2004 8A Finals Preview
Saturday Nov 26th
The Hawks didn't exactly do the impossible, but while many thought that last years 8A Runner up was a good team, the crop of 8A schools that were better all took a back seat in the playoffs after facing Maine South.
Tyler Knight returns for a second time to the state finals. After guiding the Hawks into the playoffs while the injured Sean Price recovered last year, Knight moved back to wide receiver as they fell to Downers Grove North 33-13.
As head coach Dave Inserra said after last weeks semi-final romp of Hinsdale Central, "I hope the third times the charm".
With the Hawks making up for their only loss of the season by beating Gurnee (Warren) in the 2nd round & then taking down Stevenson 23-10 in the quarterfinals. Knight threw for 3 TDs, ran for another and kicked a 43 yard field goal to have a hand or foot in on every score the Hawks had in a 30-6 victory over Hinsdale Central.
On defense you might see some familiar faces as Knight doesn't leave the field so he can play free safety, along with 4 other Hawks who go both ways, including wideout Adam Fee (6'3 210 sr.) who does double time at left end. Fee leads the Hawks in both receptions (60) & sacks (20). Knight, may find Fee open a lot, but don't think that this is a two man passing game. Anthony Borsellino & Mark Sagerstrom have pulled down 61 passes & 11 TDs between the two of them.
Knight's true test might not be how he does as a QB, but how he & the rest of the defensive backfield do against Anthony Kropp, the QB from Lincoln-Way East. The 5'11 180 lbs senior might not be the quintessential QB, but he's completed 63% of his passes this year and thrown for 2,780 yards & 30 TDs. With wingbacks Andy Gerritsen & Dan Cebula sharing the rushing duties with fullback Kyle Oskielunas, the Griffins are sure to mix it up a bit as those three backs have piled up almost 1,600 yards together.
(Lincoln-Way East) :
After making the playoffs in the schools first ever varsity season, expectations were high for the following year, with an entire team of juniors returning,many had picked the Griffins to go to state in 2002, but a 4 point loss in the quarterfinals sent them home early. Last season after finishing 5-4, the Griffins made a big run through the playoffs before losing to eventual state champs Downers Grove North in the semi-finals. The Griffins made it their goal this year to go to the finals & win a title. After last weeks win over Wheaton Warrenville South, the Griffins got part of their goal accomplished and are now looking to bring home the hardware.
The Griffins, who have just recently moved up to the #1 spot in the state, will have to face a veteran state finals team in Maine South. The Hawks who have lost the last 2 8A State Final games, are no stranger to the confines of Memorial Stadium and will not be in awe as they step out on to the field that has seen great players like Butkus & Grange. The Hawks also have goals of their own & that's to finish a job that the last two senior classes couldn't, winning a title.
Anthony Kropp has thrown for 2,780 yards this year. With Hank Johnston & Joe Mau combining for 97 of his 179 completions. Kropp will be looking to find either of this tandem open. If head coach Rob Zvonar, who's a real student of the game, thinks the defense is playing the pass too much, he'll be sure to send in a few run plays revolving around wingbacks Dan Cebula & Andy Gerritsen, along with a draw play or two for the Griffins' leading rusher Kyle Oskielunas, who only has 536 yards rushing, but averages 6.5 yards a run.
Inside linebackers Gus Olofsson & Jon Olofsson have been plugging up the middle and putting pressure on the QB. with a 173 tackles split between them & 7 sacks a piece these two are part of the reason why no team has scored more than 21 points on the Griffins and they're allowing just under 9 points a game.
This game will most likely come down to who can run the ball better. With this last game of the finals weekend looking to drag on into the night if it's close, since both teams will be passing the night away, who ever get's a lead late in this game may turn to the run game to win the time of possession battle. Given Knights ability to run as well as pass, we might see him have more rushing yards than passing yards if the Hawks get a lead late in the game.
by Vincent Johnson