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Quarterbacks Zack Cinotto, La Salle-Peru Year: Senior Season highlights: For the second year in a row, the strong-armed L-P quarterback led the area in passing yards per game. He threw for 1,753 yards (194.8 per game) and 14 touchdowns with nine interceptions on 101-of-201 passing. The All-Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division pick had a huge night against Dixon, throwing for 389 yards and seven scores.
Patrick Killelea, Marquette Year: Junior Season highlights: Killelea didn't have as many opportunities as some quarterbacks, but he made the most of his chances as he completed 76.5 percent (65-of-85) of his passes for 1,301 yards, an area-best 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He earned All-Northeastern Athletic Conference honors and led the Crusaders to a 10-1 record and their first playoff berth since 2001.
Quarterback/Running back Tom Miller, River Valley Year: Junior Season highlights: Miller was a dual-threat who took snaps at quarterback and running back. He was fourth in the area in rushing with 886 yards and was third in rushing touchdowns with 13. Miller also threw for 500 yards and seven scores to help River Valley to the most wins in program history. He was voted second-team all-conference in the Lincoln Trail.
Running backs Michael Hermosillo, Ottawa Year: Senior Season highlights: The NT Offensive Player of the Year dominated from Week 1 when he racked up 351 yards and five scores. He finished with an area-leading 2,015 yards and 29 touchdowns while helping the Pirates to an 11-1 record and a Class 6A quarterfinal berth, which matches the best run in school history. He was named Northern Illinois Big 12 West Division Offensive MVP.
Curtiss Johnson, Marquette Year: Senior Season highlights: The Crusader standout could run past or through a defense with his combination of speed and power. He racked up 1,413 yards and 21 touchdowns, which both ranked second in the area. Johnson, an All-Northeastern Athletic Conference pick, was very consistent as he ran for more than 100 yards in eight of 11 games and scored in nine of 11 games.
Adam Happ, La Salle-Peru Year: Senior Season highlights: Happ led the area in receiving yards as he grabbed 24 passes for 503 yards, an average of 55.9 yards per game. He also tied for second in the area in receiving touchdowns with five. Happ was particularly dominant in Weeks 6-7 as he racked up 262 yards and four scores. He was named all-conference in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division.
Brandon Pawlak, La Salle-Peru Year: Senior Season highlights: Pawlak, who doubled as a running back for L-P, emerged as a big-play receiving threat as the season progressed. In the final four weeks, he racked up 431 yards and five touchdowns. Pawlak, an All-Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division selection, finished with 474 receiving yards, which was second in the area, and his five scores tied for second.
Cody Stokes, Ottawa Year: Junior Season highlights: In Ottawa's run-first offense that passed only 6.3 times per game, Stokes didn't have many balls thrown his way. But when he was targeted, it usually turned out well for the Pirates. He caught 12 passes for 273 yards and an area-best eight touchdowns. Stokes grabbed three touchdown passes in the playoffs, including a 4-yard score against Rock Island in the second round.
Linemen Jack Donahue, Marquette Year: Senior Season highlights: Marquette coach Tom Jobst said his senior guard is one of the best linemen he has coached. Donahue helped pave the way for an offense that averaged an area-best 42.7 points per game. Donahue was an all-conference pick in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.
Bobby McNutt, Ottawa Year: Senior Season highlights: The 6-foot-1, 195-pound left guard was an intregal part of one of the area’s top offenses. He helped lead the way for a Pirate squad that was second in the area in scoring at 32.4 points per game. He was voted all-conference in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division.
Nick Neuhor, Ottawa Year: Senior Season highlights: Neurohr was a cornerstone of the Ottawa offensive line at left tackle. The 6-foot-, 220-pounder helped clear the way for the area’s top rusher in Michael Hermosillo (2,015 yards, 29 TDs). Neurohr was named to the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division All-Conference team.
Brandon Pietrowski, St. Bede Year: Senior Season highlights: Pietrowski wasn't the biggest lineman around at 6-foot, 200 pounds, but he was effective as he helped the Bruins average 24.6 points and 286.6 yards per game. He was a First-Team All-Conference selection in the Big Rivers Conference.
Joe Pyszka, St. Bede Year: Senior Season highlights: The imposing right tackle (6-foot-7, 260 pounds) helped clear a path for a pair of runners who gained 600 yards or more in Austin Schwab and Bobby Morrow. Pyszka was named First-Team All-Conference in the Big Rivers. He is the only repeat NT All-Area pick on the line.
Kicker Tristan Cunha, Ottawa Year: Sophomore Season highlights: Cunha, who doubles as a soccer player for Ottawa, boasts a strong and accurate leg that benefited the Pirates throughout the season. Cunha connected on 44-of-48 extra points and made four field goals for the Pirates. He also was solid on kickoffs. Cunha kicked a 33-yard field goal in Ottawa’s first-round playoff win over Normal Community.
Return man Landon Piccatto, Hall Year: Senior Season highlights: The speedy senior was a dangerous weapon for the Red Devils as a punt and kick returner. He returned 22 kickoffs for 569 yards — an average of 25.8 per return — and ran one back for a touchdown. Piccatto, who was an all-conference pick as a return specialist in the Big Rivers, also returned three punts for 134 yards — 44.6 yards per return —and returned one for a score.
Honorable Mention La Salle-Peru — Damion Allen, Clay Viani St. Bede — Brad Groleau, Bobby Morrow, Austin Schwab, Michael Slingsby, Damin Smith, Taggart Venegas, Brendan Zimmerman Hall — Nathan Tonozzi Mendota — Wyatt Martinson, Austin O’Sadnick Ottawa — J.D. Bryant, Alex Hartman, Cyrano Rayfield, Tyler Skolek Marquette — Tyler Hellman, Cole Lindhout, Scott Sypniewski, Tyler Verona Princeton — Josh Kieffer Bureau Valley — Nick Catton, Tommy Johnston, Kristian Konneck, Josh Lewis, Cody Mattingly, Jordan Monier, Parker Neuhalfen, Jake Smith River Valley — Nathan Helle Fieldcrest — Cole Klendworth, Dakota Park, Jackson Puetz
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