Super 25 football countdown: No 12 StevensonLincolnshire Saturday 11.05.11. Stevenson's Matt Morrissey (left) (8) makes a one handed catch in front of Maine South defender Danny Allegretti (right) (21) during their second round game of the Class 8A playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Lincolnshire. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 4:34PM
Anyone who focuses on what Stevenson’s football team lost to graduation might be missing the big picture.
The Patriots definitely will miss some of the seniors from a 9-3 club that snapped three-time defending state champ Maine South’s 16-game IHSA playoff winning streak. Four of them made BCS college rosters this fall: linebackers Carl Miller (Air Force) and Dom Bickus (Kansas), kicker Matt Micucci (Northwestern) and offensive lineman Jake Hurcombe (Eastern Michigan). A third Class of 2012 linebacker, John Way, also is playing college football at Washington University in St. Louis.
So yes, Stevenson – No. 12 in the Sun-Times preseason Super 25 – does have some holes to fill. But as you’d expect at a school that’s made 23 straight playoff appearances, there are plenty of guys ready for the chance to carry on the tradition.
One of them is junior Matt Morrissey, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound strong safety and wide receiver who had 87 tackles and four interceptions on defense while averaging 20 yards a catch and scoring three touchdowns on offense.
Morrissey, whose dad Jim played for the Bears, is more focused on team goals right now: “As a Stevenson football player, we definitely go fort that state title. We’ve played pretty well the last few years, into the quarterfinals. But we’re ready to take that next step.”
Joining Morrissey in the receiver corps are sophomore Cameron Green (6-2, 165), whose dad Mark is another ex-Bear, and senior Alan Velev (6-4, 175).
Throwing to them will be a pair of sophomore quarterbacks: Willie Bourban (6-1, 185) and Jimmy Marchese (6-1, 175). “Both of them have a lot of skill they bring,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “They throw the ball well, both can be run-pass threats.
“There’s a good chance that we’ll use both of them. Neither one has played themselves out of a job.”
The Patriots also look to have a ground game opponents will have to respect with speedy Anthony Bozin (5-10, 165) and power runner Danny Nowak (6-3, 205), a pair of seniors, lining up in the backfield.
“We always like to run the ball,” McNamara said. “We like to have a nice balance. With young quarterbacks, we don’t plan on having them throw the ball 50 times a game.”
Back on the offensive line are senior Joey Marchese (6-3, 235) and junior Zach Novoselsky (6-4, 255), yet another son of a former Bear (Brent).
On defense, the Patriots should be solid up front with sophomore Nick Dillon (6-1, 230) and Patrick O’Connell (6-2, 235) and seniors Art Polk (6-0, 190) and Blake Watson.
“The big hole we have to fill from last year is our linebacking crew,” McNamara said. “The defense is coming around. ... We’re athletic, there’s a lot of skill on defense.”
“We have a lot of linebackers,” Morrissey said. “It’s been a tough competition all summer. Definitely, a lot of kids have stepped up.”
Other experienced defensive backs in addition to Morrissey are seniors Timmy Breen (5-10, 180) and Connor Lewis (6-1, 175).