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HomeSportsSteve Millar's top 10 boys sports stories for the Southland

Steve Millar’s top 10 boys sports stories for the Southland

Mount Carmel’s Daniel Banks (44) dumps a bucket of water over Mount Carmel coach Jordan Lynch in the final seconds of the Class 7A state championship game at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)
From the football field to the baseball diamond, from the mat to the track, Southland boys teams produced some memorable results in 2022.
Legendary coaches, rising stars and inspiring performances created more unforgettable moments.
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Here are the Southland’s top 10 stories of the year in boys sports:
Brother Rice’s Jack Lausch takes a big swing against De La Salle during a Catholic League crossover in Chicago on Thursday, March 31, 2022. (James C. Svehla / Daily Southtown)
10. Big runs in baseball
Brother Rice made national headlines with an upset of Florida’s IMG Academy. Led by football star Jack Lausch and Zion Rose, the Daily Southtown’s player of the year, the Crusaders took third in Class 4A. Lincoln-Way West, anchored by Louisville recruit Cole Crafton and pitcher Reagan King, won the program’s first sectional title.
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Lincoln-Way East’s Jared Byas tries to tip the ball past the block against Chicago Christian during a nonconference match in Palos Heights on Thursday, May 19, 2022. (James C. Svehla / Daily Southtown)
9. Griffins add to volleyball legacy
Lincoln-Way East won the program’s sixth state trophy with runner-up finish. The Griffins lost to Glenbard West in the state championship match. Versatile senior Jared Byas — the Daily Southtown’s player of the year — led the way, along with Tyler Walenga, Jon Guch and Sam Szafoni.
Thornton’s Ty Rodgers (20) goes through Kankakee’s Naz Hill (15) and Pierre Allen (5) on his way to the basket during the Class 3A Marian Catholic Sectional semifinals in Chicago Heights on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (John Smierciak / Daily Southtown)
8. Illini basketball recruits make noise
Ty Rodgers became a star in his one season at Thornton. The Daily Southtown’s player of the year had 21 double-doubles for the sectional finalist Wildcats before heading to Illinois. St. Rita’s Morez Johnson, another Illinois commit, helped Mustangs reach sectional final in 2021-22 and start 2022-23 as one of state’s top-ranked teams.
Bremen’s Noah Martinez (15) grabs a rebound as Lemont’s Rokas Castillo, left, and Matas Castillo (1) defend during a South Suburban Blue game in Lemont on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (James C. Svehla / Daily Southtown)
7. Lemont wild basketball ride
Led by prized recruit Nojus Indrusaitis and twins Matas and Rokas Castillo, Lemont upset Hillcrest and Thornton to win the program’s first sectional title in 47 years. Simeon ended the Cinderella run in a supersectional. Lemont then lost Indrusaitis, who transferred to St. Rita over the summer. The Castillos, nonetheless, led the team this winter to a 10-0 start.
Lincoln-Way East’s Jake Scianna (1) is handed the Class 8A state runner-up trophy at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)
6. Scianna leads Lincoln-Way East to state
Lincoln-Way East’s football team won its first 13 games before falling 13-3 to Loyola in the Class 8A state championship game. Running back James Kwiecinski, quarterback Braden Tischer and receiver Jimmy Curtin made huge impacts. The big story, though, was senior linebacker Jake Scianna, who played the entire season with a torn ACL and still piled up 96 tackles.
Providence football coach Tyler Plantz spent six seasons on the coaching staff at Notre Dame. (Photo provided by Plantz)
5. Warm welcomes, fond farewells for football coaches
In Tyler Plantz’s first season as Providence’s coach, the Celtics sneaked into the playoffs at 5-4, then made a magical run all the way to the Class 4A championship game before losing to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. Meanwhile, retiring coaches Brett Kooi of Lemont and Todd Kuska of St. Rita both had memorable final seasons, each making the semifinals.
Chicago Christian’s Luke Jelderks, left, bolts out of the blocks in the 100-meter dash in the Class 1A boys track state finals at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium in Charleston on Saturday, May 28, 2022. (Vincent D. Johnson / Daily Southtown)
4. On track for success
Chicago Christian’s Luke Jelderks capped a busy senior year — he also was the football team’s quarterback and a starter in basketball — by winning the Class 1A state title in the long jump. St. Rita’s EJ Nwagwu (2A 200-meter dash) and Andrew’s Jonathan Young (3A discus) also won state championships, along with relay teams from Sandburg (3A 3,200) Homewood-Flossmoor (3A 400) and Crete-Monee (3A 800).
Joliet Catholic’s TJ Schlageter (10) looks at the sign against Lockport during a nonconference game in Joliet on Friday, March. 25, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / Daily Southtown)
3. Joliet Catholic rolls to Class 2A baseball title
Joliet Catholic proved way too much for the rest of the Class 2A baseball field to handle, winning the program’s first state championship since 2013 with a 12-3 victory over Richmond-Burton. Jackson Cullen came up with three RBIs in the title game. Luka Radicevich had a big season, as did Louisville recruits Trey Swiderski and TJ Schlageter.
Mt. Carmel’s Ryan Boersma reacts after winning the Class 3A state championship at 285 pounds at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (H. Rick Bamman / Daily Southtown)
2. Masters on the mats
Led by individual champions Seth Mendoza, Sergio Lemley, Colin Kelly and Ryan Boersma, Mount Carmel won its first wrestling state championship since 1994 with the Class 3A title. In 2A, Joliet Catholic captured its first title. The Hilltoppers’ Gylon Sims and Dillan Johnson were individual champs, along with Rich Township’s Nasir Bailey, Lockport’s Brayden Thompson and Andrew Blackburn-Forst and Brother Rice’s Tommy Bennett.
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1. Perfect finish for Mount Carmel football
Fourteen was a magic number for Mount Carmel, which backed up preseason hype by going 14-0 and winning the program’s 14th state title with a 44-20 victory over Batavia in the Class 7A championship game. The Caravan also beat Class 8A champion Loyola. Quarterback Blainey Dowling, the Daily Southtown’s player of the year, threw 43 touchdown passes, 11 of them to Denny Furlong. Damarion Arrington and Bobby Medina led a dominant defense.
Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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