The Friday Night Drive Team of the Year for the 2022 season is here with 44 of Illinois’ best players comprising our first and second teams.
Check back later this week as we announce our Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Blainey Dowling, Mount Carmel: The Caravan quarterback had a historic season as he led Mount Carmel to the Class 7A state title. Dowling broke the program’s single-season passing touchdown record with 43 on top of his 2,977 passing yards, 250 rushing yards and five rushing TDs. The Eastern Illinois commit was named the CCL/ESCC Blue Lawless Player of the Year.
Jake Stearney, Loyola: Stearney put together one of the best seasons in program history to help the Ramblers win the Class 8A state title. The Colgate commit threw for 2,324 yards and 36 touchdowns and added 382 rushing yards and three TDs on the ground. The senior earned CCL/ESCC Blue Offensive Player of the Year honors.
Tyler Vasey, Prairie Ridge: Vasey put together one of the most incredible seasons in state history as he rushed for an IHSA-record 3,887 yards with 52 touchdowns. Vasey’s rushing total ranked first in the nation this season and tied for 13th all-time, according to MaxPreps, as Vasey helped the Wolves to the Class 6A state-title game
Andre Crews, Simeon: Any opponent that focused on Simeon’s passing game received a rude awakening from Crews, whose blend of power and speed made the Wolverines’ offense dynamic. The senior rushed for 2,307 yards and 40 touchdowns as Simeon finished the regular season undefeated.
Julius Ellens, Glenbard West: Ellens carried the ball 220 times for 1,685 yards and 29 touchdowns and caught 19 passes for 528 yards and five TDs. The junior also returned a punt for a TD and was named Offensive MVP in the West Suburban Silver Conference.
Malachi Washington, Peoria: Washington posted head-turning box scores nearly every single week, including a 273-yard, six-TD performance in a Class 5A title-game loss to Nazareth. The senior finished his final high school season with 3,360 rushing yards and 53 TDs.
Frank Covey, Prospect: A Northwestern commit, Covey spent his junior season at QB for the Knights but this fall returned to wide receiver. The move worked out perfectl, with Brad Vierneisel excelling at quarterback and Covey hauling in 69 receptions for 1,374 yards and 26 TDs.
Malik Elzy, Simeon: Elzy remains one of the top uncommitted seniors in the nation after he decommitted from Cincinnati in October. Considering his blend of size and speed, there’s surely no shortage of college suitors for Elzy, especially after he posted 45 catches for 1,025 yards and 11 TDs this fall for the Wolverines.
TJ McMillen, St. Francis: An Illinois recruit, McMillen recorded 108 pancake blocks in 11 games. The senior finished with 68 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss, and 4 1/2 sacks and 14 hurries. McMillen was named Metro Suburban Conference Red Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Miles McVay, East St. Louis: Expectations were already high when McVay arrived at East St. Louis as a freshman and they only went up from there. The Flyers entered 2022 as the favorites in Class 6A and didn’t disappoint, winning the state title with McVay, an Alabama commit, leading the charge.
Justin Scott, St. Ignatius: Scott showed that he was worth the hype of being the No. 1-ranked Class of 2024 prospect in the state of Illinois. The junior, who has numerous offers from Power Five programs such as Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Texas, created open lanes for the Wolfpack running backs and also made his presence known on the defensive line. He earned CCL/ESCC White Lineman of the Year honors.
Brooks Bahr, Loyola: The Michigan commit quickly became a quarterback’s nightmare with how quickly he evaded double teams. Bahr finished the season with 49 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks and three pass breakups to help the Ramblers win the Class 8A state title. The senior was named CCL/ESCC Blue Lineman of the Year.
Pat Farrell, St. Rita: Farrell was a menace for offensive linemen all season, always creating pressure on the quarterback or swallowing up running backs. The Illinois commit finished the year with 72 total tackles, 13 sacks, five batted passes and one interception to help the Mustangs reach the Class 7A semifinals. The senior earned CCL/ESCC Green Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Gabe Kaminski, Nazareth: Only a sophomore, Kaminski recorded 94 tackles, including 38 stops for a loss, to go with 16 sacks for the Class 5A state champions. Kaminski holds offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee.
Marquise Lightfoot, Kenwood: Lightfoot already holds college offers from six Big Ten programs and more are likely on the way after he recorded 122 tackles, including 15 for a loss, nine sacks and 18 QB hurries this fall.
Tyler Jansey, Batavia: The Wisconsin commit led the Bulldogs to a Class 7A state championship appearance. Jansey led the team with 128 tackles, 17 for loss, and averaged nine tackles a game. He also had four sacks. Offensively, Jansey had 675 rushing yards on 89 carries and eight rushing touchdowns. Jansey was a four-year varsity member and three-year starter.
Matt Kingsbury, St. Rita: Kingsbury turned a strong senior season into his first Power Five full-ride scholarship from Minnesota. The Gopher commit finished the year with 131 total tackles, 11 sacks and two blocked punts. The senior was named the CCL/ESCC Green Lawless Player of the Year.
Cole Ostendorf, York: Ostendorf, recorded 90 tackles, including 27 for a loss, to go with 11.5 sacks, eight hurries and two forced fumbles for a York team that recorded its first 9-0 regular season in school history and made the Class 8A semifinals. The junior was named Defensive Player of the Year in the West Suburban Silver Conference.
Jake Scianna, Lincoln-Way East: Scianna has been an absolute staple of the Griffins defense for the better part of three seasons. He finished his senior campaign with 96 total tackles, including 58 solo stops. The SouthWest Suburban Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year also netted seven tackles for loss, two interceptions and three sacks all while playing with a torn ACL for the entire year.
Teegan Davis, Princeton: Davis, who recently signed his National Letter of Intent to play at Iowa, was a two-way star at Princeton, where he recorded eight interceptions and returned two for scores this fall. He also served at the Tigers’ QB and accounted for 37 total TDs and more than 2,400 yards of offense.
Tyler Erkman, Lake Zurich: The North Dakota commit, was a key two-way starter for the Bears, who went 8-1 during the regular season and reached the Class 7A semifinals. Erkman recorded five interceptions while on defense and added nine TDs on offense.
KJ Parker, IC Catholic: Parker tallied 39 tackles, a sack and intercepted two passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown for the Class 3A state champs. The junior had 37 receptions for 1,082 yards and 17 touchdowns and was named Metro Suburban Conference Blue Player of the Year.
Ty Lott, Sacred Heart Griffin
Payton Salomon, Lemont
Matt Vezza, York
Vinny Rugai, St. Ignatius
Steven Siegel, Richmond-Burton
Drew Surges, St. Charles North
I’Marion Stewart, Bolingbrook
Cam Williams, Glenbard South
Anthony Birsa, Joliet Catholic
Isaiah Gonzalez, IC Catholic
Chris Terek, Glenbard West
Lincoln Cooley, Sycamore
Andrew Laurich, Yorkville
Trey Pierce, Brother Rice
Will Seibert, Jacobs
Dominic Dixon, East St. Louis
Danny Pasko, Lyons
Christian Pierce, Brother Rice
Sam Reddinger, Morris
Johnny McGuire, Loyola
John Nestor, Marist
Justin Taylor Nazareth