It took a bit of a rally in the afternoon session, but the Minooka girls bowling team got its wish at the state tournament on Friday — it advanced to the final round.
Just a year removed from a major letdown on the first day, the Indians finished 10th overall to make the cut. Seven different girls bowled for Frank Yudzentis' team on the day, which shows one of the main strengths of the squad this year.
"One of the nice things about the team is that we are eight deep and I don't know if I've ever had a team that deep," he said this past week at Town and Country Lanes in Joliet right before his team held practice. "Having that depth is a plus going in."
'Going in' is in reference to the state tournament this year. In the past seven years, Yudzentis had guided five Minooka teams to the state tournament with the team's best finish under him coming in 2005 when the Indians finished third.
He asked what the secret to his team's success has been in that span.
"The expectations. When I came here, the emphasis was not on the postseason and it was about getting them into the right state of mind and the right attitude," he said. "What has changed is the expectations. We're excited going in because we are going back to the state tournament and we expect to compete."
While short of qualifying for state, the Seneca girls basketball team won its first regional championship since 2002 and the first under coach Barb Beck this week when her squad defeated Coal City 30-24 for the Plano title. There were plenty of smiles on the faces of the Irish faithful as they cradled the championship plaque. Senior Alanna Viken pointed out that she was very happy to see her coach get a regional title.
"She has taught us all so much. She's such a hard worker and she deserves this," she said. "I'm so happy to be a part of it."
There was some local football news in the past couple of weeks also. It was National College Signing day on Feb. 2 and Morris had several notable players commit to play football at the next level. Those athletes included: Branden Odom (University of Wisconsin-Platteville), Andrew Bordner (McKendree College), Rishard Dixon-Norris (St. Ambrose) and Mitch Redford (Elmhurst College).
Found out later that there was another Morris native who was going on to play football at the next level in Mike Mettille. He is the son of former MCHS and current Joliet Catholic Academy football coach Mark Mettille and they were both ecstatic to share the news that Mike is going to the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League starting next year.
It's a good deal for all of the players who are getting a chance to show their talents at the next level and to get some help from the respective colleges in the process.
One other bit of football business came this week when I interviewed Ed Brady for the upcoming Vision section coming out on Feb. 22. He is in a section called 'Where are they now?' and the former MCHS linebacker and longsnapper was gracious enough to participate.
There were a couple of things that didn't make the article, so I'll share them here.
You know most of his story if you have been around for any length of time. A 1980 MCHS graduate, Brady played football for the University of Illinois for four years as a linebacker and longsnapper before being drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1984. He then played in the NFL for 12 seasons with the Rams, Cincinnatti Bengals and Tamp Bay Buccaneers before retiring in 1995.
He is currently coaching football at Lakota East in Ohio and living in Liberty Township. Like Mettille, Ed's oldest son John is getting a nice package next year to attend and play football at Columbia University of the Ivy League. John is one of four boys that Ed and his wife Ruth Ann have. There is also Keith (15), Kevin (13) and Eddie (11).
Ed says that the job at Lakota East is a paying job but that it's certainly not the reason he's doing it.
"If you are helping out and coaching high school football, you are in it because you love it, not because of the money," Brady said.
I also talked to John, a linebacker and longsnapper (go figure), about his brothers and he thinks they will also be successful on the gridiron as well.
"Keith is a sophomore and he plays, Kevin just entered seventh grade and Eddie will play," John said, pointing out that Ed doesn't let his kids play youth football before the seventh grade. "I think they all have a good shot of being good football players. Keith is the most athletic of all four of us. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Right now the younger two are trying to figure it out, but I think they will have success as well."
Just like their father.