The long, accelerating strides of 6-foot-3-inch, 191-pound Kenny Carrington carried the Richards receiver effortlessly past the Bolingbrook defensive back and into the end zone.
Quarterback Greg Murphy's pass was on target and the Bulldogs had an apparently easy six points.
Hold it. Yellow flag, Richards offsides. Five yards back, Carrington runs another sharp route and gathers in another touchdown pass.
Another flag, another five yards. On this third attempt, Carrington changes his route, but the result is the same. He gathers in one of his state-record 23 TD catches and glances warily at the officials before celebrating.
Carrington, who caught 66 passes for 1,407 yards-24 shy of another state record-was emblematic of the 1994 season. In an autumn filled with more Division I prospects and individual talent than ever before, Carrington heads the Tribune All-State offensive team while being honored as its Player of the Year.
"He's the greatest wide receiver I've coached in 20 years," said Richards coach Gary Korhonen.
Only No. 1-ranked Providence, which is playing Palatine for the Class 5A championship Saturday, came close to containing Carrington. The Celtics used double- and triple-teaming and self-admitted holding tactics in limiting him to four catches for 83 yards and one TD.
Providence's 5-9, 150-pound Joey Schley emerged as the most dangerous running back in the state while compiling almost 2,800 total yards and scoring 40 touchdowns.
"Joey Schley was the best back we had seen all year," Korhonen said. "He makes such great cuts, runs with the force of a 200-pounder and has such tremendous acceleration."
This was touted as the year of the quarterback, and first-team selection Quincy Woods of Rich East and second-teamer Tim Lester of Wheaton-Warrenville South lived up to the billing. Woods passed for 2,204 yards and 22 TDs in leading the Rockets to the 4A quarterfinals. Lester threw for 1,732 yards and 17 TDs with only two interceptions before succumbing to a knee injury in the playoffs. In two years, Lester completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,632 yards and 38 TDs with just six interceptions.
With such ace passers, Homewood-Flossmoor's Ted Reichert (2,796 total yards, 26 TD passes, 21 TDs scored) and Providence's Bob Chrisopherson (1,656 yards, 22 TDs) were relegated to the All-Area team. And Bishop McNamara quarterback-safety Ryan Spielman, the Catholic League's player of the year, was named to the All-State second team defensive secondary. Evanston QB Marcus White, considered the top defensive back prospect in Illinois, made the All-State defense's first team.
And how about the most versatile performers on this year's honor squad playing the normally straight-laced tight end position? Maine South's Jason Loerzel lined up at seven positions and produced 1,136 yards rushing and receiving, scored 15 touchdowns, returned two punts for scores, led the team in tackles and intercepted eight passes.
His coach, Phil Hopkins, described him as "the finest all-around player I have ever coached or seen in 26 years." The Central Suburban League made him the first offensive and defensive MVP.
"Jason Loerzel and Marcus White are among the best I've seen in 17 years," said Glenbrook South coach Ron Harris.
Second-team, tight end selection, 6-5, 250-pound Aaron Shea of Ottawa, "was the most dominant player I saw this year," according to Peoria Manual coach Don Fauser. "He played tight end, quarterback and running back, and it takes a talented young man to do that."
Lester's passing partner, Kasey Klaas, is a repeat choice after becoming one of the few receivers to record consecutive 1,000-yard pass-catching seasons. Klaas caught 64 passes for 1,138 yards and 11 TDs, giving him 2,292 yards and 23 TDs over two years.
When asked about the best he's seen this season, Wheaton South coach John Thorne quickly listed Wheaton North running back Steve Havard-voted the No. 1 offensive player in the DuPage Valley Conference.
All five first-team linemen are likely headed to prominent Division I programs. Possessing the size to match most college offensive lines are Chicago Vocational's Antoine McNutt (6-4, 325), Edwardsville's Antonio "Chico" Brown (6-7, 285), Oswego's Mike Flaar (6-2, 285), Thornton Fractional South's Pat Damron (6-2, 300) and Bradley-Bourbonnais' Mike Russow (6-2, 260), who didn't give up a single quarterback sack all season.
So deep was the talent that such luminaries as SICA West player of the year Mike Stokes of Joliet, the best small-school running back in the state, Tirrell Robinson of Walther Lutheran and Thornton's preseason all-American Tai Streets had to settle for berths on the second team.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun