MIKE NIETO: Practice makes perfect at Crete-Monee

2011-09-22T22:00:00Z 2013-03-15T21:37:11Z MIKE NIETO: Practice makes perfect at Crete-MoneeBy Mike Nieto Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 22, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

The Big Blue Machine is firing like an old Detroit 8-cylinder from the 1960s.

And on all eight of them. Plenty of steel and chrome, but this machine gets pretty good gas mileage and doesn't appear to be ready to slow down. So get out of its way.

The Crete-Monee football team has run through the nonconference part of its schedule with a 4-0 mark and has outscored its opponents 168-34. The Warriors must think gas is 25 cents a gallon as they have revved up their engines so far and left tire tracks on their opponents.

The Warriors open Southland Athletic Conference play tonight against a winless Kankakee team. Since the SAC began in 2009, Crete is 15-0 in conference and has won 17 straight conference games going back to the SICA South days. The team last loss to Rich East 20-15 in Week 7 of the 2007 season.

Coach Jerry Verde does not expect a cake walk tonight and let his players know.

"Given we have struggled there in the past, and we really have to keep our focus on the game," Verde said. "The reason we have been successful so far, I think that is not being complacent. Every practice is harder than the last.

"We told them after the T.F. South game (a 32-8 win in the season opener) that each practice would be harder. We cannot just sit back and not work hard and the kids know it."

Verde is right about Kankakee, which was shut out 29-0 by Rich South last week. The Warriors won 21-14 last year and 19-12 in Kankakee in 2009. Before that, Crete won 27-13, 24-14 and 33-8 in 2006. The games have not been blowouts by any means and the Kays would love to shock The Times No. 2 and Class 6A No. 4 team.

Last week, Glenbard South ran a kickoff back for a score and that was the first time in five years a team has done that against the Warriors.

"We are putting a little extra work in this week with the kickoff team," Verde said. "We pride ourselves on special teams."

While quarterback Marcus Terrell 79-of-111 passing (71 percent) for 1,336 yards and 14 touchdowns. LaQuon Treadwell has caught 21 passes, seven of them for TDs, for 489 yards. Lance Lenoir has 25 catches for 346 yards and two scores. Eleven different players have caught passes. Kenneth Kidd has rushed for 339 of the team's 623 rushing yards.

Crete's defense is about as tough as it gets, and Verde has had the opportunity to get a lot of players on the field because of the blowouts. Sophomore linebacker Nyles Morgan leads the team with 27 tackles, but he hasn't played a lot of the second half as is the same for his teammates.

Barring injuries or lack of concentration, which the staff will not allow, the Warriors could finish undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 1952 and get a good seed for the Class 6A playoffs. This is a program that has really stepped up in class and deep postseason runs are the norm as the Warriors made it to the Class 6A quarterfinals the last two seasons. If you are a junior, when you think of the program, that is all you know is making it to the quarterfinals.

This could be the year they go a step further.

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

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