The Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division football coaches found a way to expedite one portion of their post-regular season meeting.
When it came time to select the Offensive Player of the Year, Montini coach Chris Andriano asked, “Do we even have to vote on this?”
Marian Central coach Ed Brucker laughs recalling the story. The choice was so obvious that the coaches did not actually vote.
“That’s saying something right there,” Brucker said. “He was just that good.”
Brucker was speaking of his own quarterback, Chris Streveler, who combined for 3,521 yards, 48 touchdowns and countless headaches for opposing coaching staffs. Streveler’s rare combination of power and speed made him practically impossible to slow down, let alone stop.
Streveler was remarkable a year ago when he became the first junior to be chosen as Northwest Herald Football Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior was even better this season as he repeats as Player of the Year. The honor is selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches.
Cary-Grove fullback-linebacker Kyle Norberg received strong consideration after turning in one of the most prolific rushing seasons in area history and helping his team to the IHSA Class 6A state championship game.
Streveler, who will enroll at Minnesota in January, led the Hurricanes to an 11-1 record and the SCC Blue Divison title. The Hurricanes blew out Montini, 49-24, in Week 7 in perhaps Streveler’s most dynamic performance in his two varsity seasons. Montini came back and knocked out Marian, 42-27, in the Class 5A quarterfinals, then went on to win its fourth consecutive state title.
The Hurricanes, who thought this was their year to end Montini’s reign, were stunned to finish three victories short of their ultimate goal.
“That really wasn’t what we were shooting for. That loss hurts bad,” Streveler said. “We really did accomplish a lot of good things. I wouldn’t have chosen to spend four years with any other than these guys. I’d do it all over again with them. The work we put in and the life lessons we learned, and bonds created, will be unbreakable. For that, the season was a great success.”
Streveler completed 66.1 percent of his passes (164 of 248) for 2,397 yards with 26 touchdowns and four interceptions. He rushed for 1,124 yards and 22 touchdowns. Brucker said Streveler made marked improvement on his throwing during the offseason.
“His throwing motion was better, and he was much more accurate,” Brucker said. “His presence in the pocket and knowing what defenses were doing was better. He actually called a lot of plays himself, we’d signal in the formation and he’d call the plays.”
Streveler worked extensively with offensive coordinator Dirk Stanger, throwing before school twice a week, and also with Jeff Christensen who runs Throw It Deep Academy, a school which teaches quarterback techniques.
“I watched my mechanics on film and knew I had to swallow my pride and suck it up and get better at throwing,” Streveler said. “It’s hard to make changes in mechanics during the season. I knew I wanted to do bigger things in terms of playing at the next level.”
Wide receiver Greg Walczak, who caught 40 of Streveler’s passes for 831 yards, enjoyed having Streveler to lead the Hurricanes.
“There are a lot of things I’ll remember,” Walczak said. “One thing I’ll miss about Chris is his work ethic. He always pushed me to be a little better and that really paid off this year for me. He’s a competitor and he just wants to win. He hates to lose and that pushes him to work out. Whenever he’s around, there’s a lot of energy.”
Streveler also became a better student of the game. He worked more on film study with the HUDL program Marian now uses and constantly took notes.
“I had a folder with cheat sheets from Dirk, and I kept a notebook, scribbling down notes on my own,” Streveler said.
Streveler said Northern Illinois University coaches first proposed to him last spring that he consider finishing his graduation requirements early and enroll in January. Streveler took extra summer classes in order to finish a semester early. Former Hurricanes Jon Budmayr (Wisconsin) and Sean Cwynar (Notre Dame) did the same thing.
Streveler will join the Golden Gophers for their spring practice sessions and have a few months to get acclimated to college before the season starts in August.
Brucker had some special words for Streveler during his exit interview after the season.
“I told him, ‘You just keep doing what you’ve been doing, and you can do anything you want in the world,’ ” Brucker said. “ ‘You have IT.’ Anything he touches can turn to gold. It’s hard to compare players from different positions, but I’ve been coaching 40-some years and he’s probably the best overall player I’ve seen, because of his position and leadership qualities. He’s the whole package.”