While a Morris vs. Montini Class 5A state final football game was not widely embraced as likely at the beginning of the playoffs, coaches throughout the state seemed to think so. In the week leading up to the championship game, the Illinois Football Coaches Association deemed both the Redskins and the Broncos worthy of three All-State selections apiece.
Morris first-team selections were 6-5, 255-pound end Danny Friend and 6-2, 225-pound linebacker Jeff Perry.
"Both were first-team All-State, and actually, Craig Claire got honorable mention. The only two teams in the state were us and Montini with three guys," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "They (the Broncos) had two first-teamers like we did and an honorable mention. The awards for all three of those guys (are) very well deserved. They have worked extremely hard to get to this point and those three guys are huge reasons that we made it down to Champaign."
Montini 5-11, 185-pound receiver Joe Borselino and kicker Andrew Harte were the first-team picks for the Broncos.
Borselino was the Broncos' leading receiver this year with 69 grabs for 730 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, he also was a running back who rushed 41 times for 248 yards and five more TD on the ground. Though he missed three field goals in the championship game, Harte made two against the Redskins in Champaign and finished the fall by making 13 of 18 attempts.
For Morris, Friend was a tight end and a defensive end for the Redskins. As a receiver, he caught 15 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns and as a defender he had 56 tackles and three interceptions. Perry ended with 90 tackles on defense as a Morris linebacker and ran the ball 90 times for 676 yards and seven TD.
Both Friend and Perry are going to be be playing ball at the Division I level beginning next year as Friend will be a tight end at Indiana University and Perry a linebacker at Central Michigan. Still, they are not the only ones that could play at that level from his Redskins according to Thorson.
"Craig Claire has the ability to be a Division I player with the way that he blocks. We'll see where he ends up. Obviously the stats they put up and the team success, along with the work ethic they have play a part," Thorson said on the selection process.
"The main thing is, when you sit in on those (All-State) meetings you can hear the other coaches' opinions of your players, and every one of those coaches talked our three guys up. I couldn't have said it any better myself than the way their opinions were. Definitely, it's nice to see the kids get recognized by other coaches in the state, too."
After the championship game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Friend was asked about being named to the All-State team. He said that while getting the news of making the team was fine, he would rather have won the state title.
"Getting down to state was our goal from the beginning of the season. For some of us since we were freshmen," Friend said. "I'm a little disappointed in the outcome, but we're proud of each other. As for being All-State, it's great to me but it wasn't what we wanted."