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Ottawa senior Michael Hermosillo is the 2012 NewsTribune Offensive Football Player of the Year. He ran for an area-best 2,015 yards and 29 touchdowns and was voted Illinois Coaches Association All-State. NewsTribune photo/Anthony Soufflé
OTTAWA — Ottawa running back Michael Hermosillo accomplished a lot this season.
From school records to the conference MVP to being a Chicago Bears High School All-Star in Week 1, Hermosillo received plenty of praise for his play this fall.
Turns out, it didn’t mean much.
Yes, the University of Illinois recruit was happy with his individual accomplishments, but the thing Hermosillo was most proud of this season?
His team’s success.
“When people talk to me about my stats and the awards I’ve won, I tell them it’s so much sweeter this year knowing that we went 11-1 instead of 4-5 (like Ottawa did in 2011),” Hermosillo said. “To be on a 9-0 team and eventually 11-1 made it a lot more special to me. Being able to enjoy this season with my teammates meant more to me than anything I did individually.”
Making school history with his teammates was the real prize.
Everything else was just an added bonus.
“You don’t want to go out being unable to bring your team up to its best ability,” Hermosillo said. “I think that was the biggest thing with me, being able to get their spirits up and get them ready to play no matter the situation. I took pride in being one of the leaders of this team.”
Hermosillo, however, had a lot to do with Ottawa’s success.
This season the speedy running back rushed for 2,015 yards and 29 touchdowns on 195 carries, or 167.9 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game — or 10.33 yards per carry.
He also caught eight passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
In the season opener, he rushed for single-game school records of 351 yards and five touchdowns — on just nine carries — and matched the five TDs later in the season.
For his play, Hermosillo was named the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Offensive MVP and was an all-state selection by the Illinois Football Coaches Association.
Not a bad resume considering he also helped his team to the Class 6A quarterfinals, the first time an OTHS football team had advanced that far since 1995.
For all he accomplished this season — individually and with his team — Hermosillo is the 2012 NewsTribune Offensive Football Player of the Year.
“My biggest thing with Michael was to help him continue to become a better football player,” Ottawa coach Trent Swords said. “I didn’t have any specific goals or expectations for him. I thought all the individual stuff would just happen, so our focus — his and mine — was more about the team. I think the better the team did the better his individual accomplishments were going to look.”
Hermosillo is the first Ottawa player to ever win the award, the sixth straight running back to claim the honor and the first non-Mendota player to win in five years.
After he committed to play football and baseball at the U of I next year, Hermosillo excelled all season, starting in the season opener when he ran for the 351 yards and five TDs in a win over Yorkville.
Hermosillo, who also played on defense as a safety, continued his assault on opposing defenses throughout the season as he again scored five touchdowns in a win over Dixon and caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs against Rock Island.
He always showed up in big games.
In fact, in Ottawa’s seven games against playoff teams — Chicago Steinmetz, Sycamore, Geneseo, Sterling, Normal, Rock Island and Crete-Monee — Hermosillo ran for 1,001 yards — or 143 yards per game — including 150 or more yards per game in five of the seven contests.
“He amazed but didn’t,” Swords said. “I’ve known him for a long time so it was never like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that just happened.’ It was, ‘Wow, that was an excellent move, and Michael can make that move.’ It was amazing because not everyone could do what he just did. You knew it was special watching it, but you’ve seen it enough times that you come to expect something unique and something interesting to come from him and his ability.”
It didn’t, however, come without a price.
After playing through nagging injuries all season — including a banged up shoulder and a bad back — Hermosillo suffered his second stinger in the final minutes of the win over Rock Island .
It lingered until the next week against Crete-Monee, where he played just a half before being removed.
“(The second stinger) just stayed with me and wasn’t healing,” Hermosillo said. “When I went into the Crete game, it wasn’t completely healed, and I had barely practiced at all that week. My nerves were pretty much all messed up, and on top of that I already had a shoulder sprain. I tried to give it a go, and it was tough not being able to finish it out.”
It couldn’t, however, take away from his legendary senior season.
“You hate to hurt anybody’s feelings that you’ve coached prior to him, but he is the best all-around running back that I’ve coached with or been involved with coaching,” said Swords, who began coaching at Ottawa as an assistant in 1993. “We’ve have some good ones and some great ones — and usually it’s been fullbacks — but in my years here he is the best running back I’ve been able to coach.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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