With the calendar about to flip over to 2018, there is no better time than to look back on the top stories from 2017, to recognize the sensational performances of area athletes and more. Here is a look at some of those top stories:
OH, WHAT A KNIGHT
Lazerick Eatman saved his last game for a record performance.
The IC Catholic Prep senior running back ran for 237 yards and a Class 3A finals record-tying four touchdowns, and the Knights repeated as state champions with a resounding 35-0 win over Pleasant Plains in November in DeKalb.
The Knights (13-1) won their fourth state championship.
ICCP led 6-0 at halftime, but scored on four straight possessions to turn the championship game into a rout.
"Any hole we open up, [Eatman] will hit it," ICCP All-State offensive lineman Dylan Packer said. "And once he gets to the second level he's usually gone."
REMEMBERING A LEGEND
He left a legacy that will last generations after he's gone.
Joe Newton, 88, who led York's boys cross country team to 28 state titles and another in boys track over a 57-year career, passed away in December.
Newton led York to 45 state trophies in 61 years at the school. Newton's Dukes won five straight state titles on two occasions, six consecutive from 1989-1994.
And he did so with class.
"There are many people that say he is Illinois cross country," said Mike Newman, who ran for Newton at York in the 1970s. "His legacy is through every runner that puts on the green and white."
When Jack Jessen arrived at Willowbrook, the Warriors' football team hadn't won a playoff game since 1990, or an outright conference championship since 1982 and never a West Suburban Gold title.
He helped end all three of those droughts.
This fall Jessen led Willowbrook to that first-ever Gold title, and back-to-back playoff quarterfinals for the first time since 1976. And he finished his career with nearly 4,800 rushing yards.
"I would love to say that I'm surprised at what he did this year, but I'm not," Willowbrook coach Nick Hildreth said.
Jessen, of course, has carved quite a career in two sports.
The future Northwestern wrestler went 50-0 last season, before losing in the state championship match. Something to save for 2018, perhaps.
KOLIE ALLEN CROWNED TENNIS CHAMPION
Glenbard East senior Kolie Allen capped off a triumphant return to high school tennis in grand fashion.
Allen, an Ohio State recruit, defeated Evanston's Anastasia Goncharova 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to win the Class 2A state singles title in October. Allen made the state quarterfinals as a sophomore, but did not play high school tennis as a junior. She returned to win Glenbard East's first state title in tennis.
"[Winning state] was pretty much the only reason I came back," Allen said. "This means everything."
Also at state tennis, Timothy Christian's doubles team of Abygale Ahn and Cassandra Lee took third in Class 1A doubles, the school's first medal in tennis.
MONTINI GIRLS BASKETBALL TAKES THIRD
Montini seniors Kaylee Bambule and Claudia Kunzer went out in style.
Kunzer scored 10 points and Bambule added six, including her 294th career 3-pointer, as Montini beat Fremd 35-22 to claim third place in the Class 4A state finals in March.
The win was a sweet end to a bittersweet weekend for Montini (33-2). The Broncos' attempt to win their fifth state title ended with a 37-35 semifinal loss to Edwardsville.
"I think it's always special to end on a win," Bambule said. There's only two teams that get to end with a win."