SXU football coach Mike Feminis hugs Amari Venerable after
the running back scored the game-winning TD in overtime St. Francis in Joliet last year to qualify for the NAIA playoffs. The Cougars are ranked 11th in the country in the preseason. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Area Sports Roundup: Saint Xavier football tabbed 11th in preseason rankings
By Jeff Vorva
Saint Xavier’s football team has something to feel lucky about.
The Cougars are ranked No. 11 in the preseason NAIA Football FirstDown PlayBook Top 25 Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
That’s a number to which people around the school have taken a liking.
“Hopefully 11 is our lucky number and maybe it’s an omen,” said Cougars head coach Mike Feminis, who is coaching in his 24th season at the private university in Chicago. “Preseason No. 11 and this year’s NAIA National Championship will be on December 17, exactly 11 years to the day when we won the championship in 2011.
“In some ways it feels like yesterday, yet it was so long ago. I truly believe we’ve got a group that can make a deep run, but there’s a ton of work to be done between now and mid-December, and I can’t wait.”
The Cougars moved up one spot after being ranked No. 12 in last season’s postseason poll in December. SXU won the Mid-States Football Association Midwest League in 2021 for the fourth time in five seasons. It was the program’s eighth Midwest League crown overall.
The defense should be in good shape. Saint Xavier brings back 2021 NAIA All-American Honorable Mention senior defensive lineman Jaleel Holloway (Crete-Monee), who is coming off a season in which he had 32 tackles (11 solos), a team-best 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Also coming back is 2021 MSFA Midwest League First Team selection senior linebacker Joey Markasovic (Providence Catholic), who led SXU with 80 tackles (39 solos) and ranks 10th in program history with 275 career tackles.
On offense, junior running back Amari Venerable (Crete-Monee), a 2021 MSFA Midwest League First Team member, is back. Venerable ran for 872 yards on 158 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns last season.
Also back is sophomore offensive lineman Colin Cox (Joliet Catholic Academy), a 2021 MSFA Midwest League Second Team member.
Calling the signals again will likely be 2021 MSFA Midwest League Second Team member junior quarterback Stuart Ross (Springfield Southeast), who was ranked No. 4 in the NAIA in completion percentage at 66.3 percent (189 for 285) to go with 1,962 yards and 16 touchdowns. He led the MSFA Midwest League in completion percentage, completions, passing yards and touchdown passes.
The Cougars opens the season at NCAA Division II University of Indianapolis at 5 p.m. on September 3.
They host St. Thomas University (Florida) in their home opener at noon on September 10 at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field.
NIL hits home
It’s not just the big Division I schools who are taking advantage of the name, image and likeness rules that allows college students to earn money for commercial endorsements and other deals.
Trinity Christian College agreed to a partnership with Opendorse, the leading NIL marketplace.
Trinity becomes the first non-NCAA Division I program in the Chicago area to develop an NIL partnership with Opendorse, and is the only Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference program to partner with the company.
“We’re extremely excited to be on the forefront of the changing NIL landscape in college athletics, and Opendorse has been a leader in that arena since the beginning,” said Trinity Athletic Director Wendy Reid. “Through our partnership, TCC student-athletes will have the ability to grow their individual brands while having a company like Opendorse come alongside and offer their support and expertise.”
Opendorse will provide athletes the ability to connect with supporters for NIL deals while remaining compliant under NAIA guidelines.
As part of the agreement, Opendorse will provide TCC student-athletes educational resources, generate the necessary tax documents and provide a social media audit. TCC athletes also gain access to the Opendorse marketplace, where businesses and supporters can offer partnership opportunities and complete payments.
“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me and my teammates,” said Braxton Miller, a junior guard with the Trolls’ men’s basketball program. “These types of relationships will open doors for us in ways that just weren’t there before. I’m thankful to be a Troll, and for this new partnership.”
Local players are making impacts in professional baseball.
Mike Massey, a Palos Park native and Brother Rice graduate, was called up by Kansas City for the second time this season will likely stick around for a while.
Massey, a second baseman, was first called up in mid-July when several Royals players who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 were not allowed to make a trip to Toronto. He played in three games and went 2-for-4 against the Blue jays on July 16. He was brought back last week after the trade deadline and went 2-for-3 against the White Sox in Chicago. He also had two hits, two RBIs and scored three runs against Boston on Aug. 7.
Meanwhile, Orland Park resident and Marist graduate Jack Brannigan cracked his first professional home run on Aug. 6.
Brannigan, who was recently drafted in the third round by Pittsburgh, homered for Class A Bradenton of the Florida Gulf Coast League in his debut for the Mauraders in a 9-6 win over Fort Meyers.
Facing the best
One of the top area high school golfers, Sandburg’s Jillian Cosler, got a chance to face some of the best golfers in the country as she competed in the Girls Junior PGA Championship, which wrapped up Thursday at Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont.
Cosler didn’t make the final cut, but fired twin rounds of 79 in the tournament, which was won by Jacksonville, Florida’s Kaitlyn Schroeder, who had a 14-under in four rounds.
Political sands shifting
Lopez mayoral exit leaves question marks By Tim Hadac The political sands of mayoral politics shifted last week, leaving many in Clearing and Garfield Ridge asking “What next?” questions. Garfield Ridge native Lopez worked the neighborhoods hard since he announced his mayoral candidacy back in April. His law-and-order stance and sharp criticism of Mayor Lori…
Boys Basketball: Marist, Brother Rice stay unbeaten through two weeks
By Steve Millar Correspondent Marist came into the season with some question marks after losing a pair of key players to transfers and elevating several newcomers, including three freshmen, to the varsity roster. The young RedHawks are, however, off to a blazing 6-0 start. They held on for a 57-55 win on the road Nov.…
Local Hoops Wrap: Transfers shining for Saint Xavier in early going
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The transfer portal is turning college athletics upside down, and Saint Xavier men’s basketball coach Robert Ford is enjoying it. And taking advantage of it. Jaeden King came to SXU in 2021 after transferring from NCAA Division II Tiffin University. Prior to that he played at Western Illinois. He is…
Area Sports Roundup: College of DuPage repeats as national football champ
By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The College of DuPage, the only junior college in Illinois with a football program, won its second straight National Junior College Athletic Association national championship with a 14-12 victory over North Dakota State College of Science in Glen Ellyn. Former Richards’ standout Marquel Porter caught a 25-yard pass for the…
Dems, GOP need to have more respect
By Rich Miller The state legislative debate last week over amending the Pre-Trial Fairness Act provisions within the controversial SAFE-T Act featured many of the same obfuscations and outright misinformation that characterized the fall campaign by Republicans and many of the same insufficient answers by Democrats. One of the problems that the super-majority Democrats have…
Godspeed, Officers Verta and Harrison
By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] It’s always good to know that even in these challenging times, there are men and women are willing to step forward to brave those challenges. And leave it to Garfield Ridge and Clearing to lead the way. I say that as I…
Evergreen Park honors longtime employee
By Joe Boyle The Evergreen Park Village Board took care of some local business before Thanksgiving Day meals will be served. James Bender, a 27-year employee of the Evergreen Park Public Works Department, was selected as the “Employee of the Quarter” and honored at the village board meeting on Monday night. Mayor Kelly Burke recognized Bender…
Oak Lawn officials say pension relief will not hinder homeowners
By Joe Boyle Oak Lawn Village Manager Tom Phelan said the finances of homeowners need to be addressed while paying off pension deficits. Phelan said during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on November 22 that making budget adjustments for next year has to keep residents in mind due to rising inflation. “We may be…
2 men arrested for Lyons carjacking were out on bond
By Bob Bong Lyons police on Thursday arrested two men suspected of being involved in an attempted carjacking in the 7700 block of 45th Place around 2 p.m. on November 29. Justin Lebron, 20, of Cicero, and Cesar Lopez, 18, of Waukegan, were captured after a foot case, police said. Police Chief Tom Herion said…
Shepard, Stagg teams honor Ryan Plowman
Varsity girl basketball teams from Stagg and Shepard took time out before Monday night’s contest to pay tribute to Shepard student Ryan Plowman, who died earlier this year of complications from mononucleosis. Proceeds from the concession stand were donated to a gofundme campaign in Ryan’s name.
State elections board certifies 2022 results
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Elections certified its election results Monday, putting the final stamp on another Democratic sweep of statewide offices. The board reported that 4,142,642 out of 8,115,751 registered voters cast ballots in the election, a turnout of roughly 51 percent. That’s down from…
Tax credits, prison reform pass in veto session
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers last week passed significant legislation dealing with electric vehicle manufacturing incentives and the availability of hygiene products for prisoners in the state’s correctional system. But some weightier issues, including a possible assault weapons ban, will wait until a lame duck session scheduled for early…
CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can consider when determining…
Lawmakers advance $1.8 billion unemployment fund bailout
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – On the final day of their fall veto session, Illinois lawmakers on Thursday advanced a pair of bills that would infuse $1.8 billion into the state’s unemployment trust fund, which was depleted during the economic shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan agreement came…
Pretrial detention changes to SAFE-T Act will head to governor
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can…
Contempt citations against DCFS director reversed by appellate court
By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] An appellate court on Wednesday reversed several contempt of court citations that were filed in recent months against Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith for failing to comply with court orders to place state wards in appropriate settings. The court found that Smith did not…
State lawmakers pass measure limiting state investment in Russian assets
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House gave final passage Wednesday to a bill aimed at prohibiting state investment in assets tied to Russia and Belarus in retaliation for their participation in the war in Ukraine. House Bill 1293, by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, urges the state’s five retirement systems…
Changes to cash bail statute surface before Thursday’s planned adjournment
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Two days before lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn for the year, one of the lead negotiators of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform filed a long-awaited amendment detailing several changes to the landmark cash bail overhaul. Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, filed a 308-page amendment to House…
CAPITOL RECAP: State announces deal to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The unemployment trust fund is generally funded by the state’s businesses through insurance premiums collected via…
Lawmakers announce bipartisan plan to pay down remaining unemployment debt
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Tuesday announced a bipartisan plan to use state revenues to pay down the remaining $1.4 billion in debt taken on by the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the agreement is expected to move through the General Assembly this…