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Fall Sports - page 13

Weimer says goodbye to KHS volleyball

in Volleyball by
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Eight years and an improved program later, Weimer tends to other responsibilities
KANELAND—For the first time since the 2004 season, Kaneland volleyball will have a new face patrolling the sidelines this fall.

The resignation of eight-year head coach Todd Weimer deems it necessary.

A new coach was expected to be named this month.

Weimer leaves the perch after a letter of resignation and his team’s first sectional playoff appearance.

The Harter Middle School teacher will keep his teaching responsibilities but will no longer have to juggle different teams and different schools, having been the boys volleyball head coach at St. Charles North High School.

The husband and father of a 2-year-old daughter felt the decision came together fairly quickly.

“It all happened fairly fast, but I was carefully thinking about everything,” Weimer said. “Everything probably started in the middle of June. I was out of town for several weeks with my family and really started to realize how much I was missing out. The spring season at St. Charles North was such an incredible journey. Getting third in State with the boys team was just unbelievable and such a great group of players, coaches, managers and parents.”

Weimer’s teams struggled out of the gate early on but cultivated area talent to beat Geneva for the first time in 19 years back in 2010, and hoisted a regional plaque at Hampshire last October after beating rival Sycamore.

Regardless of where the Lady Knights finished last fall, Weimer said he feels it wouldn’t have influenced the summer decision.

“I’m pretty confident that whether we lost right away, won Sectionals or State, my decision would be the same. Family is important to me. I hope that people know that I’m a family man,” Weimer said.

The girls volleyball program earned its first winning season under Weimer in 2010-11 (19-14) and has won 61 matches in its last three seasons.

That’s compared to seven matches won from 2005-08.

“I became relaxed in a few things, but still defensive-oriented on the court. I was coming off fresh from the USA Deaf National Team, played club ball at NIU, and had a lot of high-level training and coaching,” Weimer said. “Being able to mold that and adjust to teach and work with the younger kids was important. I’ve always been intense and would fight for every point. I’ve become more relaxed in that and just keeping that excitement inside until after we won the match.”

Weimer said it’s too early to tell on a return to the girls volleyball landscape.

“I can see myself getting back into head coaching, but when you have kids and you want to see them enjoy life, dance lesson, playing sports, and attending family functions, you just want to be a part of that,” Weimer said.

The longtime sideline presence leaves behind a program with the arrow pointed up and a total record of 97-158.

“We had to overcome a lot of obstacles, especially those first three seasons, not a lot of success and a lot of frustration,” Weimer said. “But I wouldn’t trade any of that in, it’s all part of the rebuilding process and the journey and I’m very happy to be a part of that.”

Cohesive to their core

in Football by
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Key Kaneland players continue as teammates on college gridiron
ELBURN—Kaneland High School football players swapping their black-and-white jerseys after graduation for the blue and orange of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville has become a common occurrence over the past few years.

Two prominent members of last season’s Knights’ squad that mowed through the schedule undefeated before bowing to Lincoln-Way West in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last fall are the latest Kaneland products to join head coach Mike Emendorfer’s club.

Zach Theis, a two-year starting left tackle who was named to the Illinois Football Coaches Association’s Class 5A all-state football team as a senior, and linebacker/safety Blake Bradford, are preparing to take their grid careers to the next level at the NCAA Division III school this fall.
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“I’m very excited,” Bradford said. “Football is something I enjoy greatly, and to be able to keep on playing after high school is something that I thought I’d never accomplish.”

“He’s a hard-nosed, tough young man,” Emendorfer said. “I’m looking forward to him coming into the program. Blake’s goal is to play a role on special teams and learn the system as quickly as possible his freshman year. Blake is going to be a safety or outside linebacker; he’s one of those ‘tweeners. When we get him into camp we’re going to figure that out.”

Emendorfer also is looking forward to adding Theis, the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East Offensive Player of the Year, to the mix on the O-line.

Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo
Zach Theis (No. 57). File photo
“You don’t find too many players in high school being recognized as Player of the Year as an offensive lineman,” Emendorfer said. “We think he has a chance to compete for playing time, but we’re very careful about making any promises. He has talent; it’s just a matter of making that transition to college.”

Theis’ mindset going into the season is to contribute in any way possible.

“I’m going to go in and try my hardest and do everything they want me to do,” Theis said. “If it ends up being a starting spot, that’s the way it’s going to be, but if it’s not that, I’ll fill my role on the team and be a team player.”

The former Kaneland stars also will be roommates at their new school. They’ll be living in a dorm on campus.
“We’ve got everything,” Theis said. “We’re just trying to find a couch.”

No doubt, Kaneland products Quinn Buschbacher and Ryley Bailey, both wideouts on the squad, will help Theis and Bradford adjust to life at UW-Platteville both on and off the field. Bradford and Theis played alongside Buschbacher in 2011, while Bradford and Bailey have known each other since they were kids.

“It’s definitely nice to go in there and play with someone you’ve already played with before,” Bradford said. “Not a lot of people get to do that, and I think it’s going to be fun.”

Buschbacher, a sophomore for the Pioneers, recalls how Bailey, now a senior, took him under his wing when he became part of the team last year. He plans on mentoring Theis and Bradford once they arrive in Platteville.

Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Quinn Buschbacher. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo
Former KHS standout Ryley Bailey. Courtesy Photo
“With Ryley, it was super nice coming into college,” Buschbacher said. “He acted like my older brother. I’ll be like Blake and Zach’s brother like Ryley did with me.”

There will be plenty for the new freshmen to adapt to, Buschbacher noted, such as a noticeable uptick in the speed of the game, managing their classes and their schedules.

“They’ve still got to learn the playbook, and the coaches have to get a feel for how they adapt to the level of speed, playing at a high level and being consistent,” Buschbacher said.

But Buschbacher believes Theis and Bradford will make a smooth transition to college ball. Coaches at UW-Platteville and Kaneland have developed a strong relationship over the years, and the two schools run the same type of offense and utilize similar terminology.

“They’re Kaneland boys,” Buschbacher said. “Ryley and I were able to adapt very well. Kaneland has a very good tradition and consistently plays at a very high level. It allows us to come in, work hard and have that determination to push through and reach whatever level we want to.”

They’ve adapted well, indeed. Bailey led the Pioneers in receptions (70), receiving yards (849) and touchdowns (10) last season. He was named a first-team all-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) player and also was selected national Division III Receiver of the Week after catching 11 passes for 191 yards and two scores during a 49-19 win over UW-Eau Claire.

Emendorfer said Bailey has the potential to be an all-American candidate this season.

“I’ve been in college coaching at Platteville 15 years, and Ryley is one of most intelligent football players I’ve ever coached,” he said. “What Ryley brings to the table is football savvy. He’s our Swiss knife. He can do everything; he can block, catch the vertical game, catch the short game and is a very versatile athlete. He’s one of our best blocking receivers. When we need a big play, Ryley’s the guy we go to.”

Buschbacher, meanwhile, caught 26 passes for 216 yards and two TDs last year. Emendorfer indicated he has big plans for the team’s 2012 freshman Player of the Year this season.

“Quinn is very explosive,” Emendorfer said. “He can take a 5-yard pass and turn it into a 50-yard touchdown easily. As the year went on, he got more and more playing time. Offensively, we averaged over 40 points per game (last year). The reason is because of people like Quinn and Ryley. We’re hoping for big things next year.”

The Pioneers, coming off an 8-2 record—their first 8-2 season since 1976—are garnering national attention. They’re ranked 14th in Lindy’s Sports Magazine’s Division III pre-season top 25.

Buschbacher said he feels confident the Pioneers can live up to their preseason billing, if not exceed expectations. Making the Division III playoffs, and advancing in the postseason, are among the Pioneers’ goals for 2013.

“I’m really excited,” Buschbacher said. “We have a good group of guys that are motivated to be successful. The Stagg Bowl (the Division III national championship game) is out there for us to take, but it’s up to us to reach that goal. We know it’s out there. We have to do whatever we can to capture it.”

Kaneland Foundation hosts cross country race

in Boys Cross Country/Girls Cross Country/Kaneland by

Kaneland—The Kaneland Foundation will host its 2nd annual 5k Cross Country Race on Friday, June 21, at 8 p.m. at the Kaneland High School campus/football stadium, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. There will also be a 1/4-mile Kids Track Run at 7 p.m. and a 1-Mile Cross Country Fun Run/Walk at 7:30 p.m.

The 5k and 1-Mile runs will cover a flat cross country course entirely on the Kaneland campus.

Racers will finish on the Kaneland track for a spectator-friendly and exciting event. The 5K will be timed, and awards will be offered in age groups and overall categories. Prizes will be awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers in the following age groups for the 5K Cross Country Race: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-65, 65 and over.

All runners will receive a T-shirt for participating, provided they are registered by Saturday, June 15.

Packet pick-up begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, June 21, near the track at the Kaneland High School campus.

Schedule of Events
7 p.m.: 1/4-Mile Kids Track Run—$5 registration fee, signed waiver must be on file.
7:30 p.m.: 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk—$10 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.
8 p.m.: 5k Cross Country Race—$20 registration fee; signed waiver must be on file.

Download the race applications from www.kaneland.org, or register and pay online from the website on the Webstore (click on Kaneland Foundation). For more information, please call (630) 365-8295 or email beth.sterkel@kaneland.org. To mail in forms and money, please address it to: Beth Sterkel, Kaneland Foundation, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, IL 60151.

Hometown Hall of Famer

in Girls Basketball/Girls Cross Country/Girls Track/Kaneland by
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The Kaneland School District last week inducted Kerry Rink, pictured here from her days as a Kaneland High School cross country runner, into its Hall of Fame in the Personal Athletic Achievement category. Rink was a three-sport athlete at Kaneland, standing out in cross country, track and basketball. Courtesy Photo

Former KHS athlete inducted into District Hall of Fame
by Mike Sandrolini
ELBURN—Kerry Rink received a phone call out of the blue a couple of months ago from Dr. Jeff Schuler, superintendent of Kaneland Community School District 302.

Needless to say, she was pleasantly surprised to hear from him.

Schuler gave Rink, one of the most successful athletes in Kaneland High School history, the word that she had been selected for induction into the Kaneland School District Hall of Fame.

“That was kind of nice,” said Rink, who starred in track and field, basketball and cross country during her four years at Kaneland from 1984-88. “I was just honored that I was going to be inducted.”

Rink was officially inducted last week during Kaneland’s Senior Athletes’ Night. Members of her family, including her mother, Gerry, and her father, Richard—her varsity high school basketball coach—attended the ceremony.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Richard, who coached the Knights during the 1980s, first as an assistant and then as head coach. “They finally got her in there, and she deserves to be in there. It’s good that they did it (induct Kerry) in front of the seniors to see what can be done by their athletes.”

Legendary career
Although she excelled in each of the three aforementioned sports, what Kerry accomplished on the track is legendary around the area. She was the Class A 800m state champion three consecutive years, and capped her stellar career by setting the state 800m record in a preliminary heat at a meet in 1988.

She then broke that record during the finals en route to the championship.

Her state record in the 800 stood for 19 years.

In addition, Kerry ran on the Knights’ 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams, the latter of which also set a state record and won a Class A title. The Knights captured the overall Class A team crown in both 1987 and 1988.

In cross country, she was a three-time all-state runner and placed third overall at the 1987 state meet, which at that time was not divided into classes.

Kerry’s track and field prowess landed her a scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where she achieved All-American status her freshman year.

She unfortunately ended up tearing the medial meniscus ligament in her right knee during her sophomore year while running for the UK cross country team. Kerry ran track the following spring, but the injury didn’t allow her to compete in either cross country or track her junior and senior years.

However, Kerry did graduate from UK with honors, and then went on to earn her master’s degree in occupational therapy from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“I’m proud of the way she handled things on the court and off,” said Richard, who is an assistant boys basketball coach at Hinckley-Big Rock and was a sixth-grade teacher at Kaneland Middle School until his retirement in 1999. “I’m proud of the way she handled herself and came back and got her master’s degree after all the adversity.”

Homecoming
Kerry had been living and working in Los Angeles for the past seven years, but recently moved back to the area to be closer to her family. She now works in occupational therapy in DeKalb.

Rarely did a day go by in the Rink family when either Kerry or one of her five siblings—four brothers and a sister—wasn’t taking part in a practice, game or meet.

Kerry’s oldest brother, Patrick, wrestled and played football at Kaneland.

Her sister, Amy, was the starting point guard on Kaneland’s 1982 Class A state champion basketball team. Kerry’s two older brothers, Mike and Danny, each played football and basketball and ran track, as did her younger brother, Greg.

Gerry and Richard Rink had three of their children going to high school at the same time.

“I wish the microwave (oven) had been invented a few years earlier,” Richard said with a laugh. “There was someone in sports all the time. My wife and I used to parcel out watching games. She’d go to one event and I’d go to another. It was somewhat chaotic sometimes, but it worked out.”

Richard, of course, didn’t have to attend Kerry’s basketball games because he was her coach. Coaching one’s daughter or son isn’t unusual, yet Richard was always wary that he didn’t treat Kerry differently from the rest of her teammates.

“It was fun coaching her,” he said, “but it was kind of hard when you coach your own kid. You maybe have to be harder on your kid than you would on the other kids; otherwise it looks like favoritism. But I thought she was a very good player, and she did quite well for herself.”

That she did. Kerry was an all-state player in 1988 and tied a school record for most points scored in a quarter (17). She shares that record with Beth Creamean, a former two-sport star (basketball and softball) at DePaul University.

“It was hard sometimes because I didn’t know whether to call him Dad or coach,” Kerry said, “But I’m honored to have him as a coach. It was a good experience overall. We had a good team.

“He was a great coach and still is. I learned quite a lot from him. He helped me with my shooting and defense, and think I was the basketball player I was because of him.”

Influences
Kerry lists her parents and siblings as being among her biggest influences, both on and off the field and court.

“I went to school, went to practice, studied and went to bed (during high school),” said Kerry, a straight A student at Kaneland. “I was very serious and very driven. They were always good about telling me, ‘It’s OK if you get a B (in a class).’ They tried to help take the pressure off me a little bit, but I put a lot of pressure on myself from within (to succeed).

“My parents had a big influence on me, and my siblings did, too. I come from a very sports-minded family. My sister was an influence, as well, because she was a really good point guard.”

Kerry also mentions Lea Ann Machais, her sister’s teammate on the 1982 championship team; Pat Sheetz, the head track and field coach during her varsity career at Kaneland; Doug Ecker and Tom Todd, who also coached her in track and cross country; and Mr. Davis, her favorite high school teacher, as inspirations.

“My teammates inspired me, too,” she said. “There were a lot of different personalities and talents (on those teams).”

Trophy case closed

in Fall Sports/Spring Sports/Winter Sports by
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Kaneland emerges with NIB-12 All-Sports Trophy
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—You’d be hard pressed to argue with the facts.

The facts say Kaneland High School athletics had an exemplary year in athletics for the 2012-13 calendar.

As a result, the Knights and Lady Knights were able to secure the Northern Illinois Big XII All-Sports Trophy for the season.

Kaneland’s 78.5 total was the same as West Division counterpart Geneseo.

In the 2011-12 year, KHS was second overall with 78.5, compared to DeKalb’s 79.

In the conference setup’s first season in 2010-11, the Knights finished second in the East with 68, compared to DeKalb’s 70 and Sterling’s 75.5 in the West.

Kaneland’s conference crowns came in football, golf, volleyball, boys basketball, softball, boys track and girls track.

In the rest of the East setup, Yorkville came in second at 72, followed by DeKalb at 66.5, Sycamore at 64, Morris at 48 and Rochelle at 38.

The West set-up had Geneseo, followed by Sterling at 72.5 and Ottawa at 64.5. LaSalle-Peru (63), Dixon (51) and Streator (35.5).

Dixon and Streator are vacating their NIB-12 spots at the end of the 2013-14 athletic season. Rochelle will then move to the West to create balanced, five-team divisions within the conference.

Dixon and Streator were the only institutions with no team conference titles in 2012-13.

re-’Fleck’-tions from a head coach

in Featured/Football by

KHS alum P.J. Fleck prepares for 1st season as head coach in major college football
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—When asked about former Knight wideout P.J. Fleck, former assistant and current Kaneland High School head football coach Tom Fedderly said, “No one is going to outwork P.J.”

“I don’t know about anyone else, I just try to outwork myself,” Fleck said on Monday.

That could be what led to the Sugar Grove native’s rise through the ranks among NFL and college football staffs. His rise culminated in becoming the youngest head coach in major college football on Dec. 18, when he took over the top spot at Western Michigan University at the age of 32.

He replaced eight-year head coach Bill Cubit, who had been fired after a 51-46 stint leading the Broncos.

After starring for Kaneland High School and Northern Illinois University, and then making the NFL as a member of the 2004 San Francisco 49ers, Fleck entered the coaching ladder as a graduate assistant with Coach Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes.

Fleck then went on to be wide receivers coach at NIU and Rutgers before following former Scarlet Knights head coach Greg Schiano to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2012 season.

Fleck has plenty of mentors who have made an impact on him as he prepares for his first season in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“Anytime you’re a coach at any level, you’re built by who you were with,” Fleck said. “I’m all of those guys.”

Fleck’s aspirations always included being a head coach at some level. A chance to lead a program with plenty of Midwestern talent and belonging to a conference with ample television coverage gives him a stage to show what he can accomplish.

“People looked at Nick Saban when he first started coaching and said he had never been a coach before,” Fleck said. “Now it’s wondering if he can win another national championship. You can’t be a head coach until you get the job.”

Assembling the Broncos’ football staff provided a boost to the first-year coach.

“I was excited to assemble my kind of coaching staff. In my short career, I’ve been around a lot of coaching staffs, and now it’s my chance. Every year, you kind of re-invent yourself until you become a head coach,’ Fleck said.

Fleck tries to lead the program back to a winning season, last seen in 2011 when the Broncos went to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and finished third in the MAC West Division.

The Kaneland grad is also getting the head coach/father dynamic down, as the birth of his second child, daughter Paisley, came just 24 hours before he officially took the Broncos’ helm.

“I love it, and somehow I have more energy,” Fleck said. “You have to be able to manage your time, and this has made me a better husband and father.”

The 15th head coach in Western Michigan history has plenty of fans in his corner locally, as Fedderly saw early on what Fleck was capable of accomplishing.

“Just watching him mature and become the man that he is just makes me really proud. He’s just a really good friend and good friend of our family. To see him work his way up as he did and become a head coach at 32 is unbelievable,” Fedderly said.

With mere months remaining before the start of his first season, Fleck reflected on the the biggest change he has experienced thus far in his new role.

“You are the final decision maker. I’ve always wanted to be that. You listen to the coaching staff and hear what they have to say and at the end of the day, you make the best choice,” Fleck said. “Greg (Schiano) was the best I’ve ever seen at making decisions.”

Having to start somewhere, Fleck has reached a pinnacle at his first head coaching stop.

“People have always doubted me at every stop,” Fleck said. “It’s happened my whole life, and I love it.”

Fleck and his WMU team kick things off in East Lansing, Mich., against the Michigan State Spartans on Saturday, Aug. 31.

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Parillo makes the cut

in Boys Soccer by

Kaneland—Kaneland soccer standout Anthony Parillo was recently selected to be in a pool of 125 juniors who play high school soccer to participate in the All-American game Dec. 14, 2013, after their senior season in Philadelphia.

If Parillo makes the cut to the final 75 players, he is automatically a McDonald’s All-American selection. If he makes the final pool of 40 players, he will play in the All-American Game.

NFHS announces rules changes

in Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Soccer by

Indianapolis—That National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently announced some changes for soccer and football; all of which will take effect starting with the 2013-14 season.

Soccer Clarification on coach-player communications
The NFHS announced new rules clarifying when and how coaches can communicate with their players.

Effective with the 2013-14 season, coaches and players can communicate during a stoppage of play for an injury. Rule 3-3-1c(1) still requires a coach or appropriate health-care professional to have the approval of the referee before entering the field; however, teams may now huddle and receive coaching instruction during the stoppage, which previously was prohibited.

Another change in regard to communication involves electronic devices. While using electronic communication devices to communicate with on-field players is still prohibited, the use of electronic devices on the sideline is allowed.

“If a coach is on the bench and wants to use a tablet-type device to video and then at halftime show the players the rights and wrongs, they are able to do that,” said Mark Koski, NFHS director of sports and events and liaison to the Soccer Rules Committee.

Koski said the previous rule banned all communication devices, including cell phones, from the sideline. If such devices were found, a caution could have been issued.

Another of the seven rules changes involves the intentional fouling of a player who has an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. The new rule states that if a player commits a foul while attempting to deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the goal is scored, that player will be issued a yellow card. If the foul is considered serious foul play, however, the player will still be issued a red card.

If a goal is not scored, the player who committed the foul will be issued a red card.

“The committee doesn’t want to penalize a team twice for the same play by having the goal scored against them, then to lose a player,” Koski said. “On the other hand, when a red card is issued when the shot is missed, the team is still suffering just a single blow.”

Revisions to two rules now require players to check in with the scorer/timer—or the referee if there is not a scorer/timer in place—prior to entering the game when a goal is scored or when a player is injured and removed from the field. After checking in, the player must wait until he or she is beckoned onto the field by the referee.

“This rule helps with game organization and allows officials to know who the players of record are,” Koski said.

At the start of the half, the players can enter the field of play without being beckoned by an official.

Another rules change for 2013-14 involves uniforms, specifically the use of tape on socks. Rule 4-1-1c requires both socks to be the same color and consist of a single dominant color. The change results in the use of tape that is applied outside of the sock, which now must be a similar color to the area of the sock to which it is applied.

The Soccer Rules Committee also approved a change to the definition of the “Free Kick.” The committee agreed that just tapping the top of the ball was not “putting it in play.” For the ball to be considered “in play,” it must be kicked and move.

Soccer is the fifth-most popular sport for boys and fourth among girls at the high school level. According to the 2011-12 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 411,757 boys are involved in soccer and 370,975 girls participate in the sport.

Football New rules regarding helmets that come off players
In an effort to continue minimizing the risk of injury in high school football, three additional rules will take effect next season to address helmets coming off players’ heads during games.

These three risk-minimization additions were among 10 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 18-20 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

As a follow-up to last year’s rules change that requires players to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live, the committee approved three additional rules that are extensions of last year’s change.

An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.”

In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”

“With its continued focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came completely off,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine. “The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.”

The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down—and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent—the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official’s time-out shall be called.

“Player safety has been and will continue to be the top priority for members of the NFHS Football Rules Committee,” said Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association. “These rules changes regarding helmet-less players are more examples of the group’s commitment to minimize risk within the game.”

Perhaps the most significant rules change next season will be one that reduces the penalty for pass interference. While the 15-yard penalty will remain for both offensive and defensive pass interference, the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and the automatic first down has been eliminated for defensive pass interference.

“Offensive and defensive pass interference and the penalty structure related to these fouls has been debated many times in recent years,” Garrett said. “Proposals that either deleted the loss of down or the automatic first down—but not both—failed to gain support among committee members. The proposal to eliminate both components, thus not upsetting the balance between offense and defense, was the key factor in the adoption of the new rule.”

Another change at high school football games next year will be the expanded use of communication devices. In specific situations, coaches, players and nonplayers will be allowed to use any form of communication technology.

This expansion of the rule allows the use of communication devices during authorized conferences outside the nine-yard marks, on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission. Use of communication devices by players except conferences outside the nine-yard mark continues to be prohibited.

In Rule 2-4-1, the committee clarified the rule approved last year regarding the definition of a catch, which stated that a receiver is required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession—regardless of the opponent’s action.

“The committee clarified the definition of a catch such that an airborne player who has forward progress stopped inbounds and is carried out of bounds by an opponent before contacting the ground is awarded a catch at the spot of forward progress,” Colgate said.

In Rule 9-3-8, the committee added another provision to the rule enacted last year regarding contact by the kicking team against members of the receiving team. The new provision stipulates that the kicking team may initiate contact once the receiving team has initiated a block within the neutral zone.

The committee also approved the addition of a 15-yard penalty to the existing option of accepting an awarded fair catch for kick-catch interference.

Finally, in Rule 8-3-3, the committee clarified that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try, and in Rule 1-5-3 the committee modified the rule regarding the wearing of towels.

Football is the No. 1 participatory sport for boys at the high school level with 1,121,744 participants in the 2011-12 school year, according to the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS through its member state associations. In addition, the survey indicated there were 1,805 girls who played football in 2011-12.

Publisher teams up with Beebe to tell story

in Elburn/Football/Kaneland/Regional/Sugar Grove by

by Mike Slodki
AURORA—Aurora Christian football coach Don Beebe has made a career and life out of transitions.

A 1983 graduate of Kaneland High School, he suited up for the Knights and went to school at Western Illinois and Chadron State College in Nebraska.

After working construction and putting up aluminum siding in nearby towns like Montgomery, he moved on for a shot at the NFL Combine and was subsequently drafted by the Buffalo Bills.

After several years and an infamous Super Bowl swat later, Beebe went to the Green Bay Packers, where he earned a championship ring in 1997.

Beebe then moved on to the next phase of his life, operating Don Beebe’s House of Speed, and most recently, head coach of the two-time Class 3A football champion Aurora Christian Eagles.

That’s where Jim Gibson comes in.

Gibson, owner and operator of Big Talk Publishing in Aurora, met with Beebe to put a book together. The result, “Six Rings from Nowhere,” was released at Aurora Christian High School last week.

It wasn’t hard for Gibson, a veteran of the television and movie industry, to get involved and tout the story.

“What’s great is that Don isn’t a blue-chipper, he’s blue collar,” Gibson said. “He’s the guy reading that book.”

Hoopla surrounding the book should continue with the NFL playoffs on the horizon. This season marks the 20th anniversary of the Bills’ historic Wild Card round comeback against the Houston Oilers, as well as the Super Bowl swat to rob Leon Lett of a defensive touchdown.

Gibson said CBS Sports is set to be in the area to interview Beebe and Lett about the play.

“(Beebe’s) so humble about all this. He’s a guy that showed up at the same combine with a pair of old tennis shoes and a duffle bag sharing space with Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman and Barry Sanders,” Gibson said.

The book is available for purchase at houseofspeed.com, sixringsfromnowhere .com, donbeebe.com, or at Aurora Christian High School.

“This book was a no-brainer, and comes after a long process,” Gibson said. “I knew of Don before this, and as I got to know him on a much deeper level, I felt he really needed to explain his story.”

“Six Rings from Nowhere,” co-written with writer Denise Crosby, has an introduction by Beebe’s Bills teammate Jim Kelly, and a forward by his Packers teammate Brett Favre.

Included in the book are tales of Favre giving a game ball to Beebe after their Super Bowl XXXI win over the New England Patriots, and his first catch in the NFL, a touchdown pass against Houston cornerback Cris Dishman.

“(Beebe’s) a guy that was out of college football for three-and-a-half years, and decided ‘I have to get back to football,’ and that’s the beginning,” Gibson said.

Big Talk Publishing’s effort is a story of faith, hope and triumph, plus plenty of anecdotes for the most ardent football fan.

The story of the Kaneland Knight-turned construction worker-turned-wide reciever-turned-championship coach and father of four has something for everyone.

“Working with him and talking about how he got his first ring and the winner of ESPN’s first Play of the Year was great,” Gibson said. “But it’s about a guy who has the heart of a champion.”

Gigantic week for P.J. Fleck

in Featured/Football/Kaneland/Sugar Grove by

Kaneland alum has daughter day before officially becoming WMU head coach
Kalamazoo, Mich.—Kaneland School District Hall of Fame member and Sugar Grove native P.J. Fleck had a whirlwind start to his week.

Preliminary, unconfirmed reporting from various sports media outlets began Monday, stating that Fleck would be officially named the head football coach at Western Michigan University (WMU).

The WMU Athletics Department confirmed the reports during the day Monday, stating that a press conference to officially name Fleck as their football program’s head coach had been set for Tuesday afternoon.

“When talking with people about Coach Fleck, the words used to describe his approach were ‘limitless energy,’ ‘limitless possibility,’ ‘limitless passion,’ ‘limitless enthusiasm,’ ‘limitless drive,’ ‘limitless achievement’ and ‘limitless opportunity,’” posted Mat Kanan, director of athletic media, when announcing the press conference online.

That press conference was put in jeopardy when Fleck’s wife, Tracie, went into labor Monday evening. The couple later welcomed their second child, Paisley, who will now look up to big brother, Carter Joseph (C.J.).

Fleck then made the trip to Kalamazoo, Mich., in time for the press conference.

“It’s great to be back in the MAC,” Fleck said as he reached the podium after being officially announced as the Broncos’ head coach. “I feel like I’ve come home.”

He presented the packed Varsity W Club Room in the Seeyle Center on the WMU campus with his plan as the university’s 15th head coach.

“We will do everything we can to bring success on the field and in the classroom,” he said.

Fleck described his approach to building a collegiate football program, as well as giving some insight into himself as a person.

“I’m an ordinary guy and I’ve surrounded myself with extraordinary people,” he said.

Fleck was a standout wide receiver on the back-to-back undefeated KHS state championship teams in 1998 and 1999. He set state records during his time as a Knight, with 95 catches for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. In his KHS career, Fleck caught 199 passes for 3,121 yards and 34 touchdowns, including a string of 40 straight games in which he caught at least one pass.

He then went on to play wide receiver for Northern Illinois University, where he earned first-team All Mid-American Conference honors in 2003. As a senior, he led NIU with 77 catches for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns.

Fleck began his coaching career after two seasons as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. After signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004, he spent most of that season on the practice squad before making an appearance versus New England late in the year. He was placed on the injured reserve roster in 2005 before retiring from professional football in June 2006.

Fleck began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Ohio State University in 2006, working with the Buckeyes’ tight ends and assisting with the special teams units.

Northern Illinois University hired Fleck in 2007 as a wide receivers coach, and he also served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. He then took wide receivers coaching position for Rutgers University in 2010. In early 2012, Fleck was hired as NIU offensive coordinator, but resigned the following day, instead taking a wide receivers coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccanears in the National Football League.

Now, with his head coaching position at WMU, Fleck is the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Fleck and his wife annually host the P.J. Fleck “Live Your Dream” Football Camp that benefits the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation (Friends of Carra), Alapecia Foundation (Locks of Love), Coach Kill’s Cancer Fund and the P.J. Fleck Scholarship Fund.

Bailey named All-Conference

in Elburn/Football/Hometown by

Platteville, Wisc.—Ryley Bailey, a student at the University of Wisconsin—Platteville, was named to the 2012 All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football team.

Bailey, an Elburn resident and Kaneland graduate, is a junior wide receiver on the team.

KHS fall sports announce awards

in Boys Cross Country/Boys Soccer/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—The Kaneland High School fall sports programs recently concluded their respective awards nights.

Cross Country—Boys
• Most Valuable Runner: Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson
• Most Improved Runner: Nathaniel Kucera
• Larry Eddington Award for Courage, Leadership and Strength—Nick Messina
• Captains—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Brad Kigyos
• Golden Knight Award—Freshman: Kyle Osborne; Sophomore: Andrew Lesak; Junior: Ryan Bower; Senior: Gus Stott
• State Qualifiers—Kyle Carter, Conor Johnson, Nathaniel Kucera, John Meisinger, Ryan Bower, Brandon Huber, Ryan Paulson, Luis Acosta
• All Conference—Kyle Carter

Cross Country—Girls
• Captains—Abby Dodis, Maggie Brundige, Ashley Castellanos
• Most Improved Runner—Jessica Kucera, Sydney Strang
• Most Valuable Runner—Victoria Clinton
• All Conference—Victoria Clinton, Brianna Bower, Abby Dodis, Sydney Strang, Amanda Lesak
• State Qualifiers—Victoria Clinton, Aislinn Lodwig, Sydney Strang, Abby Dodis, Ashley Castellanos, Maggie Brundige, Amanda Lesak, Brianna Bower
• All State, State Champion—Victoria Clinton

Football
• Captains—Blake Bradford, Ryan Lawrence, Dan Goress, Kory Harner, Nick Sharp
• Most Improved Player—Bradley Johnson
• Most Valuable Player—Blake Bradford
• Offensive MVP—Zach Martinelli
• Defensive MVP—Gary Koehring
• Special Teams MVP—Matt Rodriguez
• NIB XII All Conference—Zach Theis, Nick Sharpe, Alex Snyder, Zach Martinelli, Jesse Balluff, Drew David, Justin Diddell, Jaumaureo Phillips, Blake Bradford, Kory Harner, Gary Koehring, Ryan Lawrence, Matt Rodriguez

Golf
• Varsity Most Improved Player—Jessy Denton
• Varsity MVP—Matt Yonkovich
• Fresh/Soph MVP—Jeremy Faletto
• Fresh/Soph Most Improved Player—Tori Guyton, C.J. Wehrmann
• All Conference—Matt Yonkovich, Connor Williams, Brody Kuhar, Luke Kreiter
• State Qualifiers—Connor Williams, Luke Kreiter, Matt Yonkovick, Brody Kuhar, Dan Miller, Sean Glennon

Soccer
• Captains—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Marshall Farthing, Sam Rymarz, Alec Koczka, Ivan Bohorquez
• Most Improved Player—Jason Biddle, Marshall Farthing
• Most Valuable Player—Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo
• Rookie of the Year—Ivan Bohorquez
• Coach’s Award—Tyler Siebert, Alec Koczka, Chris Van Dinther, J.T. Karr
• Offensive Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• Defensive Player of the Year—Sam Rymarz
• Player of the Year—Anthony Parillo
• All Conference—Marshall Farthing, Alex Gil, Anthony Parillo, Alec Koczka, Sam Rymarz
• All Conference-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional-Honorable Mention—Arsim Azemi
• All Sectional—Alex Gil, Marshall Farthing
• All State—Anthony Parillo

Tennis
• Team Spirit Awards—Varsity: Jess Woodward; JV: Katelyn Blaszynski
• Most Improved Awards—Varsity: Colleen Landers; JV: Mallory Dugan
• MVP—Sarah Grams, Stephanie Zwick
• Outstanding Achievement Awards—School Record: 38 wins—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil; 1st Singles player to qualify for the State Tournament—Samantha Schrepferman
• State Qualifiers—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman
• All Conference—Madison Jurcenko, Angelica Emmanouil, Samantha Schrepferman, Sarah Grams

Volleyball
• Most Improved Player—Emily Laudont, Keri Groen
• Spirit Award—Rachael Clinton
• MVP—Jenny Lubic
• Top Offensive Player—Ellie Dunn
• Top Defensive Player—Shayna Tucek
• All Conference—Ellie Dunn, Lauren Banbury

KHS fall athletes earn accolades

in Boys Cross Country/Featured/Football/Girls Cross Country/Golf/Volleyball by

Kaneland—A number of Kaneland High School fall athletes were recognized for their performance from throughout the 2012 season.

Leading the way for Kaneland’s post-season honors was senior offensive lineman Zach Theis. He was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team, was the NIB-12 East Division Offensive MVP and All-Conference.

Joining Theis as Kaneland football All-Conference Team members were senior offensive lineman Nick Sharp, junior offensive lineman Alex Snyder, senior wide receiver Zack Martinelli, junior running back Jesse Balluff, junior quarterback Drew David, junior defensive lineman Justin Diddell, junior defensive lineman Jaumaureo Phillips, senior defensive back Blake Bradford, senior defensive back Kory Harner, junior linebacker Gary Koehring, senior linebacker Ryan Lawrence, and junior kicker Matt Rodriguez. Balluff was also an All-State Honorable Mention. Balluff, David, Snyder and Koehring were each named to the All State Academic Team.

Earning All-Conference honors from the Kaneland High School volleyball team were sophomore Ellie Dunn, senior Lauren Banbury and senior Ashley Prost.

Girls cross country All-Conference honors went to sophomore Victoria Clinton, freshman Brianna Bower, senior Abby Dodis, junior Sydney Strang, and senior Amanda Lesak.

Junior Kyle Carter earned All-Conference distinction for boys cross country.

All-Conference golf team members were juniors Matt Yonkovick and Brody Kuhar, and seniors Luke Kreiter and Connor Williams.

3 goals at a time for State Champ Clinton

in Featured/Girls Cross Country/Triathlon by

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (1059) competes against familiar foe Skyler Bollinger of Yorkville at the Nov. 11 Nike Cross Midwest Regional in Terre Haute, Ind. Clinton was joined in Terre Haute by Lady Knight teammate Brianna Bower (not pictured). Runners from five states—Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri—competed in the Regional for a chance to move on to the National meet in Oregon. Clinton has a chance to be invited to the National meet, but that information wasn’t available as of press time. Photo by Ben Draper

Class 2A cross-country queen applies skills to triathlon circuit
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Many fellow cross-country runners were witness to Kaneland High School sophomore Victoria Clinton’s success at the Class 2A State meet in Peoria two weeks ago, specifically the back of her jersey.

From November through August, area followers of Clinton can also keep up with her on the triathlon circuit.

Clinton won the Class 2A State meet with a time of 16:56, but a foot race that asks everything of an athlete would only be a third of the task asked of her as part of the run-bike-swim elements of a triathlon.

Clinton competes as part of the Multisport Madness Triathlon Team (MMTT) housed in the western suburbs. The group boasts more than 20 individual national champions as part of the youth triathlon world, and Clinton doesn’t mind the extra work.

“For triathlons, you have to have endurance,” Clinton said. “You have to have technique and know what to do. It’s swimming, biking and running; and you have to have more strategy.”

MMTT team director John Lorenz has seen what area standouts like Geneva’s Kelly Whitley can do when competing, and has been privy to athletes reaching success under the USA Triathlon banner as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee. He feels Clinton’s skillset is amplified by her work ethic.

“It takes a unique athlete to compete, and she’s always had a desire to want more. Swimming is the hardest for a new athlete coming in, and she showed she was up to the challenge early on,” Lorenz said.

Back in August, Clinton was second overall in the 13-15 category at the National Championships in Westchester, Ohio, and moved up to the 16-19 category this season.

“I’ve always had a love for running, but as I’ve trained and competed, I’ve become fond of swimming, and I’ve felt like it’s helped my running,” Clinton said. “It’s helped me cardiovascularly and made me more flexible.”

Lorenz feels that the sophomore’s triathlon possibilities are limitless.

“She has the drive and talent to compete for Team USA one day, and the world championships are an achievable goal,” Lorenz said.

In just her second season, Clinton isn’t intimidated by what could lay ahead.

“The World Championships would be great, and then there’s the Junior Olympics. It’s my second season, and we’ll see what happens,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s MMTT outfit looks to compete in March as part of a competition in Claremont, Fla. The team website is www.mmtt3.org.

Dratnol named to Capital One Academic All-District team

in Football by

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—Kaneland alum Eric Dratnol was one of two Augustana football players named to the first team of the Capital One Academic All-District team. The junior center earned the honors in District Seven, which includes Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

The team is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

He will now be advanced to the national ballot, where he will attempt to add to Augustana’s prodigious total of Academic All-Americans. Since the AAA program began in 1951, Augustana has produced 139 honorees, which places the Vikings sixth all-time. Augustana is currently second among NCAA Division III institutions.

Dratnol has been a season-long starter at center and is considered a primary reason why the Augustana rushing attack came to life this year. He is an accounting and applied math major with a 3.83 grade point average. He is the son of David and Phyllis Dratnol of Montgomery.

Victorious Victoria

in Featured/Girls Cross Country by

Photo: Kaneland sophomore Victoria Clinton (908) battles with the top group shortly after the half-way point at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Clinton would eventually break away from the pack with less than a mile to go, winning the 2A girls State championship, and leading the Lady Knights to 6th place in the team standings. Photo by Justin Vacha

Clinton takes State crown in cross country
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—Victoria Clinton, your spot is ready.

The Kaneland sophomore earned her way into IHSA and Kaneland High School girls cross country history by becoming State champ in the Class 2A race at Detweiller Park in Peoria, Ill., on Saturday.

It’s the first individual crown in the school’s history.

Clinton, who also finished second at the Belvidere Sectional and first at the Kaneland Regional, topped the three-mile course with a stellar time of 16 minutes, 56 seconds. The pace of a 5:39 mile helped best her sectional time by 43 seconds. It was a personal best for the sophomore.

Senior Stephanie Saey of Galesburg was in second place—11 seconds behind Clinton’s winning time.

Clinton strode ahead in the final 800 meters of the competition.

The sophomore athlete helped Kaneland to a sixth-place team finish with 180 points overall.

“(Victoria) ran a very smart race,” KHS coach Doug Ecker said. “(She) ran with the front pack for the first two miles, took the lead and pulled away the last half-mile. Earning a State championship pretty much says it all.”

Kaneland’s Victoria Clinton is congratulated after being crowned the IHSA Class 2A Individual Cross Country Champion. Photo by Justin Vacha
It was a dream come true and a job well done for the Kaneland standout.

“I felt great, and the Lord allowed me to do the rest,” Clinton said. “As we started closing in toward the second mile, I said I needed to pick it up. With a half-mile left I had to give it my all.”

Fellow Northern Illinois Big XII school Yorkville took the team crown with a total of 66, followed by Normal University at 112.

Montini Catholic finished third in a tiebreaker over Glenbard South at 172, and Marengo finished with 174 points for fifth.

Kaneland’s effort outpaced Crystal Lake Central, which took seventh with 203 points.

“Our team has really been working hard. We all have positive attitudes,” Clinton said.

After Clinton wowed the crowd, the next Lady Knight to cross the finish line was freshman Brianna Bower, who concluded her first campaign in 32nd place with a time of 18:09. Next for KHS was Sydney Strang, who was 38th with a time of 18:14.

Fourth for KHS was sophomore Aislinn Lodwig, who battled through the field with a finish of 18:36 for 69th place, while senior teammate Amanda Lesak finished, 81st with a time of 18:42.

The Lady Knights’ two-through-five runners all ran personal bests in Peoria.
Maggie Brundige finished her final State race with a 98th-place finish at 18:54. Fellow senior Abby Dodis took 120th at 19:15.

“Girls cross country is back to being the successful program it once was,” Ecker said.

No-Way for Knight football

in Featured/Football by

Photo: Quarterback Drew David looks downfield under good blocking during the second quarter at Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk

Lincoln-Way West builds big lead, eliminates Kaneland in second-round action
by Mike Slodki
NEW LENOX, Ill.—It’s been awhile since the Knight football team has seen that kind of offensive and defensive output from a playoff opponent.

The newest of the four Lincoln-Way schools, the Warriors from the West, used their playmakers to the best of their ability while employing their stingy defense on the way to a 31-15 upset of the Kaneland crew on Saturday afternoon.

In the first meeting of the two schools on the football field, the Warriors pressured Drew David and also broke long gains throughout the day in a meeting of No. 1 and No. 9 seeds in the Class 5A playoffs.

For Kaneland, it marks the earliest exit for the squad since 2009, when rival Sycamore bested the host Knights, 40-13, in a first-round matchup.

The Warriors improve to 8-3 on the year, while KHS finishes the season at 10-1, but still is 6-4 in its last 10 playoff encounters. The Knights will also enter 2013 with its 28-game regular season win streak intact.

Junior Drew David had his toughest game of the 2012 campaign, still nursing an injured hand. He was sacked seven times and threw for 84 yards with three interceptions.

L-WW saw its first scoring drive end with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Justin Keuch to Nick Andrade with 5:20 left in the first for a 7-0 lead.

L-WW struck again in the second quarter on a 10-play drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation by senior transfer Lavonte Blackful on fourth down for a 14-0 edge with 7:47 to go before halftime.

Kaneland fell victim to an interception on the ensuing drive’s second play, and runs by Blackful and Javier Montalvo set up a 22-yard field goal from Joe Leo with 2:00 left for a 17-0 lead going into the break.

The Warriors expanded on their lead when the running attack set up a 10-yard TD strike to Jake Robbins with 8:01 remaining in the third for a 24-0 edge.

Jesse Balluff (30) comforts quarterback Drew David (4) at the end of their playoff loss to Lincoln-Way West on Saturday. Photo by Patti Wilk
A dagger came after a KHS punt set up the hosts at their own 18, but Blackful went 82 yards for a score on a sweep with 2:24 remaining in the third for a 31-0 lead.

Kaneland finally found the end zone thanks to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Carlson to Zach Martinelli with 2:06 to go. Martinelli ran in the two-point try to make it 31-8. On its next possession, the Knights’ Carlson ran it in from the four with :47 left for the final 16-point margin.

KHS coach Tom Fedderly gave credit to the Warriors, a force to be reckoned with.

“It was tough, but we kind of got behind so much that we really had to go to our passing game,” Fedderly said. “We knew going in that we’d have to mix things up. To their credit, those guys did a great job. Offensively, they moved the ball on us.”

Lincoln-Way West faces Joliet Catholic in the third round, as the Hilltoppers beat Tinley Park on Saturday, 42-21.

KHS duo secures postseason honor

in Tennis by

by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—Hits just keep on coming for the celebrated tennis duo from Kaneland.

That’s continuing with the volleys and smashes they sent at opponents in 2012.

The State-qualifying duo of Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil were voted in as All-State players the last week of October, by virtue of their performance at the IHSA State Tournament in the northwest suburbs. A letter was mailed to Kaneland High School with the information last week, according to KHS coach Tim Larsen.

It’s the first All-State honor for KHS in tennis.

Going 4-2 in the final tournament, two-time State qualifier Jurcenko and Emmanouil were undefeated in regular season doubles play. The output allowed a top-24 standing at the final competition. The duo had previously nabbed the No. 1 doubles mantle at the Northern Illinois Big XII gathering at DeKalb High School.

No. 1 singles player Sammie Schreperman had also qualified for State.

“Reflecting on Madi and Jelly, I think if anything, that state tournament completely refocused them for next year,” Larsen said. “We had set goals of getting there and winning a match or two. By exceeding expectations to the extent that we did, two things have happened. First, we’ll always think about that weekend with a great, sentimental feeling. It is filled with fun, thrilling, and positive moments. Even though we lost our last match, we took away so many good things that the tournament was a great experience for all of us. Secondly, and more to the point of future seasons, we found out what we’re capable of.”

Power in Peoria

in Boys Cross Country/Featured by

Photo: Kaneland junior Kyle Carter (1296) and senior Conor Johnson (1298) battle a Yorkville runner shortly after the 2-mile mark at Saturday’s IHSA State Cross Country meet at Detweiller Park in Peoria. Johnson finished a team-best 15 minutes, 18 seconds, good enough for 36th place, while Carter was just behind in 15:22 (48th place). The Knights placed 13th in the meet. Photo by Justin Vacha

Knights’ 13th-best program in State after Detweiller Park run
by Mike Slodki
Peoria, Ill.—The Kaneland High School boys cross country team set a number of personal and team records at the State Finals in Peoria on Saturday.

The Knights finished 13th overall, improving upon last year’s 15th place finish at State.

Yet, even more important than inching up the team final totals, the Knights set an all-time school record for team time of scoring runners, 78:34. Kaneland’s previous best mark of 78:43 was set by the 1987 State Championship team.

KHS head coach Chad Clarey said the team came to Peoria with a gameplan consisting of a list of goals, both on a personal and team level.

“The team executed our race plan flawlessly, in the deepest and fastest (Class) 2A field ever,” Clarey said. “We averaged 15:42 for our scoring runners, and even that wasn’t fast enough to make the top 10 of this class.”

Keyed by top-40 finishes from leaders Conor Johnson and Kyle Carter, Kaneland finished 13th overall with a team score of 351 points, 20 better than in 2011.

With an 85-point total, Chicago’s Jones High School took the top team trophy, followed by Belvidere North at 126 and Knight conference rival Yorkville at 129.

Former conference-mate Glenbard South was fifth overall at 190, while fellow Northern Illinois Big XII outfit Dixon was 10th.

Kaneland finished 10 points behind East Moline United, and ahead of Fenton’s 376.

“The team has worked so hard through summer heat, cold ice baths, intense intervals and exhausting races,” Clarey said. “We are so proud, and even more blessed to have had this opportunity come and then be answered by seven courageous young men and their teammates.”

John Wold of Glenbard South ran the course in 14 minutes, 16 seconds for the individual title, followed by Crystal Lake Central’s Alex Baker at 14:21, and Riley McInerney of Charleston rounded out the top three at 14:33.

The top-seven of the Knights proved itself formidable in chilly conditions, with the senior Johnson running his final high school race at a 36th-place clip of 15:18, good for a 5:06 pace, shaving 42 seconds off his state run the year prior.

“His (Johnson) senior leadership has been a major reason why we made it this far,” Clarey said. “We are very proud of his character, as well as his running talents.”

Carter was next for the KHS lineup at 15:22, completing his junior season in 48th place in the state. Carter’s time shaved 23 seconds off last year’s appearance at the State Finals.

“We are so proud of Kyle, and all he has managed these past four weeks with an IT band injury,” Clarey said. “He’s overcome a lot, and certainly been a leader on the course and in practices.”

Junior Nathaniel Kucera was 103rd overall at 15:51.

“Nathaniel Kucera didn’t even make our state roster last fall. He turned that disappointment into fuel for a fire that allowed him to post an incredible 15:51 PR,” Clarey said. “His story from 2011 to 2012 will be long remembered, and cherished.”

Senior teammate John Meisinger took 111th at 15:53.

“Seeing seniors like Meisinger leave the course smiling and fulfilled is probably the best part of our day, as coaches,” Clarey said.

Junior Luis Acosta was fifth-best on the team and 139th overall with an effort of 16:12. Kaneland senior Brandon Huber was 157th overall at 16:22, while junior Ryan Bower finished the State lineup at 16:32 for 165th place.

“There isn’t a trophy for what this team achieved, but there’s great satisfaction in knowing that their group set the new standard over another that was Coach Eddington’s greatest cross country team,” Clarey said. “Granted, we are twice the size of a school now than when Larry’s crew won in ‘87.”

Fedderly recognized by Chicago Bears

in Featured/Football by

Sixth-year coach gets Coach of the Week award after Morris win
by Mike Slodki
Kaneland—In the midst of playoff preparations for a first-round rematch with Belvidere on Oct. 23, KHS coach Tom Fedderly checked his voicemail messages.

“It was Pat McCaskey of the Bears telling me that I’d been named Bears Coach of the Week for Week 9 after our win against Morris,” Fedderly said. “I couldn’t believe it, I thought someone was pranking me.”

The Bears selected a High School Coach of the Week after every regular season game, with Fedderly selected after the last-minute win over Morris to secure Kaneland’s third consecutive Northern Illinois Big XII Conference title and undefeated regular season.

The Coach of the Week program is in its 17th season and also has some nice perks for the winning coaches.

Fedderly and the winning coaches will be invited to attend a “chalk-talk” with Bears coach Lovie Smith and have lunch with the ninth-year coach. That leads up to the Sunday, Dec. 2, contest against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field.

The Bears also make a $1,500 donation to the winning school’s football program.

Honors aside, Fedderly is not just happy for himself.

“This isn’t about me, this really is about the whole staff, who work so hard. It’s nice to see this, we really have young, hard-working coaches that do such a great job,” Fedderly said.

The weekly honor winners are not the only ones that are scheduled to be introduced at halftime, but also the eight state championship winning coaches.

Fedderly hopes there’s a bit of overlap when it comes to his honor.

“We hope we’re in there, but I’m lucky to have this, and it’s about what the staff has been able to do,” Fedderly said.

The Knights travel to Lincoln-Way West High School for their second-round matchup on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m.

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