CALUMET CITY | There are several reasons why the T.F. South football team is 3-1 as opposed to last year's 1-3 record at this point in the season.
The Rebels have multiple ways to win, whether it's on defense or offense. They also have some weaknesses, which were shown in a season-opening loss to Class 6A No. 1 Crete-Monee, but this team is playing together and it showed in the 42-8 win Friday over District 215 rival T.F. North.
A year ago, the Rebels lost at home and it set them into a tailspin and a 1-5 start. If you count the Rebels winning their last three games last year, they have won six of their last seven games.
“We are together in practice and is about team,” senior lineman Byron Leach said. “Last year, guys were playing for themselves and it showed.”
It showed Friday that the line and the whole team is together. They will have to be ready, with road trips to Tinley Park and Lemont on the schedule. The road ahead is tough, but not impossible.
Granted Urban Prep Charter West, Hillcrest and T.F. North are not powers, but the Rebels did what good teams should do, they went out, dominated and left no doubts. They are not cocky, but you can tell how this team has confidence.
The offensive line of Leach, Josh Gentry, Khyree Pierce, Sammy Kessler, Adam Kessler and tight ends Armon Stewart and Raphael Canty opened some gaping holes as the Rebels rushed for 358 yards and had 380 yards of total offense.
“That's our job,” Sammy Kessler said. “We are together up front and it is our job to open up the holes. As seniors, we have to set the tone, make sure everybody is together on what we want to accomplish.”
What the Rebels want to accomplish is a trip back to the playoffs. Last year's loss left a bad enough taste that there wasn't enough mouth wash to cleanse their palates.
Another thing about this team is they take care of business. The Rebels knew how important Friday's game was because of the rivalry and the 16-14 overtime loss from last year on their own field. They also treated it like a game and went out and took advantage of North's mistakes. Drakkar Frazier, who returned after missing two games with a concussion, was a defensive spark as he had two interceptions.
There is not one go-to guy, but plenty. On offense, there is Frazier, running backs Joe Young, Robert Travis, Saleem Sanford, Kendall McCaskill, Trenton Gilbert and James Bucksath. Coach Tom Padjen has two good quarterbacks in Peyton Padjen and Danny Janowski.
“Last year, we just had Gio (Giovanni Canty), but we got a bunch of guys who can break one,” Leach said. “That really helps your confidence knowing you have a lot of weapons.”
The defense also played well as it shut out the Meteors until the end.
“We know our defense is going to stop teams and we usually get the ball in good field position,” Kessler said. “We are just worried about working hard in practice and playing together as a team.”
There is no doubt T.F. South will have to with the challenges that are ahead, but there is no doubt this team can meet those challenges.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.