Football: For T.F. South, it’s a building process
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media July 3, 2014 8:30PM
Thornton Fractional South's Cody Petrich (8) is stopped by Lincoln-Way North's Jake Abramowicz (37) in Frankfort Friday, November 1, 2013. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 4, 2014 2:11AM
Heading into the fall with a young squad, T.F. South coach Tom Padjen sees the summer as a huge opportunity for his players to learn.
“For a lot of the young guys, this is a baptism under fire,” Padjen said at the Richards 7-on-7 Passing Tournament. “We get to come out here and play some great Catholic schools (Brother Rice, Mount Carmel and De La Salle) and Lincoln-Way East. It’s tremendous competition. It gives our guys a good indication of where we’re at and where we need to improve.”
Padjen is looking for simple improvements throughout the summer.
“We want to get better from the first game of the day to the last,” he said. “It’s about guys getting some confidence. A lot of it is just making adjustments, lining up right defensively, switching from man (-to-man defense) to zone and making sure we’ve got everyone covered. Offensively, it’s just running crisp routes and making some plays.”
The Rebels lost 28 seniors from last season’s 5-5 squad. One key piece of the puzzle who is returning is quarterback Cody Petrich, who will start under center for the second straight season.
“You start seeing a lot more things your second year starting,” he said. “It’s a lot easier. We’re excited. We’re looking forward to getting out and competing.”
With the young squad around him, Petrich is embracing a leadership role.
“I’m trying to lead by example,” he said. “I don’t need to be out here chirping at them, but I try to take on a good, positive role and motivate everyone to do the best we can.
“(7-on-7 tournaments) help us, big time. Timing is important, and getting to see some other coverages and get our timing down, it all helps a lot.”
Padjen knows it’s valuable to have a veteran taking the snaps.
“Cody is a very intelligent young man and a gifted athlete,” he said. “He gives us something to build around offensively. We’re going to have a very young offensive line and some young running backs and receivers.”
There are a couple of other experienced players who’ll be counted on heavily, though. Senior Torian Lewis is a three-year varsity starter who can do it all. Senior Jerome Barker will be a key player on both ends as a defensive back and receiver.
“(Lewis) will play defensive back, running back, receiver and Wildcat quarterback,” Padjen said. “(Barker) is another guy who’s a good athlete and can make some plays for us.”
Petrich, for one, sees plenty of potential in the Rebels.
“We’re young, but we have a lot of skill,” he said. “Big-time skill. We’re just trying to get everyone on the same page and once we do, we’ll definitely be looking good.”