Posted On: 03/30/21 8:40 AM
A highly anticipated week 2 matchup featured two teams, Evanston Township Wildkits and Maine South Hawks, that both had top-end talent lining up on Friday evening. It was an absolute slugfest, with Maine South taking a 7-point lead into the half, the Wildkits charging back to tie it in the 3rd quarter and then the final stanza which featured plenty of drama. The home team missed a field goal in the 4th while the visitors made theirs, and when home happy with a 10-7 road victory for the Hawks. There wasn’t much scoring but plenty to great performances on both sides, here are the players who stood out to me during the contest. (Make sure to click on the links for highlights)
2022 Rush end #51 Teddy Gianaris (6’2” and 223lbs) @TeddyGianaris
This defensive battle was won because the trio of linebackers led by Gianaris was exceptional all night. An absolute terror all evening long, it seemed like he was living in Evanston’s backfield. It was just a few plays here and there, Gianaris used his speed to disrupt plays, his strength to disengage and make tackles and when his team needed him the most, big plays like this one happened. So far the most dominant performance that I have seen live this spring, Gianaris was a game-breaker Friday night.
2021 Linebacker #42 Connor Leyden (6’2” and 218lbs) @ConnorLeyden1
The Hawks defense was stellar and when Gianaris wasn’t making plays, his linebackers were picking up the slack led by Leyden. Great read and react skills, then the speed get to the ball and make a play, Leyden has a lot of the tools you’re looking for in a linebacker. It wasn’t just his run defense that stood out, Leyden made plays in the passing game as well. A very good player who unfortunately went unsigned this year.
2022 Running back #30 Mike Sajenko Mike Sajenko 6'0" | RB Maine South | 2022 IL (6’ and 190lbs) @MikeSajenko
It seemed like their game plan focused on getting the ball out quick to the perimeter, with a heavy dose of Sajenko. The screen game was humming for the Hawks and Sajenko was a big reason why. When the ball got to his hands, he was electric with chunk plays that ensued (807). There were some issues with zone read handoff with quarterback Luke Leongas Luke Leongas 5'11" | QB Maine South | 2021 IL , and after one of the fumbles, both of them worked on the exchange on the sidelines. Once they get their exchanges squared away, legs churning and getting solid yardage the offense will be much more deadly. I liked what Sajenko has to offer, he’s got plenty of talent.
2022 Linebacker #52 Tony Valdez (6’2” and 192lbs) @Tvaldez52
The defensive talent was abundant on the Hawks sidelines, Valdez was clearly one of them. The coaching staff does a great job of allowing their playmakers to roam free, giving them room to read and react to plays and that’s exactly what Valdez did all night. He might not be the fastest or the strongest player on the field, but what you love to see is effort and Valdez does it on every play. A strong showing by the linebacker, I’m excited to see what he does the rest of this year and the next one as well.
2022 Tight end / wide receiver #18 Chris Petrucci Chris Petrucci 6'5" | TE Maine South | 2022 State IL (6’4” and 214lbs) @ChrisPetruci19
Seeing Petrucci over the offseason, I knew exactly what he brings to the table on offense. A field stretching tight end that has a very large catch radius. Even though he didn’t make a big impact catching the ball, Petrucci showed he’s a solid blocker and once his frame fills out a bit, he’ll be a much better one. A complete team player, he played outside linebacker and his knowledge of an offense helped direct some of his teammates into positions to make plays. His future is clearly on the offense end, but he’s more than just that. With a fury of P5 offers received in the recent weeks, Petrucci has a very bright future.
2022 Linebacker #2 Sebastian Cheeks Sebastian Cheeks 6'2" | LB Evanston | 2022 State IL (6’2” and 205lbs) @SebastianCheeks
The Hawks really didn’t want Cheeks to make an impact on the game defensively, mostly running plays where the design was to the other side or allowing him to get penetration, only to throw a screen pass. That didn’t mean that Cheeks didn’t flash, because he surely did. The speed he possesses for the position is very impressive and the strength is equal to his speed. Cheeks also showed that speed on offense, as a ball carrier he’s a difficult player to tackle. No doubt he has the potential to be game-breaker for some lucky P5 school.
2021 Linebacker #6 Cliff Janvier (6’1” and 200lbs) @JanvierCliff
I saw Janvier during the offseason and he was one of the players I had highlighted coming into the game and he did not disappoint. Great size for the position, Janvier showed good sideline to sideline speed, and when he arrived to the play, he would make it. Yet another casualty of the ’21 spring season, I have no doubt in my mind that if Janvier got more tape before signing day, some school would have scooped him up. It’s not too late to get this talented athlete on your roster.
2022 Defensive back #24 Mark Cannon Jr. (6’3” and 180lbs) @MarkCannonJr1
For the majority of the game, the large junior shadowed Petrucci and did it at a high level. When he wasn’t assigned to cover the Hawks best receiving target, Cannon Jr. did a great job of protecting the back end of the Wildkit defense. Seeing the big defender during the offseason gave me a heads up on his talent level and after finally seeing him in pads do the same thing, it only validated what I thought before. Cannon Jr. should see his recruitment take off soon.
2022 Wide receiver #19 Kamau Ransom (6’2” and 190lbs) @KamauRansom
Another young man that I’ve seen over the offseason that showed a more than impressive skill set. What Ransom did was what I expected, using his solid frame to shield off defenders and his impressive athletic ability to go up and high point the ball. The most consistent offensive player for the Wildkits, Ransom ran very good routes, gaining enough separation to create space to use his frame to “box out” defenders. If he continues to improve, Ransom will be a force over the next season and a half.
2023 Offensive tackle #72 Gabriel Rosen (6’7” and 335lbs) @rosen_gabe
The largest player on the field was also the youngest and Rosen had a very difficult job dealing with Gianaris for a good portion of the night. He showed that he was up for the challenge the majority of the evening, but towards the end of the game, he did look like he got tired. That really was the only knock on his game, but Rosen has tons of time to square up him conditioning. He will only get stronger over the next three years, but the base for a very good lineman is there. Already getting some D3 interest, the potential is clearly there for the sophomore tackle.