Football: Stevenson looking to make another big splash
Stevenson's Danny Nowak (No. 11) breaks a tackle attempt by Josh Junker and runs for a touchdown during last Thursday's scrimmage game. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:52AM
Stevenson’s football players hit the indoor pool at the school after their practice Saturday morning.
Patriots third-year head coach Bill McNamara watched his smiling, helmet-less gridders go splish-splash.
“It’s a fun activity, a team-bonding thing,” McNamara said.
Nearly nine months ago, in the second round of the IHSA Class 8A playoffs, McNamara’s crew capsized a serious force accustomed to cruising to state championships.
Maine South’s Hawks fell to the Patriots 24-22.
“We knew it would be one heck of a game,” recalled McNamara, whose 2011 squad (9-3) reached a state quarterfinal with the victory. “We also expected to win it — the same mindset we had for every game and will continue to have. To beat one of the top football programs in the state in the postseason … we’re very proud of the accomplishment.”
Moving the sticks: A pair of sophomores — Willie Bourbon (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) and Jimmy Marchese (6-1, 175) — will share snaps at quarterback for the reigning NSC Lake co-champions this fall. Bourbon started at third base for the Pats’ baseball team in the spring.
“They’re similar,” McNamara said. “They both have good speed, a good arm and a good understanding of our offense.”
Both also will enjoy watching senior running backs Danny Nowak (6-3, 205) and Anthony Bozin (5-10, 165) do their thing behind a line featuring seniors Joey Marchese (6-3, 235) and Logan Gaskey (6-4, 280), junior Zach Novoselsky (6-4, 255) and sophomore Patrick O’Connell (6-2, 235).
Nowak is the team’s power back; Bozin cuts and sprints for his yards.
“We like running the ball, but we’ll also take shots with our passing game,” McNamara said.
Look for junior Matt Morrissey (6-2, 180) to touch the ball often — on offense and defense. One of the best athletes in the building excels as a wideout and free safety.
Another WR/DB to watch is sophomore Cameron Green (6-2, 165). Opposing secondaries will have to be aware of senior wideout Alan Velev (6-4, 175) as well.
Making the stops: Graduation 2012 hit Stevenson’s corps of hard-hitting linebackers hard. Gone are Dom Bickus (Kansas), Jon Way (Washington University, Mo.) and Carl Miller (Air Force).
Back are seniors Nick Constanti (6-0, 190), Timmy Breen (5-10, 180) and Sean O’Connell (6-0, 190). Sophomore Jason Vavrick (6-1, 190) made varsity as a linebacker.
Defensive linemen in Stevenson’s stable include senior Art Polk (6-0, 190) and sophomore Nick Dillon (6-1, 230).
Bozin also will see time at DB, as will senior Connor Lewis (6-1, 175).
“I like our mix of experienced players and skilled newcomers, and one of our hopes is to be a balanced team,” McNamara said of his defense and offense. “Every year we’re excited to put new pieces of the puzzle together.”
Special forces: Green will punt for the Pats, and sophomore Mike Gambino (5-8, 150) will take care of the kicking duties.
“We’re hoping to make big plays, with solid coverage, on special teams,” McNamara said. “We’re well aware of the importance of being sound in all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) of the game.”
Week 1: Stevenson opens against visiting Lyons Township at 7:30 p.m. Friday. LT topped Stevenson 24-19 in an opener last fall.
Bursts: The Patriots’ playoff run ended last year when it lost to Glenbard North 28-0 in an 8A state quarterfinal. It was the Pats’ second straight Elite Eight appearance under McNamara.
This is McNamara’s 23rd year as a football coach at Stevenson.
Stevenson’s other key losses to ’12 graduation were QB/K Matt Miccuci (Northwestern) and OT Jake Hurcombe (Eastern Michigan).
Stevenson’s primary goals for the ’12 season: play its best football each week; successfully defend its NSC Lake title; and make a run at a state championship.
Stevenson played its intrasquad game on Aug. 16.
“Our main goal was to get through that without injuries,” McNamara said. “We kept things basic, fundamental, and we looked at it as an opportunity to get every player on the field.”~