to have to deal with.’ ’’

Something else Crete-Monee expected to deal with was Richwoods and star running back Kendrick Foster, an Illinois recruit.

‘‘We talk about them every day in practice,’’ receiver Kyle Tilley said. ‘‘That’s our motivation, knowing that competition is going to be waiting for us in the playoffs.’’

The Warriors have a nice mix of talent. They have big-timers such as Treadwell and junior linebacker Nyles Morgan (eight scholarship offers, including Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Michigan State), players with rising profiles such as senior receiver Lance Lenoir and senior quarterback Marcus Terrell and role players such as Tilley.

Of course, Crete-Monee wasn’t lacking for talent last fall. But maybe now the Warriors will be better able to handle the distractions that come along with success.

Verde said he thinks his team is better equipped to deal with its great expectations this time around.

‘‘Every team’s going to handle an old situation better than the team that first handles it,’’ Verde said. ‘‘Last year, 9-0 got heavy because we hadn’t done it since 1952. This year, it wasn’t a goal; it was an expectation.’’

So is getting past the second round and Richwoods.



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