Oswego, IL- I headed to Oswego East High School to meet with football head coach Tyson LeBlanc, QB Jaylon Banks, DE/TE Elijah James and DB/RB Ivory Kelly-Martin earlier this year. When I pulled up to the school, I thought I had mistakenly found a good sized college. But no, this was it. Boy, is it really big and very cool. 11 years old but looking much newer, it’s kept very clear of any clutter.
Student common area at OEHS campus
View of OEHS campus from baseball field
Listen below as Banks, James and Kelly-Martin (with Coach LeBlanc keeping an eye on us) speak frankly of the Wolves’ deep desire to knock off their arch enemy Oswego HS. The three fine gentlemen take us through how a rivalry looks and feels from the inside out. The Oswego 3 are playing a big part in filling the leadership vacuum left after key seniors graduated last spring.
Wolves Stuff I: OEHS opened in 2005-06. Their overall record after 11 seasons is 34-68 /.333%. Oswego HS opened in 1949-50. The Panthers are 394-222-15/.624% all time. (IHSA provided stats).
QB Jaylon Banks
Wolves Stuff II: OEHS has a current student population of 2000+. OHS has 2350+ students this year.
DE/TE Elijah James
DB/RB Ivory Kelly-Martin
Record wall in OEHS weight room
Wolves Stuff III: The Wolves all time record against the Panthers is 0-11.
Banks, Coach LeBlanc, James & Kelly-Martin
OEHS entrance sign
Wolves Stuff IV: The Southwest Prairie Conference will expand from eight teams to ten next year. New additions are Joliet Central HS and Joliet West HS.
LaGrange Park, IL- I always look forward to visiting Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. It reminds me of my high school days when I attended Fenwick HS in Oak Park. A big difference is Fenwick was boys only while Nazareth is coed. Otherwise, the atmospheres are pretty similar.
The Roadrunners have built quite a football program in recent years as well as currently adding new construction to expand their campus on Ogden Avenue. Head coach Tim Racki is the main architect of the football programs renaissance and I’m not really sure who is behind the new construction’s design. Both are looking pretty, pretty good.
Coach Racki was kind enough to let bergsworld.live sit down and talk with Devonte’ Dunn, Christian Sampleton, Justin Weller and Cameron Weems. All are juniors who played pivotal roles in the 2015 IHSA 5A state championship and look to “3 Peat” in the 2016 season. Listen as they discuss God, family, school and football. Thanks gentlemen, it was our pleasure.
President Dennis Moran, Principal Deborah Tracy and Coach Racki
Roadrunners warming up for St. Laurence
Naz campus under construction in January 2016
DD waiting on helmet repair from Coach Larry White
Christian Sampleton before the 5A championship game
Dunn Family celebrating at pep rally at Naz
LISTENto Dunn, Sampleton, Weller and Weems in a very candid interview:
The Nazareth Four added quite nicely to their football resumes in the 2015 championship season. Roadrunner fans saw them go 12-2 while putting an asterisk on the campaign with a thumping of a very good New Lenox Lincoln-Way West HS team in the final, 42-21. Personal awards followed: Dunn and Sampleton were All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selections. While Weller shared the MVP of the finals with current Oswego East HS running back Ivory Kelly-Martin.
A key part of the Naz Four’s development and journey to Nazareth Academy came from playing with the Patriots Youth Travel Football program. Doug DiFusco, is a head coach of the Patriots and an assistant to Coach Racki at Nazareth. DiFusco points to the important roles Dunn, Sampleton, Weller and Weems played on the 2012 PYTF 14U All American National Championship Team. All four young men showed everyone that watched this 2012 juggernaut dominate their opponents, that they would develop into top high school players. And they did. The Naz Four speak very highly of the time they spent participating with the PYTF program.
Team managers before championship game in DeKalb
Roadrunners getting set for celebration
Naz cheerleaders looking sharp
Coach Racki, Dr. Tom Nelson and team chaplain Bob Esposito
Brendan Green and Coach Racki
WATCH these videos from DeKalb at the Championship Game and LaGrange Park at the Fall Sports Awards Pep Rally:
Crystal Lake, IL- Cancer is always horrible. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Unfortunately, every family knows or has someone with a type of cancer. Chuck Ahsmann, head coach of football and Physics teacher at Crystal Lake South High School, has a story to tell on how he and his family persevered and prospered after his diagnosis when he was only thirty years young.
bergsworld.live is bringing Coach’s story to you through contrasting mediums: audio, images and written. Sit back and experience Coach A’s journey through adversity with the help of his family and friends…
Coach has two younger brothers, Steve and Chris. They are very close and you can feel the love they have for each other.
“My brother has always had a big heart,” Chris begins. “He loves sports and knew he wanted to stay connected with that. He also liked working with kids and watching them grow physically and mentally, so teaching became his calling. When he played sports in high school, he was not always the best athlete on the field but he always had the biggest heart and determination to do his best.”
Steve tells us, “He never lets cancer get in his way. If you didn’t know he had cancer you would never expect it based on his attitude. He never lets people see him get down about it. Not long ago, I was looking through an older photo album and came across a picture of Chuck back when he first went through treatment so many years ago. I was shocked at how sick he looked, with a very thin head of hair even though it was the flat-top everyone knows him by.”
Ahsmann giving thumbs up
Coach after treatment
Gators getting ready for action
“As we were growing up, we lived in a great neighborhood where as the changing of the seasons came, we changed sports.” Brother Chris recalled, “In the summer it was baseball, but the real competition came in late summer and through winter playing football. We would get all the neighborhood kids together and divide up teams and played until it got too dark. Since we were only one grade apart, we were always competing against each other…I have a chipped tooth from a Nerf basketball game where I boxed Chuck out and he pushed me into a window handle…That was his competitive desire to win.”
Gators showing support for their coach
All roads lead to Bruhn Field
CLS Gators tunnel
LISTEN to Coach Ahsmann tell his story in his own words:
Ahsmann checking his schedule
Gator’s Fight Song
Ahsmann’s Gators line up on O
LISTEN to Dr. Aric Hall, MD give us insights into Coach Ahsmann’s treatment:
Dr. Aric Hall, MD
Gator football champions
On the Coach’s unselfish attitude, Steve tells us, “He worries about others more than himself. On a recent trip to St. Louis to visit Chris, we were discussing his situation and the chance he will need a bone marrow transplant. Chris and I will have the chance of being a match based on genetics. Chuck said he almost hoped we weren’t a match because he wouldn’t want us to feel guilty if the transplant didn’t work.
“I can’t imagine the stress and uncertainty that he lives with on a daily basis. Each time he gets a cold or doesn’t feel well, his thoughts must go to if the cancer is progressing.”
Whether Coach Ahsmann realizes it or not, he is a hero. Not because he has cancer or because he is a head football coach. He is a hero because he faces mortality on a daily basis and still lives his life to the fullest. He’s a good man, yes, a really good man.
2005 Gators. Ahsmann was an assistant
This story is dedicated to my mother, Joan Berg, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer 4+ years ago. The Grand Dame is still fighting the good fight. I love you mom! Drewfus T McFirefly
Woodstock, IL- Located in Woodstock, Marian Central Catholic High School has around 690 students this year. Considered a very good example of creating an atmosphere that allows young boys and girls to prepare for the “real world” both academically and spiritually.
bergsworld.live spent some time earlier at MC with Mike Maloney, football head coach and Director of Admissions & Marketing, Tom Kruse, baseball head coach & Guidance and Zach Teegen. Teegen, a junior, is another in a long line of #YoungGuns to let us get a look into their world. A good student athlete, Teegen, plays both football and baseball.
Listen as Teegen talks about family, including his sister Skyler, who is a freshman at MC. Maloney and Kruse then add their insights of the talented Hurricane.
LISTEN to Zach:
LISTEN to Coach Maloney:
Z Teegen MCC HS
Chris Leathers who is Marian CC HS Strength coach (Your World Fitness) and Pat Wenzel, Davis Speed Center, were very appreciated by Teegen for their great assistance.