OAK LAWN | When last the sporting public saw Mount Carmel's Marko Boricich, the left-hander was pitching the Caravan to an 8-0 in the Class 4A semifinals June 7 in Joliet.
Just two Saturdays after the Caravan won the state baseball title, Boricich looked ever so slightly out of place taking snaps for Mount Carmel at Richards High School's annual 7-on-7 passing camp in Oak Lawn. Out of place because there wasn't a pitcher's mound in sight, out of place because for the last two seasons the kid under center for the Caravan went by the last name of Butkus, out of place because, well …
"I've never been here before," he said.
Summer baseball has always come first. But, when it's the summer before you take the reins of the Mount Carmel offense …
Not that Boricich has completely set aside baseball.
"After my semifinal game with baseball, on Friday, I started football that Monday," Boricich said. "But I'll do both all summer."
Witness Boricich's plans for the first full week of football practice, after practice officially gets underway Aug. 14.
"I'll have football Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday and Thursday I'll be in Marietta, Ga., for a baseball tournament, then I'll stay 'til the weekend and hopefully get a college visit in," he said. "I'll be back at football the next Monday."
The college visit may be for baseball, or it may be for football. Boricich hasn't decided which sport he'll pursue beyond the prep level, though an 8-1 mark and 1.77 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 71 innings make for a more impressive resume than mop-up duty in relief of Don Butkus on the gridiron.
Of course, to hear Caravan coach Frank Lenti tell it, backing up Butkus – who led Mount Carmel to a 13-1 mark, Lenti's 10th state title and the school's 11th overall – allowed Boricich to better contribute on the baseball field.
"Being on varsity football helped him grow and mature for baseball," Lenti said. "Mental toughness, learning how to overcome adversity and not quit, those attributes got stronger.
"As a sophomore on varsity baseball, when things didn't go his way he got kind of shaky. This year, it was not that way."
Now, Boricich is tasked with taking over an offense that returns just three starters while convincing recruiters he is college quarterback material.
"I try not to think of it as what I have to do to make myself a name," he said. "It's all about what I have to do to win football games.
"We're trying to make something special rather than make a name for me."
To that end, Boricich will have to make Mount Carmel's tried and true veer option offense his own.
Boricich likely won't be as quick to run as either Butkus or Chris Sujka, Butkus' predecessor were, for a simple reason.
"I'm not as fast as Donnie and Chris," he said.
Still, how much variety can there be in Mount Carmel's offense? Lenti argues there is more than enough.
"What people don't give us credit for is how we segment our offense based on what our quarterback can do," Lenti said. "We take what is in our offense that the quarterback does best and use that."
What Boricich does, as one might expect of a pitcher, is throw – though Lenti chose another word.
"He's a passer, not a thrower," Lenti said. "A thrower is out there slinging fastballs all over the place. A passer puts it where it needs to be, how it needs to get there."