Oak Lawn Richards football coach Tony Sheehan commented recently about his team's 4-5 record in 2008 and prospects for this fall.
"We had a streak of 23 playoffs in a row broken this year. We played between 19 and 23 juniors and sophomores who started for us at times, so we have a lot of guys coming back."
A member of the rugged South Suburban conference, Richards struggled with the youngsters.
"We had three sophomore starters for us pretty much the entire year, and that's almost never happened here. Usually, one guy comes up and is pretty good. These three are pretty good.
"But the young guys coupled with a senior class that wasn't very good, we weren't surprised we weren't very good. We needed to bring some guys up to give them some experience and have them go through some growing pains.
"Our guys are excited about getting into the weight room in the off season, so we're pretty excited to see what we've got. We're looking forward to starting a new streak of getting into the playoffs."
Coach Sheehan is especially interested in promoting two of his upcoming seniors.
"I have two guys who are our top guys. Keith Sconiers (wide receiver) and then our quarterback Jon Ryan. Keith is a great kid. He's about 6'-3", 175. He could put on a little bit of weight. He can catch anything around him.
"He runs good routes, he's explosive, he's got long strides but can make quick cuts. He gets on top of guys before they can get turned around on him. He can jump out of the gym, and he runs the 40 in 4.5. He works his butt off.
"He's the starting 2 guard on the basketball team. They lost the other night in the regional, but they were like 23-6. They won the conference, and he was All-Conference in basketball."
College recruiters have suggested Keith work more on his route running, but Sheehan reminds that is normal for all high school receivers. The recruiters come away impressed.
"They just love that he goes and gets the ball. He's a leaper, and he's got speed, and he really goes and gets it."
Coach Sheehan feels Sconiers will qualify.
"He could improve his academics a little bit, but he should be all right."
Keith is already receiving interest from a number of colleges including Illinois.
"Keith came down to Illinois for a Junior Day. He has two offers from Minnesota and Arizona. He's getting looked at by Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Louisville and Colorado. Those are the main ones right now."
Coach Sheehan is helping Keith through the recruiting process, and he says Sconiers plans to visit several schools this spring.
"He's gonna go around and catch some spring practices and games. We're gonna sit down and talk about where he wants to go."
Jon Ryan is a versatile athlete who should also get some Division I looks.
"He played quarterback, db, and is our punter. He is legit. Jon is being looked at as a db. He's about 6'-0", 200 pounds. He's a lefty and a good athlete. He's a really good baseball player. So right now, I don't know which way he's gonna go. He's been looked at for both sports. He's very good as a punter. He really hasn't been taught. He has a powerful leg, and he downed 4 inside the ten this year."
Sheehan also wanted to mention his two upcoming juniors for special recognition. He feels they will be excellent college prospects eventually.
"Jarrell Williams and Julian Venerable were the two sophomore corners we brought up."