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Bartlett's Aaron Everson is the 2012 Courier-News Player of the Year after running for a program-record 1,987 yards and scoring 27 total touchdowns this season. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Running backs often fall into one of two categories, with some getting the job done thanks to elusive speed and others employing a more physical style suited for grinding out tough yards.
Bartlett senior Aaron Everson represented the best of both worlds this season, serving as both a workhorse and a big-play threat, a bruiser and a speedster.
Everson’s multi-faceted running style made him the primary offensive weapon for the Hawks, who rode their talented tailback to a 12th trip to the playoffs in 13 years. Along the way Everson set single-season program records with 1,987 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns.
Few players around were more integral to their team’s success than the 6-foot, 200-pounder, who ran for at least 100 yards in 10 of 11 games and scored a touchdown in all but two outings. For those accomplishments Everson is the 2012 Courier-News Player of the Year.
“Nobody ever thinks that one guy is going to be running it 300 times,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “It was amazing what Aaron did this year. His durability, his strength and his willingness to continue fighting with second and third efforts was really impressive.”
Some of the numbers Everson produced this season were downright mind-boggling.
Of Bartlett’s 490 offensive plays, Everson either ran, caught or passed the ball 296 times, or 60.4 percent of the snaps. His 2,134 total offensive yards accounted for 72.8 percent of the team’s 2,933 yards from scrimmage, and Everson alone scored 181 of Bartlett’s 270 points.
It wasn’t uncommon for the Hawks to hand off to Everson on every play of a given drive, especially with their passing game limited after quarterback Steve Hrbacek suffered a broken collarbone in the first game of the year. But the heavy work load was never too much of a burden for Everson.
“It was tiring at times,” Everson said. “But it feels good to have the support from the coaches and for them to keep saying, ‘It’s his turn again.’”
Everson ran for at least 230 yards in six of Bartlett’s 11 games, and during one three-game stretch early in the year he scored a whopping 17 touchdowns.
Despite being the focal point of every opposing defense, Everson still managed to average 6.9 yards per carry. His most prolific effort arguably came at Metea Valley in Week 4 when he ran for 246 yards and five touchdowns and also scored on an 89-yard kickoff return and kicked five extra points in a 47-27 win.
The succession of big games certainly raised Everson’s profile and helped him land All-Upstate Eight Valley honors, but earning individual accolades was never his top priority.
“Mostly my focus was just about winning the game,” Everson said. “Stats are nice and all, but if I would have one good play, I’d put it in the past. I was always looking forward to making more plays and having more yards.”
Humble and popular among teammates, Everson was always quick to give credit for his big games to his blockers.
He found particular success running to the left side behind guard Brian Prohaska, tackle George Danek and tight end Chris Kantzavelos. Fullbacks Kevin Kirchhoff, Alex Piedra and Nick Mazzei were also effective at opening running lanes.
“George Danek, Chris, Prohaska and all the rest of those guys, it’s all them,” Everson said.
If it seems like Everson’s monster season came out of nowhere, it’s because it truly did.
As a junior he had only 44 carries for 261 yards while serving as a backup to talented sophomore James Butler. When Butler transferred to St. Francis during the summer, the job became Everson’s for the taking, and he was more than prepared to step into the lead role.
Dedication in the weight room during the offseason gave Everson the strength to sustain one punishing hit after another. He also developed more explosiveness last spring during track season when he was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash and as a member of Bartlett’s 4x100 relay team.
Despite his relatively late arrival on the scene as a football prospect, Everson is garnering attention from several college programs. He visited Illinois earlier this month and has had increasing contact with coaches from Division I FBS South Dakota.
Regardless of where Everson lands, Meaney is confident his former star will be ready to answer when called upon.
“We didn’t work him too hard during the week once the season got started, but he was able to start every game and really impressed a lot of people with his durability and strength,” Meaney said. “Everybody knew he was fast, but he could really make some cuts and make people miss. He also showed he can take a hit, make a hit and stay healthy.”
COURIER-NEWS PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONOR ROLL
1974 Frank Shellenback, Barrington
1975 Scott Knapp, Crystal Lake
1976 Richard Hersey, Elgin
1977 Dave Mohapp, Woodstock
1978 John Schroeder, St. Edward
1979 Mark Hudson, Jacobs
1980 Neal Britt, Cary-Grove
1981 Joe Armentrout, Larkin
1982 Tony Lopez, Dundee
1983 Chuck Hartlieb, Marian Central
1984 Greg Schultz, CL South
1985 Scott Ward, St. Charles
1986 James Haywood, Dundee-Crown
1987 Tony Odisho, Streamwood
1988 Mike Rummell, Streamwood
1989 John Hartlieb, Marian Central
1990 Charles Stafford, Elgin
1991 Bill Marinangel, McHenry
1992 Lon Erickson, St. Charles
1993 Chris Allen, St. Charles
1994 Scott Benton, Dundee-Crown
1995 Vince Webber, Larkin
1996 Vince Webber, Larkin
1997 Vince Webber, Larkin
1998 Scott Brown, Streamwood
1999 Matt Schabert, Larkin
1999 Travann Hayes, Larkin
2000 Dan Sheldon, Burlington Central
2001 Brett Borchart, Huntley
2002 Dominic Cozzi, St. Charles North
2003 Averill Sutchar, Bartlett
2004 Justin Lee, Burlington Central
2005 John Brown, St. Charles East
2006 Justin Lee, Burlington Central
2007 Cam Kinley, Larkin
2008 Kyle Zelinsky, Bartlett
2009 Jalen Williams, Larkin
2010 Trevor Whitehead, Larkin
2011 A.J. Bilyeu, Bartlett
2012 Aaron Everson, Bartlett