Before this spring, St. Francis senior Tyler Duzansky had never played on the offensive line in his career.
Sophomore TJ McMillen played mostly at center last season, and the Spartans welcomed two new starters to the offensive line this spring. Freshman Antonio Gutierrez is a starter at right guard, and sophomore center Tyler Wood is adjusting to starting for the first time on the varsity. McMillen, who has offers from Arizona State, Syracuse, Central Michigan, Miami-Ohio and Eastern Kentucky, was shifted to left tackle.
Still, the Spartans’ offensive line is one of the main factors for the team’s 3-0 start this season. Overall, the Spartans have given up four sacks heading into Friday’s battle against Riverside-Brookfield.
Duzansky, an elite long snapper who committed to Penn State, admitted it’s been a tough but fun transition to playing on the O-line.
“At first, it was very frustrating being in a new position, but I feel I’ve been able to pick it up pretty quickly,” Duzansky said. “The hardest part is getting the correct footwork. But I like being able to pull and also get into space and become an athlete and make big hits.”
St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said four of his five offensive linemen play both ways, but the coaching staff attempts to keep the players fresh by rotating them.
Senior left guard Ryan Holleman, junior tackle Max Hellmann, junior Jimmy Marre and senior Jack McLennan round out the Spartans’ line.
“From a line standpoint, we’ve asked a lot of guys do lot of things,” Bob McMillen said. “We’ve moved around some pieces to fit the puzzle. It’s a testament to how hard they’ve worked. One thing when I took this job four years ago was making sure to do it the right way. Building inside out is the way to do it. You have to have the guys to protect your quarterback no matter how much skill and speed you have.
“I thought they’ve played well. This line is one of best lines we’ve had in four years. They have good size, and we’re excited that we’re young. We have four guys who can go next year for us. I feel the future is very bright.”
St. Francis senior quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, an Illinois State recruit, credited the offensive line for opening up holes for the running game and protecting him in the pocket.
“I think they do a great job of following what the coaches are teaching us,” Rittenhouse said. “TJ, Ryan and Tyler are all varsity veterans who do a great job of leading and making sure everyone is all on the same page upfront.”
Brescia with bounce-back effort
Hinsdale Central senior quarterback Michael Brescia struggled with his passing in Saturday’s 19-0 victory over York.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Brescia, a Colgate recruit, battled a heavy wind for two quarters, had trouble with his timing and touch and dealt with a few dropped balls by his receivers.
It was a very uncharacteristic passing display by the normal steady Brescia.
But Brescia rebounded with a sterling effort in the second half, regaining his confidence by relying on his running. Senior guard/defensive Alex Meyers said Brescia’s second-half running sparked the entire team.
“Brescia ran the ball like a champ,” Meyers said. “We tried to keep it simple, especially near the end. We knew pretty much Brescia was getting the ball. I think they knew Brescia was getting the ball, but that kid runs so hard. I don’t think anybody could take him down. That kid worked his butt off.”
Hinsdale Central coach Brian Griffin noted that Brescia’s work habits showed in Saturday’s win. The Red Devils (3-0) play at Proviso West on Friday.
“You talk about kids putting in the work and seeing it out on the field, and that’s exactly what he does,” Griffin said. “There’s nobody I’ve seen who works harder in practice than Brescia does. You see that in a game like today. He was struggling. His timing was off, the wind was affecting him a bit. He just kept working and grinding, just like he does in practice and finished us out strong.”
Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni confirmed his team is slated to return to the playing field with Friday’s home game against Oak Park-River Forest. After dropping a 41-0 decision to Naperville Central on April 3, Morton remains on track to play its second game of the season against Downers Grove South on Friday, according to Morton coach Bob Organ.
Glenbard West athletic director Joseph Kain confirmed that the Hilltoppers’ football team, on pause in Week 3, is scheduled to play Lyons on Saturday at either Duchon Field or Glenbard South.
Also, Benet coach Pat New said his team is back in action next week against St. Rita.
Source: The Daily Chronicle