Brother Rice enjoys life in the fast lane

  • Written by Phil Arvia


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice’s Brendan Houston break’s Providence’s Joe Markasovic’s tackle attempt during a 56-yard touchdown reception Friday night in New Lenox.

After a display like the one put on Friday by Brother Rice in its 45-21, Chicago Catholic League Blue win at Providence, there was really only one question to ask the Crusaders:

Who’s the fastest guy on this football team?

There was a crowded field of candidates on an evening in which the Crusaders authored more big plays than Rodgers and Hammerstein. 

In an incredible three-minute stretch at the beginning of the third quarter, Rice (5-0, 1-0) had its offense on the field for just  19 seconds, yet scored three touchdowns to snap a 14-all halftime tie. 

The Crusaders scored six touchdowns, none shorter than Aarion Lacy’s 28-yard interception return to cap that third-quarter burst. He also went, untouched, 70 yards around left end for another score on his only carry of the evening.

“He’s amazing,” quarterback Dino Borrelli said of Lacy. “He’s a beast. He’s a savage.”

Sure, but is he the fastest? After all, Branden Houston also had two touchdowns, turning a pair of short Borrelli tosses into 56- and 33-yard touchdowns; Illinois recruit Ricky Smalling had a 30-yard scoring grab; and star running back Xazavian Valladay highlighted his 13-carry, 183-yard game with a 72-yard dash to the end zone.

“It’s between me, Xazavian, Ricky and Branden,” Lacy said. “OK — it’s Ricky. He’s the fastest.”

Of course, Lacy did note that Houston’s 40-yard dash time was the same as Smalling’s (4.4 seconds), just a tick ahead of Lacy and Valladay.

“I’ve got to say it’s me,” Houston said. “But we never raced or anything. That’s just what I think.”

Crusaders coach Brian Badke added another name to the list of speed merchants — wideout Michael Butler-Kindle — but he was happy not to have a clear-cut winner.

“Speed kills,” he said, smiling. “We’ve got, obviously, a lot of weapons. We can get you either way, running or passing — but it all starts up front.”

The offensive line — Friday’s starters were center Brian Gannon, guards Dan Sullivan and Brendan Hosty and tackles Nick Marozas and John Farano — was especially impressive on Lacy’s run, Valladay’s touchdown and Houston’s second scoring catch. Providence (2-3, 0-2) never touched the ball-carrier on those plays.

“All glory goes to the o-line,” Houston said. “That’s just blocking. Those guys were opening up huge holes up front.”

The unbeaten Crusaders host Mt. Carmel (a 31-28 victim to St. Rita) Friday night.

Early, the Celtics’ line was doing it better.

Providence marched 80 yards in eight plays on the game’s opening possession. Five of those were Richie Warfield carries, the last a burst up the middle for a score from 28 yards out.

Warfield finished with 132 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, but he was held out of the end zone and had just 15 yards on eight runs in the second half.

“In the first half, honestly, we just weren’t executing,” Badke said. “The kids really dug deep in the second half.”

First, Houston (four catches, 98 yards) got them back in the game, answering the opening score by taking a short Dino Borrelli pass and breaking several tackles en route to a 56-yard score.

Rice made it 14-7 at the 9:57 mark of the second quarter, when Valladay, needing only a slide step left at the line, went untouched for 72 yards up the middle.

Providence tied it 2 1/2 minutes later. Warfield capped a 60-yard drive with a seven-yard scoring run off right tackle.

The Crusaders put the game away quickly in the third, starting with Lacy’s 70-yard scoring dash on the first play from scrimmage. He entered the game with just three receptions and one carry, totaling 42 yards, in Rice’s first four games.

“Lacy, he’s one of the most explosive players in the state of Illinois,” Badke said. “Other than (UConn recruit Ian) Swenson from Loyola, I think he’s the best DB in the Catholic League — and he’s definitely a guy we’ve got to use on both sides of the ball.”

Three plays and a shanked punt after Lacy’s score, Borrelli (12-of-19, 196 yards, 3 TD) hit Smalling (6 catches, 69 yards) with another short pass turned into a long score by a shifty receiver. And two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Lacy broke in front of a Jared Drake pass for his fourth interception of the year and took it to the house.

Houston added his second touchdown at 2:33 of the third, patiently waiting for blocking up the sideline on a swing pass to the right side. John Richardson capped Rice’s scoring with a 37-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Borrelli conceded his offense’s big-play propensity surprises him almost as often as it does opposing defenses.

“We’ve just got great athletes,” he said. “You never know when they’re going to break one.”


Marist golfer has rockin' good time at Pebble Beach

  • Written by Aaron FitzPatrick



Photo by Jeff Vorva

Marist's Perry Chong made a recent trip to Pebble Beach and hobnobbed with some golf legends.

“It’s every kid’s dream to go pro.”

Those were the words of wisdom from senior Marist golfer, Perry Chong. He may not be a pro yet, but he inched a little closer to his dream when he was selected to participate in the Nature Valley First Tee Open held September 16-18 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.

With Illinois High School Association regional action starting up Tuesday, Chong is eager for a deep run in Class 3A and rubbing shoulders with pros in California won’s hurt his approach.

In addition to playing on one of the most famous PGA golf courses, Chong and the other participants were partnered up with golf pros for the tournament. Chong teamed with Dan Forsman. Forsman had five wins during his 22 years on the PGA Tour from 1982 through 2004 and has three wins currently on The Champions Tour.

Chong said he didn’t know he’d be partnered with Forsman until he got to Pebble Beach.

“We all received our own golf bags,” said Chong. “And inside the golf bag was a letter that told us who our partners would be. It was pretty cool.”

Chong was one of more 80 golfers across the country selected by The First Tee to participate in a week-long event that culminated with a three-day tournament. He said he submitted an application and selection was based on golfing ability and extracurricular activities.

Chong is used to crowds of 20 to 30 people watching him at one time at a high school match. At Pebble Beach, he said there were as many as 150 people watching. He said Forsman helped him learn to just focus on the task at hand no matter how many people were watching.

“Before the trip, I was scared when people would watch,” said Chong. “This was 150. It was crazy but I loved it.”

 “I was really nervous when I first met (Forsman) but I realized he was a really a nice guy. After the first hole, I wasn’t nervous any more. He really showed me how to just dial in on the game and handle the situation. I learned that no matter how bad you play, you have to persevere and keep pushing. Don’t worry about that last hole. It’s in the past. Don’t look back. Only look forward.”

Chong, as well as Forsman, had to apply these lessons on the fly during their first two rounds. The pair finished strong on Friday but a late start on Saturday and fog in the evening forced their second round to be postponed after 16 rounds and finished early Sunday morning.

“We had to get up before 5 a.m. on Sunday and finish our last two holes. It didn’t go so well. We missed the cut by one stroke.”

Despite the disappointing finish at Pebble Beach, Marist head coach, Joel Vickers, says Chong has taken what he learned during that week and already applied it to his high school play. Chong finished three under par against Mt. Carmel on Sept. 20 and helped his team finish with a Marist record, 145, in that dual meet played at the Meadows in Blue Island.

“He was playing well before the trip,” said Strout. “He missed a couple of matches but it’s nothing to what he experienced out there. That was an unbelievable opportunity and it couldn’t have happened to a greater kid. I’m so happy for him.”

The Bridgeport native, who also met legends Tom Watson and John Daly resident will try to apply the “don’t look back, only look forward” lesson this postseason. Chong missed qualifying for state as a junior last season in the same manner that he and Forsman missed the cut at Pebble Beach -- by one stroke.

“I’d love to get him down to state and see what he can do,” said Vickers. “The sky’s the limit for him. He’s worked so hard over the years.”



STOKED LAWN -- Spartans and Richards come up with big wins

  • Written by By Jeff Vorva and Phil Arvia

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 Photo by Jeff Vorva

Oak Lawn running back Lewis Radosevich said he felt a huge weight off his chest as he reacts after scoring the game-winning TD with 10 seconds left in a 28-21 victory over Evergreen Park Friday night in Oak Lawn.

When Lewis Radosevich transferred from football power Mt. Carmel to Oak Lawn in 2015, he was hoping for big things his junior year.

But after the fourth game of the season, he was done.

“It was after the Eisenhower game and I had too many concussions so I had to sit out the rest of the season,” he said. “That was tough.’’

He watched on the sidelines as the losses mounted in a 1-8 season and the Spartans were outscored 333-73. It was their worst record since going 0-9 in 2001.

So when the Spartans opened this season 1-2, lost to Argo (which had a 12-game losing streak) and were down 21-7 in the closing minutes of the third quarter to Evergreen Park Friday night, some fans were leaving the game early, figuring they just witnessed another Spartans setback.

But quarterback Kyle McNamara tore off a 36-yard run and followed it up with a 3-yard touchdown with 10 seconds left in the third. Jabari Clark added a 63-yard run with 3:35 left in the game and when the team was scrambling to convert and third-and-two with no timeouts as time was ticking down, Radosevich burst through the line for a 30-yard touchdown run and the Spartans came up with a thrilling 28-21 victory at Napleton Field in Oak Lawn.

“I felt like that was a huge weight off my chest,” Radosevich said.

The Spartans improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the South Suburban Conference Red division. The Spartans host co-league leading Richards Friday and follow up with games against T.F. North, Eisenhower, Shepard and Reavis.

Conventional wisdom says the Spartans will likely not earn a playoffs spot after tacking that part of the schedule. But conventional wisdom wasn’t in play under the full moon Friday night when the Spartans were down 14 points.

“I expect nothing less from this team but to win,” Radosevich said. “We have the tools, we have the tenacity and we have the coaching. Last year was a shock to the system. We had new coaches and we had to weed out some people but this year, we’re getting the job done and our team is stepping up.’’

The Spartans had 353 yards on the night including 300 on the ground. Clark had 14 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns. The defense, which stiffened in the fourth quarter to keep the Mustangs (2-2, 0-2) off the board, was led by Dan Lillard’s six solo tackles and five assists.

“We told the kids after the Argo game to keep fighting,” Spartans coach Nick Novak said. “As long as they believe in each other and trust each other, good things will happen.’’

Added Radosevich: “At halftime in our locker room, you would expect everyone to be mad and swearing. But everyone banded together. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind we would win this game.’’

Richards wins 'put up or shut up' game, hands Shepard first loss

In Richards’ closing scoring drive in a 38-10 South Suburban Conference Red win over Shepard,  running back Anthony Quinn finished things off with a 39-yard dash that started up the middle and bounced to the left sideline — after teammate Pat Doyle opened the series with three carries for 23 yards.

“I’m alright with that,” Doyle said. “It’s family.”

A family that didn’t feud through two opening losses to Lemont and Phillips this season, and certainly isn’t feuding now.

“We found a way to learn from our mistakes,” Bulldogs quarterback Jack Moran said. “It was put up or shut up time.”

From Shepard coach Dominic Passolano’s vantage point, Richards’ dismantling of his previously unbeaten Shepard football team Friday at Korhonen Field in Oak Lawn was pretty simple.

“They came out, they ran the ball, they won the battle up front on both sides of the ball,” he said. “They didn’t do anything special, but they hung their hats on the two kids in the backfield.”

Richards coach Tony Sheehan all but shrugged his agreement, saying, “Those are the two best players on the field. 

“That’s what we needed — we told those guys they had to take control. We needed one of those games where we kind of imposed our will and took care of business.”

Doyle (21 carries, 154 yards) and Quinn (5 carries, 104 yards, 3 touchdowns) helped the Bulldogs (2-2, 2-0 in the South Suburban Red) beat the Astros (3-1, 1-1) for the eighth straight time in a Sheehan/Passolano face-off. However, the pair of three-year starters were hardly Shepard’s only problems.

Andrew Shorts blocked one punt, nearly blocked another and clearly influenced a third. Linebacker Jack Moran forced a fumble — recovered by defensive back Anthony Thompson — and had an interception. Even punter/placekicker Andrew Calderon was impressively physical, lowering his shoulder to drive back a tackler and get first-down yardage on a fake punt.

“If we’re all just being physical, flying around, it’s fun,” Jake Moran said. “It’s fun when it’s physical and it’s easy when it’s fun.”

The Bulldogs certainly have had things easier since hitting the conference portion of their schedule.

“We schedule those teams for a reason,” Sheehan said of powers Lemont and Phillips. “Hopefully, it pays off in the long run.”

It appears to have in the short run. Richards totaled 27 points in opening with back-to-back losses. They’ve scored 38 points in each of their next two contests.

“I thought we played really well those first two weeks,” Quinn said. “It was a test. It made us better.”

The Bulldogs never trailed, going 83 yards in three plays after forcing Shepard to punt away the game’s first possession. Quinn scored from 40 yards out, running the same play Doyle hit for 31 yards the snap before.

“That’s our counter play,” Doyle said. “Our guards’ (Joe Carpenter and Vidal Wilson) pulls are just nasty. We just have to hit the hole.”

After the teams traded field goals — a 41-yarder for Shepard’s Mike Iturbe and and 22-yarder for Calderon — Shorts’ punt block set up Quinn’s second scoring run, from one yard out to make it 17-3.

Shorts nearly got Iturbe’s first punt, then easily batted down the second.

“You’ve got to get in your track stance,” Shorts said. “When you see the ball move, fire out like Usain Bolt.”

The Astros answered quickly, pulling within 17-10 on a 78-yard bomb from Jack Carberry to Rishard Blake, but that touchdown at 6:10 of the second quarter ended their scoring.

Quarterback Jake Moran — Jack’s twin brother — used a spin move to score from five yards out with 1:36 left in the second quarter, allowing Richards to take a 24-10 lead into halftime.

After throwing an interception on the opening drive of the second half, Jake Moran got the ball back courtesy of his brother’s big hit on Demetrius Harrison. 

“They had a lot of stuff going on that play — a fake (end around),” Jack Moran said. “I just hit him. I saw a body so I flew in there.”

Ten plays later — after Calderon’s nine-yard burst on a fake punt kept the drive alive — Jake Moran found Noah Petrusevski alone down the right sideline for a 42-yard touchdown pass. He was able to do so because his favorite target of the night, 6-foot-1 Nate Gimza (5 catches, 38 yards) was jumping up and down in the flat, screaming for the ball, while the 5-9 Petrusevski streaked behind him down the sideline.

St. Laurence wows St. Rita

  • Written by Aaron FitzPatrick

Century marks

A look at St. Laurence/St. Rita battles in the 2000s

2000—St. Rita 55, St. Laurence 33

2001—St. Rita 36, St. Laurence 8

2002—St. Rita 43, St. Laurence 0

2005—St. Rita 45, St. Laurence 0

2013—St. Rita 55, St. Laurence 14

2016—St. Laurence 45, St. Rita 42


Only one word can describe this football game.


Last Friday’s non-conference contest between St. Laurence and St. Rita more than lived up to the hype and anyone’s expectation.

With both teams entering the contest at 2-1 and averaging over 40 points a game, the 45-42 last-minute win for the visiting Vikings had a lot of folks buzzing about the rivalry that once was between these two schools, who have met just twice in the previous 13 years. Throw in the fact that St. Rita scheduled the Vikings for its homecoming celebration and you have the seeds planted for a rivalry renewed.

The game had everything a rivalry needs starting with heroes.

And there were plenty of them.

St. Laurence receiver Levy Hamer made two fourth-down receptions on what turned out to be the winning drive including the final miraculous play on fourth-and-10 from the Mustang 44 with less than 30 seconds remaining. The ball was intended for slot receiver, Nick Garbie. The ball went through Garbie’s hands and into the waiting arms of Hamer who took it to the house to for the game winning score.

 The one-two punch of running back Fayezon Smart and quarterback Romello Washington also starred. The pair combined for nearly 600 yards of offense and four touchdowns. Smart had most of his 251 rushing yards in the first three quarters and when he began to cramp up in the fourth paving the way for Washington lead the team down the field with his arm.

“We’ve been playing together since second grade,” said Smart. “We’re best friends.”

“We’ve got each other’s back,” said Washington.

For St. Rita, quarterback Jake Zylman helped keep his team in the game throwing for 218 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 131. Shaun Rule made the most of his 37 yards rushing by scoring four touchdowns including the score that put the Mustangs ahead late in the fourth.

Adding spice to the renewed rivalry was the Mustang and Viking student sections battling each other all night as hard as the players on the field. Every chant from the St. Rita section was met with a chant of “We can’t hear you,” from the St. Laurence side or “Scoreboard, scoreboard, scoreboard,” as the Vikings had control of the game for nearly three and a half quarters.

Like any good rivalry game, it had plenty of lead changes and momentum shifts. It had both teams on the ropes looking like they might fold during the game only to get their second wind and make the game memorable. St. Rita had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but couldn’t convert a field goal attempt.

While the St. Laurence players and fans went delirious and the St. Rita faithful sat stunned trying to figure out how this game got away from them, Viking head coach, Harold Blackmon said it came down to just one word --  luck.

“We got lucky,” said Blackmon. “It’s as simple as that. They’re a great team (St. Rita) but we let them back in the game and that’s just unacceptable.”

Blackmon let his team know of his displeasure in the postgame huddle. Anyone who didn’t see the game and walked by the Viking huddle would have thought they had just gotten blown out between Blackmon’s booming voice and the expression on the player’s faces. But, like any good coach, he let them know how he felt but not too much to dampen their excitement for what had just taken place. And it’s the second Class 8A team the Vikings beat this year after knocking off Benet in the first week of action. St. Laurence (3-1) could end up in Class 5A or 6A come playoff time.

Earlier in the night, one of the chants from the St. Rita student section was, “Go home Laurence.” The Laurence faithful obliged and went home with the “W” intact.

Fire could sure use these seven points

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


While the Chicago Fire’s wafer-thin chances for the playoffs continue to evaporate, the players can look back at a handful of wasted opportunities – including Friday night’s 2-2 tie against D.C. United at Toyota Park in Bridgeview – in which they played well but left points on the table.

An announced crowd of 13,807 seemed to enjoy itself when David Accam’s goal at the 29th minute gave the team a 2-1 lead. That lead held up for most of the night until D.C.’s Bobby Boswell scored in extra-time – the 92nd minute – to cost the Fire two points.

Couple that with previous late-game meltdowns:

 --On April 16, Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti scored in extra time of a 2-1 victory over the Fire, costing Chicago a point.

--On May 11, Vancouver’s Blaz Perez scored in the 88thminute of a 2-1 victory over Chicago, costing the team another point.

 --On June 18, Colorado’s Marco Pappa scored in the 89th minute for a 2-1 victory, costing the Fire another point.

--On July 31, the New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright Phillips score in the 90th minute for forge a 2-2 tie, costing the Fire two more points

Add Friday’s lost two points and that’s seven points that the Fire (6-13-9, 27 points) could have dearly used as they open this week’s action nine points behind sixth-place New England for the final playoff spot in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference with  six more matches (18 potential points). The problem is that it needs to leap five teams to get there.

"I think, there is always a reason but we are not looking for excuses,’’ first-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said Friday after another lost opportunity. “Like I said, we never give excuses. There is no reason to fail even when you have the result today.

“It's tough for us but small defeats lead to great victories. That's how we look at this game -- something that we learn from because that will make us better in the future if we have that approach and that's something that I just can't wait to happen. I'm just going to continue working hard, encourage these guys who are committed 100 percent and doing their best and I really enjoy working with them. Until we get there, we'll push hard we will continue fighting." 

Recently acquired David Arshakyan made his first start for the Fire and thought the team should have pocketed three points.

"I feel good that I got my first starting game here but unfortunately we played a draw,’’ he said. “I thought we deserved to win this game and in the last seconds unfortunately we concede a goal so we'll keep pounding and I hope next game we'll win. I think everything's going to be okay." 

Razvan Cocis scored the Fire’s first goal in the first half.

The Fire visits New York City FC at 7 p.m. Friday at Yankee Stadium.

Look out for the December draft

Major League Soccer announced details for the Expansion Draft as Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC prepare for their inaugural MLS seasons in 2017.                 

The Expansion Draft will be held on 1 p.m. Dec.13 at and consists of five rounds, allowing Atlanta and Minnesota to select up to five players each from the list of eligible MLS players. 

The 20 current MLS clubs will have the ability to protect 11 players from their rosters. These 11 protected players, in addition to Generation adidas players who do not graduate from the program at the end of the season and Homegrown Players on a club's Supplemental or Reserve roster, will not be eligible for selection in the Expansion Draft. All remaining MLS players will be available for selection by the two expansion clubs. 

Each MLS club may lose a maximum of one player in the draft. Once a player is selected from a club's unprotected roster, that club is removed from the draft process and may not lose any further players.