2004 8A Finals Preview
Saturday Nov 27th
Enter the Semi-Finals & Downers Grove (North) who ended the Griffins' Cinderella hopes of playing in the title game after they finished the season 6-4.
Either way, the Hawks & Price are glad to have another shot at the title and may not really care who the opponent is as long as they return to Park Ridge with that trophy.
What have the Hawks done so far this season? Well beside going undefeated, they've managed to win without Sean Price. Price who was injured mid season sat out while back up Tyler Knight took over on offense almost seamlessly. And when Price returned it was almost as he never left. The Hawks offensive machine was as finely tuned as ever & Price would go on to pass for 2185 yards & 24 TDs. What may be even more incredible is his 62 completion percent & 2 interceptions thrown in 263 attempts.
Derek Walsh has been a favorite target on offense and his sure hands have grabbed the ball out of the air 75 different times. Almost a third of those going for TDs.
Part of Price & Knights' success has to be given to the big guys up front. Clocking in at 6'2 240, Adam Blandin, Jon Kochmit, A.J. Haduch, Tony Colletti & Pat Burke make up the starting five on offense.
On defense Colletti has a different objective than protecting the QB. And with 16 sacks he's second only to DE Adam Fee, who's been making opposing QB's pay with 17 sacks so far this season.
The Trojans would right their ship and start sailing to the championship game in week 5. Silently making their way to the quarter finals before getting revenge for their second loss of the season against Hinsdale (Central). Then knocking off over achievingFrankfort (Lincoln-Way East) in the semis.
They've done this all after turning QB Garrett Edwards into a QB running the option as opposed to a more passing balanced offense.
While this might smack in the face of Maine South's passing philosophy, 1600 yards & 24 TDs later. Edwards rushing has helped land the Trojans in their 2nd title game ever.
While Edwards and his offense may be the highlight of the Trojan game. The real question will fall on the shoulders of the Trojan defense, specifically the DBs. Averaging 5'11 in height, the receivers of Maine South have a good 2 inche average over the coverage team. The Hawks main receiver Derek Walsh steps onto the field at 6'3, and could have his way with a smaller back on defense.
Of course an answer to that problem may be simpler than finding a bigger DB to step in against the pass. because the Trojans have an incredible pass rusher in lineman Cody Cielenski (6'2 268 sr.). With 32 sacks on the season, Cielenski leads all players in the state finals for sacks. Doubling up on Cielenski may stop him from adding to his sack total, but that could very well free up LB Matt Briscoe (5'9 195 sr.) on the blitz. He has 54 solo tackles & 9 sacks. Making him a serious threat to the passing game.
by Vincent Johnson