Here's a rundown of how they performed:
Game MVP - LB Nile Sykes:
With Illinois linebackers coach Mike Ward in attendance, Sykes showed that his transition to linebacker from defensive end is going better than expected.
After sitting out a year due to a transfer, Sykes showed that he didn't just sit idle during that time. He looked comfortable in the linebacker spot and played both inside and outside in different formations.
As a linebacker, Sykes flowed to the ball really well, showing patience and tracking with the ball carrier. He was solid in pass coverage, but in run defense he really shined. Sykes had no problem shedding multiple blockers on plays and still make the tackle. A majority of his tackles in the game were behind the line of scrimmage, and nobody could really deny him, which might stem from his defensive end days.
I still think Sykes has some adjustment to do in becoming a linebacker. Some of that will come with time and reps as he gets experience at the new position, but based on what I saw Friday, Sykes should have no problem tackling the linebacker position once he gets to college and adapts to his new role.
Too Much to Handle - DE Dylan Thompson:
Wheaton Academy had no answer for the 6'5" 270 pound Thompson all night. He used his strength to overpower opposing linemen and commanded double teams almost the entire night (which for him was only a quarter and a half before the starters came out).
Thompson probably could have just bullrushed all night, but he has been working on his technique and is using more and more swim and rip moves to get past defenders. He didn't have as big of a night as he wanted to, but he's a prototypical strongside defensive end. The Ohio State commit should factor in bigtime as Montini continues to pursue their fifth straight state title.
Minor Setback, Major Comeback - WR Leon Thornton:
The night didn't get off to the best start for Thornton. A couple drops early and a big hit on a crossing pattern took him out for a few plays, but Thornton bounced back and made a few catches.
Thornton's route running is coming along. It's not a finished product by any means, but he was able to shake his defender on a nice double move during the game and get wide open for a touchdown.
Thornton has the body of a receiver at 6'1" and about 175 pounds. If he can continue to add speed and strength, he could potentially be a real threat on the outside at the flanker position.