Glenbard South football enjoying special season
Ryan Crissey has been involved with the Glenbard South football program for 16 years.
He's led the Raiders to eight straight playoff berths as head coach and was an assistant for the undefeated 2013 team as well as the 2008 and '09 squads that reached the state quarterfinals.
So where does Crissey place this year's 7-0 group?
“Top to bottom I would say it's the most talented roster I've had,” said Crissey, whose Raiders play at the 6-1 Glenbard East Rams in an Upstate Eight Conference game on Friday. “Strong linemen. Really balanced skill.
“We're not afraid to play any team.”
The offense is led by wide receiver Cam Williams — who has committed to Notre Dame — and quarterback Michael Champagne. Both started as sophomores, and Champagne even got a few starts as a freshman during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Both possess elite speed, with Williams running the 40 in 4.41 seconds and Champagne in 4.52.
Crissey compares Williams to Laquon Treadwell, who starred at Crete-Monee High School and was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 23rd overall draft pick in 2016.
“Coaches at Crete-Monee said last year that Cam as a junior was further ahead than Treadwell was as a senior,” Crissey said. “The things he can do — it's unbelievable.”
Williams, whose cousin Ryan Boatright played basketball at East Aurora and the University of Connecticut, has 21 catches for 564 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's also rushed 16 times for 254 yards with 4 TDs.
One might think Williams' receiving numbers would be higher, but defenses are using a cornerback to bump him at the line and a safety to cover him deep. Also, Crissey isn't calling many second-half passes as six of Glenbard South's victories have been by 35 or more points.
Champagne's dual threat capabilities were on display last week during a 48-6 victory over West Chicago as he connected with Johnny Baldauf for a 47-yard score, Williams for an 11-yard TD and Carter London for a 59-yard TD. Champagne also scored on a 3-yard keeper.
Champagne, whose dad, Joe, was a star QB for St. Francis High School and also played at Eastern Illinois University, has 25 touchdowns — 7 rushing and 18 passing.
“The first thing is he's super intelligent,” Williams said. “Some guys back there aren't able to read the defense the way he does. It really helps.
“Also what I love is how good he is with his legs. When something goes wrong — whether it's with the snap or the line — he's always rolling out, can make a dude miss or throw on the run.”
The well-balanced offense also features the speedy London (49 carries, 289 yards; 7 catches, 161 yards) and Vontae Clark (33-422, 4 TDs). Clark is nursing a wrist injury and is out until at least the playoff opener.
Jack Anderson (5 sacks), Saif Kokoszka (3 sacks), Justin Jones (4 INTs), Zachary Hyzy and Ari Ioannouo lead a defense that's allowing fewer than 10 points a game.
Friday's contest should be a real battle, with Williams squaring off against senior cornerback Eric McClain, who will play for Ball State. The 6-foot-1, 174-pound McClain reads plays like a seasoned pro, closes with elite speed and is a punishing tackler.
“Eric is definitely one of the best cornerbacks in the state of Illinois,” Crissey said. “He's athletic, he's intelligent, he's aggressive. He understands leverage.
“Last year, he gave Cam some fits and we had to alter our game plan. He's a game-changer.”
After last week's win, Crissey told his players they've got to clean things up. Penalties almost cost the Raiders a victory in Week 6 against South Elgin, and they were also flagged four times for 35 yards in the first five minutes against West Chicago.
“It's good to win and put up this many points, but offensively we have to limit the mistakes going forward,” Champagne said. “This next game is huge. It's a big rivalry and it's been that way for a while.
“So we're excited to be in a great environment and play a really competitive team.”