McQuade follows Aurora Christian's QB legacy

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McQuade follows Aurora Christian's QB legacy

For two years, coach Don Beebe has been touting who he perceives as the next great quarterback at Aurora Christian, the multi-talented youngster who will follow in the footsteps of Jordan Roberts, Nate Peterson and Anthony Maddie, who rank 1-2-5 in state history for touchdown passes in a career.

Beebe, who once caught passes from Hall of Famer Jim Kelly for the Buffalo Bills, knows a quarterback when he sees one. And before the 2012 season began, he felt 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore Austin Bray would be his starting quarterback.

But he forgot to tell Ryan McQuade.

"Going into the summer, I was going to start Bray. He will be a good one," Beebe said. "He was the starter. Then we competed in a 7-on-7 tournament with Kaneland, Batavia and Neuqua Valley and Ryan lit it up from a leadership standpoint. Then we went to a national 7-on-7 tournament in Arkansas and finished third out of 32 teams and Ryan lit it up again. We knew he would be our quarterback this year. As he progressed, I knew he would have a big year."

Truth be told, Beebe had to be nudged a little. McQuade is Beebe's nephew. No, he didnt ask his mother (Beebe's sister) to intercede in his behalf. Instead, he walked into the coach's office and boldly announced that he wanted a shot at the starting quarterback position.

"I started at outside linebacker on last year's state championship team but my heart is at quarterback," McQuade said. "I knew I was slated to be the backup as a senior when the summer began. I told him I wanted a shot at quarterback. He said Austin has been there and is slated to be the starter.
I said: 'I'll put a lot of time and effort into it and we'll see at the end of the summer.' It worked out good."

"Ryan is an intriguing story. He sat behind (All-Stater) Anthony Maddie for the last two years. It is neat to see him have such a great season because he wanted to play quarterback so much last year but couldn't because of Maddie. But this year we never missed a beat at the quarterback position."

McQuade, a 6-foot-4, 206-pound senior, has completed 192 of 331 passes for 2,973 yards and 42 touchdowns for a 12-1 team that will meet Tolono Unity in the Class 3A championship on Friday in Champaign. He was 12-of-21 for 167 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday's 41-7 semifinal rout of Sterling Newman.

"This team is better than last year. We're playing well, firing on all cylinders," Beebe said. "This is the best defense I've coached in nine years, 11 players who can all play, no weaknesses. In some ways, this also is our best offense. Never before have we had great passing and running games together. Our kicking game is great. And this is the best coaching staff I've had."

One of Beebe's assistants is Bryan Wells, a former dean of students at Neuqua Valley who was fired as head football coach after last season. Wells left the Naperville school to become principal at Aurora Christian. He also is Beebe's special teams coach.

McQuade has found his niche, throwing to wide receivers Chad Beebe and Cory Windle and handing off to Brandon Mayes and Joel Bouganon, who have combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

"Honestly, I'm a team guy," McQuade said. "As long as we're winning, that's all I care about. It's a blast playing for my uncle. We have a great mixture. Opponents can't key on one thing. My goals were to pass for 2,500 yards and 30-35 touchdowns. I surpassed all that. But I care about winning and the team the most."

He felt confident in his ability to be the starting quarterback because he knew Beebe was looking for a vocal leader. "That's what he looks for in a quarterback--a true leader. I've worked hard for this. I know the history of the quarterbacks at this school. All I wanted to do is make a name for myself, be confident in my abilities and perform well. I believe I have done that," McQuade said.

What is the scouting report on Tolono Unity? Last year, Aurora Christian crushed Tolono Unity 50-26 in the semifinals. Unity returns quarterback Justin Deters and two Division I recruits, wide receiver Micah Johnson and linebacker Mitch Negangard.

"They know us and we know them from last year's film," Beebe said. "They are the best team we have faced in the playoff. Whoever turns the ball over the least will win the game."

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Preview: Cubs host Mariners today on CSN

Preview: Cubs host Mariners today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Seattle Mariners on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m.. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (10-4, 3.09 ERA) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (11-6, 3.96 ERA)

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Are Cubs done dealing? ‘Wouldn’t put anything past’ Theo

Are Cubs done dealing? ‘Wouldn’t put anything past’ Theo

Are the Cubs done dealing? Theo Epstein might be the baseball executive you’d least want to play poker against, and his team didn’t stop after winning 97 wins last season – committing almost $290 million to free agents – or hold onto the organization’s top prospect when the New York Yankees wanted Gleyber Torres in the blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade.

“I wouldn’t put anything past him,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said.

That win-now impulse led the Cubs to Chapman, who instantly raised the energy level at Wrigley Field on Thursday night just by walking in from the bullpen, wowing more than 40,000 fans with his 100-mph heat and getting a four-out save to close out a 3-1 win over the White Sox.

“As fans of the game, you always see what Aroldis does,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “If he’s pitching, and you’re flipping through the channels, you stay on him just to see what he does, because he’s that type of player. What he does for our bullpen now is just incredible.”

This is the blueprint for October with enough timely hitting, a quality start from John Lackey, Pedro Strop working the seventh inning and manager Joe Maddon calling for Chapman to replace Hector Rondon with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth. Chapman threw Melky Cabrera six straight fastballs that registered between 98.6 and 102.3 mph on MLB.com’s Gameday, striking him out swinging.

“I was ready,” Chapman said through temporary translator/catcher Miguel Montero said. “I’m pretty pumped to be part of it.”

While the Cubs unveiled grand plans to construct a future World Series winner, Bosio became the no-nonsense foreman supervising a crew of veterans, short-timers and sign-and-flip guys.

Ex-manager Dale Sveum and coaches like Bosio, Mike Borzello and Lester Strode installed the game-planning system and did the grunt work to build up Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, putting in all that effort only to see them shipped off to playoff contenders in trade-deadline deals.

That roster churn yielded Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, Strop, Justin Grimm, Carl Edwards Jr., Addison Russell, Hammel returning as a free agent and a trade chip (minor-league outfielder Billy McKinney) used in the Chapman deal.

“To be able to get a guy like him is a big step for the organization,” Bosio said. “It definitely sent ripple effects to everybody who’s a Cubs fan. I got so many phone calls and text messages.

“This one got a lot of people’s attention. Not just in baseball, but all over the world. He’s a headline guy coming to a headline city.”

Like virtually everyone else, the Cubs are looking for younger starting pitchers who come with years of club control, because right now only Hendricks and Jon Lester can be penciled into the 2018 rotation (when the $155 million lefty will be 34 years old).

The Cubs also can’t ignore the offense, even after pouring so much capital into their lineup, because Jason Heyward’s .632 OPS ranks 151st out of the 157 qualified major-league hitters, Montero is hitting .198, Willson Contreras will be making rookie adjustments and Kyle Schwarber’s left-handed presence will be missed even more against elite pitching in October.

If the Yankees decide to sell another rental player – and the Cubs are willing to mortgage their farm system – Carlos Beltran would be a good fit as a switch-hitter with an excellent track record as a playoff performer (16 homers, 40 RBI and a 1.155 OPS in 52 postseason games).

“There’s still a good amount of time before the trade deadline,” Epstein said this week. “So we’re going to engage with every other team and see if there’s an opportunity to get better. Either tweaks to the roster now, but I’d say it’s more focused on getting additional depth for this season and possibly making a move that makes sense for our longer-term picture, next season and beyond.”

The Cubs have until Monday afternoon’s non-waiver deadline to try to complete the World Series puzzle. Why stop with Chapman during an all-in season?

“Now we’re the ones looking to add pieces, whether it be a bat or a pitcher,” Bosio said. “I wouldn’t put anything past ownership or the front office, because they know how much we’ve invested into this year, and how hard it is just to win a major-league game.”