By Mark Gregory
GURNEE – On paper a match-up between Warren’s 6-foot, 5-inch Notre Dame-bound receiver Micah Jones and Maine South’s 6-3 Rory Hayes favored Jones.
Now, take Hayes out of the mix and insert 6-0 safety Brian Barry and one may assume Jones would dominate the Redhawks.
Well, they would be wrong.
Barry stepped in for Hayes, who missed the game with a medical issue, and held Jones to two catched on only a handful of targets.
“Rory Hayes, a two-way starter for us, is in the emergency room today with his tonsils and we found out about 3 p.m. we weren’t going to have Rory and Brian Berry stepped in for him and he did a great job,” said Maine South coach Dave Inserra.
When he was told of his assignment, Barry was up for the challenge.
“I would have followed him into the bleachers – I didn’t care,” he said. “I knew my safety had my back, so I just played him inside and did whatever I did to not let the quarterback go to him.”
Maine South go off to a 17-10 halftime lead, but also missed opportunities to extend the lead – something the Hawks did not let slip away in the second half.
“I thought we left some points on the field (in the first half),” Inserra said. “We missed a field goal, we fumbled in the end zone. We were moving the ball, so we didn’t want to panic. In the second half, we fixed some things on the offensive line and we knew they were being aggressive and we could go over the top and we hit some big passes.”
John O’Sullivan hit 14-of-20 passes for 150 yards and a 45-yard touchdown pass to Can Stacy, who hauled in five passes for 106 yards.
On the ground, it was Fotis Kokosioulis, who carried the ball 23 times for 216 yards and three scores.
“Fotis is a warrior,” Inserra said. “How many times did he get a little banged up and just kept coming back and he is just lightning. You can see why he is such a special player.”
Kokosioulis said he was willing to take on whatever load the team needed.
“We have to do what we have to do to win the game. If they want to throw me in the slot, if they want to run me, I will do whatever it takes to win the game and move on,” he said. “I give this 100 percent to the coaching staff – they have been here and they have the experience. They really know what to do and we are all brothers and we do what we do to keep going. At halftime we were saying it was too close of a game and the seniors said we had to step up and do something because we were not going home.”
The No. 5 seeded Hawks will now host No. 13 Naperville Central, who upset No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor.
“I don’t think we have ever played each other in the history of the schools,” Inserra said. “They have been this far a lot, they are a well-coached teams and have been to championship games.”