MIKE NIETO: It was a banner year

2013-06-13T19:30:00Z 2013-09-16T18:54:06Z MIKE NIETO: It was a banner yearMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
June 13, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

It was a very successful year for our teams in 2012-2013.

Times Illinois circulation area teams competed in six state championships and came away with five titles. It was an eventful year, but was not without some controversy.

Then there was Beecher's Grant Nykaza, who won the Class 1A boys cross country title in the fall and the Class 1A 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles in the spring. The Florida State recruit has left for Tallahassee, Fla., but left his mark on the local sports scene.

In football, Crete-Monee won its first state title in any team sport when the Warriors won the Class 6A title by beating Cary-Grove 33-26 for the title at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium. Crete's Laquon Treadwell showed why he was one of the top recruits in the nation as he dominated the game. The Ole Miss recruit made his mark on both sides of the ball. Teammate Nyles Morgan, who has offers from over two dozen schools, was equally as tough on defense.

It turned out that would be coach Jerry Verde's last game as coach as less than a month later he accepted the football coaching job at his prep alma mater, Marian Catholic.

It was also the end of Marian football coach Dave Mattio's 37-year run as head coach. He retired on Oct. 20, but will remain as the school's athletic director.

Mount Carmel won its 11th state football championship several hours after Crete did. The Caravan beat Glenbard North 28-14 in the Class 8A title game. It was coach Frank Lenti's 10th at the helm at Mount Carmel as the school became the first Catholic school to win an 8A title.

Just last week, Mount Carmel won its first baseball state title as it beat Libertyville 2-1 to capture the Class 4A championship. Jason Gasser was a starter on both the football and baseball teams.

The Marian Catholic girls basketball team also won its first state title when it beat Rolling Meadows 48-47 on March 2 at Redbird Arena in Normal. A sure loss was turned into a celebration when sophomore Kauai Bradley's shot went in at the buzzer to touch off a celebration on Doug Collins Court.

The next week, the Seton Academy boys basketball team lost a close one to Harrisburg for the Class 2A title in Peoria, but that is not what the game will be remembered for. It was a nasty contest with the Seton players accusing the Harrisburg players of making racial slurs. Fans shouted insults and Seton coach Brandon Thomas took his team off the court and refused the runner-up trophy. The Illinois High School Association later handed down sanctions against Thomas and Harrisburg coach Randy Smithpeters. Thomas resigned from Seton in May.

There was nice run by the Marian boys basketball team that ended with a super-sectional loss to Edwardsville.

The T.F. South badminton was favored to win state from the beginning and the Rebels didn't disappoint in bringing home a first-place trophy.

And let's not forget Thornton's Kris Williams. The sophomore won his second straight state title by taking the Class 3A 113-pound title.

It was quite a fun-packed and prosperous one. Now, let's take a few months off.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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