What was the defining moment in the development of East St. Louis junior quarterback Tyler Macon, who was named the 2019 EDGYTIM/Rivals.com Illinois Player of the Year?
According to longtime East St. Louis assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Harith Mitchom, you need to go back to end of the 2018 season.
"The defining moment came late in the third quarter in last year's quarterfinal game against Mount Carmel," Mitchom said. "On the first play of the game…they just rocked Tyler with some major hits. After that, Tyler was playing like Mount Carmel had 30 guys chasing after him. For the first time all season last year, he was just a sophomore doing sophomore things. A great defense will expose you, and Mount Carmel exposed him, yet a great defense can also help you develop and get better along the way.
"Tyler ended up throwing a couple of late touchdown passes to end that game and he was just so relaxed from that point forward. Ever since then, he's been lights out. The consistency came back and we stopped seeing errand throws. We knew this season could be special for him."
Macon's leadership and overall play this fall was jaw-dropping. It helped propel the Flyers to a perfect 14-0 season and a ninth IHSA football state title — the winningest high school football program in the Land of Lincoln.
Macon, in his second season as the starting varsity quarterback for the 6A champs, passed for 4,241 yards and 39 touchdowns while also completing 70 percent of his passes. Macon also ran for 879 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The East St. Louis offense scored an astonishing 715 points on the season. They also posting five “running clock” results in the regular season, where Macon saw limited playing time as a result. That same running clock streak also stretched into the postseason as the Flyers put up running clock scores in the first three rounds of action.
But if you truly want to get a better feel for just how good Macon was in 2019, ask a few of the opposing head coaches who had to try to stop him and the Flyers offense — a unit that ESL head coach Darren Sunkett called the best offense in the history of the program.
"He's a terrific player for them (East St. Louis) and that team was on a mission from the opening game," Batavia head coach Dennis Piron said. "What impressed me about [Macon] was just how relaxed and patient he was running the offense. He made great decisions and reads, he never seemed to panic or get rattled whatsoever."
Oak Lawn Richards head coach Tony Sheehan also raved about Macon's abilities.
"What really impressed me about [Macon] was his patience and just the way he ran that offense," Sheehan said. "He definitely had a great grasp of the offense, made the right calls and made the right decisions. He also just never panics and knew when to stay in the pocket and also could just feel pressure and knew when to tuck it and run. His running ability is really impressive along with his throwing ability."
Several players from across the state received serious consideration for the Player of the Year award. Yet from wire-to-wire, no one in my opinion was as valuable, made as many improvements along with just embraced the spotlight more than East St. Louis quarterback Tyler Macon.