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Osei, Garoppolo display remarkable ability
By Marty Maciaszek | Daily Herald Staff

Prospect senior quarterback Miles Osei is poised for a memorable season but has a difficult act to follow - his own.

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo provides a rare all-around threat in Rolling Meadows' offensive attack.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/27/2009 12:06 AM

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Jimmy Garoppolo now understands what old friend Miles Osei went through his sophomore year at Prospect.

Because Garoppolo endured the growing pains of being a first-year starting varsity quarterback last season as a junior at Rolling Meadows.

Now Garoppolo hopes for a similarly prolific payoff, such as the one Osei had last year, as the two Division I prospects hope to stay on target until their regular-season ending showdown Oct. 23.

"I'm so much more comfortable and reading defenses is a lot easier," Garoppolo said. "That one year really helps out.

"The speed of the game really changes. You don't realize it until you're out there calling all the plays and you see the defense shifting around out there."

The 6-foot-2, 204-pound Osei saw everything much clearer last year after a sophomore year filled with ups and downs.

He finished his junior year with eye-popping numbers of 2,238 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions and 1,195 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns.

"If he repeats that, that will be nice," said Prospect coach Brent Pearlman with a smile.

Osei doesn't see any reason why he couldn't in the Knights' five-receiver attack.

"I'm a lot more comfortable with the offense and I feel everyone around me has taken ownership of the team a lot better than before," Osei said. "I feel like, especially team-wise, the only way we can be stopped is from ourselves. What we do really well is make adjustments."

Osei also has a wealth of experienced skill-position riches to work with John Coen, Peter Bonahoom, Ryan Ward, Sean Baltowski, Grant DePalma and Joe Mack.

"Last year Miles was impressive and made a lot of plays by himself," Pearlman said, "but he has the potential to pull a lot of people into the act and we have people who need to be pulled into the act."

It's a different scenario for the 6-3, 208-pound Garoppolo, who threw for 1,200 yards with 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and rushed for 625 yards and 5 touchdowns last year.

Garoppolo, who was up with the varsity for the playoffs as a freshman and started at linebacker as a sophomore, will be leading a relatively inexperienced crew.

"He's assumed some leadership qualities he didn't have as a junior and taken this group over and done a nice job," said Meadows coach Doug Millsaps. "It's his job (to carry them) because he got carried a few times last year.

"He has to get them in the right spots and make sure he gets the ball to the right people. He seems to have made that transition."

Garoppolo believes players such as receivers Tony Taibi, Artie Checchin, Marius Salkauskas and Scott Schwemon and sophomore running back Garrett Peterson will become better-known with time.

"We have so many options we can go with," Garoppolo said. "Tony is probably the fastest player in the MSL. You don't expect it but once you see him run a deep route and throw a 50-yard pass to him, it shocks you."

Garoppolo, who had never played quarterback until he volunteered as a freshman because of an injury, went to a wide variety of offseason camps to speed up his release and get better at reading defenses.

It's all part of the plan to extend Meadows' run of consecutive playoff appearances to seven.

"We have to keep the program (success) alive," said Garoppolo, whose brother Mike was part of the first four years of the streak and now plays at Western Illinois.

Osei's goal is to go well beyond the first-round Class 7A playoff exits of the last two years.

"For me I'm not just thinking about the first round," Osei said. "We're thinking about going all the way and we won't be satisfied until we get to and win Game 14.

"If we do keep preparing there's no doubt we can do that."

And then Osei and Garoppolo, who have been friends since first grade, can focus on their futures.

Osei, a B student with a 25 ACT, said he has 10 scholarship offers which include Northern Illinois, Air Force, Navy and Ball State. He believes he can play at a higher level and said Northwestern and Oregon have shown interest.

"I'm going to focus on the season and see how the season goes and hopefully I'll end up where I want to end up," Osei said. "Right now it's basically totally out of my mind."

Garoppolo hasn't received any offers yet but said Purdue, Michigan State and Western Michigan have shown interest. Garoppolo, an A and B student with a 22 ACT, would love to find a fit at Purdue, which is strong in the engineering field he's considering.

"I'm kind of happy I don't have any offers right now," Garoppolo said. "It's good and bad, but all I have to think about is playing for the team and trying to get wins and whatever happens, happens.

"It will all work out if I have a good enough season."