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York's Kyle Stearns, AT's Mike Rybarczyk among area breakout players

Published: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 12:35 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Steve Bittinger for Shaw Media)
York running back Kyle Stearns (right), shown running behind a block from Jeff Ostling on Sept. 27, has been a standout two-way player for the Dukes this season.

Every football season brings with it change as former players graduate and new names gain recognition for their exploits on the fields. From seniors having their best seasons yet to juniors getting their first chances to contribute, these breakout players are helping their teams achieve.

Kyle Stearns

School: York

Position: Running back/defensive back

Year: Senior

Impact: Stearns has been a big part of the Dukes' multi-headed running back group. Typically five York runners will get carries in a game, but it's Stearns that has put up the best numbers all while also contributing on defense. In Week 2 against Proviso East, Stearns ran for three touchdowns and had two interceptions.

Ben Sullivan

School: Glenbard East

Position: Offensive lineman

Year: Junior

Impact: It's not often juniors are captains, but Sullivan is a returning starter on the line who is having his best season yet. Coach John Walters constantly compliments Sullivan's play and has described him as the best overall player on the team.

Drake Pusateri

School: Glenbard East

Position: Quarterback

Year: Junior

Impact: Pusateri has been beat up this season, missing time and playing through injuries, but has been a pleasant surprise at quarterback. He announced his arrival in the Week 1 victory against rival Willowbrook with 224 yards passing and 105 yards rushing.

Mike Rybarczyk

School: Addison Trail

Position: Quarterback

Year: Junior

Impact: The Blazers have a young roster and Rybarczyk is a part of that youth, but has been a calming presence at quarterback. "Overall, I'm very impressed with his composure and his management of the team," said AT coach Paul Parpet Jr. Rybarczyk has seven touchdown passes on the season and is 91-for-136 for 1,035 yards.

Jake Atiyeh

School: Addison Trail

Position: Wide receiver/defensive back

Year: Junior

Impact: It's easy for Atiyeh to get overshadowed by Jaavion Bradley at wide receiver, but Atiyeh has also made some big plays for the Blazers. Atiyeh has 254 yards receiving on 17 receptions this season. Coach Paul Parpet Jr. was also complimentary of his ability to do the little things like blocking.

Joe Catanese

School: Willowbrook

Position: Senior

Year: Defensive back

Impact: Much has been made of the Willowbrook offense, for good reason, but the defense has also had some standout players. Catanese is among the team's leading tacklers while partnering with talented senior Hayden Adams in the secondary.

Leon Thornton III

School: Montini

Position: Wide receiver

Year: Senior

Impact: Thornton has turned into a big play receiver, something Montini needed after graduating last year's top four pass catchers. Through six games he has 526 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Sam Symeonides

School: IC Catholic

Position: Defensive line

Year: Senior

Impact: It's not often that defensive lineman lead a defense in tackles, but that's what Symeonides is doing. He has 70 tackles, 24 more than the nearest Knight. His play is even more impressive considering he didn't see much game action as a junior.

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