As quickly as the regular season started back in late August, it came to an end just before Halloween. With some of Patch’s North Shore teams competing in the playoffs and the others getting a head start on off-season conditioning, we’re going to hand out awards in our recap of the 2011 regular season. It was another great one.
The Warriors captured their first conference championship since 2003 and did it after dealing with injuries and a rocky start. Deerfield lost to Maine South and Homewood-Flossmoor by a combined score of 95-7 and looked dead in the water at 0-3. But the return of QB sparked the Warriors as they won six straight games to close out the regular season, including a 45-21 victory over Highland Park in Week 9 to clinch the title.
Best Game: Maine South 45, Glenbrook South 21 – Week 9.
The Titans gave Maine South all it could handle for three quarters before the Hawks pulled away late. Glenbrook South pulled out all the stops in the hopes of putting an end to Maine South’s CSL South decade-long dominance. Wide receiver Sully Stadler, who will be going to Indiana on a baseball scholarship, took a reverse and threw to running back Billy Pappas for a 35-yard score to make it 24-21 Maine South late in the third quarter. But Matt Alviti and Maine South’s running game were too much in the end.
Statement Victory of the Season: Loyola 34, St. Rita 7 – Week 9.
Coming off a sloppy game against Brother Rice, Loyola dominated against St. Rita on its way to an outright conference championship. The Ramblers were helped out by big plays on defense and special teams. Loyola returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Richie Wehman took a punt back 70 yards for a touchdown. The win gave Loyola its first undefeated regular season since 1991.
Best Team: Loyola (9-0)
I reserve the right to change this pick after the playoffs, but in the regular season Loyola maneuvered through one of the toughest schedules in the state and came out undefeated. The Rambler defense was dominating, only allowing double-digit points in three of nine games. Their win against St. Rita was the exclamation point, but the Ramblers know it’ll be about what they do in the last five weeks rather than the first nine.
Comeback of the Year: Maine South 40, New Trier 24 - Week 5.
New Trier had Maine South on the ropes at halftime with a 24-14 lead. Back in 2000, the Trevians were the last conference team to beat Maine South and they wanted to bookend the streak. But the Hawks rallied for 26 unanswered points in the second half for a 40-24 win. Alviti tossed four touchdown passes and RB Paul Preston ran for 139 yards in the comeback win.
Biggest Upset: Highland Park 14, Glenbrook North 7 – Week 8
Injuries were a big factor in Glenbrook North’s disappointing season, but Highland Park capitalized on the opportunity and remained in the running for a conference title with a 14-7 win. The Spartans, who went 8-2 last season, were missing RB Grant Rushing and had to rely on QB Curt Petty’s passing attack to stay in the game. Highland Park’s Max Moridini found Gordy Kelch for a nine-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score.
Most Bizarre Game of the Year: Niles North 2, Niles West 0 – Week 2
Rarely do you see a 2-0 game in high school baseball, let alone football. Vikings linebacker Romeo Montiel accounted for all the scoring when he tackled Niles West RB Jake Glotzer in the end zone for a safety in the fourth quarter. In addition, the Saturday game took two days to complete because of lightning storms. Referees postponed the game in the second quarter on Saturday and picked things back up on Monday.
Team to Watch in 2012: New Trier (6-3)
The Trevians are making big strides under second-year coach Dan Starkey. At 6-3, their record this year is not too impressive, but New Trier probably should have won its opener against Schaumburg and gave Maine South one of its tougher games of the season. New Trier will lose QB Jack Nykaza, but the program is improving and New Trier is looking like they will be a playoff-caliber team for the foreseeable future.