Trey Pierce, along with his parents Roderick and Kelly and brother Christian, pose during his signing day after he made it official that he was heading to Michigan. Brother Rice photo
Area Sports Report: Area football players sign letters of intent; SXU hoops stays hot
By Jeff Vorva
Some of the top football players in the area made their college decisions official on Dec. 21, with one of the literally largest signings coming at Brother Rice.
Defensive lineman Trey Pierce, all 6-foot-3, 290 pounds of him, signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Michigan. Pierce has originally given an oral commitment to Wisconsin before the 2022 season, but the Badgers went through a coaching shakeup and he put himself back on the market.
Pierce finished the season with 25 solo tackles, 33 assists, 3.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and 19 tackles for loss.
247 Sports scout Allen Trieu had a good report on the Evergreen Park resident.
“Well built, put together prospect who does not carry any unnecessary weight,” the report said. “Shows quickness off the snap. Plays with great motor. Shows solid agility for a big man but can still keep working in that area.”
Trieu added that Pierce is a “safe bet to be a Power Five starter.”
Crusader wide receiver Owen Lyons also took pen to paper to sign with St. Thomas (Minnesota).
St. Rita had five make it official, including kicker Conor Talty, who is headed to Alabama.
Offensive lineman Collin Greger is going to Fordham, defensive lineman Pat Farrell and safety Johnny Schmitt are both heading to Illinois, and linebacker Matt Kingsbury signed with Minnesota.
Mount Carmel quarterback Blainey Dowling signed with Eastern Illinois, defensive lineman Asher Tomaszewski signed with Kansas State and defensive back Noah Smith is heading to South Dakota.
Marist defensive back John Nestor is heading to Iowa, receiver Ryan Sims signed with Miami (Ohio), linebacker Nick Naujokas to Western Illinois and long snapper Joey Fortner committed to Yale.
Nazareth defensive lineman William Beargie will head to Princeton and defensive back Justin Taylor signed with Wisconsin.
Richards defensive back Terangie Eskridge Jr. is heading to Western Illinois.
Lyons tight end Graham Smith is heading to Yale.
Pierce is ready to help the Wolverines as soon as possible, but a pair of area standouts are already making an impact at the Ann Arbor school, which will play in one of the College Football Playoff’s two national semifinal games on Saturday.
Former Marist star Jimmy Rolder was named the team’s Rookie of the Year by Michigan coaches for his work on special teams.
Former Nazareth quarterback J.J. McCarthy was named Offensive Player of the Year.
SXU still hot
The Saint Xavier men’s basketball team stayed red hot heading into the holiday break with an 85-70 victory over neighboring Trinity Christian on Dec. 20 in Chicago in a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference battle.
Five Cougars hit double figures. Jaeden King had 25 points, Kevin Bishop 16, Cedric Johnson 13, Tino Sebalj 12 and Julian Barr 10.
Troy Glover had 20 points and 15 rebounds for Trinity (4-8, 1-6) while Saeer Miller had 14 points.
Second-year coach Robert Ford is happy with the team’s level of play in recent weeks in spite of injuries to senior guard TJ Babikir and senior forward Jack Halverson. The Cougars (13-2, 7-1) have won seven straight.
“It’s going to be interesting once we plug all of those pieces in and get our whole team back together,” Ford said. “It’s going to come down to some sacrifices and those who have played big roles are going to have to play smaller roles.
“We’re going to have to have different lineups in there that aren’t used to playing together. We’ll be big and we’ll be small. We’re just going to have to figure it out. It’s a good problem to have.”
SXU hosts Goshen College for a 3 p.m. contest on New Year’s Eve.
New coaches for Knights
Chicago Christian hired some new coaches to its staff.
Keith Budinger was named girls soccer coach. He has played and coached in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Brandon Hickey is the new baseball coach. He played high school baseball at Crete-Monee and college ball at Robert Morris, and was an assistant at Chicago Christian last year.
Deion and Sean
Former Richards football player and assistant coach Sean Lewis has been working his way up the ladder on the collegiate level and will join Deion Sanders at Colorado as the Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator.
Lewis previously was the head coach at Kent State. He was also an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha, Akron, Eastern Illinois, Bowling Green and Syracuse.
Lewis was 24-31 at Kent State, which included a Mid-American Conference East championship in 2021. The Golden Flashes made appearances in the Frisco Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl during his tenure.
Former Richards quarterback Marquel Porter, who was moved to receiver at two-time National Junior College Athletic Association Division III national champion College of DuPage, is heading to Quincy.
Another Bulldogs alum, Andrew Jefferson, is a sophomore at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. He is a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, which is an honor for the player of the year representing NCAA Division II and III, and NAIA universities. Jefferson had 13 sacks for 93 yards in losses and three blocks this season.
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