Throughout the 2018 high school football regular-season 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 total contribution to support the winning high schools and a local youth football program of the winner's choosing. Throughout the program’s 20+ year existence, the Bears have donated over $280,000 to Illinois high schools in support of their football programs. All 2018 honorees will be invited to Soldier Field, where they will be recognized on December 16 when the Bears host the Packers.
All press releases below are courtesy of the Chicago Bears:
The Chicago Bears announced that running back/linebacker Jake Bellizzi of Maine West High School was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star” for Week 9. Bellizzi and the Maine West Warriors (8-1) posted a 32-0 win at Deerfield (4-5) on Oct. 19 to register their first outright Central Suburban League championship; 2018 also marked the team’s first eight-win season since the program’s inaugural year. Bellizzi, a senior, has rushed for over 1,400 yards this season.
The Chicago Bears announced today that Brian Badke of Brother Rice in Chicago, Ill., has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 9. Badke helped lead the Brother Rice Crusaders (9-0) to a 31-0 victory over Montini Catholic High School (8-1) last week to finish the regular season undefeated for the first time in team history. Quarterback John Bean rushed for three touchdowns in the win, adding a passing touchdown as well. The Crusaders went from a 2-7 record in 2017 to the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division Champion and Class 8A top seed this year.
PLAYER - Nick Rattin of Fremd High School in Palatine, Ill., was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star” for Week 8. Rattin, who plays quarterback, running back and safety, helped lead the Fremd Vikings (4-4) to a 31-9 win at Hoffman Estates (6-2) last week to keep their playoff hopes alive. The senior threw for one touchdown, while also rushing for 231 yards and two TDs; he also posted four tackles.
COACH - John Hoerster of Oak Park-River Forest has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 8. Hoerster and the Huskies (6-2) notched a 10-7 victory over the Glenbard West (6-2) on Oct. 13, marking their first win over the Hilltopers since 2007. Senior Henry Darrow notched the game-winning field goal with seconds remaining in the game.
Running back/defensive back Ty Gavin of Niles Notre Dame College Prep was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star” for Week 7. Gavin recorded 30 carries for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the Dons’ (6-1) 41-20 win at St. Patrick High School (4-3). The senior also tallied two interceptions in the victory. Gavin recently received his first Division I scholarship offer from Morehead State.
Ron Dawczak of Marist High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 7. Dawczak led the RedHawks (6-1) to a 34-13 victory at Nazareth Academy (6-1) to snap the Roadrunners’ undefeated record. Quarterback Mike Markett threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for a touchdown. Billy Skalitzky also rushed for a touchdown, while Jaden Thompson and Denny Hogan each posted receiving touchdowns.
- Rashad Rochelle of Springfield High School was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star” for Week 6. Rochelle led the way for the Senators (4-2) in their 49-41 victory against Sacred Heart-Griffin last week, throwing for 248 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for one touchdown. The win marked Springfield’s first against SHG since 1999. Rochelle, a freshman, has tallied over 1,110 passing yards and 17 touchdowns in the team’s first six games; he has rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
Mike Bukovsky of Montini Catholic High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 6. Bukovsky and the Broncos (6-0) continued their undefeated season after coming from behind at Loyola Academy (3-3) to defeat the Ramblers 28-27. Montini was down 27-20 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Robert Brazziel threw for a touchdown and two-point conversion to win the game. The victory clinched the Broncos’ 26th consecutive playoff appearance. Bukovsky also led the Lady Broncos softball team to a 30-9 record in 2018 and their second IHSA 3A Softball Championship title.
PLAYER - J.J. McCarthy of Nazareth Catholic Academy in La Grange Park, Ill., was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star" for Week 5. McCarthy completed 18-of-27 passes for 425 passing yards with five passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown to lead the Roadrunners (5-0) to a 45-7 victory over the Benet Academy Redwings (3-2). The sophomore quarterback posted 359 passing yards and four touchdowns in the first half of the game.
COACH - Ken Leonard of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 5. Leonard’s Sacred Heart-Griffin Cyclones (4-1) registered a 45-6 victory on Friday over his son Derek’s Rochester Rockets (4-1) to mark Ken’s 375th career win, making him the winningest coach in state history. He holds a 375-72 career record across 39 seasons at Sacred Heart-Griffin and Gridley High School and has led the Cyclones to five state titles. The win came at the ninth annual Leonard Bowl, which was held this year in honor of wife/mom Liz Leonard, who passed away last December from breast cancer. Players donned pink socks, fans were decked out in pink and the Chicago Bears handed out pink rally towels and pins. The Bears also had appearances at the game by former Illinois high school football players and Bears alumni Steve Edwards and Emery Moorehead, along with Staley Da Bear, Monster Squad and Drumline.
- Quarterback Michael Best of Wheeling High School was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star" for Week 4. Best led the way for the Wheeling Wildcats (2-2) in their 45-42 come-from-behind win against the Vernon Hills Cougars (2-2) after passing for 374 yards and five touchdowns. Danny Provost, Johnny Quintero and Kyle Kong each posted receiving touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown by Johnny Panganiban. Best also converted on a field goal and two extra point attempts and rushed for another two-point conversion.
- John Walters of Glenbard East High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 4. Walters and the Glenbard East Rams improved to 4-0 after registering a 17-13 victory over West Aurora (3-1), who was undefeated at the time. This marks the first time the Rams have started a season with a 4-0 record since 1967. Senior quarterback Bret Bushka rushed for both touchdowns, while Dominic Tenca tallied a field goal; Mashar Lewis collected two interceptions, including one with 1:28 remaining in the game. They will face off against the South Elgin Storm (4-0) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Lineman Trevor Keegan Crystal Lake South High School in Crystal Lake, Ill., was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star” for Week 3. Keegan and the Crystal Lake South Gators (1-2) registered a 40-21 win vs. Crystal Lake Central (0-3) for their first victory of the season. Keegan, a Division I prospect, caught a punted ball kicked by Central quarterback Aidan Ellinger after the snap was fumbled and returned it for a 35-yard touchdown, marking his first career touchdown. The 6’6” and 310-pound senior is the first lineman to win the award; he is currently ranked as the top prospect in the state by rivals.com.
- Joe Sanchez of Barrington High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 3. Sanchez led the Barrington Broncos (3-0) to a come-from-behind 26-23 victory at Maine South (2-1). EJ Darlington, Adam Brokke and Tim Lowe recorded touchdowns in the win. Darlington, who is a wide receiver, caught a pass from quarterback Tommy Fitzpatrick and proceeded to throw a lateral pass to Lowe for the game-winning touchdown. The Broncos have posted all three victories this year on the road against teams that qualified for state playoffs last season.
Quarterback Brandon Odam of Taylorville High School in Taylorville, Ill., was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star" for Week 2. Odam and the Taylorville Tornadoes (2-0) recorded a 64-20 win at the Effingham Flaming Hearts (0-2) on Aug. 31, due largely in part to the senior quarterback’s 559 passing yards and 57 rushing yards. According to the Illinois High School Association, he now holds the record for the ninth-best passing yardage game in state history. Wide receiver Yemi Odugbesan tallied three receiving touchdowns, along with touchdowns by running backs Riley Buschon and Austin Herkert and wide receiver Justin Wright. Head coach Jeb Odam is Brandon’s uncle.
David Hay of Glenwood High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 2. Hay led the Glenwood Titans (2-0) to a 27-23 victory on Aug. 31 in a rivalry game at Sacred Heart-Griffin (1-1), marking their first win against the Cyclones since 2001. Running back Jason Hansbrough registered two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). Running back Austin Schiff and wide receiver Eli Vogler also posted touchdowns.
Kicker Jack Olsen of Wheaton-Warrenville South High School was named the Chicago Bears “High School All-Star" for Week 1. Olsen set an Illinois High School Association record with eight field goals in the Wheat-Warrenville South Tigers’ 26-0 win over Metea Valley (0-1); his only miss was a 52-yard kick.
Oliver Speller of Proviso East High School has been named the Chicago Bears High School “Coach of the Week” for Week 1.
Speller, a first-year head coach, and the Proviso East Pirates (1-0) posted a 20-7 win at Round Lake (0-1) on Aug. 24 to snap a 35-game losing streak. The team’s last win was a 29-7 victory over Maine West on Aug. 30, 2014.