Football: Hinsdale South’s Stephen O’Neill finds comfort zoneHinsdale South's D.J. Deolitsis against Glenbard West in a 7 on 7 tournament Thursday, June 28, 2012 at Addison Trail High School in Addison. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 1:31PM
Stephen O’Neill didn’t get to play much last season as a backup linebacker, but this fall should be different for the senior from Hinsdale South.
O’Neill is getting plenty of time on defense this summer as the Hornets enter their second offseason camp and second season under coach Mike Barry.
The Hornets boast returning quarterback D.J. Deolitsis, the starting left fielder from the West Suburban Gold champion baseball team, and the newly crowned Class 3A state champion in the 100-meter dash, Tavaris Binion, has become a favored weapon on the defense as a safety.
“Tavaris can play offense. We will get him the ball in a variety of different places,” Barry said.
Hinsdale South competed in one of its final 7-on-7 tournaments of the season June 28 at Addison Trail with a pleasant surprise such as junior wide receiver Mark Watson, who was chosen as one of the team’s top performers in Addison after the football team lost receiver Justin Ward for six weeks due to a separated shoulder.
“The defense has new faces, but I like what I’ve seen so far,” Barry said.
O’Neill is actually an old face in a new spotlight and has seen plenty of action in the middle of the defense with fellow linebackers Dan Garcy and Mike Jachna.
Barry said O’Neill is one of the top students in his class and scored a 32 on his ACT. O’Neill hopes to study business at the University of Illinois after graduation next year.
“My senior year is something I have looked forward to,” O’Neill said. “I’ve tried to get a little stronger (this summer). I’m not that tall (5-foot-10).”
Barry said he has been particularly pleased by his team’s performance in the weight room now that the team has worked out more than a year under his watch. Barry said he felt the Hornets were outmuscled by certain opponents during Hinsdale South’s five-win season.
Years of playing chess with his father, Joseph, has paid off for O’Neill. He has become a volunteer chess tutor at the Indian Prairie library in Darien, which holds open chess sessions for both adult and youth players. O’Neill’s students range from first grade to sixth grade.
“I used to be better,” O’Neill said. “I remember when I was younger, my dad played with me a bit.”