Daily Herald
DuPage Co. all-area football team
By Kevin Schmit and Dave Oberhelman | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 12/3/2009 4:31 PM | Updated: 12/3/2009 5:26 PM
All Area Team 2009
Nick Abbate Glenbard North

After barely playing as a junior, Abbate developed into a dominant defensive lineman this senior season. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound all-state selection earned defensive lineman of the year honors in the DuPage Valley Conference by notching 72 tackles, including 18 for loss and 8 sacks. "He performed better than we could have imagined," coach Ryan Wilkens said.

All Area Team 2009
Jack Allen Hinsdale Central

Already a two-year starter, this junior center has established himself as one of the area's premier linemen. Allen, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, showed the perfect combination of toughness and technique, something the state runner-up wrestler also demonstrates on the mat. "He does things at that position I've never seen," coach Mike DiMatteo said.

All Area Team 2009
Rocco Ammons WW South

A master at run blocking, Ammons became a talented pass blocker at right tackle and earned co-offensive lineman of the year honors in the DuPage Valley Conference. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound senior also garnered an all-state selection with a punishing and relentless approach up front. "He's the consummate right tackle," coach Ron Muhitch said. "He locks on and stays on."

All Area Team 2009
Cam Brate Naperville Central

Among the area's most valuable players, Brate spent many games not leaving the field. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior earned an all-DuPage Valley Conference nod as a tight end who caught 45 passes for 484 yards and 9 touchdowns. As a defensive end Brate had 29 tackles, 4 sacks and 5 quarterback hurries. "Just an extremely versatile player," coach Mike Stine said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Campanella Montini

The Driscoll transfer brought leadership, swagger and work ethic. The senior running back-safety was a Coaches Association 5A honorable-mention all-state and two-time all-conference pick. He ran for 831 yards and caught 67 passes for 747 yards, totaling 11 touchdowns. "We were very fortunate he decided to be part of our program," coach Chris Andriano said.

All Area Team 2009
Kenny Clay Waubonsie Valley

The focal point of the Warriors' rushing and passing games, the senior quarterback ran for a team-high 507 yards and 9 touchdowns and completed 112 of 181 passes for 1,364 yards and 15 touchdowns. All-Upstate Eight Conference and the team's MVP, Clay was a smart leader with quick feet. "He was the engine that made our offense go," coach Paul Murphy said.

All Area Team 2009
Will Cronin Immaculate Conception

The Knights' MVP and three-year quarterback accounted for 24 touchdowns in 2009. Co-offensive MVP in the Suburban Christian Gold, Cronin ran for 507 yards with 9 touchdowns, and completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns - no interceptions. "On the offensive side of the ball he was in total control," coach Mike Alberts said.

All Area Team 2009
Hayden Daniels Naperville Central

A converted quarterback, Daniels never had played wide receiver before this season. The 6-foot-4, 170-pound junior claimed an all-DuPage Valley Conference selection with tremendous hands and instincts for the position. Daniels caught 52 passes for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns. "Making that transition shows how much he understands the game," coach Mike Stine said.

All Area Team 2009
Mike DeBernardis York

The Dukes' offensive most valuable player, DeBernardis became the program's fourth all-time leading rusher for a season. With a knack at gaining yards after contact, the 6-foot, 180-pound senior running back carried the ball 179 times for 1,123 yards and 11 touchdowns. "His dedication to the team allowed him to have a great season," coach Bill Lech said.

All Area Team 2009
Shane Dierking WW South

A crushing tackler at cornerback, Dierking was equally strong defending the run and pass. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound all-DuPage Valley Conference senior finished fourth in team tackles with 87, including 10 in the Class 7A final, and led the way with 4 interceptions and 8 breakups. "Pound-for-pound, he's one of the most physical players we've had," coach Ron Muhitch said.

All Area Team 2009
Richard Finley Wheaton North

Finley led the way as the Falcons made a surprise run to the Class 7A quarterfinals. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior receiver was named the team's offensive MVP five straight weeks late in the season, earning all-DuPage Valley Conference honors along the way. Finley caught 68 passes for 780 yards and 6 touchdowns. "He was huge for us," coach Joe Wardynski said.

All Area Team 2009
Ryan Gorrell Montini

The Broncos' two-year, two-way starter epitomized the Class 5A state champions' desire. Coaches Association all-state honorable-mention and all-Suburban Christian Blue, the senior linebacker made 69 solo tackles, 44 assists, 10 sacks. At tailback he ran for 1,162 yards, 10 touchdowns. "We just call him 'The Beast,'" coach Chris Andriano said. "He was one tough football player."

All Area Team 2009
Idris Hanidu Naperville North

Boasting power, speed and wicked cuts, Hanidu did it all in the Huskies' backfield. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound senior all-DuPage Valley Conference selection moved to fullback and didn't skip a beat. Hanidu rushed for 1,109 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he added 19 catches for 166 yards and 2 scores. "He's a little package of dynamite," coach Larry McKeon said.

All Area Team 2009
Tim Hollowed Glenbard West

The big playmaker for the Hilltoppers' stingy defense, Hollowed played a pivotal role in the team's 3-5-3 defense as an outside linebacker. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior made 97 tackles, including 14 for loss, while snaring 6 interceptions and causing 5 fumbles. "He just kept coming up with the big plays when we needed it," coach Chad Hetlet said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Immekus WW South

Immekus eclipsed a second season on the offensive line by earning all-DuPage Valley Conference kicking honors. The 6-foot, 240-pound senior showed tremendous value at right guard but also booted 10 field goals, including a pair of 47-yarders, and 69 touchbacks. "He brings the same energy to the kicking game that he has on the line," coach Ron Muhitch said.

All Area Team 2009
Joey Ippolito Neuqua Valley

The 200-pound senior quarterback was voted among the Upstate Eight Conference's top offensive players, running for 782 yards, 15 touchdowns, and passing for 1,014 yards. His 1,776 yards of offense, 199.6 a game, are both Wildcats records. Ippolito sped to a 78-yard touchdown on the first play against Waubonsie Valley. "Joey is an intense competitor," coach Bryan Wells said.

All Area Team 2009
Matt Ives WW South

Undersized on the defensive line at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Ives was a terror chasing quarterbacks while coming off the edge. Quickness was the main skill the senior end brought as an all-DuPage Valley Conference pick. Ives made 33 tackles in addition to a team-high 10 sacks. "He's the one you'd watch in third down passing situations," coach Ron Muhitch said.

All Area Team 2009
Jason Jozaites Downers Grove South

One of the area's most electric players, Jozaites managed to get open no matter what defenses threw at him in coverage. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior receiver earned all-state honors with 69 receptions for 1,105 yards and 13 touchdowns. "I didn't see a team that could cover him with one guy," coach John Belskis said. "No one slowed him."

All Area Team 2009
Matt Kaiser Lake Park

Tough as nails, the 230-pound senior defensive tackle was honorable-mention Class 8A and all-Upstate Eight Conference. Kaiser made 85 tackles, 9 for loss with 3 sacks and 2 blocked kicks. An Eastern Illinois baseball recruit, Kaiser was also a go-to offensive guard. "Great feet, and he's a hitter," coach Andy Livingston said. "He just comes after you."

All Area Team 2009
Jack Krejci Naperville North

Battling constant shoulder injuries, Krejci succumbed to surgery right after the season ended. While it limited him on offense, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior linebacker never missed a practice. The all-DuPage Valley Conference selection led the Huskies with 81 tackles, including 5 for loss. "Jack brought tremendous knowledge to the defense," coach Larry McKeon said.

All Area Team 2009
Mike Laning Glenbard West

A hammer in the secondary, Laning played like a linebacker from his free safety position. The 6-foot, 180-pound junior showed tremendous ability in pass coverage, but his hard-hitting tackling stood out most - especially in the Class 7A title game when he led both teams with 13 tackles. "His ability to cover deep and play the run is incredible," coach Chad Hetlet said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Lifka Naperville North

Nicknamed "the baby bull," Lifka is attracting major Division I college attention for his abilities as a linebacker and fullback. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior had 78 tackles, including 11 for loss. The DuPage Valley Conference's defensive player of the year also rushed for 273 yards and 4 touchdowns. "When the going got tough, he got tougher," coach Larry McKeon said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Linne Naperville Central

The co-offensive player of the year in the DuPage Valley Conference, Naperville Central's playbook revolved around Linne. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior quarterback, who's committed to play baseball at Northwestern, threw for 2,050 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 645 yards and 5 touchdowns. "We don't win eight games without him," coach Mike Stine said.

All Area Team 2009
Connor Loftus Glenbard West

The defensive MVP in the West Suburban Silver, Loftus brought football smarts and physicality to the inside linebacker position. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior returned an interception for a touchdown in the Class 7A final and led the team with 111 tackles, including 17 for loss. "He's been a major part of two incredible defenses," coach Chad Hetlet said.

All Area Team 2009
David Lutz Hinsdale Central

A two-way standout, Lutz provided an offensive boost at running back and a punishing presence on defense at linebacker. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior rushed for 621 yards and 5 touchdowns and finished second on the team with 53 tackles, including 4 sacks. "He played 100 miles an hour on every play in all phases," coach Mike DiMatteo said.

All Area Team 2009
Jack Marston Glenbard West

A ballhawk with a knack for finding the end zone, Marston showed his mettle defending some of the top receivers in the nation the past two years. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior cornerback picked off seven passes and returned fumbles on a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. "He's got no fear," coach Chad Hetlet said. "He's always where the ball is at."

All Area Team 2009
Jack Merrithey Glenbard East

A three-year starter and two-time all-DuPage Valley Conference and academic all-state pick, Merrithey epitomized leadership at the quarterback position. Elusive and effective at 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, the senior threw for 1,174 yards, rushed for 276 and tallied 14 touchdowns. "Players just gravitated toward his leadership ability," coach Dennis Lueck said.

All Area Team 2009
Artie Monaco Lake Park

The Upstate Eight Conference offensive MVP and an Class 8A all-state pick, the senior running back scored 146 points on 1,851 all-purpose yards. Monaco ran for 979 yards, 13 touchdowns and scored on 2 punt returns and 2 kickoff returns, one a program-tying 98-yarder. Earned team awards for desire, leadership. "Artie changed every game," coach Andy Livingston said.

All Area Team 2009
Evin Natick Glenbard North

Imagine the stats Natick could have compiled had he not missed three games with an ankle injury. As it was, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior running back carried the ball 240 times for 1,352 yards and 16 touchdowns. The all-DuPage Valley Conference pick averaged 24 yards on 12 receptions. "He plays as intense as anyone we've ever had," coach Ryan Wilkens said.

All Area Team 2009
Reilly O'Toole WW South

A model of efficiency, this 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior quarterback didn't throw an interception in the first 11 games and capped an all-DuPage Valley Conference campaign with a Class 7A state title. O'Toole completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,119 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 358 yards. "He still has so much untapped potential," coach Ron Muhitch said.

All Area Team 2009
Mike Partipillo Glenbard North

A two-time all-DuPage Valley Conference performer, Partipillo was named the co-offensive lineman of the year in the league. Four different Glenbard North running backs posted 100-yard rushing games, showing the effectiveness of an offensive line led by their 5-foot-10, 245-pound senior center. "He plays every play like it's going to be his last," coach Ryan Wilkens said.

All Area Team 2009
Brandon Pechloff Montini

The 6-foot-6 senior quarterback rewrote Broncos records. His 43 touchdown passes this season - on 59 percent passing for 3,194 yards - tie for seventh in IHSA history. Pechloff twice threw for 5 touchdowns. The Coaches Association all-stater's final TD pass and 2-point conversion won the Class 5A title. "That will never be forgotten here," coach Chris Andriano said.

All Area Team 2009
Brian Pell Wheaton Academy

The leader of the Warriors' rekindled program. A tough playmaker who completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,256 yards and 22 touchdowns also made 43 tackles at linebacker. Coaches Association Class 5A honorable-mention all-state, two-time academic all-state, Suburban Christian Gold co-offensive player of the year. "He's just a gamer," said Warriors coach Ben Wilson.

All Area Team 2009
John Pullia Glenbard North

All-DuPage Valley Conference for a second straight year, Pullia was the driving force in a six-shutout campaign by the Panthers' defense. Team leader with 88 tackles, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior linebacker had 18 tackles for loss and forced and recovered 3 fumbles. "He led our defense," coach Ryan Wilkens said. "He was like another coach out there."

All Area Team 2009
Jason Rafferty Hinsdale Central

Few people knew it, but Rafferty struggled through much of the season with a shoulder injury. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior linebacker approached the game with a workmanlike attitude, leading the team with 58 tackles including 48 solos. Rafferty also picked up 2 sacks and intercepted a pass. "He's an intense guy who loves his job," coach Mike DiMatteo said.

All Area Team 2009
Nolan Randall Naperville North

Randall showed his versatility on the offensive line by making the successful midseason transition from center to left tackle. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound all-DuPage Valley Conference senior continued to make all the line calls, consistently grading out as the team's best performer each week up front. "He was just so versatile and valuable to our line," coach Larry McKeon said.

All Area Team 2009
Anthony Ritchie Wheaton Academy

Twice named all-conference and Class 5A academic all-state, this season the receiver-safety caught 69 passes for 1,031 yards and 8 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4 senior also used his great hands to lead the Warriors in tackles twice, 77 this year plus 3 interceptions. "He was oftentimes the best athlete on the field," coach Ben Wilson said.

All Area Team 2009
Tyler Rocco Downers Grove South

The defensive lineman of the year in the West Suburban Gold, Rocco took care of the dirty work as a tackle. Strong, quick and athletic, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior notched 60 solo tackles and 14 sacks while hurrying the quarterback 18 times. Rocco also caused 5 fumbles. "More than anyone, he was the emotional leader on our team," coach John Belskis said.

All Area Team 2009
Mike Runger Benet

Runger had the savvy to get to the ball and showed the "wow" factor while making the play. An inside linebacker, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior led the team with 95 tackles, including 46 solos and 9 for loss. The all-East Suburban Catholic Conference pick displayed the talent to play anywhere on defense. "He's terrific getting to the ball," coach Gary Goforth said.

All Area Team 2009
Brandon Salemi Glenbard North

This two-time all-DuPage Valley Conference cornerback was missed when he broke his collarbone just before the state quarterfinals. Solid against the pass and run, Salemi made 42 tackles, including three for loss. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior intercepted 5 passes and knocked down 12 more. "He's a guy we turned to in tough situations," coach Ryan Wilkens said.

All Area Team 2009
Alex Schaefer Naperville Central

The emotional leader of Naperville Central's defense, Schaefer's relentlessness allowed him to dominate on the line. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior had 55 solo tackles highlighted by 5 sacks. A pure playmaker, the all-DuPage Valley Conference pick forced five fumbles. "From the snap of the ball to the whistle, he never stopped," coach Mike Stine said.

All Area Team 2009
Rickey Simpson Waubonsie Valley

Pairing 4.7 speed and top conditioning, the 215-pound senior was voted the Upstate Eight Conference's No. 1 defender and Coaches Association 8A all-state. The relentless end made 66 tackles with 9 sacks, 9 for loss. The rare lineman who returned kicks, Warriors coach Paul Murphy said Mid-American Conference colleges like Simpson "because he's got a motor that doesn't stop."

All Area Team 2009
Lee Skinner Glenbard East

One of the area's most improved players, Skinner dedicated himself to becoming a top-notch receiver. With a physical, highly skilled style, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior was quite a presence while catching 35 passes for 536 yards and 9 touchdowns. "He was the guy defenses had to game plan for every week," coach Dennis Lueck said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Slezak Glenbard South

Playing receiver, linebacker, running back, safety and quarterback, Slezak earned his all-state selection. Two-time all-Western Sun, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior excelled at linebacker with 109 tackles and 4 sacks, and at receiver, where he had 28 catches for 484 yards and 4 touchdowns. "He was our most valuable player," coach Dan Starkey said.

All Area Team 2009
Austin Teitsma Glenbard South

An injury-plagued season didn't prevent Teitsma from garnering a second All-Area selection in his third varsity season. Moving from defensive end to nose gave a boost to the 6-foot-2, 235-pound senior. Teitsma notched 49 tackles, including 31 solos and 2 sacks. "He's just a battler who tried to play through all the injuries he dealt with," coach Dan Starkey said.

All Area Team 2009
Tony Vargyas St. Francis

The Spartans' co-captain is a Coaches Association Class 5A all-stater, voted the Suburban Christian Blue's top defensive player. The versatile senior wingback-linebacker led St. Francis in receiving, averaged 6.7 yards a carry, punted and made 41 tackles, with 2 interceptions in St. Francis' 51-31 win over Montini. "He did so many things," coach Greg Purnell said.

All Area Team 2009
Jordan Walsh Glenbard West

The Hilltoppers rushed for 3,600 yards this season, thanks in much part to the play of this junior offensive lineman. Already a two-year starter, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound right tackle is developing into one of the area's top college prospects with a tenacious, technically sound approach to pass and run blocking. "He's ferocious," coach Chad Hetlet said.

All Area Team 2009
Trace Wanless Glenbard South

Twice named all-Western Sun and All-Area, Wanless achieved all-state status this season. The 6-foot, 185-pound senior quarterback went 16-3 as a starter, leading the Raiders to two state quarterfinal berths. This year he threw for 1,702 yards and rushed for 1,071 while totaling 32 touchdowns. "He has an uncanny ability to make plays," coach Dan Starkey said.

All Area Team 2009
Chandler Whitmer Downers Grove South

A three-year starter named all-West Suburban Gold each season, Whitmer is a two-time All-Area pick who was named to this year's all-state team and was the Gold's player of the year. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior quarterback threw for 1,826 yards and 23 touchdowns. "He's as good as we've had in the 30 years I've been at South," coach John Belskis said.

All Area Team 2009
John Whitelaw Hinsdale Central

The Daily Herald All-Area 2009 football captain, Whitelaw owns five all-time program records. Despite missing the playoffs with a concussion, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior threw for 1,840 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,299 yards and 17 scores. "It's hard to even express what he meant to the program," coach Mike DiMatteo said.

Honorable mention

Mike Barnett (Waubonsie Valley, sr., OL), Tyler Becker (WW South, sr., DL); Adam Bruere (Glenbard West, sr., RB); Nick Burrello (Glenbard West, jr., WR-RB); Reece Butler (Wheaton North, jr., QB); Mike Carev (Glenbard North, sr., WR); Frank Cervantes (Addison Trail, sr., RB); Joe Claver (Downers North, sr., QB); Mike Colatorti (Addison Trail, sr., OL/DL); Clay Cooper (Lake Park, sr., WR/DB), Chris Cortopassi (WW South, sr., OL); Connor Douglas (Glenbard South, sr., WR/DB); Brian Duffy (Glenbard South, sr., LB); Sean Dunn (Willowbrook, sr., DB); Christian Eble (Neuqua Valley, sr., DL), Jack Eshelman (WW South, jr., LB); Ross Ferraro (Montini, jr., DL), Pat Flavin (Benet, jr., OL); Ryan Gerts (Lake Park, sr., LB); Arnas Gintautas (Naperville North, sr., LB/OL); Eric Justiniano (Fenton, sr., QB); Russ Kalfas (St. Francis, sr., OL/DL), Alex Kirk (Hinsdale Central, sr., WR); Scott Kuehn (Waubonsie Valley, sr., WR), Ryan Liss (Lisle, sr., WR/DB), Greg McAndrew (WW South, sr., WR); Nick Melka (Benet, sr., DL); J.T. Mesch (Glenbard West, sr., WR); Kevin Miller (Hinsdale South, sr., QB); Billy O'Donnell (Glenbard West, sr., LB); Soern Osborne (Naperville North, jr., OL); Charlie Perrecone (Lake Park, sr., OL/DL), Joe Pfeiffer (St. Francis, sr., TE/DE), Brandon Phillips (Glenbard South, sr., DB); Carson Rajcan (Wheaton North, sr., DB); Richie Rebmann (Fenton, sr., OL/DL); T.J. Rhattigan (Neuqua Valley, jr., LB), Phil Robles (Lake Park, sr., OL), Matt Rogers (WW South, jr., RB); Owen Saldana (Waubonsie Valley, jr., LB), Will Sayer (Naperville Central, jr., LB); Ryan Spatz (St. Francis, sr., OL/LB), Mack Tracey (WW South, sr., WR/QB); Chris Wahrman (Glenbard North, sr., LB); Tyler Warden (Glenbard West, sr., QB); Erik Westerberg (York, sr., LB); Christian Westerkamp (Montini, sr., WR), Jordan Westerkamp (Montini, so., WR); Nick Wozniak (Glenbard North, sr., OL); Blake Zumpano (West Chicago, sr., DB).