Stevenson football season preview

2014 schedule
Aug. 29 Indian Trail (Wis.) 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5 at Homewood-Flossmoor 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 12 Warren 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 Lake Forest 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 at Lakes 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Lake Zurich 7:00 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Zion-Benton 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 Mundelein 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Libertyville 7:30 p.m.

Best game on the schedule: Stevenson at Lake Zurich, 7 p.m. Oct. 2

In each of the past four seasons, the Patriots or Bears have won at least a share of the NSC Lake title. In 2013, Stevenson fell behind Lake Zurich 17-0 in the first half before running off 24 unanswered points and winning 24-17. The result sealed an undefeated conference season for the Patriots. The Bears went on to play in the Class 7A title game. Stevenson was two points shy of competing for the Class 8A state championship.

Best-case scenario: A return trip to the Class 8A semifinals, and this time, the Patriots break through and earn a trip to Champaign. The 2014 Patriots return 10 starters on offense and defense. Senior quarterback Willie Bourbon is the Lake Division’s only three-year starter. He has weapons at all of the skill positions. Senior Pat O’Connell (6-foot-3, 235 pounds), who missed all of last season with a leg injury, returns to add depth to a stout defensive line.

Best position group: Stevenson’s defensive line averages 238 pounds per man. The group consists of O’Connell and seniors Blake Drazner and Nick Dillon. The beefiest by far is the 6-2, 280-pound Dillon, an Eastern Michigan commit who is a run-stuffing, pass-rushing force. Dillon is also known for his electrifying pregame speeches. “We have other guys, but his [ability] is unmatched,” Bourbon said. “The biggest thing he brings is his intensity; the speeches he gives before games get everybody juiced up.”

Best playmaker: In 2013, Cameron Green was a compliment to Patriots wideout Matt Morrissey, now a freshman at Michigan State. This season, Green is the team’s best playmaker, a speedy downfield threat known for spectacular catches. “We’re very excited about his abilities. He’s very gifted and can do something whenever he catches the football,” coach Bill McNamara said. Green and Bourbon are inseparable on and off the field. They will both attend Northwestern next fall, with Bourbon on a baseball scholarship.

Best member of the secondary: A season ago, Morrissey was the team’s top player in the secondary. When Morrissey was injured during the playoffs, Green replaced him at safety. And while Green is likely to see defensive snaps in 2013, Stevenson will have all new starters in the secondary. So far in camp, seniors Aaron Lund and Kevin Pearson have separated themselves. “Those guys look good. We have a lot of guys that are putting the work in,” Dillon said.

Best season: Stevenson made its lone appearance in the Class 8A state title game in 2002, losing 35-14 to Lockport.

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2013 record: 10-3 overall, 6-0 NSC Lake

2013 playoffs: Lost 15-14 to Loyola in Class 8A semifinal

Head coach: Bill McNamara, entering fifth season

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