Hinsdale Central senior center Chris Robinson gained a first-hand education on the importance of leadership in the latter stages of his high school career.
Led by a strong group of seniors leaders over the last two seasons, the Red Devils have overcome insurmountable odds off the field to thrive on the field.
As a junior, Robinson endured the headline-grabbing news that the football program was in jeopardy to be eliminated for the 2019-20 school year because of budget cuts.
After several months of uncertainty, the football program was reinstated in April of 2019. Throughout that winter, the Red Devils continued to work hard and build toward the possibility of playing in 2019. They opened the season with seven consecutive wins to finish with an 8-2 record.
Then another potential, once-in-a-lifetime season-ending possibility hit — COVID-19.
Thus, it’s no surprise that the Red Devils are successful again on the field amid adversity this spring. Hinsdale Central (2-0) has defeated Oak Park-River Forest and Leyden by a combined margin of 83-14 in its first two games. The Red Devils host York at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Robinson, a captain, said the 2020 graduating senior class laid the foundation for working hard through adversity for the current crop of seniors.
“It’s a wonderful feeling starting the season 2-0,” Robinson said. “The captains the year before us…set a great foundation for us. We talked to our teammates and told them that we had been through this once before, and that we would have our chance.
“When that chance arrived, we had to be ready for it. It was making sure that nobody was losing hope and we were all in.”
Senior linebacker David Bynan said it’s been a chaotic two-plus year experience battling through uncontrolled issues just to play football.
“It feels so surreal to be playing football after all that we’ve been through,” Bynan said. “Over the last year, there were many points when it didn’t really seem like we were going to be able to step on the field again. It was incredibly tough, especially for the senior class.
“Nobody is taking one single moment for granted. To start 2-0 is a great feeling, but we still have unfinished business ahead.”
Hinsdale Central coach Brian Griffin said Robinson, Bynan, quarterback Michael Brescia, defensive back Mikey Franko and offensive lineman Luke Gatewood helped lift the spirits of his players throughout the extended offseason.
“We’ve played well the first two games,” Griffin said. “We have a good group of kids who have worked really hard and have a lot of potential. Our seniors have been dealing with a lot of stuff from last year with season almost canceled to this current stuff. They’ve been very resilient with a toughness and strong mindset.”
Reed shining for Downers Grove South
Downers Grove South junior Eli Reed showed his diverse talents in last week’s season-opening 21-12 loss to Hinsdale South.
He impacted all three phases of the game against the Hornets.
Reed played quarterback, running back, lined up in the slot and out wide at wide receiver. In total, Reed threw one incompletion, carried the ball five times for nine yards and a touchdown, caught five passes for 101 yards for a 20.2 yards per reception average, scored on a two-point conversion and returned two punts for 20 yards. Defensively, Reed collected two tackles and intercepted a pass.
“Our coaches have me going everywhere on the field,” Reed said. “They’re good with getting the ball to the playmakers in a lot of creative ways.”
Reed is a player to watch on the recruiting front. He has an offer from Northern Illinois, with Illinois and Western Michigan recently getting into the mix. Reed said he’s putting his junior tape on Twitter “for schools to see and reach out.” The Mustangs host Addison Trail on Thursday.
In the prolonged offseason, Reed gained nearly 20 pounds of muscle but retained his game-breaking speed.
“Eli worked really hard in the offseason, and came back in great shape,” Downers Grove South coach Mark Molinari said. “He’s put on a lot of strength in the offseason. He’s probably played almost every play. He’s been really unstoppable and we make sure to get him the ball. We just put him at different spots and let him do his thing.”
Molinari added that sophomore tight end/linebacker Mack O’Halloran is another player with a high upside. He caught two passes for 34 yards and added two tackles for a loss against Hinsdale South.
“Mack is going to be a beast,” Molinari said. “He played unbelievable Friday night. He was dominant on offense and blocking and had a real solid game.”
Asleson’s strong showing for Lyons
Lyons senior wide receiver Tommy Asleson is nearing the end of his football career. A Denison basketball recruit, Asleson had a strong showing in Lyons’ season-opening 18-15 defeat to Oak Park-River Forest on Saturday.
He caught five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns, including a two-point PAT.
“I just want to come out and have the best season I can because this is probably the last time I’m going to play competitively and finishing off a great four years with the guys,” Aselson said.
Lyons junior quarterback Joey Antonietti credited Asleson for settling down the offense against the Huskies.
“Tommy was our only starter coming back,” Antonietti said. “He’s going to be a big target this year and doing some big things for us.”