Moments before the kickoff of the Class 6A semifinal game between Lemont and Crete-Monee, a referee handed the football to the Warriors’ Laquon Treadwell.
Fully aware Treadwell was the best player on offense for the Warriors, and one of the best on defense, one fan high in the stands turned to his left and said to a friend, “He’s their kicker, too?”
Yep. A triple threat, Treadwell was rarely off the field playing for the Crete-Monee varsity the last three years. His offensive exploits this season – 1,424 receiving yards, 257 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns – earned him the Times’ Offensive Player of the Year award.
It’s not as if he was a one-man team. The Warriors had a passel of fine players on both sides of the ball, but Treadwell stood out.
Opposing coaches wore out their DVD players replaying his feats.
A breakaway playmaker, Treadwell took Crete-Monee from above-average to championship caliber, leading the Warriors to 14 straight wins and the school’s first IHSA team title in any sport.
“Winning!” Treadwell said. “We aimed for that for four years. Going in, we knew we could be one of the dominant teams and a state contender. We knew the regular season wasn’t going to be a great challenge, but we worked hard all the way through, because we knew we had a chance to win it all.”
Then came the practice on the Tuesday of championship week. Lance Lenoir was out with the flu, and few performed well, including Treadwell.
“I got cussed out, but something good came out of it,” Treadwell said. “That was just what we needed. The last three days, I was pushing myself, knowing it was my last game. I felt I had something to prove to myself and my fellow players.”
Treadwell opened the scoring with a 69-yard touchdown run, caught six passes for 85 yards, including a 57-yard score, made 12 tackles, picked off a pass that led to another Crete-Monee touchdown, kicked an extra point, and ran another conversion home, scoring 15 of Crete-Monee’s 33 points in the title game.
“He was very special in that game,” coach Jerry Verde said, “and he didn’t play mistake-free football. But when he fumbled, on the next play, he made the interception. If he’s not a senior, and intelligent, he doesn’t make that play.”
Crete-Monee scored on the next snap, and went on to a 33-26 victory over Cary-Grove.
Then Treadwell celebrated with smiles, hugs, laughs.
A solid player as a freshman, he was elevated to the varsity as a sophomore, expected to excell. Two weeks into the 2010 season, he got an earful.
“It was crazy,” Treadwell remembered. “Coach (John) Konecki, our offensive coordinator, called me out of class into a meeting. They yelled at me and said, ‘If you keep your act together and keep your grades up, you’ll have every major program in the country interested in you.'”
Treadwell, hailed as one of the country’s top prep wide receivers, remains uncommitted as he investigates the possibilities. Essentially, he’s recruiting colleges as much as they’re recruiting him.
“He took to heart us telling him to wait until he took his visits,” Verde said.
He saw Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois over the summer, and now is taking his five official visits, paid by the respective colleges. The first was Mississippi. He’s keeping the other four destinations to himself, and said he’ll likely still be undecided after playing in a national all-star game on Jan. 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
With a grade-point average about 3.5, Treadwell has the notion to major in either sports medicine – “My mom thinks it would be good, and I like helping people out,” Treadwell said – or sports broadcasting.
Along with the campus atmosphere being a comfortable fit, his selection will hinge on the coaching staff’s ability to turn out NFL receivers.
“Who’s the coach, and what players has he developed,” Treadwell said. “I am interested in playing at that next level."