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Football roundup: St. Edward runs out of steam in regular-season finale
October 24, 2016
Junior quarterback Dylan Mlinarich knew what was on the line Friday night for St. Edward.
A win would make the Green Wave playoff-eligible, and Mlinarich led St. Edward to a one-point lead that lasted until late in the second quarter against host Wheaton Academy.
"We were just trying to go and go and go," Mlinarich said. "We were trying to make plays, do whatever we could to get into the end zone and just get us a lead. It was just tough. We lost the momentum."
As has been the case throughout the Metro Suburban Blue season, the Green Wave ran out of gas as Wheaton Academy stormed back for a 44-30 victory.
The combination of injuries, only four seniors on the roster and playing bigger programs eventually caught up to St. Edward (4-5, 0-5), erasing a 4-0 start and ending a three-year playoff run.
Prior to Friday's loss, the Green Wave's three previous games were against schools with enrollments at least three times as large.
"They gave it all they had," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "The fact that we can hang with these schools with mostly juniors and sophomores on the field bodes well for the future. We're right there with these big schools until the third quarter. The future is bright."
Early on, St. Edward was focused on the present and getting its four seniors into the postseason again. Mlinarich opened the scoring with 2:20 left in the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Jake Frey.
After Wheaton Academy (6-3, 2-3) took a 13-7 lead, Mlinarich found junior receiver Saveon Smith for a 27-yard TD catch, giving the Green Wave a 14-13 lead that stood until 21 seconds left in the half.
Wheaton Academy scored then, and added two TDs in the first two minutes of the second half to put the game away.
St. Edward didn't fold, however. Down by 30 points, Mlinarich hit junior receiver David Madden for a 12-yard TD in the fourth quarter, and the seniors took over for the final scoring drive.
Senior lineman Sam Reedy bruised his way to 19 yards on two carries. Senior tight end Dominick Hartke rushed for a 15-yard TD and senior lineman Nolan Theriault pounded in the 2-point conversion.
Senior receiver Jimmy Harkins also caught four passes for 45 yards.
"It was a lot of fun watching Reedy break tackles," Mlinarich said. "Then watching Dominick score and Nolan with the 2-point conversion, it was a lot of fun. It was a good little moment there at the end."
Paul Johnson is a freelance writer for The Courier-News. Gene Chamberlain contributed.
Jimmy Harkins, St. Edward stand strong before Glenbard South prevails
October 10, 2016
St. Edward senior Jimmy Harkins and seven other Green Wave players never left the field Friday.
It wasn't their last stand, but now there are only two more chances for the coveted fifth win.
Injury-plagued St. Edward could only hold out for so long at home against bigger, deeper Glenbard South and power runner Sean Cooke in a 42-21 Metro Suburban Blue defeat.
"We have 17 guys, so we can't afford to come off the field," said Harkins, a wide receiver/defensive back. "When we run out of energy, we run out of energy.
"Really, there's nothing we can do about it."
St. Edward lost its third straight during a devastating rash of injuries. In much of the first half, it seemed the passing of left-handed quarterback Dylan Mlinarich to Harkins, David Madden, Tyler Holte and Ryan Pomeroy would be enough to get the fifth win.
St. Edward (4-3, 0-3) had a 21-6 lead in the second quarter after a 2-yard touchdown flip from Mlinarich to tight end Dominic Hartke. Behind Cooke, Glenbard South (5-2, 3-0) dominated from then on with 36 straight points.
"They just kind of wore on us," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "Our guys are warriors. They played awesome. I'm very proud of their effort.
"There are guys playing every down and on special teams. They proved they can play with a team like this."
Without a ground game due to running back injuries, Mlinarich completed 34 of 61 passes for 393 yards with three TDs and three interceptions. Harkins had 10 catches for 106 yards and Madden added seven catches for 123 yards.
"In practice, we always work the same routes and look at the same zones over and over again, and so Dylan knew where we'd be and found us in the open spots," Madden said.
Mlinarich threw a 13-yard TD pass to Harkins as St. Edward went up 7-6. Then Madden caught an 18-yard TD down the sidelines with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
When Hartke scored, St. Edward appeared to be in control. But Cooke started mashing away for 188 yards on 29 carries, including four TDs.
"He's a big boy and to tackle him you've just got to try to go low," Madden said. "It was the only way."
Cooke's third TD run, a 2-yarder with 28 seconds left in the first half, gave Glenbard South a 27-21 edge.
Once ahead, Glenbard South ditched the blitz and went to a three-player pass rush with zone coverage. It paid off when St. Edward was driving for the go-ahead points late in the third quarter.
Mlinarich was picked off at the 2-yard line by Justin Goetz.
"I misread the play," Mlinarich said. "I thought it was an out-and-up, but it was just a regular up. My fault entirely."
Glenbard South quarterback Jack Crouch followed by throwing a 38-yard TD pass to Bryan Maroney. The Raiders added added Cooke's 34-yard clinching TD run and a safety.
"Its just about being real disciplined and we didn't play disciplined football the first half," Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey said. "But you've got to give it to coach Rolando and the Green Wave, those kids just fight their butts off.
"We knew we were going to be in a dogfight defensively with the way they pass the ball."
IC Catholic Prep (4-0, 0-0) at St. Edward (4-0, 0-0) Metro Suburban Blue
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last week: IC Catholic 72, Chicago Christian 0; St. Edward 50, Guerin 0.
Last year: IC Catholic 41, St. Edward 6.
Outlook (from the IC Catholic perspective): Since 2009 these teams have split 3-3 dating to their Suburban Christian Conference days. They're the MSC Blue's top two teams both in scoring and scoring defense, with IC averaging 56 points and St. Edward allowing 10.5. IC's Northern Illinois-bound Jordan Rowell has already run for 691 yards and 14 touchdowns, though the Knights' up-tempo offense is predicated by how quarterback Luke Ricobene reads the defense. Senior safety Matt Sutton makes the calls on defense, which will bring the heat with physical linemen Jimmy Kenneally, Robert Vitek, Dylan Packer and Ricky Mysliwiec. St. Edward's 6-foot-2 quarterback Dylan Mlinarich has thrown for 1,176 yards and 20 touchdowns, gutting Walther Christian and Lindblom for 7 TD passes apiece. Saveon Smith has caught 6 touchdown passes and averages 27 yards per catch. However, IC's staff includes former NFL safety and current ESPN analyst Matt Bowen, a big advantage.
Outlook (From the St. Edward perspective): This Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division opener is among the most important games on the schedule for each of these longtime rivals. A Class 3A semifinalist in 2015, IC is 3A's top-ranked team. Led by all-state tailback and cornerback Jordan Rowell (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), committed to Northern Illinois, and junior quarterback Luc Ricobene, the Knights have scored 225 points. That total includes 61 points against a St. Laurence team that has beaten Benet, St. Rita and defending 3A champ Bishop McNamara. Rowell has rushed for 691 yards and 14 touchdowns on 55 carries. Ricobene has completed 45 of 73 passes for 617 yards and 5 touchdowns and been intercepted three times. Ricobene also has rushed 19 times for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns, which has St. Edward coach Mike Rolando's attention. "Rowell is outstanding and you have to account for him, but what scares us most is (Ricobene)," Rolando said. "Even if you do everything well on a play, he can scramble and make a play because he's so multidimensional." IC gave up 49 points to St. Laurence in a Week 2 win. Otherwise, the Knights shut out Bishop McNamara, Elmwood Park and Chicago Christian. IC defensive end Jimmy Kenneally (6-1, 235) was an honorable mention all-state pick in 2015. Last year, he terrorized St. Edward quarterback Dylan Mlinarich throughout IC'S 41-6 victory. Mlinarich comes in hot. The left-handed junior has thrown for 1,179 yards and 20 touchdowns on 66-of-115 passing (57.4 percent).
Next week: Riverside-Brookfield at IC Catholic; St. Edward at Fenton.
St. Edward's Dylan Mlinarich takes air show against No. 1 IC Catholic
September 21, 2016
The Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt that Dylan Mlinarich wore at St. Edward's practice Tuesday only seemed appropriate.
"I was brainwashed when from the time I was really young," said Mlinarich, the Green Wave quarterback. "I'm a Ben Roethlisberger fan, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell."
Mlinarich, a junior left-hander, is only a generation removed from western Pennsylvania. His father Jeff moved to Illinois from the Pittsburgh area.
It's a somewhat long-distance connection. But Dylan Mlinarich's roots are from the hotbed of quarterbacks like Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Unitas and Joe Namath.
"My dad joked about moving us back to Pennsylvania and sending me to (Pittsburgh's) Central Catholic High," Mlinarich said.
It was only a comment, and no need for Green Wave coach Mike Rolando to begin worrying.
With Mlinarich throwing to Saveon Smith, David Madden, Tyler Holte, Ryan Pomeroy and Jimmy Harkins, St. Edward (4-0) dominated three straight opponents. The big step comes Friday in a showdown at home with IC Catholic (4-0).
Mlinarich threw seven touchdown passes in back-to-back wins over Lindblom and Walther Christian, then four in last week's 50-0 victory over Guerin.
According to IHSA records, only nine other Illinois quarterbacks have thrown more than seven TD passes in a game. Nine is the record by Morris' Bobby Brayton in 1949 and Greenville's Tyler Hutchinson in 2014.
"I hear about records, but it doesn't really matter to me," Mlinarich said. "I'm focused on the next game we're playing.
"Records are records and you may have them, then they're gone. But I'm thinking about wins."
Mlinarich is 66-for-115 for 1,179 yards and 20 touchdowns with four interceptions. He's distributed the ball well, as Smith has six TD catches, Harkins four and Holte, Pomeroy and Madden three each.
"Dylan has plenty of weapons and he delivers the ball nicely," Rolando said. "He has different style receivers, but the common thing is they all have good hands and run excellent routes."
Knowing that the passing game would fuel the team for the next two years, Rolando tweaked the offense during 7-on-7s. He moved Mlinarich back a few steps when taking the shotgun snap.
"It especially helps because I have more time to get the ball out and check my reads," Mlinarich said.
Rolando, a quarterback himself for one of Larkin's greatest teams in 1990, knew what this could mean.
"If we do happen to miss a block or get only part of a block, he's a little deeper," Rolando said. "Looking back over the years, if we only had another half-second for some of our quarterbacks. … I still have memories of where we could have made plays or won games."
Mlinarich is likely to need any edge Friday against IC Catholic, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. Led by NIU recruit Jordan Rowell, IC Catholic last year beat St. Edward 41-6 in Mlinarich's fourth game at quarterback.
"It was pretty tough," Mlinarich said. "I was hit a lot. They got to us really well. Their linebackers and pass rush were strong, physical.
"We believe we learned from our mistakes."
Rowell, a running back, will pose a challenge for St. Edward's defense.
"It's a big-time difference going from a team at the level we've played the last few weeks to at team like IC," said Madden, who also plays in St. Edward's secondary. "To stop Jordan Rowell, you've got to go low and hopefully your teammates will join in. It's got to be a team effort.
"He tore us up last year."
This game begins a significant step up for St. Edward in Metro Suburban Blue play.
"From here on out we've got this team and then the other schools are two, three or four times our size, so it's going to be a rough road," Rolando said. "But our kids are tough.
"We're down to 22 players now after losing Nick Wright (broken arm). Our kids are going to do their best. They always play with a ton of heart."
What to watch: NIU recruit Jordan Rowell powers IC Catholic (4-0), ranked No. 1 in 3A, against St. Edward (4-0) and linebackers Ben Harrington and Angel Garcia in a Metro Suburban Blue opener.
St. Edward has easy time with Guerin
September 17, 2016
By Jared Birchfield Daily Herald Correspondent
Photo by Brian Hill
It was all St. Edward during its 50-0 Metro Suburban crossover win over Guerin Friday night at Greg True Field in Elgin.
The Green Wave scored on 6 of 9 drives -- 5 of 6 in the first half -- and held the Guerin offense to a total of 3 yards.
The victory raises St. Edward's record to 4-0.
The Green Wave's first possession of the game was the only one in the first half that did not end with a touchdown.
Sophomore running back Angel Garcia score the team's first TD on its second drive of the game -- a 1-yard plunge with 5:49 left in the first quarter. Garcia was once again the workhorse for St. Edward's ground game, rushing for 87 yards on 7 carries.
"We were a little unfocused on the first drive," said St. Edward coach Mike Rolando. "Luckily Angel got us going with the running game and then we were on our way, everybody got into rhythm."
The Green Wave's passing game took over from there. On the team's next drive, quarter back Dylan Mlinarich connected with James Harkins for a 1-yard scoring pass.
Mlinarich completed 10 of 14 passes for 110 yards, all in the first half. Backup QB Jordan West directed the team in the second half.
The defense ended the first quarter scoring. After a Guerin fumble, linebacker Daniel Falco recovered the ball and raced 19 yards for the score.
All 3 second quarter touchdowns were on passing plays. Fifty-six seconds into the second half, Ryan Pomeroy (3 receptions for 38 yards) caught Mlinarich's 23-yard pass for a TD. On the Green Wave's next drive, it was receiver David Madden's turn, crossing the goal line on a 20-yarder. Tyler Holte completed the first half scoring on a 9-yard pass.
St. Edward led 44-0 at the half.
With a running clock, the Green Wave ran only three drives in the second half. West scored the final TD on a 58-yard run in the third quarter.
Guerin (0-3) couldn't get its offense on track. The Crusaders crossed into Green Wave territory on three possessions, two in the second half and never penetrated the red zone.
St. Edward will have its work cut out for it next Friday, when it opens its Metro Suburban Blue conference schedule by hosting IC Catholic, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 3A.
St. Edward figures offensive explosion will continue
The St. Edward football team's two-week trend of decimating lesser secondaries seems likely to continue on homecoming this Friday.
The Green Wave return to Greg True Field with a 3-0 record for the second time in three seasons, thanks largely to a passing attack responsible for 754 of their 1,052 total yards in wins over Lindblom (50-14) and Walther Lutheran (63-8), both winless.
In his last 2 games, junior quarterback Dylan Mlinarich has completed 45 of 72 passes for 754 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The left-handed Mlinarich is spreading the opportunities among his receivers. Junior Saveon Smith, who this week announced on social media he will visit Illinois this weekend, paced the group in Weeks 2 and 3 with 10 receptions for 233 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Smith leads a talented group that includes senior Jimmy Harkins (9 rec., 188 yards, 2 TD) and juniors David Madden (8-156-2), Ryan Pomeroy (5-141-2) and Tyler Holte (9-87-2).
St. Edward should face little resistance for a third straight game when Guerin (0-3) visits at 7 p.m. The Crusaders have been outscored 105-0.
Guerin began the season with 20 players on its published roster, but attrition has taken a toll. The Crusaders trailed Fenton 26-0 at halftime of last week's game, but the second half was played with a running clock because Guerin was down to the minimum of 11 available players.
For perspective, Fenton entered that matchup 0-2 after losing its first 2 games by a combined score of 73-0.
While lopsided games are good for morale and can help a team find its rhythm, it's questionable whether such blowouts are good preparation for a high-level opponent like the one St. Edward faces next week in old rival IC Catholic Prep. The Knights (3-0) are the top-ranked team in Class 3A.
St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said winning noncompetitive games by such lopsided margins may not be the optimal way to prepare for a team like IC, but the light schedule leading into what could be their most physical game of the season should benefit his players from a health standpoint.
The Green Wave entered the season with 22 players on the roster, but they are down to 21 and can't afford more injuries. Sophomore Nick Wright broke his arm in two places during the Lindblom game two weeks ago when he was stepped on. Five junior varsity players suit up with the varsity on Saturdays.
"We're very thin, so we need to keep our guys healthy," Rolando said. "While you want to be battle tested, at the same time, if we lose two guys, we become a totally different football team. When Nick goes down we have to bring up a sophomore to play linebacker and we're just not quite as strong. "We're not going to get any more or less physical in the next two weeks. These kids have been playing football for a long time. When we get to IC it's going to be a physical battle and the kids know that. From year to year, kids from both schools look forward to it. It's a tough game. That's why (Saturday) you saw a lot of jerseys coming on and coming of the field so we could get out of there healthy, and that's a good thing."
St. Edward's Dylan Mlinarich does a repeat performance in easy victory