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Libertyville- It's Friday night lights as the Patriots of Stevenson High School travel to battle the Wildcats of Libertyville High School. Justin Guarnaccio Libertyville is hit by Cameron Green as he catches the ball. | Joe Cyganowski~ For Sun Times Medi
Stevenson football players Willie Bourbon, Cameron Green, Jason Vravick and Nick Dillon are spearheading the Patriots this season.
Starting quarterback Bourbon and wide receiver Green form an electric duo on offense, with the ability to outmaneuver opposing defenses; middle linebacker Vravick and lineman Dillon form a 1-2 punch on defense.
And each is an underclassman — sophomores, to be exact.
“We just try to step up and do what we can,” Vravick said. “I think everyone on this team is a leader, and everyone is vocal. I still learn a lot from the other guys, but I feel like I can be looked to as a leader also.”
Bourbon shows maturity and poise for a sophomore, and wrangling him up while he’s gliding across an open field can be tricky.
After surrendering 21 first-half points in each of the Patriot’s first two games, the defense was nearly impregnable against a dynamic Libertyville attack on Friday. Vravick poured himself all over the field, while Dillon routinely made Libertyville quarterback Jack Deichl’s life miserable. The Patriots blanked Libertyville in the first half, and held the Wildcats to a nine points in all.
“Stevenson is a great team, and they played hard all night,” Deichl said. “That defense was tough, and we had to overcome a lot and work hard just to mount an attack.”
The game featured a battle of widely contrasting team philosophies. The Wildcats have a grand total of zero underclassmen on their varsity roster, while Stevenson has eight, most of them with significant roles.
“I look at it that we have a great mix of youth and experience,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “Our seniors are showing a tremendous amount of leadership for our underclass players. When you look at our underclass players, they might be young in terms of age, but they’re experienced in terms of their football play. Most of these younger players were on the team last year, they played in varsity games, and they played in the playoffs — even as freshmen.
“This is really our seniors’ team. There’s no doubt about it. But our younger players are looking to make great contributions. Our expectation is to win every game, and it doesn’t matter how old or young our team is.”