Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I didn't make it out to see...

...Stevenson's football team last year (can't kiss all the girls), but I've been told that Coach Bill McNamara (above) is returning a bunch of starters from last year's 8-3 squad.

In addition to the heavily-recruited seniors Matt Morrissey (wide receiver and defensive back) and Zach Novoselsky, an offensive tackle with interest from Michigan, Northwestern and Notre Dame (among others), the Patriots are looking to juniors Willie Bourbon at quarterback, wide receiver Cameron Green and defensive linemen Patrick O'Connell and Nick Dillon. Get a running back in that mix and McNamara could have the nucleus of a pretty dangerous team!

While last year's season ended somewhat abruptly with a second-round postseason defeat at the hands of eventual 8A runners-up Glenbard North, the Patriots notched some pretty impressive regular-season victories, including a 35-28 opener against 7-5 Lyons, a 14-9 win over 8-3 Libertyville, a 42-0 shutout of 8-3 Grant and a 22-16 victory over 9-4 Lake Forest. If Stevenson's returning starters can play at that level again this year, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them enter the playoffs at 8-1 or even, possibly, 9-0. How do I get there? Here's a look at Stevenson's 2013 football schedule with last year's records in parentheses:

Aug. 30 @ Indian Trail, Kenosha, WI (2-7)

Sept. 6 Homewood-Flossmoor (7-3)
Sept. 13 Zion-Benton (2-7)
Sept. 20 Libertyville (8-3)
Sept. 27 Vernon Hills (2-7)

Oct. 4 @ Warren (5-5)
Oct. 11 @ Mundelein (0-9)
Oct. 18 @ Lake Forest (9-4)
Oct. 25 Lake Zurich (10-3)

After a warm-up game in Wisconsin, the Patriots host Homewood-Flossmoor in a rematch of last year's 35-27 loss to the Vikings. H-F has Devin Pitts, a highly-regarded offensive lineman, but I'll say the Pats even the series at 1-1.

Next comes Zion-Benton, which Stevenson shut out last year, 28-0; I expect this year's result to be more of the same. (Have the Zee-Bees ever beaten Stevenson?) Then comes Libertyville and its two impressive wide receivers, Conor Simpson and Bryan Scanlan. If the Wildcats have anyone who can throw to them it could be a long night for the Pats. But I'll still give the edge to the home team, especially since Libertyville hasn't come out on top since 2008.

Vernon Hills, Warren and Mundelein should be three more victories for Stevenson. The Blue Devils of Warren have a junior tight end named Caleb Reams who is expected to garner a lot of attention this year, but the Pats defeated Warren twice -- pretty decisively -- in 2012. (Also, like Libertyville, the Blue Devils haven't bested the Patriots since '08.)

Week Eight will bring Stevenson to Lake Forest, a team they usually beat. The Scouts have a heavily-scouted middle linebacker in Trent Williams, but I doubt he'll make the difference this year.

Stevenson's record at this point? Could be 8-0.

And then comes the season finale against Lake Zurich, Stevenson's bete noire. (Or should I say bete bleu?) Although the Lincolnshire squad probably owns the series, the Bears seem to always be waiting, waiting, waiting to spoil the Pats' season. Last year Lake Zurich won, 21-14. This year, the Bears will show up with Colton Moskal, one of Illinois' most coveted linebackers. Can he give Bourbon and the Stevenson offense a migraine? We'll see. But if not, the Patriots could conceivably finish the regular season at a perfect 9-0. Will they? You'll just have to drive up there and find out for yourself (if you can get a parking space).

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