By Brad Spencer
Nile Sykes. Big, imposing Nile Sykes. A linebacker. Coveted by 20 or so Division I colleges. A 6-foot-2, 219-pound senior at … Montini.
Nile Sykes, once a 6-foot-2, 219-pound junior at … OPRF.
Broke his foot during a scrimmage before his junior season. Returned to action Sept. 28 for OPRF's come-from-behind win over Lyons Township. What a victory. Season eventually ends. Nile Sykes, gone. Where'd he go? Montini. Poached? Moved? Never a resident? Who knows, who cares. Well, I guess I do, but just a little bit.
It's now mid-November and Montini is still playing football. OPRF, stellar season, but the Class 8A playoffs are much different than the Class 5A playoffs. Nile Sykes, a full-time linebacker, scores on a 9-yard run, converts a 2-point conversion in the Broncos' 22-21 win over Joliet Catholic. Something called the "Bazooka" formation. Wish OPRF had something called the "Bazooka" formation.
Oh, Nile Sykes. To have you and Simmie Cobbs, who also had a brief stint at Montini — Stay away from our players, Montini! — and Sir Lloyd Yates and Jamal Baggett and Andre Lee all on the same team, the question must be asked: Would OPRF still be playing football this week?
The answer? Oh, shut-up, why ask such questions? Go crawl into a hole, Spencer.
OPRF had a great season, 9-2. John Hoerster? Great guy, great coach, great motivator, an offensive guru. Great hire by John Stelzer. Program is well on its way. But what if … Nile Sykes, what if I wasn't staring at an intimidating photo of Nile Sykes in a Montini uniform on page 13 of the Chicago Tribune? He looks like a beast, Nile Sykes. His junior year, on the sideline, foot in a boot, crutches, looked at me, said, "Oh, I'll be ready to go for Lyons Township!" I doubted Nile Sykes. But, Nile Sykes was ready to go and then ready to go to Montini. Oh, Nile Sykes, Nile Sykes, what if?
You can't live on what ifs. To live on what ifs is to live miserably. There's been no living on what ifs with Sir Lloyd Yates. (I added the Sir, just seems right, maybe he'll be knighted someday, maybe he already has been.) Sir Lloyd Yates has thrived in Hoerster's program. A runner, a passer, a punter, a leader, Lloyd Yates.
Thrived? Maybe excelled is a better word. Those three touchdown passes in the first round of the playoffs against Dundee-Crown. Sir Lloyd Yates also ran for 81 yards and a touchdown. Sir Lloyd Yates' arm stats? Something like 11-for-16 for 252 yards and those three TDs. That 70-yard rushing touchdown against Maine South. Very impressive, Sir Lloyd Yates.
Ah, the best part about it? Sir Lloyd Yates is a junior, back again next season, his third and final run as the starting quarterback for the Huskies. That is, if Montini steers clear. Kidding! But not really. Sir Lloyd Yates knows it's a great day … a great time to be a Huskie.
And I am beginning to completely forget about that other guy, Nile something.