Conant football coach Bill Modelski is feeling better about his team's 2-0 start this year.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
Conant is off to a 2-0 start to a football season again.
But coach Bill Modelski thinks that's where the similarities end with last year's team that finished on a seven-game losing streak.
"This is a much better 2-0," said Modelski, whose team hosts Buffalo Grove in a Mid-Suburban League crossover at 7:30 p.m. today. "First of all, because I think Lake Park and Wheeling are better and they showed some things they didn't show a year ago.
"We're just different. We have better skill and we're better on defense. We're stronger and more athletic and we're a better team. Last year we were kind of lucky to be 2-0."
Modelski thinks the best could still be ahead for the Cougars. He didn't feel they tackled well in last week's 26-7 win over Wheeling and that they haven't hit their offensive potential yet.
But the weapons are there on offense with quarterback Matt Cullen, a nice crew of running backs led by Cordell Smith, receiving threat Tim Manczko and Toledo-bound offensive lineman Paul Perschon. Linebackers John Maevski and Joe Faso anchor a defense that got a big game from Colin Otubu up front last week.
"All of their junior kids (last year) have learned how to play football," said BG coach Jim Farrell. "That's made them a much more improved team."
Now they want to see it show up in the win column.
"Where we take it from here will define us," Modelski said.
Pirates power: Palatine junior John Serio is quickly making up for all of the time he lost last year to injuries.
The 6-foot-1, 221-pound Serio rushed for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns on 36 carries last week against Rolling Meadows. He has 352 rushing yards in two games and Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly raved about Serio's hurdle of a Montini player on a fourth-down play in the opener.
"John Serio has been a big-time player in both games," Donnelly said. "It's fun to see him on the field doing it, rather than watching it in practice.
"With a good offensive line it makes him that much harder to bring down."
Donnelly hopes bruised ribs Serio suffered against Montini won't hold him down this week against Wheeling.
But junior quarterback Ethan Olles also proved to be a nice option with 128 yards rushing last week. Donnelly also likes what he's seen the first two weeks from junior running back Sam Miller in the Pirates' "rush" offense where their goal is 70 plays a game.
"Now we just have to keep working on the passing game because we have receivers," said Donnelly, whose team ran 83 plays last week despite slowing its pace in the final seven minutes. "Our strong point is running the football but we need to throw the ball."
Pomp and circumstances: Wheeling got its first game action on its new turf and under its new Friday night lights in last week's loss to Conant.
"It's wonderful," said Wheeling coach Dave Dunbar. "I think everybody loved it."
Now Dunbar hopes it's more of a normal atmosphere for his players at the next home game Sept. 16 against Barrington.
"They were excited for that first home game and I don't know if it got to most of them or they were overanxious," Dunbar said. "On Conant's first touchdown, we had five or six guys who were able to make a tackle for a (short) gain.
"Instead of tackling correctly guys were diving for ankles and overpursuing and I was thinking, 'That's not what we teach.'"
Honoring Blaney and BG's 1986 champions: One of the MSL's greatest football teams and one of its greatest coaches will be honored Sept. 23 at Buffalo Grove at its home game against Elk Grove.
BG will officially dedicate its field as Grant Blaney Stadium and honor the undefeated 1986 Class 6A state championship team Blaney coached.
The District 214 Board of Education approved the naming of the field after Blaney on Aug. 18. Blaney was BG's first football coach from 1973-89 with a record of 111-54 that included a state runner-up finish in 1978 and seven MSL division titles.
There will be a reception honoring the 1986 team and Blaney at 5 p.m. in the school on Sept. 23. There will be a pregame ceremony at approximately 7 p.m. to dedicate the field as Grant Blaney Stadium and at halftime members of the 1986 team will be introduced.
Any former players of Blaney's interested in participating can contact BG assistant principal for student activities Mark Schaetzlein at (847) 718-4018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dunbar farewell: Wheeling will honor retiring head coach Dave Dunbar at its final regular-season home game Oct. 21 against Elk Grove.
All former Wheeling players and coaches are invited to attend and will be welcomed to the sideline before kickoff for a brief ceremony. After the game, all former players, coaches and friends are welcome to celebrate with Dunbar at Gator's Wing Shack on Rand Road in Palatine.
Dunbar is in his 11th year as head coach and 25th year in the program at Wheeling.