4-1 football team has tools to win

Dan Chmielinski

John Adkisson, co-sports editor

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Early in the 2011 season, the men’s varsity football team is off to a 4-1 start. With wins over Prospect, GBN, Maine East, and Evanston, head coach Mike Noll believes South is poised for a good season.

According to Noll, the Titans are a very well-rounded team this year, with several returning starters, including seniors Michael Demos and Nick Greco backing the team. Noll is pleased with the team’s performance so far.

“The secret key to this team, the winning formula, is balance,” Noll said. “Everybody really has to play to their potential, and then we have a chance to win at the highest level.”

According to Noll, the first test for South this year came from Stevenson. Going into the game, South had lost to Stevenson for three straight seasons. After some fourth quarter woes, South fell to the Patriots, 17-15. Noll feels that it was bad timing that doomed the men.

“We had a touchdown taken off the board on a questionable call; we thought we had the momentum in the fourth quarter but we got a penalty that ruined our possession,” Noll stated. “It just seems like the official’s calls came at very inopportune times in the game; the penalties were untimely.”

Fast forward to Sept. 9, where GBS played GBN for the first time in four years. In front of a packed audience, the Titans defeated the Spartans, 28-14. Despite beating their rivals, Noll feels that the game did not have an energizing effect on the team.

“I’m not sure [the win against GBN] had ‘that’ effect,” Noll commented. “I think GBN gets a lot more excited to play us than we get to play them. We dominated the game, but we didn’t dominate the scoreboard.”

In addition to having a balanced team, Noll believes that the seniors have stepped up big this year. Noll describes senior Matt Powers as the “effort man” of the team, and cites senior Michael Demos to be the key lineman, playing on both sides of the ball.

According to Noll, the defensive line has been the backbone of the team so far, with Demos and Powers providing good run defense. Against Glenbrook North, the Titans outran the Spartans 310-20 yards.

Playing alongside many seniors, sophomore Brett Laurie has stepped up to a starting role at cornerback. According to Noll, Laurie’s speed and awareness is what has made him successful at the varsity level.

“At the varsity level, the hardest working, most competitive players on the field [play],” Noll stated. “Brett is the fastest kid on the varsity, and he has the skill set [such that] he could be starting for us at tailback, he could be starting for us at corner, and he’s been an asset. He certainly is integral in our special teams as well.”

Early in the season, Laurie was one of few non-senior starters. However, Noll feels that the juniors have begun to take shape within the squad, and that it is a normal process.

“It’s a normal scenario in our football program,” Noll commented. “[You start with the seniors] because they’re a year more experienced and a year stronger. And, as time goes on, you get contributions from juniors too […] so our juniors are starting to fill in the gaps.”

Looking forward, conference is the next step. South has already beaten Evanston  26-7 and, according to Noll, New Trier is the other top team. While Maine South is currently ranked first in state, Noll tries not to worry about them too much.

“They’re kind of functioning at a different level than everybody else,” Noll said.

As of now, Noll is just concerned with making the playoffs and building from there.

“I think that the important thing in any season is to get better each week, to beat the teams you are supposed to beat, and to play your best football, and that’s what our kids are trying to do,” Noll commented. “The kids are working really hard, and it’s been a really easy group to work with.”

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