2023 Herald-News All-Area Football team

It’s difficult to best the Herald-News coverage area for depth of football skill. Talent abounds at every program, and three area teams played for state championships this season. Following is the cream of the crop, the 2023 Herald-News All-Area Football team.

First Team

Lockport's Christios Alexandros

Christos Alexandros, Lockport, OL, sr. – Alexandros has been a steady influence for the Lockport offensive line and started that journey as one of the links of the 2021 offensive line that helped the Porters win a state championship. In his senior season, Alexandros delivered 40 pancake blocks and provided an anchor for a line for a team that rushed for almost 1,000 yards in Lockport’s final three games.

Wilmington's Joey Allgood

Joe Allgood, Wilmington, OL/LB, sr. – Allgood had a knack for finding his way into the middle of everything for the Wildcats. Not only was he a key cog on an offensive line that paved the way for well over 4,000 rushing yards, but he also made 88 total tackles with 21 tackles for loss in the heart of the defense.

Coal City's Landin Benson

Landin Benson, Coal City, RB, jr. – Benson was a battering ram for the Coal City offense as he piled up 1,444 rushing yards and powered his way to 26 touchdowns. The Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-Stater also had a tendency to show up big time in pivotal games for the Coalers.

Bolingbrook's Kyan Berry

Kyan Berry-Johnson, Bolingbrook, WR, sr. – The Wisconsin-bound Berry-Johnson made plays all over the field for the Raiders for each of the past few seasons. Despite drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Berry came through with more than 2,100 yards of total offense.

Morris' Carter Button

Carter Button, Morris, QB, sr. – Button closed a spectacular run guiding the Morris offense for the past few years and owns multiple school records for his efforts. He capped his high school career with a season tally of 2,162 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns with ony four interceptions.

Lincoln-Way West's Joey Campagna

Joey Campagna, Lincoln-Way West, RB, sr. – Campagna, the Herald-News Offensive Player of the Year, was asked to shoulder a heavy load for the Warriors’ offense, and he answered almost every call to action. He finished with 1,800 yards rushing, earning almost 8 yards per carry with a heavy workload. He also scored 22 touchdowns.

Lincoln-Way East's Conner Durkin

Conner Durkin, Lincoln-Way East, LB, sr. – Durkin has been a staple for the Lincoln-Way East defense over much of the past three seasons. As such, Durkin capped his high school career by becoming the program’s all-time leading tackler. In his senior season he racked up 139 total tackles.

Wilmington's Kyle Farrell

Kyle Farrell, Wilmington, RB/DB, jr. – Farrell tore up the turf for the Wildcats as the driving force that carried Wilmington to a Class 2A state championship. He finished with 2,248 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns. He also contributed 55 tackles on defense and 10 tackles for loss.

Minooka's Caden Garcia

Cayden Garcia, Minooka, DL, sr. – Garcia willingly undertook a position change at the start of the season, but none of Minooka’s opponents turned out to be very fond of the move. Garcia finished with 17 tackles for loss and four sacks and constantly pressured opponents.

Joliet Catholic's HJ Grigsby

HJ Grigsby, Joliet Catholic, RB, sr. – Grigsby was a beast in the Class 5A state championship game, closing in on 300 yards rushing before an injury slowed him in the second half. All told, Grigsby managed almost 1,800 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on the season.

Providence's Gavin Hagan

Gavin Hagan, Providence, WR/DB, jr. – Hagan contributed in multiple ways for the Celtics and always seemed to find himself in the center of a lot of substantial plays. Hagan seemed to either spark Providence’s offense with a big play at wide receiver or a critical turnover on defense.

Lincoln-Way East's Josh Janowski

Josh Janowski, Lincoln-Way East, OL, sr. – It was Janowski’s turn to lead the Griffins’ offensive line into battle, and he answered that challenge in a substantial way. On his way to signing with Iowa, Janowski was an anchor on a line that eventually helped the Griffins become a potent ground attack.

Joliet Catholic's Dillan Johnson

Dillan Johnson, Joliet Catholic, DL, sr. – The Herald-News and CCL/ESCC Green defensive player of the year, Johnson simply got it done despite consistently drawing double and triple teams to try to slow him. The Wisconsin-bound Johnson finished with 10 sacks and 82 total tackles.

Lemont's Jacob Katauksas

Jacob Katauskas, Lemont, OL, sr. – Katauskas continued a strong tradition of dominating offensive linemen in Lemont. He keyed a unit that did a fine job helping Lemont get its offense on track late in the season to keep the school’s lengthy string of playoff appearances intact.

Providence's Luke Leverett

Luke Leverett, Providence, DB, jr. – Leverett was a play maker for the Celtics, persistently drawing the opponent’s top receiver in direct coverage. An in-season switch to safety also seemed to spark his knack for creating turnovers, including a three-interception performance in Providence’s opening-round playoff win over Morton.

Plainfield North's Eli Liapis

Eli Liapis, Plainfield North, DB, sr. – Plainfield North always has tried to anchor its efforts around a strong defense. That plan was no different this year, and Liapis was one of the leaders of the unit. An IHSFCA All-Stater, Liapis amassed 97 total tackles and picked off three passes.

Lincoln-Way Central's Anthony Noto

Anthony Noto, Lincoln-Way Central, RB, sr. – Noto packed a lot of punch in his smallish frame and helped Lincoln-Way Central complete a major bounce-back season. Noto finished with almost 1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns and delivered gritty yards in many close games.

Lincoln-Way East's Caden O'Rourke

Caden O’Rourke, Lincoln-Way East, DL, jr. – Only a junior, O’Rourke is coveted by many major Division I programs, and it’s easy to see why. He has a tendency to set up camp in the opponent’s backfield and finished with 46 total tackles, 11 sacks and three tackles for loss despite often drawing extra attention from opposing offensive lines.

Lincoln-Way Central's Andrew Schiller

Andrew Schiller, Lincoln-Way Central, K/P, sr. – Lincoln-Way Central was fond of turning games into defensive tussles, and when the Knights’ offense wasn’t quite able to punch in touchdowns, Schiller was almost automatic on field goal tries. He also was a huge weapon as a punter, frequently pinning back opposing offenses.

Lincoln-Way East's Braden Tischer

Braden Tischer, Lincoln-Way East, QB, sr. – Tischer guided the Lincoln-Way East offense with a steady hand. He was 26-2 as a starter over the final two seasons of his high school career, with both of the losses coming in state championship games. In his senior season, he threw for almost 2,000 yards, 21 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Lincoln-Way West's Josh Veldman

Josh Veldman, Lincoln-Way West, LB, jr. – With a knack for finding the football, Veldman punished opposing offenses with regularity. He finished with 110 total tackles, recorded 12 tackles for loss and forced four fumbles for the Warriors.

Joliet West's KeShawn Wiley

KeShawn Wiley, Joliet West, DL, jr. – Wiley was a big part of Joliet West’s breakout season, providing a menacing problem for opposing offensive lines to deal with. Wiley racked up an astonishing 37 tackles for loss and collected 10 sacks.

Lincoln-Way East's David Wuske

David Wuske, Lincoln-Way East, DL, sr. – Lincoln-Way East’s defense was one of the program’s better all-time units, and that’s saying something. Wuske was a big part of that and a staple on the Griffins’ defensive line, where he piled up 64 total tackles, nine tackles for loss and six sacks.

Morris' A.J. Zweeres

A.J. Zweeres, Morris, WR/DB, sr. – Zweeres was a blur on both sides of the football as he racked up almost 1,000 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns on offense and then moved over to the defensive side, where he was a top-flight defensive back who collected 40 total tackles and four interceptions.

Second Team

Jameson Clark, sr., LB, Lockport; Cael DePolo, sr., DL, Lincoln-Way West; Gavin Carpenter, sr., RB/LB, Coal City; Andrew Elkareh, jr., LB, Plainfield North; Jack Florentine, sr., LS, Lincoln-Way East; Drew Gallagher, sr., QB/S, Lockport; Stephon Gardner-Gist, sr., WR/DB, Lincoln-Way East; Alex Gibson, sr., TE, Providence; Max Hrvatin, sr., DE, Joliet Catholic; Matthew Janiak, sr., LB, Plainfield South; Mike Lombardo, sr., OL, Lincoln-Way East; Micah McNair, jr., LB, Joliet West; Carter Mikolajczak, sr., S, Lemont; Nick Mitchell, sr., LB, Lincoln-Way Central; Brandon Moran, sr., RB/LB, Wilmington; Quinn Morris, jr., WR, Plainfield East; Nuri Muhammad, sr., RB, Lincoln-Way East; Rex Pfeifer, sr., RB/LB, Reed-Custer; JT Poynton, sr., DB, Lincoln-Way East; Chase Rivera, jr., RB/LB, Peotone; Daniel Rouse, jr., LB, Joliet Catholic; Jacob Swartz, sr., RB, Morris; Adrian Washington, sr., WR, Joliet Catholic; Jonas Williams, so., QB, Bolingbrook

Honorable mention

Chidu Bekee, sr., DB, Plainfield East; Body Benson, sr., OL, Wilmington; Blaine Beshoar, jr., LB, Morris; Nathan Blazewski, sr., K/P, Lockport; Jayden Cawthon, fr., WR, Plainfield East; Seth Cheney, sr., WR, Providence; Max Cioffi, jr., OL, Lincoln-Way East; Omar Coleman, jr., WR/K/P, Plainfield North; Xavier Coleman, so., WR, Providence; Ari Daniels, sr., P, Lincoln-Way East; Andy Dedo, sr., OL, Wilmington; Jashawn Echols, sr., DB, Lincoln-Way East; Braden Erwin, sr., WR/DB, Lincoln-Way West; Kade Fatland, sr., DB, Lincoln-Way East; Jim Feeney, sr., WR/DB, Coal City; Joe Fushi, sr. DL, Lincoln-Way East; Gavin Garcia, sr., RB/WR, Joliet West; Zion Gist, jr. RB, Lincoln-Way East; Guiness Goin, sr., LB, Joliet Central; Mason Gougis, sr., DB, Romeoville; Jonas Gregory, jr., K/P, Joliet Central; Landen Hamm, sr., OL/DL, Peotone; Zach Hermanson, so., K, Lincoln-Way West; Josh Howard, sr., DB, Lincoln-Way West; Paris Hueston, sr., DE/LB, Plainfield East; Carson Jacoby, sr., TE, Minooka; Jay Jeziorski, sr., LB, Providence; Cameron Juricich, jr., OL, Joliet Catholic; Reid Juster, sr., TE/DB, Wilmington; Nick Kavooras, sr., OL/DL, Lincoln-Way West; Jordan Kemp, sr., RB, Lockport; Aaron King, sr., DB, Plainfield East; Carter Lauderman, sr., DE, Morris; Alijah Leach, sr., DL, Plainfield East; Gavin LeDere, Sr., LB, Lincoln-Way East; Michael Lynch, jr., OL, Joliet Catholic; Harrison Majerus, jr., OL, Joliet Central; Cade McCubbin, sr., QB, Wilmington; Matthew McDonnell, sr., LB, Lemont; Brady McKeon, sr., OL, Joliet Catholic; RJ Mensching, sr., K, Lincoln-Way East; Connor Metille, sr., LB, Morris; Jayden Mikulski, Jr., DB, Providence; Koda Miller, jr., OL, Providence; Reggie Milligan, jr., DE, Plainfield East; Jay’lin Murphy, sr., RB, Joliet Central; Ryan Nelson, jr., LB, Wilmington; Jerry Nino, sr., LB, Plainfield East; Zach Ohlund, so., OL/DL, Wilmington; Alex Pasquale, sr., G/NG, Lemont; Nick Peterson, sr., LB, Lincoln-Way East; Owen Perez, sr., OL, Lincoln-Way Central; Tanner Phillips, sr., RB/LB, Coal City; DJ Richardson, sr., WR, Lincoln-Way East; Payton Roberson, Jr., LB, Lockport; Jayden Rodriguez, jr., RB, Peotone; Parker Schwarting, sr., WR, Joliet West; John Sherrod, jr., LB, Lockport; Creide Skubic, sr., DB, Coal City; Paul Slick, jr., QB, Joliet Central; Christian Smith, jr., RB, Joliet Central; Mason Stapleton, sr., OL, Morris; Denym Sykes, sr., LB, Plainfield East; Ryan Usher, sr., WR, Lincoln-Way East; Mitch Voltz, sr., WR, Providence; Jack Wheeler, jr., WR/DB, Morris; Trey Zvonar, jr., TE, Lincoln-Way East

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie is the Managing Editor of Friday Night Drive for Shaw Media. Also previously for Shaw Media, Soucie was the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.