For Sykes sake, do we have to ask what if?

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By Brad Spencer

Contributing Columnist

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.



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Posted: December 29th, 2013 2:43 PM

Great for the family who did the right thing for him. Frankly, OP has become a group of social climbing wanna be's who push out anyone who disagrees and or thinks differently. SAD

Father of a Former Player from Oak Park  

Posted: December 29th, 2013 11:14 AM

Did the Sykes Family make the right decision for them? THE "University of Notre Dame." Nile congratulations, your hard work and dedication has put you in a position to reach for the Golden Ring. A degree in Business from ND and a Football Player to boot will open doors in this town like no other. As far as him abandoning the "Team" give me a break.

Mom of a Sr. OPRF Football Player from oak park  

Posted: November 25th, 2013 8:28 AM

I am a mom of a senior OPRF football player and I think that this article was unnecessary and disrespectful to the OPRF football program and the young men on the team this year. They are a talented group of young men that played together as a team and formed a brotherhood under Coach Hoerster. They played hard, and they gave it all that they had. They are to be applauded for a phenomenal season!

Interesting from Oak Park  

Posted: November 24th, 2013 6:52 PM

It was stated that Nile left OPRF because of his faith. Amazing how Nile's little brother is still at Brooks Middle school. You would think with such a strong faith that everyone would be enrolled into a Catholic school. Must be a divided household.

Ashamed OP Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 5:10 PM

Let me preface this by saying, I don't know Nile, I don't watch football, nor am I affiliated with either high school. When did it become an "issue" for us as parents to make decisions, that in the long run, we think would benefit our children? Why does anyone outside of the kid's family feel the need to condemn him for leaving one school for another, for ANY reason, let alone a sport?! You would think this move caused a catastrophe.

Football fan from Oak park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 1:22 PM

Mr spencer posed the question what if? And the answer is really that no one will ever know. But I really don't think anyone else ever cared. Nile left. The OP players and program didn't crumble. OPRF football continues to grow. The Sykes family made a decision for their child which they feel was the best choice for them. Any "what ifs" the OP football program has, have nothing to do with Nile. Good luck to Nile. I hope he remembers OPRF football fondly


Posted: November 22nd, 2013 12:55 PM

@ fletch - this is exactly my point. Any view which varies (unpopular) is met with scorn/bullying - this is regardless if it is the truth. OP cannot and will not increase its performance and or reputation unless we are willing to listen - even if we disagree.

Family Friend from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 12:38 PM

Oh I'm sorry! Tfletcher@gmail you're one in the same. Since you know the Sykes' Faith so well, I'm sure they will Pray for you! 1A-8A, every class has good teams. If you claim to know football then you shouldn't make ignorant statements "judging" a team by class size! Oh I'm sorry I forgot who I was talking to..... It's the man who "judges" others Faith! Worry about YOUR families lies, Devil!

OPRF Family  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 12:34 PM

And while I welcome emails to the address I listed (now I understand why many of you want to remain anonymous) please refrain from any that are negative and ignorant in their content, like the two I recently received. I will not respond. Todd F.

Family Friend from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 12:27 PM

Excuse you "OPRF family", are you questioning another families Faith?! Sounds like the Devil is at work. Don't kid yourself, just because your kid went to school with Nile doesn't mean you know the family and have the right to judge their Faith, Devil. "TFlecher", I'm not at all putting the OPRF kids down! Only lifting Nile up as God has done. Bless you.

OPRF Family  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 12:06 PM

your part to take a shot at the OPRF coaches (you said he went to Montini for better coaching), and even talking about the Maine South game. 2 different games, 2 different situations. The scores don't correlate from week to week or year to year. Show some respect for Nile's old teammates YOU say are his friends. A poor play by an adult to disrespect the young men and their efforts. Fans who know the sport know that 8A football week after week is a bit different than 5A. Good luck to Nile.

OPRF Family  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 11:59 AM

Family friend-I have also known the Sykes family since Nile was young, as our kids went to school together. He is a great kid and our family wishes him continued athletic success. The emphasis is that he is a KID. Let him make mistakes now as we all did and become a better man. If dad (Noah) wanted him at Montini, great. But don't kid yourself that it was for his faith. Be honest with yourself. The family got caught in that lie already, they need to own it. Its alright. Poor play on


Posted: November 22nd, 2013 11:31 AM

Oak Park reminds of the movie Rollerball in which anyone who disagrees or tries to be exceptional is met with disdain. Gone are the days of progressive intellectuals that were secure enough to accepy new ideas and anyone who did not fit the mold..

Family Friend from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 10:50 AM

Nile's ego(as "fan from OP" put it) is VERY welcome with his Montini TEAMMATES who love the attention they're getting in the newspapers, internet, and TWO Comcast games of the week!! "Fan of OP", I hope you're enjoying your free time on Fri/Sat, but if you need something to do... Nile and TEAM are still playing football and since you're rooting for him, we've got a seat for you :-)

Family Friend from Oak Park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 10:28 AM

Having known the Sykes' since Nile was in diapers I can shed some light, no matter if you're hoping he fails or praying he succeeds. Nile left OP for a better opportunity/coaching(achieved). His OP friends/teammates still love him(they hangout). They missed him in battle in OP 2 losses(Montini beat Maine S. Nile had 11 tackles/3 for a loss/1 sack/AND a TD). Nile is totally enjoying his Senior year and his Faith in God is stronger then ever(Catholic school will do that to you)!


Posted: November 22nd, 2013 9:35 AM

There are two elements in action. First Montini is a football powerhouse that recruits and develops some of the best players in state. OPRF is reemerging after long slump. Second, OP can be unfriendly/unkind to people who are not in the - perhaps if we felt more home here he would stayed? Who knows.

Football fan from Oak park  

Posted: November 22nd, 2013 8:51 AM

Nile is a talented player who woul have had the same opportunities whether he stayed at OP or not. He left the boys he grew up with who loved him on and off the field, The players didn't miss him. The outcome would not have been different with him. The reality is, his ego wouldn't have been welcome into the positive chemistry of the TEAM this year. We still root for Nile. Hope he rooted for us!!

Tim from river Forestq  

Posted: November 21st, 2013 9:25 PM

College recruiters are smart people and look at each kid and determine where they feel that kid fits best in their system at the next level. If he was at OP playing D-end, he would still have the same offers he has today. Remember Owen Daniels the kid from Naperville who played QB because it was best for his team and went on to win a state Championship....He played tight end at Wisconsin and is a pro bowler in the NFL. hundreds of kids playing in college played a different position in HS.

tim from river forest  

Posted: November 21st, 2013 9:22 PM

You say that he would have stayed at OP if they would have played him at LB.....that's exactly why he left because he and his dad didn't get their way. That is why he should have never been eligible to play because his transfer was for athletic reasons. Which by the way, is illegal according to the IHSA. Don't get me wrong, the kid is a tremendous talent, but let's get the facts straight. How many kids play a position in HS that is good for the team and they worry less about themselves.


Posted: November 20th, 2013 11:40 PM

Oh wow. Hey bucket head! Crawl back under your rock! You're calling a kid selfish because he changed high schools? Get a life loser!

What?! from oak park   

Posted: November 20th, 2013 11:30 PM

I am happy and proud of Nile and so should you. Maybe if OPRF would have played him at linebacker and gave the kid his due respect he would have stayed, but instead they played him out of position and talked negatively during team meetings. oh and for Sir Yates, REALLY? the kid is good, but he was surrounded by talent this year, need I say names like Rowe, Cobbs, Hayden, Baggett, and Chancelor....even you Mr. Spencer could be list as Sir Spencer with all those weapons. GO Sykes #9 from Woodbridge  

Posted: November 20th, 2013 11:25 PM

Great article Spencer! I myself have wondered the same thing, but I've also wondered if the Bulls would've won another title if MJ hadn't left. WHY?! Because I can!! Who are these buffoons to tell YOU how to use YOUR platform(?) Case in point... Notice how "bucket head/OP" says, Nile left because he couldn't share the spotlight? So why go to a school that's won 4 titles in a ROW with a kid committed to Ohio St.?! And how about "Mike"- you're right that 2 Nile's wouldn't help! Not w/that coach!


Posted: November 20th, 2013 10:44 PM

My momma always told me, "if you can't say nuthin nice, don't say anything at all" I'm shaking my head at you brad spencer.


Posted: November 20th, 2013 9:39 PM

I'm pretty sure if he stayed at OPRF he would still be in the "Spot Light." No wonder you call yourself bucket head!

Fenwick Student  

Posted: November 20th, 2013 9:30 PM

Nile's transfer was technically in conjunction with a move in residence. This is speculated because a montini football booster has put his father's name on an apartment on Lombard, while his younger brother attends Brooks Middle school under his mother's address in River Forest.


Posted: November 20th, 2013 8:38 PM

How is it that Nile Sykes was allowed to play at Montini because he moved out of district but his brother is still a student at Brooks?

buckethead again from Oak Park  

Posted: November 20th, 2013 11:24 AM

Is this even a real article in a real newspaper written by a real columnist? In all of the articles that you have written, this one takes the cake. Nile Sykes is a great kid but by no means was he the savior on a team that had 2 LOSSES ALL YEAR! He turned his back on his team, his friends and his community for selfish, personal glory. He couldnt handle sharing the spotlight. The past is for cowards are losers. The future of OPRF football is bright. Congratulations Coach. You did a great job


Posted: November 18th, 2013 2:34 PM

At the risk of sounding judgmental, that was a stupid and self-indulgent column to publish... fine for bleacher banter but not worthy or publication. Second, to answer your question... did you not see the Loyola vs Maine South score? NO they would not still be playing; not with 2 Nile Sykes on the field.

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