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Tough competition for All-Area football team

The big story for the Morris Daily Herald area in terms of football this year was, of course, Seneca making the playoff for the first time in 12 years. Led by veteran coach Ted O’Boyle, the Fighting Irish went 9-3, which included a pair of playoff wins.

Coal City was the only other team from the area to make the playoffs as the Coalers went 5-5 on the season. After that came both Morris and Minooka at 3-6 who, after a promising game on opening day, struggled most of the season.

Still, despite a 20-20 aggregate record from the area teams, competition was just as tough to make this year’s Morris Daily Herald All -Area team this fall.

QB/DB – Brennen Shetina

Coal City senior

Shetina completed 78 of 154 passes for 1,096 yards and eight touchdown while running for 511 yards and 14 more scores at QB. As a defensive back, Shetina made 33 tackles while intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles.

“He was one of the players we could not afford to have off the field at any time,” Onsen said. “He was a two-year varsity starter and an All I-8 Conference selection.”

QB – Jake Czerniakowski

Minooka senior

‘Ski’ was 82 of 148 completing passes for 1,100 yards and threw eight touchdowns. As a rusher he recorded 280 yards and added four more scores on the ground.

“And he did that with only a few months under our new offense,” Forsythe said.

RB – Nathan Gunn

Minooka junior

Gunn rushed for 860 yards on 149 carries and scored 14 times for the Indians.

“A physical slasher of a runner and a solid blocker, as well,” Forsythe said. “A good nose for the ball on defense and a physical tackler.”

RB/LB – Tommy Lovett

Seneca senior

Lovett ran for 1,265 yards in 202 carries and he also hit pay dirt 14 times.

“A great compliment to Bo in the backfield, Tommy was able to put together a great season while battling some injuries during our playoff run,” O’Boyle said. “An all-around outstanding athlete who will be very tough to replace.”

RB/DB – Jake Walker

Morris junior

Walker had 1,077 yards rushing for the Redskins on 133 carries for an 8.1 yards per carry average and 12 rushing touchdowns. Added five catches for 75 yards and on defense had 38 tackles and two interceptions.

“Jake is a very talented running back,” Thorson said. “He led our team in rushing yards, touchdowns and interceptions. He had a great season and we are expecting big things from him next year.”

WR/RB – Zach Zamora

Minooka senior

Finished 429 of 783 return yards. Had three touchdowns.

“Explosive edge player with good instincts with the ball in his hands,” Forsythe said.

FB – Matt Feiden

Morris junior

Played both fullback and linebacker for the Redskins. On the ground, Feiden ran for 190 yards in 36 carries and he had two touchdowns rushing. Caught five passes for 71 yards and had a receiving touchdown. On defense he had 44 tackles.

“Matt is a physical player who is not only a good blocking fullback, but he can run the ball for tough yards, as well,” Thorson said.

TE – Nate Chapman

Coal City senior

Caught eight passes but was a good blocking tight end according to Onsen.

“He did a nice job of pass catching and an even better job of both run and pass blocking,” Onsen said. “He also did a fine job on our special teams this year.”

SE – Steve Purdy

Coal City senior

Had nine catches for 99 yards but was a versatile, two-way starter for Onsen. On defense he had 28 tackles and four quarterback sacks.

“Steve was one of our captains this year and was a two-way starter,” Onsen said. “He also helped out on special teams throughout the year.”

WR – Ben Barnett

Seneca senior

“Ben came out as a senior and had a great season as a wide receiver and punt returner for us,” O’Boyle said.

WR/K – Lane Cowherd

Coal City senior

On offense, Cowherd had 25 catches for 406 yards and a touchdown. As a kicker he made 30 of 33 PAT attempts and he made three of five field goals.

“He was an outstanding downfield blocker, as well,” Onsen said. “He’s handled all of our place-kicking duties in the last two years. An All I-8 selection.”

OL – Paul Stawarz

Minooka senior

“He’s a big physical player with great leverage and ability to get on second-level defenders,” Forsythe said. “Was an outstanding player for us these last two years.”

OL – Colin Griffin

Seneca junior

Griffin was an All-Interstate Eight Conference pick for the Fighting Irish.

“He adjusted very well to us being in the gun formation this year and was an anchor for our O-line,” O’Boyle said.

OL/DL – Bailey DePodesta

Coal City senior

“A two-year starter on our offensive line – this year playing the left guard position where he did a really nice job of both run and pass blocking,” Onsen said. “He also helped our defensive line at defensive end and defensive tackle.”

OL – Chance Gonnam

Seneca senior

“Chance had a great season at the right guard position for a team that rushed for 3,374 yards on the season,” O’Boyle said.

OL/DL – T.J. Layne

Morris junior

Started every game for the Redskins in the last two years at right guard and on defense made 24 tackles, including six sacks.

“T.J. is a two-year starter for us. He’s a solid blocker and has very good speed for a lineman,” Thorson said. “He is another junior that we are expecting to have a good senior season.”

OL/DL – Matt Long

Coal City junior

Had 35 total tackles on defense with three sacks.

“He’s also a two-year starter on the offensive line,” Onsen said. “He’s done an outstanding job on the offense and defensive lines all season long. He’s very consistent week in and week out.”

OL/LB – Brad Wyss

Seneca senior

An honorable mention All-State selection, Wyss was nearly as indispensable to the Irish attack as Bo Taylor. He had 137 total tackles, three sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and an interception.

“Brad was the anchor for our defense and our offensive line,” O’Boyle said. “He was a team captain and leader for us. He will be a player that will succeed at the next level.”


DL – Mark Lincoln

Morris junior

Made 25 tackles and recorded three sacks.

“Mark is a very strong defensive lineman with good speed,” Thorson said. “He started all nine games for us and got better each week.”

DE/OL – Matt Johnson

Seneca senior

“Matt was a team captain and pound per pound our strongest player,” O’Boyle said. “Matt moved from middle backer to defensive end this year and did a great job.”

DL – Andrew Faught

Morris junior

Had 21 tackles, two sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

“Andrew is another one of our junior defensive linemen that we are excited about for next year,” Thorson said. “Andrew is a very strong lineman that demands double teams.”

DL – Mark Geers

Minooka senior

“He missed much of the year due to an injury … was a solid player for us at end for two seasons,” Forsythe said.

Geers had 16 tackles and three sacks in four games for the Indians.

DE/TE –Nick Peters

Coal City senior

On offense, Peters had 21 catches for 303 yards and four touchdowns and on defense he had 59 tackles, including nine sacks.

“He was one of this year’s captains and an All-I-8 Conference selection,” Onsen said. “He’s a three-year varsity starter with a great work ethic on and off the football field.”

DE/TE – Austin Appplebee

Seneca senior

Set a Seneca single-season record for recording 15 1/2 sacks, Applebee also caught 17 passes for 324 yards and two scores.

“At 6-foot-4, Austin broke the school record for sacks in a season,” O’Boyle said. “He was also a huge weapon at tight end who was constantly double teamed. An all-around outstanding athlete who was a team captain and leader for us.”

OL/DL – Kurtis Smith

Coal City junior

“Kurtis was a starter on offense at the center position where he had never played before,” Onsen said. “He took the challenge and worked extremely hard and showed great improvement each and every week. He also helped out on our defensive line and on our special teams.”

LB/RB – Kasey Kaiser

Coal City senior

Had 68 tackles on defense with an interception and two quarterback sacks.

“He was our only returning defensive starter from last year,” Onsen said.

LB – Austin Laurie

Morris senior

Had 89 tackles to lead the Redskins, including three sacks.

“Austin is a typical Morris linebacker – a big physical kid that likes to hit,” Thorson said. “He led our team in tackles and also played tight end. He almost never left the field.”

LB – Robbie Meucci

Morris junior

Had 50 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. On offense, Meucci had 18 carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

“Robbie finished second on our team in tackles. He is a very smart and physical player,” Thorson said. 

LB – Jeff Klank

Minooka junior

Was the Indians’ leading tackler with 89 (43 solo).

“Physical at the point of attack,” Forsythe said. “Jeff will look to be a leader for our defense in 2014.”

LB – Parker Czaja

Coal City junior

Had 85 total tackles to go along with three quarterback sacks. Had a fumble recovery and six tackles for a loss. An All I-8 selection.

DB – Corey Jurzak

Coal City junior

Ended with 45 tackles and added two fumble recoveries. Offensively he had 159 yards rushing and a touchdown.

“Corey started every game this year on defense where he did a nice job as a pass defender and a run stopper,” Onsen said. “He also did a really nice job on special teams throughout the season.”

DB/RB – D.J. Budde

Coal City junior

Had two fumble recoveries on defense and as a running back compiled 466 yards scored three times.

“He started on both sides of the ball this year at times,” Onsen said. “He was our strong safety on defense.”

DB – Kyle Hill

Morris senior

Had 47 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Offensively he caught 12 passes for 94 yards.

“Kyle is a good corner who is also a good tackler,” Thorson said. “He was also a vocal leader on our defense and returned kicks for us on special teams.”

K – Jake Reed

Morris senior

Made 21-of-22 PAT kicks and three of four of his field goals.

“Jake is a very accurate kicker with a strong leg,” Thorson said. “He came up with some big kicks this year, including two game-winning kicks.”

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