In the midst of turmoil, Simeon prepares for Morgan Park

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In the midst of turmoil, Simeon prepares for Morgan Park

Theyre disgusted.

That was Simeon head coach Robert Smiths description of his players' mood after practice on Tuesday evening, just a few hours after finding out three of their teammates had been ruled ineligible by the IHSA.

Donte Ingram, Sean Moore and Jaycee Hillsman, all transfers, were declared ineligible just a day before one of the biggest high school games on the local docket as the Wolverines take on the Morgan Park Mustangs Wednesday night at Chicago State.

They feel like somebody did something to them, said Smith. As a school, we didnt do anything wrong and theyre upset about it. The players dont want to do any interviews, they dont want to talk to anybody, they dont want to do none of that stuff. They just want to focus on basketball.

At the beginning of the season, all three had been ruled eligible by the IHSA, but after a recent review of their cases, they were informed that they couldnt play. Ingram transferred to Simeon from Danville, Hillsman came from St. Thomas More in Champaign and Moore came over from Leo. Making matters worse, the aforementioned Moore is a senior this year.

At the end of the day, they were ruled eligible. Months ago. To come back in the middle of the season and rule them ineligible, thats wrong.

All three players practiced on Tuesday, which they are still allowed to do. They just cant play in the games. And having to sit out one of the biggest games of the year thus far just makes matters worse. But coach Smith thinks the trios absence will light a fire under the rest of his squad.

This probably wont do anything but give us more motivation against Morgan Park explained Smith before reiterating how unfairly he feels his kids are being treated. They just feel like somebody did something to them when they didnt do anything wrong. And these are good kids. Its not fair to them.

Although Moore, Hillsman and Ingram werent starters, they provided depth for coach Smith off the bench. Now itll be up to sophomore D.J. Williams, senior Rickey Norris and junior Bobby Harris to carry more of the load.

But despite the turmoil, Smith knows he has a tough task on his hands with Morgan Park and wanted to make sure his players didnt lose sight of the importance of the game.

We had a pretty good practice. We wanted to go over some of the stuff that they do well and execute on some of the stuff that were going to need to do well in order to beat those guys, explained Smith. They play extremely hard for the whole 32 minutes. Thats the biggest part of it.

"The most important thing is getting ready for tomorrows game. All that other stuff were just going to put aside. The kids will be fine. I just hate to go to a game and they cant dress, knowing this wasnt their faults But theyre still a part of the team.

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the Gym at EFT: Wide receiver skill development

In the first edition of EFT Football Academy, TF North graduate Landon Cox, who was a star wide receiver at Northern Illinois and later in the NFL, shares some tips on how to become a better receiver and be more efficient on the field.

Cox is a Performance Specialist and wide receiver coach at EFT. In this segment Cox works on a few different techniques with Warren Township junior wide receiver Micah Jones.

EFT has evolved into the premier elite performance training facility in the Midwest, where every EFT football coach has NFL experience and the dedication to helping each player reach their potential. The EFT Football Academy is designed to assist in the development of grade school, high school, and collegiate football players.

Some of their off-season training experience includes 70+ active NFL athletes, six Super Bowl Champions, six Olympics, and more.

[MORE: High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1]

In addition, performance includes explosive power development, positional movement pattern development, proper spring and change of direction mechanics, and more. Every EFT workout focuses on improving each athlete's overall abilities like speed development, agility and mobility, acceleration and deceleration, and strength and condition — just to name a few.

Former Bears wide receiver Devin Hester called it "the best workout in the world."

Watch Cox's tips in the video above, and be sure to look out for next week's edition on CSNChicago.com.

High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1

High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 1

High School Lites kicked off this week as IHSA football started all over Illinois. The season debut of High School Lites featured highlights from all over the Chicagoland area -- including the show's debut in Northwest Indiana for our Viewer's Choice Game of the Week.

Be sure to follow our Preps account on Twitter @CSNPreps for the latest scores, stats and highlights from the area's best high school teams. 

HIGHLIGHTS

High School Lites Football Montage: Week 1

Highlights: No. 22 Maine South 44, No. 11 Montini 13

Highlights: Fenwick 34, No. 9 Phillips 26

Highlights: No. 7 Palatine 28, No. 12 Stevenson 20

Highlights: No. 14 Prairie Ridge 26, No. 18 Cary-Grove 14

Highlights: No. 2 Glenbard West 17, No. 15 Bolingbrook 7

Highlights: No. 5 Lincoln-Way East 49, South Bend Adams 12

Highlights: No. 20 Oak Park-River Forest 21, Simeon 14

Highlights: No. 24 Barrington 41, Glenbrook South 15

Highlights: Kaneland 48, Brooks 20

Highlights: Von Steuben 41, Amundsen 18

Highlights: Viewer's Choice Game of the Week: Valparaiso 49, Gary West Side 0

CSN Drive: Lincoln-Way East Football -- Episode 2: Ron Tomczak's Legacy Lives On

In the Gym at EFT: WR Skill Development

TOP 25 SCORES

No. 1 Loyola Academy 36, Milwaukee Marquette 7

No. 2 Glenbard West 17, No. 15 Bolingbrook 7

No. 3 Homewood-Flossmoor 56, Downers Grove South 6

No. 4 Glenbard North 35, Naperville Central 6

No. 5 Lincoln-Way East 49, South Bend Adams 12

No. 7 Palatine 28, No. 12 Stevenson 20

Fenwick 34, No. 9 Phillips 26

No. 22 Maine South 44, No. 11 Montini 13

No. 13 Waubonsie Valley 16, Lake Park 8

No. 14 Prairie Ridge 26, No. 18 Cary-Grove 14

No. 16 Hinsdale Central 42, American Fork (UT) 12

No. 17 Neuqua Valley 35, Metea Valley 7

No. 19 Nazareth Academy 56, Dunbar 12

No. 20 Oak Park-River Forest 21, Simeon 14

No. 21 Batavia 34, Belleville West 24

No. 23 Libertyville 29, Elk Grove 0

No. 24 Barrington 41, Glenbrook South 15

No. 25 Crete-Monee 42, T.F. South 7

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

A decade later, Ron Tomczak's legacy lives on at Lincoln-Way East intrasquad game

When Ron Tomczak passed away suddenly in 2007, Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar lost much more than a valuable assistant.

The 69-year-old Tomczak, who spent two-thirds of his life coaching football, had been a mentor and a friend to Zvonar, who leaned on the Hall of Famer for guidance as the young Griffins program took shape in the early 2000s. Zvonar relished having an experienced voice in coaches meetings and the locker room. More than that, he appreciated that same voice calling him "out of the blue" on any given night with words of advice and support.

It's the reason Zvonar made what he called a "no-brainer" decision that fall to honor Tomczak's legacy as a father, coach, mentor and friend a mere six months after the legendary coach's death. So when the Griffins took the field for their annual intrasquad game a week before their regular season began, they did so during the Ron Tomczak Black and Blue scrimmage.

Ten years later the tradition has carried on, and then some.

Thousands from the Frankfort community gathered in the team's stadium last Friday night to watch the 2016 Griffins take the field for the first time, and also to honor the legacy of a man instrumental toward helping build the program into one of the premier teams in Illinois. 

Tomczak coached at T.F. North for 16 seasons, earning 89 victories in his tenure. He coached the Meteors to a pair of playoff berths, including a 10-2 season and berth in the state semifinals with his son, Mike, under center. Mike went on to Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to two Big Ten championships before a 15-year NFL career with stops in Chicago, Green Bay, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Ron continued his coaching career at Lincoln-Way East in 2001, serving as an assistant under Zvonar one year after the program’s inaugural season. Ron's son, Steve, was also an assistant at East during that time, and when Zvonar approached him and the Tomczak family about honoring their father at the annual scrimmage, they were thrilled.

"Coach Z was gracious enough when my father passed to say, 'This is what we're going to do, and we're going to do it every year really big and make it a big celebration,'" said Steve, who runs Body Tech Total Fitness in Frankfort, where Ron also worked in his later years. "That's the type of person (Zvonar) is, the type of man he is. He said as long as I'm here we're going to do this."

Added Ron Jr.: "Coach Z, I think my dad taught (Zvonar) a lot when he initially started, and he looked to my dad as a mentor."

Ron was a perfectionist, a trait that's easy to see has rubbed off in the way Zvonar leads a Griffins group with state-title aspirations in 2016.

Ron Jr. recalled his father putting together practice plans for the fall as soon as the Fourth of July rolled around. Months before the official start of the IHSA season he had the equipment room organized to a fault and his practice plan for two-a-days completed. Ron spent just as much time with the scout kickoff team as he did with the first-team offense, and he always made time to coach up anyone who asked for it.

"If anybody wanted to work he was there," Ron Jr. said, "if there was one kid or there were 40 kids out there."

When he returned to Lincoln-Way East as an assistant - he also taught driver's ed at the school - his passion, drive and work ethic rubbed off on the rest of the coaching staff.

"Most men his age would be retired on the golf course," Zvonar said, "and he was still coming out here in his late 60s coaching football. He meant so much to me as a mentor."

It's why simply honoring Ron, who was inducted into the IHSA Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986, with a scrimmage in his name wasn't enough. Zvonar makes a point each season of instilling in his team the importance Tomczak had on both him and the program. Though the 118 players on this year's East team are too young to remember Tomczak, they understand what he meant to the program because of Zvonar.

The highlight of the night is a spaghetti dinner inside the stadium, with proceeds going directly to a scholarship in Ron's name. Candidates from the team submit letters, must be in good standing academically and have an eye toward playing football collegiately. The coaching staff then selects candidates to present to the family, which makes the final decision in May on one to two players to receive the scholarship.

"I don't want to just say, "Hey, it's the Ron Tomczak scrimmage,'" Zvonar said. "We've got to go back and talk about who he was and what he stood for. And if we can continue to pass his legacy down to other generations, we sure will."

Added wide receiver Nick Zelenika, whose brother John - now at Illinois Wesleyan - was awarded the scholarship in 2015: "Coach Z talks a lot about him. He got this program rolling. He set the example for this program. Coach Z looks up to him as a role model, and we have a ton of respect for him. He definitely set an example for our high school."

The Tomczak family has been an integral part of the Lincoln-Way East program, and the impact Ron had during his time will continue to help define its future successes. It will also come full-circle next season when his grandson, current sophomore starting defensive back Jake, joins the varsity team. Another one of his grandsons, Max, will start at Lincoln-Way East next fall. But even when the last Tomczak has played his final snap for the Griffins, Ron Tomczak's legacy will live on each year as a reminder of what it takes to build a winner, and how to do so the right way.

"He was near and dear to our hearts," Zvonar said. "And as long as I'm here we'll always remember him.”