Meet the first-team offense for football

Meet the first-team offense for football

ADAM BAKER

Bismarck-Henning, senior, wide receiver

Why he made it: The All-Vermilion Valley pick caught an area-best 12 touchdown passes and finished among the area leaders with 664 receiving yards. Caught a touchdown pass in nine consecutive games. He's the school's career leader in receiving yards (1,392). An all-conference and all-county pick as a defensive back, Baker finished the season with three interceptions and 52 tackles.

Season highlight: "Breaking the career receiving record."

A few of my favorite things: Cupcakes ... Paul Pierce ... Drake ... foods class ... "Joe Dirt" ... Finish Line ... Wendy's ... iPhone ... Hummer ... to dunk a basketball ... to race Devin Hester ... to meet the president

KEVIN CARROLL

St. Thomas More, junior, wide receiver

Why he made it: Speedster followed up a stellar sophomore campaign with an even better junior season. The All-Sangamon Valley Conference selection led the area in receiving yards (879) and tied for the area lead with 41 receptions and was among the area leaders with nine receiving touchdowns. An all-conference pick as a defensive back, Carroll intercepted two passes and finished the season with 37 tackles.

Season highlight: "Beating Momence."

A few of my favorite things: Steak ... Calvin Johnson ... Drake ... Spanish ... "The Hangover" ... Urban Outfitters ... McDonald's ... iPhone ... Audi A8 ... to go skydiving ... to go to Fiji ... to dunk a basketball

CHASE DIEDRICH

Mahomet-Seymour, senior, running back

Why he made it: An All-Corn Belt Conference and an all-state selection in Class 4A, the 185-pound Diedrich led the area in rushing for much of the season before an ankle injury cut his season short in Week 8. Diedrich rushed for 1,445 yards and 20 touchdowns in eight games, averaging close to 9 yards per carry for the Corn Belt champs.

Season highlight: "Beating Normal U-High to win conference."

A few of my favorite things: Mahi-mahi ... Jerome Bettis ... Drake ... chemistry ... "Black Hawk Down" ... Finish Line ... Steak 'n Shake ... iPhone ... Lexus LFA ... to play college football ... to travel to Spain ... to fly a plane

DENNIS HIGHTOWER

Danville, senior, quarterback

Why he made it: Player of the Year led the area in rushing (1,910 yards) and scoring (181 points) while guiding the Vikings to the Class 6A quarterfinals. The All-Big 12 and Class 6A all-stater accounted for 37 total touchdowns and passed for 613 yards in 11 games. As a defensive back, Hightower tied for the team lead with four interceptions, broke up five passes and registered 34 tackles.

Season highlight: "Hitting Tim Turner from Champaign Central on their Senior Night."

A few of my favorite things: Pizza ... Michael Vick ... East End Music ... geography ... "South Central" ... Man Alive ... McDonald's ... iPhone 4 ... Mercedes-Benz ... a new car ... an iPad ... to win a national championship

J.J. GARDNER

GCMS, senior, offensive line

Why he made it: A first-team All-Heart of Illinois selection, the 260-pounder was the anchor of an offensive line that opened holes for three backs who rushed for at least 410 yards, including leading rusher Jordyn Schultz (778 yards). An all-conference first-teamer on the defensive line, Gardner collected 68 tackles, 12 for a loss and three sacks.

Season highlight: "Making the playoffs for the eighth straight year."

A few of my favorite things: Ty Warren ... Chicken bacon ranch from Subway ... Wiz Khalifa ... U.S. government class ... "Boondock Saints" ... Dick's Sporting Goods ... Subway ... iPhone 4 ... 1968 Ford Mustang ... to go to Germany ... to go skydiving ... to fly an F15 fighter jet

MICHAEL LAFENHAGEN

Unity, senior, running back

Why he made it: A rare two-way starter for the Rockets, the senior was a unanimous Okaw Valley Black all-conference pick as a running back. He rushed for a team-high 1,312 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Class 3A semifinalists. A first-team all-conference defensive back, the Class 3A all-stater was among the team leaders with 88 tackles and picked off two passes.

Season highlight: "Being a two-year 1,000-yard rusher and starting in back-to-back state semifinal games."

A few of my favorite things: Steak ... Maurice Jones-Drew ... Lil' Wayne ... government class ... "Friday Night Lights" ... Arby's ... Android ... Range Rover ... to go skydiving with Kyle

PHILIP MEYER

Tuscola, senior, quarterback

Why he made it: Accounted for 3,277 total yards (2,413 passing, 864 rushing) while leading the Warriors to the Class 1A state championship game for the third consecutive season. The Class 1A all-state selection accounted for 37 total touchdowns (26 passing, 11 rushing) while directing an offense that averaged 34 points per game. Three of his receivers had at least 25 receptions and 600 yards.

Season highlight: "Making it to the state finals for the third year in a row."

A few of my favorite things: Monical's Pizza ... Michael Jordan ... Jennifer Lopez ... physics ... "Dumb and Dumber" ... Nike store ... Jimmy John's ... iPhone ... Dodge Charger ... to travel the world ... to go skydiving ... to go zip lining

JOHN STRAUSER

St. Thomas More, junior, offensive line

Why he made it: Follows brothers David and Matt, who were also All-Area picks. A first-team All-Sangamon Valley linebacker, the junior finished second in the area with 146 tackles, averaging 14.6 per game for a Sabers defense that pitched two shutouts and limited five other opponents to 12 points or less. The 225-pounder was a special mention all-conference pick as an offensive lineman.

Season highlight: "Beating Momence and having our fans storm the field."

A few of my favorite things: My brother's pizza ... Tim Tebow ... Mat Kearney ... Mrs. Sabato's anatomy class ... "Semi-Pro" ... Chick-fil-A ... iPhone ... to get married ... to go to Europe ... to play college football

RYAN DONOHUE

Monticello, junior, running back

Why he made it: A unanimous All-Okaw Valley Black selection and a Class 3A all-stater, the junior finished second in the area with 1,683 rushing yards. Scored 21 total touchdowns while averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Defensively, the linebacker made 30 tackles, with seven coming behind the line of scrimmage and seven quarterback sacks.

Season highlight: "Beating St. Teresa 35-7."

A few of my favorite things: Buffalo Wild Wings boneless wings ... Brian Urlacher ... Kid Cudi ... college algebra ... "Step Brothers" ... American Eagle ... McDonald's ... iPhone 4S ... Pontiac Bonneville ... to go skydiving ... to visit the Grand Canyon ... to visit pyramids

PEDRO LEAL

Arcola, senior, kicker

Why he made it: A unanimous All-Little Okaw Valley Conference performer, Leal made good on 32 point-after touchdown kicks and booted an area-best six field goals.

Season highlight: "Making it to the quarterfinals and getting the chance to play in a Cola War."

A few of my favorite things: Mexican food ... Josh Hamilton ... Lil' Wayne ... chemistry ... "Get Rich or Die Trying" ... Nike ... Steak 'n Shake ... iPhone ... Pontiac G8 ... to play college football ... to go skydiving ... to go to Rio de Janeiro

ROBERT LOPEZ

Tuscola, senior, offensive line

Why he made it: A two-year starter, the 210-pound Lopez was a unanimous selection to the Okaw Valley Blue all-conference team. A starter at right guard, Lopez helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 34 points per game and produced 360 yards per game. An all-conference defensive lineman, Lopez had 73 tackles.

Season highlight: "Playing for the state championship for the third year in a row."

A few of my favorite things: Pepperoni pizza ... Tom Brady ... my mom ... honors choir ... "A Christmas Story" ... American Eagle ... Burger King ... iPhone ... Mercedes ... to buy a sports car ... to travel the world ... to wrestle a shark

MARTY THOMAS

Arcola, senior, offensive line

Why he made it: The 205-pounder was a unanimous pick to the All-Little Okaw Valley Conference team and a Class 1A all-stater after helping the Purple Riders reach the quarterfinals and finishing among the team leaders with 75 tackles. A key member of the Arcola offensive line, Thomas helped two Arcola runners gain at least 642 yards, including Omar Rojas (1,502).

Season highlight: "Making it to the quarterfinals as a 12 seed."

A few of my favorite things: Pasta ... Earl Campbell ... Kid Cudi ... history ... "Step Brothers" ... Nike store ... Arby's ... Droid 2 ... Cadillac CTS ... to go skydiving ... to fly a plane ... to win a state championship as a coach

MATT WIEMELT

CG/D-W, senior, offensive line

Why he made it: The 170-pound senior was a Class 1A all-state pick for the Broncos and a unanimous All-Little Okaw Valley Conference pick. Was the anchor of an offensive line that produced two backs who ran for at least 864 yards, including Cody Woollen (1,484 yards). An all-conference pick as a defensive lineman, Wiemelt finished with 91 tackles for the LOVC co-champs.

Season highlight: "Winning the Little Okaw Valley Conference."

A few of my favorite things: Clay Matthews ... Lady Gaga ... study hall ... "Friday Night Lights" ... Nike outlet store ... Taco Bell ... iPhone ... Chevy Silverado 1500 ... to graduate high school ... to graduate college ... to get a good job

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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