Fire

WW South cap's off perfect season with 7A title

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WW South cap's off perfect season with 7A title

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010
9:52 PM

By Mike Clark
YourSeason.com

CHAMPAIGN -- Wheaton Warrenville South hasn't been down like this for a long time.

The Tigers were missing two of their top three receivers and trailed Lake Zurich by four points early in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's Class 7A state championship game at Memorial Stadium.

But WW South shook off that adversity the way Reilly O'Toole, Matt Rogers and Titus Davis shed tacklers en route to the Tigers' 28-17 comeback win over Lake Zurich.

The Tigers (14-0) pushed their winning streak to 26 games in winning their second consecutive state title and the school's seventh. Lake Zurich, which beat the Tigers in the 7A final in 2007, finished 12-2.

WW South's closest game this season before Saturday was a 28-7 win over Hinsdale Central in Week 1. This was more reminiscent of the 2009 state final, in which the Tigers beat Glenbard West in double overtime.

"We were expecting a dogfight and that's exactly what we got," said O'Toole, who threw two touchdown passes to Davis and accounted for 230 of the Tigers' 317 net yards.

Davis, the Tigers' leading receiver all season, was even more a focal point than usual with both Travis Kern and Dan Vitale out with collarbone injuries.

But life in the spotlight suited the speedy senior, who hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass on Wheaton's first play from scrimmage and caught a 25-yard TD pass 17 seconds before halftime.

"Having Travis and Dan out ... They were a big part of our offense," said Davis (six catches, 104 yards), who finished the year with 58 receptions for 1,239 yards and 18 scores. "We had to suck it up."

So did the WW South defense, which was tasked with trying to stop elusive Lake Zurich running back Jacob Brinlee.

"The best running back I've played all year, bar none," WW South nose guard Sparty Chino said. "He's physical, hard to bring down."

Brinlee ran 33 times for 226 yards. He had 54 yards on five carries during the Bears' first scoring drive, which was capped by quarterback Zach Till's one-yard TD run late in the first quarter. He had 59 more during a second-quarter possession capped by Mike Leiva's 27-yard field goal 6:16 before halftime.

"Credit to Brinlee," WW South coach Ron Muhitch said. "He kept them in the game single-handedly."

Davis' second touchdown catch with 17 seconds left in the half put the Tigers back on top 14-10, a score that was unchanged till the first play of the fourth quarter. John Mularz's one-yard run gave Lake Zurich a 17-14 lead.

Though it was an unfamiliar position, the Tigers didn't panic. "Everyone was calm ... We all worked together and everything paid off," Davis said.

Especially O'Toole, who ran 13 times for 51 yards after carrying the ball just 70 times in the first 13 games. He also went 14 of 23 passing for 182 yards.

"Some of the runs he breaks, the passes he makes when you think the play's over he's a playmaker," Chino said. "That's what he does."

"Reilly is the best athlete I've ever coached at Wheaton Warrenville South as an offensive player," Muhitch said. "He's the complete package."

O'Toole's running and passing helped set up Rogers' one-yard scoring run with 9:14 left. Rogers (13 carries, 87 yards) then sealed the win with a 37-yard scoring dash with 1:48 remaining.

"For the most part we played smart football and made plays when we needed to," O'Toole said.

Enough to win another state title, in fact.

Fire trade up in draft, select Hermann Trophy winner Jon Bakero

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USA TODAY

Fire trade up in draft, select Hermann Trophy winner Jon Bakero

After trading down in each of the past two drafts, the roles were reversed for the Fire and general manager Nelson Rodriguez.

The Fire traded up to the No. 5 spot, sending $75,000 of General Allocation Money, $100,000 of Targeted Allocation Money, the Fire’s natural first round pick at No. 15 and a player to be named later to Minnesota. With that pick the Fire took Jon Bakero, an attacking player who won the MAC Hermann Trophy, college’s soccer version of the Heisman Trophy, this fall.

Bakero comes in with a heck of a resume and a background. The Wake Forest forward scored 37 goals and had 26 assists in four years. As a senior he had 16 goals and 14 assists in 23 games.

On top of his college accomplishments, Bakero is the son of Jose Mari Bakero, who played for Barcelona for a decade and played in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. The Spanish-born player will count as an international on the Fire’s roster, but offseason moves have cleared out international slots. The Fire are up to six internationals on the roster.

Bakero is noted for his technical ability on the ball and his ability to create chances for himself and his teammates. He played as a striker in college, but in coach Veljko Paunovic’s system he could be used as the underneath attacker that Michael de Leeuw played in 2017 before getting hurt. With de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic expected to miss at least a few months of the 2018 season, Bakero should have a chance to start right away based on the current roster.

Bakero was named MVP of the combine leading into the draft. Last year the Fire took Daniel Johnson in the first round after Johnson caught some eyes by standing out at the combine.

The player to be named in the trade will be announced after the team reaches out to the player to notify him of the trade.

Meet the Prospects: Evan Skoug

Meet the Prospects: Evan Skoug

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Evan Skoug

Skoug, the 22-year-old catcher, was a seventh-round pick of the White Sox in last summer's draft.

A Libertyville native, Skoug played his college ball at TCU, where he and the Horned Frogs made three consecutive College World Series appearances in the last three years. During his final season at TCU, Skoug slashed .272/.378/.544 with a whopping 20 homers and 71 RBIs.

After joining the White Sox organization, Skoug played 21 games with Class A Kannpolis, only picking up 10 hits — but two homers and two triples — in his 76 plate appearances.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Skoug rated as the No. 24 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Skoug in the video above.