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Football: T.F. South hopes impressive summer translates into exciting fall season

Crete-Monee's LaQuan Treadwell catches pass as T.F. South's Maurice Crenshaw (23) Torian Lewis (11) defend. | File photo

Crete-Monee's LaQuan Treadwell catches a pass as T.F. South's Maurice Crenshaw (23) and Torian Lewis (11) defend. | File photo

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Updated: August 5, 2013 5:58PM



T.F. South has opened some eyes during the summer, participating at a couple of different 7-on-7 passing leagues.

Coach Tom Padjen, however, remains cautiously optimistic, knowing passing league success guarantees little when the “real” season begins Aug. 30 against defending Class 6A state champion Crete-Monee.

“That’s nice, but we’re more concerned with when it’s 11-on-11,” Padjen said. “We’ve got a couple of good receivers. But between the three receivers returning from last year, we have three receptions. We’ve graduated most of our offensive backfield, receivers and quarterback.”

The Rebels already have been hit with some bad news: Junior offensive lineman Adam Kessler likely is out for the season after suffering a knee injury during baseball season.

“It’s a big loss,” Padjen said.

Still, T.F South’s senior class is an acclaimed one, going a combined 16-2 on the freshman and sophomore levels.

While the Rebels figure to heavily rely on their senior class, it will be a junior, Cody Petrich, who will handle the quarterback duties. Petrich led the Rebels sophomore team to a second-place finish in conference in 2012.

The transition to varsity should be somewhat smooth, considering Petrich will have multiple targets capable of turning in the big play, which should excite Rebel Nation.

Senior receivers Efe Ovie and Ricky Ramirez and junior Torian Lewis can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. There’s also tight end Rafael Canty, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound three-year starter who will also log time on defense.

While the Rebels’ aerial attack should be worth watching, the ground attack boasts a few game-breakers in seniors Kendall McCaskill and Trenton Gilbert and junior Javaughn Hunter.

The loss of Kessler undoubtedly is significant, but Padjen still has senior linemen Josh Gentry and Zach Garcia in the trenches.

“We’re trying to get everything set,” Padjen said. “We need guys to step up and continue to learn the system.”

Defensively, Padjen is counting on senior end Fred Taylor, a 6-3, 240-pound difference-maker, to lead the line. Lewis will log double duty as a defensive back, with Canty, at either end or linebacker, and senior linebacker Jariel Brooks also contributing.

“Our defensive line is a big question mark,” Padjen said.

In 2012, the Rebels tied Lemont and Oak Forest for the South Suburban Blue championship. But a 23-21 loss to Thornton in the Class 7A opening round ended the season at 7-3.

If T.F. South is going to remain in the conference championship mix this season, the seniors must lead the way.

“This senior class has played together very well,” Padjen said. “They’re all pulling together. Team chemistry is critical to your success, and we’ve got good team chemistry. They’ve had success as freshmen and sophomores, but we tell them that means nothing up here. If you’re an outstanding sophomore, you’re likely playing on varsity, so you don’t see those guys competing at the sophomore level. We’re going to be a work in progress. It’s pivotal for us to get a lot done in the summer.”

With their season opener against Crete-Monee and a Week 3 tilt vs. Oak Forest, the Rebels quickly will find out how they stack up.

“Crete-Monee isn’t going to skip a beat from last year,” Padjen said. “Oak Forest is Oak Forest. It’s going to be interesting to see how this group responds.”



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