Throughout the 2015 high school football regular-season (August 31 - October 26) in Illinois, the Chicago Bears will honor an IHSA football player and coach each week as a part of its “Bears High School All-Star” and “Bears Coach of the Week” programs, respectively. The Chicago Bears will make a $1,500 contribution to the football program at each winning coach’s school. Throughout the program’s 18-year existence, the Bears have donated over $245,000 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs. All 2015 honorees will be invited to Soldier Field, where they will be recognized on December 13 when the Bears host Washington.
All press releases below are courtesy of the Chicago Bears:
Sam Sergent of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School
in Springfield, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 9.
Sergent, a senior running back, rushed 35 times for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the Cyclones’ 53-34 victory over five-time defending IHSA Class 4A state champion Rochester last Friday, October 23. He finished the 2015 regular season with 1,233 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns on 117 carries, as well as 11 receptions for 215 yards. Remarkably, Sergent never played in a losing varsity football game. The three-year starting running back has played in 37 varsity games and the Cyclones have won each one.
Michael Hennessey of Notre Dame College Prep
in Niles, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 9.
Hennessey led the Dons to a share of their first East Suburban Catholic Conference title since 1981 last Friday, October 23 with a 25-13 victory over Carmel. It was also the first time since 1998 that Notre Dame defeated Carmel on the football field. Notre Dame finished the regular season with a record of 8-1 and will face Marist on Friday, October 30 in the first round of the IHSA Class 8A Football Playoffs.
Mitch Fairfield of Normal West High School
in Normal, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 8.
Fairfield, a senior quarterback, helped engineer Normal West’s 64-39 upset of Peoria High School last Friday, October 16. Peoria entered the game undefeated and ranked second in IHSA Class 5A. Fairfield completed 21 of 33 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for three more touchdowns during the Wildcats’ victory. An excellent student and a standout baseball player, Fairfield will attend Southern Illinois University next fall on a baseball scholarship.
Dennis Piron of Batavia High School
in Batavia, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 8.
Piron led Batavia to a 24-14 victory over rival and previously unbeaten Geneva High School. The win clinched at least a share of the Bulldog’s fifth straight Upstate Eight River Conference title and was Batavia’s 31st consecutive conference victory. Piron is in his fourth season as head coach at Batavia. Under his leadership, the Bulldogs have qualified for the IHSA State Playoffs all four years and won the IHSA Class 6A title in 2013.
Alex Martinez of St. Laurence High School
in Burbank, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 7.
Martinez, a senior quarterback, lost his father suddenly the day before St. Laurence was scheduled to take on Aurora Christian. Despite his personal tragedy, he decided to play and helped lead the Vikings to a 63-24 win on the road. Martinez completed 13 of 16 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for one more. The win moved St. Laurence to 5-2 on the season and made them playoff eligible for the first time since 2009.
George Czart of Lincoln-Way North High School
in Frankfort, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 7.
Czart led the Phoenix to a 28-26 win over previously unbeaten Thornton last Friday, October 9. Lincoln-Way North is currently 7-0 for the first time in school history. Czart’s undefeated team will be the last to play at Lincoln-Way North because the school is set to close at the conclusion of the school year due to budgetary issues. The Phoenix have certainly made their final season one to remember, as four of their seven victories have come by 14 points or less.
Alfonzo Lambert of Rockford Auburn High School
in Rockford, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 6.
Lambert helped lead the Knights to a 7-6 victory over Hononegah last Friday, October 2. It was the first time Auburn had won at Hononegah in 29 years. Lambert led the defense with 12 tackles, making several key stops and helping cause a fumble that was recovered by a teammate and returned for a touchdown. For the season, Lambert has a team-high 54 tackles, two for loss, a sack, interception and fumble recovery.
Rockford Auburn is 5-1 on the year, and is in position to finish with their best record since 1961.
Brian Badke of Brother Rice High School
in Chicago, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 6.
Badke led his Crusaders to a 31-14 upset victory over previously unbeaten Mount Carmel High School last Friday, October 2. A game with big implications in the Chicago Catholic League’s Blue Division, Badke started preparing his team for Mount Carmel’s offense months ago. The extra work paid off, with Brother Rice slowing down the Caravan’s offense and improving to 5-1 on the season.
Riley Lees of Libertyville High School
in Libertyville, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 5.
Lees, a senior quarterback, led the Wildcats to a 35-7 victory over conference rival and defending IHSA Class 8A champion Stevenson High School last Friday, September 25 in Lincolnshire. Lees ran for 278 yards, including touchdown runs of 80, 61, 78 and 4 yards. He also threw a 14-yard touchdown pass. The win moved the Wildcats to 5-0 and was Libertyville’s first victory over Stevenson since 2008. Lees has committed to play football at Northwestern University next season.
John Hart of Huntley High School
in Huntley, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 5.
Hart led the Red Raiders to a 29-8 win over defending IHSA Class 6A champion and previously unbeaten Cary-Grove last Friday, September 25. It marked the first time that Huntley defeated Cary-Grove after 11 previous meetings. The win moved Huntley to 5-0 on the season and put them in the driver’s seat in Fox Valley’s Valley Division. Hart is in his fourth season at Huntley. He has led the Red Raiders to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, and has them positioned for a third playoff run in 2015.
Emitt Peisert of Marian Central Catholic High School
in Woodstock, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 4.
Peisert, a senior running back, had 29 carries for 306 yards and four touchdowns in the Hurricane’s 34-19 victory over Nazareth Academy last Friday, September 18. Marion Central roared back from a 19-0 deficit to defeat Nazareth, the defending IHSA Class 6A champions who came into the contest ranked first in Class 5A. Peisert had touchdown runs of 20, 9, 70 and 38 yards. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in all four games so far this season. The victory moved the Hurricanes to 4-0.
John Holocek of Loyola Academy
in Wilmette, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 4.
Holocek posted his 100th career win as a head coach on Saturday, September 19 when the Ramblers beat Fenwick by a score of 54-16. Now in his 10th season at Loyola, Holocek has an overall record of 100-24. The Ramblers have made the IHSA State Playoffs in each of his ten seasons and placed second in Class 8A in 2011 and 2013.
Jacob Mitchell of Metamora High School
in Metamora, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 3.
Mitchell, a senior quarterback, scored five touchdowns and ran for 251 yards on 10 carries, and passed for two touchdowns and 101 yards during the Redbirds 56-14 win over Morton. All of Mitchell’s yards came in the first half, as he sat out the second half of the contest. Metamora came into the game against Morton ranked fourth in IHSA Class 5A. In addition to his on-field talents, Mitchell also excels in the classroom. He is a high honor roll student with a 3.87 GPA, and recently scored a 32 on his ACT.
Larry Calhoun of Mundelein High School
in Mundelein, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 3.
Calhoun is in his first season as head coach of the Mustangs, and there is no doubt that his presence has re-energized the Mundelein program. After winning just two games over the last four seasons, Mundelein is currently 3-0. The Mustangs defeated Larkin 49-25 in week one, snapping a 16-game losing streak; Elgin in week two by a score of 35-24; and North Chicago last Friday by a score of 55-6. In their first three games, Mundelein has scored more points (139) than they did during the entire 2014 season (89).
Michael Johnson of Joliet Catholic Academy
in Joliet, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 2.
Johnson rushed for 242 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries as the Hilltoppers cruised past Wheaton North High School for a 34-14 victory last Friday, September 4. He also had four receptions for 49 yards and two touchdowns, helping Joliet Catholic improve to 2-0 on the season. Johnson is off to a fast start this season, after rushing for 204 yards and hauling in a 77-yard touchdown pass in a week one victory over Providence High School.
Mike Papoccia of Newman Central Catholic High School
in Sterling, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 2.
Papoccia tallied his 300th career win last Friday, September 4, when he led his Comets to a 28-16 win over Fulton High School. The win also moved Newman Central Catholic to 2-0 on the season. In his 36 seasons as head coach of the Comets, Pappocia has compiled a career record of 300-93, and led his teams to IHSA Class 1A state titles in 1990 and 1994, and IHSA Class 2A states titles in 2004, 2010, and 2013.
James Robinson of Rockford Lutheran High School
in Rockford, IL was named the “Bears High School All-Star” for Week 1.
Robinson set the IHSA career record for rushing touchdowns last Friday, August 28 during a 62-7 win over a Quincy Notre Dame High School team that was previously ranked seventh in Class 4A. Robinson started the game by returning the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. He went on to score five more touchdowns on runs of 19, 55, 21, 4 and 51 yards, bringing his career total to 119 and passing the previous mark of 115 career rushing touchdowns. Robinson, who has committed to the University of Iowa, finished the night with 238 yards on 12 carries.
Tim Thornton of Peoria High School
in Peoria, IL was named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 1.
Thornton led his state-ranked Lions to a 53-18 victory over rival Peoria Manuel last Friday, August 28. But more impressive than the work Thornton and his team have put in on the field is what they’ve done off of it. Thornton created and promoted a “Peace Walk” the night before the game, as both teams walked with community members and policemen in a show of solidarity. Friday’s game was played as part of the “Night Out Against Violence,” promoting peace between the youth of Peoria and raising money for scholarships.
Coach Thornton will be invited to the Bears vs. Redskins game on Sunday, December 13 and will join his fellow 2015 “Coach of the Week” honorees for an on-field photo during pregame. He will also receive a framed certificate signed by Bears head coach John Fox and have the opportunity to visit Halas Hall for lunch and practice viewing.