Skip to main content

Illinois high school football: Top standouts, best performances at state championships (11/25/2023)

Check out the top performances in Illinois high school football

We're taking a look at some of the top standouts and best performers from Illinois high school football games in Week 14 – state championship week – as teams worked toward finishing the season with the ultimate prize.

See: Illinois Week 1 standouts | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 

See: SBLive Illinois football scoreboard for updates and results

Logan Abrams, RB, Cary-Grove

The bruising sophomore fullback ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns – including the Trojans' go-ahead score with 1:19 remaining – on 31 carries as Cary-Grove defeated East St. Louis 23-20 to win the 6A title. 

Kye Aken, CB, Bryon

Aken, a senior, came up with two interceptions late in the first half of the Tigers' 69-7 victory over Mt. Carmel in the Class 3A championship game. 

Aaron Ball, RB, St. Laurence

A senior, Ball ran for a game-high 160 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Vikings' 59-38 loss to Rochester in the 4A title game.  

Henry Buecker, WR, Rochester

A senior, Buecker caught 10 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown and ran for 57 yards and a score on five carries. Add in his 53 kick return yards and he finished with 199 all-purpose yards and two TDs in the Rockets' 4A title game victory.

Caden Considine, RB/LB, Byron

The sophomore standout ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries as the Tigers defeated Mt. Carmel 69-7 in the 3A title game to finish the season unbeaten at 14-0. Considine shined on defense, too, with a team-high four tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.

Darrion Dupree, RB, Mount Carmel

The standout senior running back and University of Wisconsin pledge ran for a team-high 78 yards on 12 carries and added a team-high seven catches for 60 yards. 

Conner Durkin, LB, Lincoln-Way East

Durkin, a senior, led the Griffins' defense with 10 tackles in the 8A title game.

Jack Elliott, QB, Mount Carmel

The first-year starting quarterback capped off his junior season with a 35-10 win over Downers Grove North in the 7A championship game. Elliott completed 28 of 37 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 74 yards and another score.

Kyle Farrell, RB/LB, Wilmington

Farrell, a junior, ran for 192 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and added a fourth-quarter sack on fourth down that led to another Wilmington touchdown. The Wildcats defeated Athens 28-3 to win the Class 2A championship. 

Ryan Fitzgerald, QB, Loyola Academy

The Ramblers topped Lincoln-Way East to win their second straight 8A championship (and complete another 14-0 campaign) and the junior quarterback led the way. Fitzgerald completed 17 of 21 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 89 yards and a TD. 

Kevin Gardner, WR, Mount Carmel

A senior, Gardner caught five passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the Caravan's 35-10 win over Downers Grove North in the 7A title game. Four of Gardner's five receptions went for first downs.

Elijah Genenbacher, RB/LB, Camp Point Central

The two-way standout junior rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and recorded a team-high 12 tackles as Camp Point Central defeated Lena-Winslow 14-0 to win the Class 1A championship - the first title in school history.

HJ Grigsby, RB, Joliet Catholic

Grigsby led the Hilltoppers offensively with 278 yards rushing and a touchdown on 34 carries. The standout running back rushed for 228 yards in the first half as Joliet Catholic built a 38-20 lead.

Gabe Kaminski, LB, Nazareth Academy

The junior linebacker was all over the field in the Roadrunners' 38-20 come-from-behind win over Joliet Catholic in the 5A title game. Kaminski racked up 15 tackles (four tackles for loss), 1.5 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.  

Brayden Knoll, RB, Byron

The Tigers' junior running back ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries in the Class 3A championship game victory against Mt. Carmel. 

Evan Les, QB, St. Laurence

Les, a senior, passed for 138 yards and a touchdown and ran for 28 yards and two scores in the Vikings' 4A title game loss to Rochester.

Logan Malachuk, QB, Nazareth Academy

A junior quarterback, Malachuk completed 23 of 34 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns in the Roadrunners' 38-20 victory in the 5A title game. 

Jack McGrath, LB, Loyola Academy

McGrath, a senior, led the Ramblers with 12 tackles and added a pass break-up as the Loyola defense limited Lincoln-Way East to just two scores.

Andrew McPherson, RB, Loyola Academy

A senior, McPherson returned from an injury to finish his high school career with another 8A state title. He ran for 117 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and added 51 receiving yards on three catches in the Ramblers' 26-15 win.

Brendan Moran, LB, Wilmington

A senior, Moran recorded a team-high five tackles and added a sack in the Panthers' 28-3 victory over Athens in the 2A championship game. 

Nolan Mrozowski, RB, Rochester

A senior running back, Mrozowski ran for a team-high 132 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in the Rockets' 59-38 win over St. Laurence in the 4A title game. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

Kadin Niekamp, DT, Camp Point Central

A sophomore defensive tackle, Niekamp recorded 11 tackles to help the Panthers' defense shut out Lena-Winslow in a 14-0 victory to win the 1A title.

James Penley, WR, Nazareth Academy

A junior, Penley caught seven passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns to help the Roadrunners' 38-20 victory in the 5A title game. 

Andrew Talbert, QB, Byron

The freshman quarterback ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns – including a 77-yarder late in the first half – on just five carries as the Tigers trounced Mt. Carmel 69-7 to win the Class 3A championship.

Brayden Tischer, QB, Lincoln-Way East

The Griffins' senior quarterback completed 18 of his 26 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns and added 31 yards rushing.

Larevious Woods, RB, East St. Louis

A junior running back, Woods ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries in the Flyers' 23-20 loss to Cary-Grove in the 6A title game. Woods scored twice in the third quarter to give East St. Louis a 20-15 lead.

Bryan Zulauf, QB, Rochester

Zulauf, a junior, completed 15 of 19 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns and added 44 rushing yards on 10 carries in the Rockets' Class 4A championship victory over St. Laurence. 


More coverage: Get live Illinois high school football scores on SBLive Sports. To follow your favorite teams check out the SBLive live high school football scoreboard and download the SBLive Sports App.

- Nate Latsch | | @SBLiveIL