Everything's Jake after talk with coach

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE 1 COACH and NO 11

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Richards coach Tony Sheehan gives an encouraging talk at halftime to quarterback Jake Moran. Richards trailed 14-0 at halftime and went on to stun No. 4 Lemont 28-24.


Richards junior quarterback Jake Moran engineered an offense that produced no points and seven yards in the first half of Friday night’s game at Lemont.

He even threw an interception to give the Indians, ranked fourth in the state by the Associated Press, the ball at the Bulldogs 1-yard line and Lemont came up with an easy score and led 14-0 at the break.

“I had a horrible first half and I could not complete a pass,” Moran said.

Time for a quarterback change?


Time for a talk.

Bulldogs coach Tony Sheehan had what could have been the most important two-minute talk of the season with a player so far when he took Moran aside before the start of the third quarter. The result was that the Bulldogs avoided an 0-3 start by stunning the Indians, 28-24. Moran threw three TD passes in the second half and junior running back Anthony Quinn bulled into the end zone with 58 seconds left for what turned out to be the winning score.

Earlier, the coach was face-to-face with Moran during the halftime chat and tapped the side of the player’s helmet when the skull session was over.

“I told him ‘look, I have faith in you – go out and do the job,’ ’’ Sheehan said. “I told him I knew he could do it.  I told him to be calm. Stay calm. I told him to make his reads and we’re going to make plays.’’

“He told me I needed to compose myself,” Moran said. “My offensive line was giving me plenty of time to throw the ball. He told me I had to get it together and in the second half we figured it out.’’

Moran called the Lemont battle a “must win” and the team’s next battle is Friday against unbeaten Reavis in Oak Lawn in the South Suburban Red Conference opener. The Rams beat South Bend (Adams) out of Indiana, 33-27, Chicago Washington, 49-12, and Evergreen Park, 48-21.

“We have to put a full game together because we have a tough one against Reavis,’’ Sheehan said. “We have to put a full 48 minutes together.’’

The Bulldogs, who two years ago finished second in the state in Class 6A, dug themselves a hole when they blew a 23-2 halftime lead against Lincoln-Way North and lost 30-29 in Frankfort. They followed that up with a 35-20 home setback to Geneva and getting down 14-0 at Lemont was not a recipe for a win.

Moran hit Jared Moore with a 27-yard touchdown pass, Nate Gimza with a 76-yard scoring strike and a 77-yard score to William Bridgewater to help the team get back into the game.

In the closing minutes, the Bulldogs were on the Lemont 2-yard line.

In Week 1, Moran and his offense were in a similar situation as the team opted for a 2-point conversion against Lincoln-Way North and was Moran was stopped short.

This time the ball went into the hands of what some people on the Richards sidelines are calling the “Mighty Quinn.’’

“It was definitely a similar feeling,” Moran said. “After that first game, our O line wanted to run a dive play. We knew we had to get the ball to Quinn. He’s the hardest worker on this team and we knew he would come through for us.’’

“I was thinking ‘I gotta score,’ ’’ Quinn said. “I had to find the gap and go.’’

Nationally ranked Sandburg CC team nearly knocked off by Lyons

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 1 Max

 Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sandburg’s Max Lehndhardt’s third place finish at Lyons helped the nationally ranked Eagles win by one point on Saturday.



Those are the words – capital letters and all – that appeared at the top of Sandburg’s boys cross country running blog written by Eagles assistant coach Tom Novak in late August. The Eagles were getting some preseason plaudits from the internet and they weren’t small. The coach wanted the team to keep things in perspective.

MileSplit USA ranked the Eagles No. 2 in the country behind Christian Brothers Academy of New Jersey. Another national website,, ranked the Eagles third behind American Fork of Utah and Christian Brothers.

The Eagles were able to open the season taking the top eight spots and dominated in the SouthWest Suburban Conference preseason meet. They looked every bit the national power they were hyped up to be.

However, Saturday, the Eagles were nearly knocked off against a team who was not ranked in either national poll. Sandburg sweated out a one-point victory over host Lyons Township in the 12-team Lions Pride Invitational in Western Springs. The Eagles finished with 36 points to Lyons’ 37.

Lyons’ Vince Zona (14 minutes, 50.28 seconds) and Connor Madell (14:55.14) hogged up the first two spots and that put the pressure on the Eagles.

Sandburg’s Max Lehnhardt (14:59.20) was third. Teammates Sean Torpy (seventh), Tom Brennan (eighth) and Chris Torpy (ninth) and Brandon Lukas (12th) were not far behind and finished just high enough to win the meet.

“Lyons ran incredible today,” Lehnhardt said. “We talked about not taking anybody for granted and we really didn’t.”

Still, having that national ranking is a pretty big target.

“Whether we are ranked the No. 1 team in the nation or the last-place team in the nation, it wasn’t going to mean anything to us,” Lehnhardt said. “I guess, sure, it’s cool to see you are ranked high but we’re not going to categorize ourselves in what other people think we’re ranked. We’re just going to focus on what we have to do. That’s all.

“We love the pressure,” he added. “Obviously we’ve done a lot to get to this point and we welcome the pressure.’’

Other Lyons runner scoring points and nearly pulling off the stunner were Danny Kilrea (ninth), Matthew Begeman (10th) and Alex Pall (15th), son of former Evergreen Park star and major league pitcher Donn Pall.

Lyons coach Mike Danner said some his juniors were a little “gun shy” but was happy with the Lions’ performance. He said his team didn’t get caught up thinking about Sandburg’s national rankings.

 “Let me put it to you this way I have expectations and the boys have expectations,” Danner said.  “Usually mine and theirs are pretty close together. That’s the only thing we concern ourselves with. I was happy with what we did but we have some work to do. And we know it.’’

Other notable performers from the area were Stagg’s Jared Tarantino (36th), Marist’s Kyle O’Farrell, and Brother Rice’s Joe Sweeny (50th).

Lyons’ girls dominated with 30 points while Valparaiso was second with 50 points. Sandburg took fourth with 133 points.

Lyons’ Vanessa Flaherty was fourth with an 18:29.72 followed by teammates Hannah Dutler (fifth) Brianna Liddell (sixth), Natalie Jaramillo (seventh) and Megan Ng (eighth).

Sandburg’s top placer was Grace Foley (15th).


Unranked Brother Rice racks up 105 points against quality programs

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 1 BR 8

Photos by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice quarterback Cam Miller has thrown for 679 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Crusaders’ first two victories over quality programs.

Brother Rice’s football team was shut out of state and Chicago area preseason polls.

And nationally, Athlon Sports’ Ryan Swartz called the Catholic League Blue conference one of the top 10 in the nation but predicted the Crusaders would be “down” this year. 

The Crusaders tried to make a statement on the field by going up 42-0 and hanging on for a 56-20 home victory over Brother Rice of Michigan, a program with an all-time winning percentage (.753) that is ranked in the top five in Michigan. And the Warriors brought 10 state championship trophies back to their school.

Still, there was no love from the polls.

The players and coaches claim not to pay attention to rankings but the Crusaders made another statement on Friday night with a 49-21 road victory over Crete-Monee, a team that was 77-27 in the past nine years with a Class 6A title in 2012.

These aren’t some sub-par Chicago Public League teams the Crusaders are kicking around, yet they are having trouble finding anyone from outside the South Suburbs to buy in just yet.

The team can change that when it visits Loyola at 1:30 p.m. to open Catholic League Blue play. Loyola was ranked second in the state in the Associated Press Class 8A poll last week. In 2014, Brother Rice beat Loyola, 16-13 during the regular season in Chicago and the Ramblers returned the favor with 31-14 triumph in the Catholic League championship in November.

The mantra around South Pulaski Road is that the polls are useless – especially this time of year.

“We don’t worry about that stuff -- we just move full steam ahead,” Rice coach Brian Badke said. “It doesn’t matter what’s at the beginning, it’s where you are at the end. The kids know that. We have our goals that we want to obtain and we’re always focusing on that.

“None of these guys read the newspapers anyway.’’

Assuming that some do, they will see that their new signal caller, senior Cam Miller of Evergreen Park is racking up some big numbers. Through his first two varsity starts, Miller has thrown for 679 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Like his coach, Miller quickly dismissed talk about being ignored by the pollsters.

“Rankings don’t mean anything to us – we’ll just play our game and hopefully get the wins,’’ he said.

 Miller got two looks at Loyola last year from the sideline and is ready for the challenge.

“Loyola probably has the best defense we will play all season,” Miller said. “They are so fundamentally sound. We’ll have to work hard and hopefully they won’t be able to cover all of us.’’

One of his favorite targets for big plays is Ricky Smalling who has 16 catches for 293 yards and five touchdowns. Branden Houston and Julian Blain are also dangerous receivers and when the Crusaders get tired of throwing the ball, Clifton Taylor can chomp up a few yards.

“It’s unreal how we’re playing – not only just the offense but the defense is playing well, too. Everything is clicking,’’ Miller said. “It’s electric – it’s so much fun.”

 Badke wants his team to play four quarters of strong football and wants a tighter defense against Loyola.

“We just don’t want to take our foot off the accelerator,” Badke said. “I felt we came in focused and scored 21 points off the bat (against Crete). But we took our foot off the accelerator. We can’t do that.  The kids know that. We have a big test coming up on the road.’’


Brooke-ends: Marist senior makes history

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


The Illinois High School Association Class 4A state softball state championship between Marist and Lincoln-Way East was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

But at 5:30 p.m. the RedHawks players, coaches and fans were back in Chicago in the Marist cafeteria eating cake after listening to speeches about how great they were.

The weather forecast in East Peoria forced the IHSA officials to schedule the game before noon and the Redhawks found morning glory with a 1-0 victory over the Griffins at the EastSide Center to claim its second softball title in four years. Pitcher Zariya Gonzalez notched the shutout, tripled in the second inning and scored on Vanessa Villasenor’s groundout.

Senior outfielder Brooke Wilson had four catches on defense and played on both championship teams. She was a freshman on the 2012-winning team and became the first Marist female athlete to win two state titles.

“I still feel like I’m on a softball high,” she said at the celebration. “The entire experience has been surreal.’’

Wilson is an Orland Park resident who grew up in the Midway area and is headed to Loyola to play softball next season. She compared the two championships. In 2012, the team was 15-15 and ran the table. This year’s team finished 36-4-2 with a 28-game winning streak.

 “Our first year, it was definitely unexpected,” she said. “We got hot in the postseason, which really helped us. This year, we were driven to achieve that goal of winning state and winning conference. We did both of those.’’

 It was also a state title for former player Colleen Biebel, who is in her first year as the RedHawks coach.

“You brought glory and honor to us and glory and honor to God, who gave you that talent,” Marist president Brother Hank Hammer told the players at the celebration. “You should reflect on that – thanking God for your talent, sense of perseverance and sense of commitment.’’

He also said that either in August or September, the players will be honored with a banner unveiling and ring ceremony.

Principal Larry Tucker and athletic director Bob Lim also gave speeches praising the team. Lim was choked up and had to put the microphone down before talking about the first team to win a state title under his watch. The Redhawks have seven state titles in school history.

“It’s nice to win one of the trophies,’’ he said. “And I’m not going to say it’s not important to win first place, because it is. But just seeing the hard work and resiliency and love to make it down state was great.’’

For more details on the postseason, see the sports section.

Diamond gems

  • Written by Ken Karrson


2015 All-Area Baseball Team

Diamond gems

POY Schalasky was a double-edged weapon for Rice


                        FIRST TEAM

MIKE SCHALASKY, Brother Rice, C/P, Sr.

            * When the National Federation of State High School Associations removed aluminum bats from prep baseball a few years ago, there was a noticeable drop in power numbers. Suddenly far fewer balls were leaving the yard and teams were forced to improvise a bit more in order to score. And then along came Schalasky, who managed to turn back the clock by unloading a dozen homers this season and serving as the ringleader of a potent Crusaders lineup that cleared the fence more than two-dozen times in all. But unlike so many free swingers, Schalasky was definitely not just an all-or-nothing performer -- when he wasn’t going deep he was finding holes in opposing defenses often enough to compile a hefty .459 average and respective on-base and slugging percentages of .543 and .936. And there was more, such as the 51 RBI, 102 total bases, 12 doubles, 21 runs and 19 walks. Schalasky fanned just 17 times in 130 plate appearances, fielded his position at a .942 clip and, as a bonus, was Brother Rice’s winningest pitcher with a 7-1 record. He kept his earned-run average below three, held opponents to a .207 cumulative average, struck out 51 batters in 52 2/3 innings and tossed two complete games. The 2015 area Player of the Year was an Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State selection and will attend the University of Indianapolis on a baseball scholarship.

CHRISTIAN BOLHUIS, Chicago Christian, P/OF, Sr.

            * While Bolhuis didn’t repeat as Player of the Year, he became the Knights’ career-wins leader during his senior season after claiming seven of eight decisions and is also No. 1 all-time in strikeouts with 298, a team-high 75 of which were registered in 2015 in only 49 1/3 innings. Headed to Wheaton College in the fall to play both football and baseball, Bolhuis struggled a bit more with his control this season than he had as a junior, which was reflected in his 39 bases-on-balls, but he still did well enough to post an impressive 1.99 ERA. At the plate Bolhuis stroked 33 hits -- 10 of which went for extra bases -- scored 30 runs and drove in the same number of them, the latter mark placing him in a four-way tie for team leadership in that department. For good measure he also drew 20 walks and stole 10 bases.

ANDREW DYKE, Brother Rice, OF, Jr.

            * Dyke skipped football last fall so he could concentrate on baseball and his extra work paid off in a season that, had Mike Schalasky not been on the scene, likely would have established Dyke as the Crusaders’ top gun. As it was, he still enjoyed an outstanding junior campaign with a .440 average, .680 slugging percentage and .537 on-base percentage. Augmenting those statistics were 44 hits, 37 runs, 35 RBI, eight doubles, four homers, 18 free passes and seven stolen bases. Dyke, a first-team all-area pick for the second consecutive year, whiffed only 13 times in 123 plate appearances and was guilty of just two errors, which helped him produce an excellent .965 fielding percentage. Dyke, Michael Massey, Ryan Kutt and Ryan King will form the nucleus of Rice’s 2016 club that should contend for a Chicago Catholic League Blue championship next spring.

TOMMY FARRELL, St. Laurence, 1B, So.

            * After displaying plenty of promise while participating in summer ball with the Vikings, Farrell showed those 2014 exploits were no fluke as he quickly became an integral part of a revamped St. Laurence lineup. He paced the Vikings with a .429 average and 51 hits while manning first base and demonstrated a keen batting eye for one so young -- opposing hurlers fanned Farrell just eight times in 132 plate appearances, which included 119 official at-bats. Twelve of his hits went for extra bases, but even when he only got to first Farrell was a threat because of his speed, as attested to by his team-high 13 steals. He scored 36 runs, drove in 26 more, drew 10 walks and generated respective slugging and on-base percentages of .546 and .485.

ANDY GAYTAN, Sandburg, OF, Jr.

            * A virtual unknown at the start of the 2015 season, Gaytan was a shining light for the Eagles in what turned out to be something of a rebuilding campaign. Sandburg failed to win 20 games for the first time in memory, but Gaytan certainly did his part to try to prevent any shortcomings as he batted .408 with a .504 on-base percentage and .495 slugging percentage. He included six doubles among his 42 hits, tallied 34 runs, knocked in 13 more and demonstrated a superb eye at the plate -- he struck out only four times in 124 plate appearances while coaxing 17 walks. Gaytan also was reliable on defense -- he made two catches Richards coach Brian Wujcik raved about in the Eagles’ 7-1 victory over the Bulldogs in the teams’ Class 4A regional opener.

ADAM GREGORY, Shepard, P, Sr.

            * An Illinois Baseball Coaches Association All-Northern Illinois selection and runner-up to Oak Lawn’s Boo Quillin in South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year voting, Gregory anchored an Astros pitching staff that was missing one of its aces -- Brett Smith -- much of the year due to injury. He went 9-1 on the hill, the only loss being a 2-1 decision to Evergreen Park in a game where Mustangs hurler Brian Pall fanned 15, and Gregory complemented that record with a 1.02 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 55 innings while holding opposing batters to a meager .172 cumulative average. Gregory, who walked only 19 and threw seven complete games, did not give up any triples or home runs. As a hitter, he batted .391 with a .509 on-base percentage and .494 slugging percentage, 18 RBI, 18 runs and 15 walks. Gregory posted a solid .975 fielding percentage as well while helping the Astros tie the school record for single-season triumphs and capture their first league title in two decades.

RICH KAIRIS, Marist, OF/P, Sr.

            * Making his second straight appearance on the all-area first team and a three-time All-East Suburban Catholic Conference pick as well, Kairis was the RedHawks’ cornerstone both as an everyday player and on the hill. At the plate Kairis batted .427 with 53 hits, .556 slugging and .503 on-base percentages and 19 stolen bases; the average and hits total were dramatic increases over 2014. He tallied 33 runs, knocked in 16 more, smacked 10 doubles, coaxed 18 walks and was virtually impossible to strike out -- only four whiffs in 124 official at-bats. When he stood on the rubber, however, Kairis managed to find opponents’ weaknesses as evidenced by his 53 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings of work and foes’ cumulative .198 average. Kairis boasted a 1.35 ERA, logged six wins and didn’t hand out many gifts -- batters drew only 14 free passes from him. And just in case that wasn’t enough, Kairis, who’s headed to Augustana University, did not commit a defensive error in 85 fielding opportunities.

RYAN KING, Brother Rice, 2B, So.

            * Being surrounded by heavy hitters likely helped King see some good pitches, but he didn’t squander his opportunities as he quickly became a stalwart in his own right. King performed admirably on both sides of the ball for the Crusaders -- defensively he accumulated a .985 fielding percentage by committing just two errors in 136 total chances. He augmented that with offensive production that included a .369 average, 38 hits, 25 runs, 15 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts. King’s respective slugging and on-base percentages were .456 and .444. While Brother Rice will obviously miss Player of the Year Mike Schalasky in 2016, King is one of several solid returnees who will give the Crusaders a running start into next season.


            * While no one was about to dislodge Mike Schalasky from his position as all-area first-team catcher, Peterka’s numbers were too good to drop him down into second-team territory. And although he was the Astros’ regular backstop, Peterka easily could have filled the designated-hitter role as he swung the bat to the tune of a hefty .422 average. Thirteen of his 38 hits were of the extra-base variety -- two of them left the ballpark -- and he posted a solid .622 slugging percentage to go along with an equally impressive .509 on-base percentage. Peterka drove in 34 runs, scored 20 of his own and reached base 17 times via walks. He struck out just seven times in 90 at-bats. Behind the dish Peterka was highly dependable -- he was guilty of only three errors while ringing up a .986 fielding percentage.

BOO QUILLIN, Oak Lawn, SS, Sr.

            * The 2015 South Suburban Conference Red Player of the Year put together a memorable senior campaign for the Spartans, who led the division for a while before giving way to eventual champion Shepard. Quillin batted a hefty .454 with 49 hits, 35 runs, 19 RBI and respective slugging and on-base percentages of .565 and .535. He reached base 16 times on free passes, went 12-of-14 in steals and rarely whiffed -- just six strikeouts in 128 plate appearances. What further enhanced Quillin’s value to Oak Lawn was his work on the mound. While his 4-2 ledger seems somewhat pedestrian, there was nothing ordinary about his other pitching stats, which included a microscopic 0.58 ERA and .192 opponents’ batting average. Quillin, who will play baseball at Elmhurst College next season, struck out 43 in 48 1/3 innings while walking only 12. He threw five complete games and two of his victories came via shutout.

JACK SNYDER, Marist, P, Jr.

            * Rich Kairis understandably attracted much of the attention directed toward the RedHawks, but Snyder was an important member of first-year coach Kevin Sefcik’s roster. His seven wins were tops among Marist pitchers and he also saved one game. Working 50 2/3 innings, Snyder issued just 13 walks while striking out 32 and opponents didn’t do much against him when they put the ball in play, as shown by their cumulative .173 batting average for the season. Snyder, who’ll unquestionably be considered the RedHawks’ mound ace in 2016, registered a minute 1.11 ERA.

DAN VOS, Chicago Christian, P, So.

            * Proving his notable seven-win freshman campaign was no accident Vos stepped forward as the Knights’ workhorse in 2015. His 63 2/3 innings pitched were 14 more than the next-busiest hurler and he compiled a 10-1 record, which put him more than halfway to Christian Bolhuis’ program-best career total for victories. Vos registered his second straight sub-2.00 ERA (1.98) and whiffed 68 batters while walking just 22. He was not necessarily counted on to be an offensive force, but Vos still contributed 24 hits, 26 RBI and 24 runs to an attack that played a key role in Christian reaching the 30-win plateau. Vos achieved all-area honorable-mention status as a freshman.

TREVOR WOLTERINK, Chicago Christian, 3B, Jr.

            * Chosen an all-area first-teamer for the second season in a row, Wolterink performed well enough to be named the Metro Suburban Conference Player of the Year in the Knights’ inaugural campaign there. His 2014 stats obviously warranted later recognition, but Wolterink still managed to improve on all of them this spring. As a junior he batted an even .400 with 40 hits, 38 runs and team-high 30 RBI. Eleven of his hits went for extra bases as he posted respective slugging and on-base percentages of .530 and .485. Wolterink drew 26 free passes, stole five bases and was unselfish -- he tied for the lead among Chicago Christian players with nine sacrifices. And although Dan Vos and Christian Bolhuis anchored the pitching staff, Wolterink certainly did his part in that area too as he went 7-3 with a 1.76 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 47 2/3 innings.



JOHN CARMODY, Marist, 1B, Jr.

            * Solid both offensively and in the field, Carmody’s RBI total was just one less than his number of base hits (35-36). A dozen of the latter went for extra bases, including four round-trippers, and he recorded a .479 slugging percentage to go along with a .391 on-base percentage, .308 average, 18 runs and 15 free passes. Carmody handled his defensive chances at a .960 clip and was a part of 16 double plays turned by the RedHawks’ infield. Last fall he gained all-area first-team recognition as a defensive lineman after making 56 tackles for Marist’s football squad.

JACK CAVANAUGH, St. Laurence, OF, Jr.

            * Along with Tommy Farrell, Cavanaugh was a newcomer of influence as the Vikings survived the graduation of some key individuals from the previous season to remain an area heavyweight. Cavanaugh was somewhat anonymous at the outset, but he quickly made himself known with a potent bat that generated an eye-opening .408 average by year’s end. He stroked 40 hits -- 10 of them going for extra bases -- scored 27 runs and drove in 21 while posting a .551 slugging percentage and .450 on-base percentage. Cavanaugh also swiped 8-of-10 bases.

MAX DOWNS, Stagg, OF, Jr.

            * The Chargers’ attack couldn’t be termed a juggernaut, but it was improved over the past couple seasons and a big reason for that was Downs’ presence in the lineup. He flirted with the .400 mark before finishing with a .392 average, one point less than Josh Nowak’s team-leading figure. Downs built his mark on 40 hits, which included a Stagg-best 11 doubles, and amassed respective slugging and on-base percentages of .529 and .451. He accounted for 40 runs (22 scored, 18 driven in) and augmented his efforts at the plate with a respectable .965 fielding percentage.

ZACH FRIELING, Chicago Christian, SS, So.

            * An all-area honorable-mention choice as a varsity freshman, Frieling continued his rapid development in 2015 and stands on the cusp of becoming one of the Knights’ all-time greats. In his second year he paced Chicago Christian in virtually every major offensive category, including average (.402), runs (47), hits (45), doubles (19), slugging (.607), on-base percentage (.531), steals (18 in 21 attempts) and even hit-by-pitches (eight). Frieling’s 30 RBI tied him with three teammates for the No. 1 slot in that department while his 24 bases-on-balls ranked third overall.

FRANK GRECO, St. Laurence, 3B, Sr.

            * Greco is back as a member of the all-area second team, but he accomplished the repeat in a rather unique manner as this time he was selected as an infielder. He got tabbed as a pitcher in 2014 and again performed admirably in that regard as he was 6-4 with a 2.71 ERA and nearly 4-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (44-12) in 59 1/3 innings. One of his losses came in a 2-1 verdict against a California team that occupied the nation’s No. 1 position in USA Today for part of the season. However, Greco was perhaps even more valuable to the Vikings as a hitter as he batted .344 with 33 hits, 49 RBI and 20 runs. Included among his safeties were 10 doubles, five triples and three homers. Greco’s slugging stood at .646, his on-base percentage was .431, and he received 16 walks and stole 8-of-9 bases.

ERIC HORBACH, Shepard, P, Sr.

            * Adam Gregory understandably commanded the most attention among Astros pitchers, but Horbach also was a significant contributor to Shepard’s South Suburban Conference Red-winning fortunes in the absence of Brett Smith from the rotation. Horbach didn’t match Gregory’s glossy ledger, but his 5-3 record was certainly acceptable, particularly when complemented by 51 strikeouts -- versus 17 walks -- in 56 innings and a 1.50 ERA. Opposing batters managed just a .213 cumulative average against Horbach, who tossed four complete games. Offensively, he racked up a .327 average with 32 hits, 26 runs, 18 RBI and seven doubles. Horbach got hit by a pitch 11 times, making him the Astros’ leader in that painful category.

PAT MEEHAN, Marist, P/INF, Sr.

            * Along with Rich Kairis, Meehan served as a veteran ringleader for the RedHawks, who won 24 games and just missed reaching a sectional final. He saw action on the hill as both a starter and reliever and had a hand in one-third of Marist’s successes (five victories, three saves). He averaged nearly a strikeout per inning, finishing with 45 in 48 frames while surrendering only 11 free passes. Meehan’s ERA was 2.63 and opponents hit just .237 against him. He was also a defensive standout -- Meehan registered a .929 fielding percentage on 127 total chances and took part in 14 double plays. He will attend Dayton University but does not plan to continue his baseball career in college.

SEAN MILLER, Evergreen Park, 2B, Sr.

            * Alongside fourth-year shortstop Mark Martin, Miller provided the Mustangs with one of the south suburbs’ best double-play tandems. The latter was especially proficient with the glove during the South Suburban Conference Red portion of Evergreen Park’s schedule as he committed only one fielding error in 68 defensive plays. Miller was guilty of just two miscues on 94 chances overall for the season and had a hand in nine double plays. He was no slouch as a hitter either as he batted .358 with a .427 on-base percentage, .547 slugging percentage, 32 RBI, 25 runs and three homers. Miller will attend Loras College in Iowa along with Mustangs teammate Brian Pall.

BRIAN PALL, Evergreen Park, P, Sr.

            * The other half of Evergreen Park’s Loras College-bound duo, Pall pieced together the single most memorable pitching outing of the spring when he mowed down 15 Shepard batters on third strikes in a 2-1 win over the eventual South Suburban Conference Red champions. Pall, an honorable-mention linebacker on the 2014 all-area football team, ended the season with 77 strikeouts in 60 innings and mustered a 6-3 ledger. He also recorded a save in his lone opportunity to garner one.

JOHN ROBERTS, Oak Lawn, C, Jr.

            * In a year when quality catchers abounded, Roberts nosed out such strong competition as Evergreen Park’s Mike Rizzo, St. Laurence’s Anthony Rios and Stagg’s Mitchell Spencer for the second-team nod. The Spartan did so largely on the strength of a superb .448 average -- which was just four points below Boo Quillin’s squad-leading mark -- that was constructed on 47 hits, eight of which went for extra bases. He accrued 25 RBI, tallied 15 runs and fanned only nine times in 114 plate appearances. Roberts’ respective slugging, on-base and fielding percentages were .543, .478 and .973, the latter of those being fashioned on 222 chances.

JIM ROCHE, Sandburg, DH, Sr.

            * The Eagles shortstop didn’t get placed ahead of Chicago Christian’s Zach Frieling at that position on the all-area second team, but he was still good enough to warrant a spot after pacing Sandburg with an excellent .458 average. He also was No. 1 in hits (44), doubles (14) and triples (three) while being runner-up in runs (32) and RBI (23). Roche drew 12 walks and struck out just seven times in 111 plate appearances. He was named an all-area honorable mention as a junior.


            * Another important cog in the Spartans’ offensive machine was Slattery, one of four Oak Lawn players to bat at least .365 for the season. Slattery’s final mark was .385, which was generated on 40 hits, almost one-third of which were of the extra-base variety. Those included nine doubles and two homers, which helped him compile a .567 slugging percentage. Slattery also had a .453 on-base percentage, 27 runs scored, 17 RBI and nine steals. He reached base eight times after being plunked by a pitch and produced a fielding percentage of .915.

ANGELO SMITH, Richards, P, So.

            * After becoming just the second freshman to start his prep baseball career at Richards on the varsity level in 2014, the hard-throwing Smith returned to action this spring as one of the area’s top strikeout pitchers. While exhibiting just enough wildness to keep batters from getting comfortable in the box, Smith blew third strikes past 83 of them – the highest total among local hurlers – in just 53 2/3 innings of work. And despite his alleged control issues, the lefty boasted a fine 3-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Smith won six of nine decisions and amassed a nifty 1.57 ERA. In addition, he fielded at a .943 clip (six errors in 98 chances) and batted .327 with 27 hits and 16 RBI.


                        HONORABLE MENTION

RYAN KUTT, Brother Rice


TOM PRZEKWAS, Brother Rice

PAT MCCARTHY, Chicago Christian

MARK MARTIN, Evergreen Park

MIKE RIZZO, Evergreen Park



NICK MEJIA, Richards







ANTHONY RIOS, St. Laurence




            * The veteran skipper had several close calls over the years when it came to conference championships, but the Astros always had to settle for bridesmaid status -- until 2015, that is. Not only did Shepard erase a 2 ½-game deficit to overtake Oak Lawn and end a 20-year title drought by capturing the South Suburban Conference Red championship, but the Astros’ 24 victories tied a single-season school record and their winning percentage was the program’s best ever. What made DiFoggio’s coaching stand out was that he was able to keep his guys focused on the task at hand while dealing with injuries that sidelined two mainstays -- Brett Smith and Kevin Carmody -- for most of the year. Along the way DiFoggio also collected his 300th career triumph.