Prospect's O'Hara finds his niche at quarterback

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Prospect's O'Hara finds his niche at quarterback

Devin O'Hara began playing football with the Arlington Cowboys in third grade. His father Les, who quarterbacked at Lane Tech and Minnesota, taught him how to play the game. He loved to throw the ball and control the game.

He dreamed of playing in the Big Ten, like his father.

Then he got sidetracked for a couple of years. As a sophomore on Prospect's varsity, he was shifted to safety. As a junior, he was moved to wide receiver. He caught 50 passes for 500 yards. But the 6-foot-5, 180-pounder wanted to be a quarterback.

"I was a quarterback my whole life," O'Hara said. "I wanted to be quarterback as a junior. It was a little disappointing. They aimed to being a running team with Sam Frasco at quarterback. After the season, I told (coach Mike Sebestyen) that I wanted to be quarterback as a senior. I wanted the job very bad. I wouldn't let anything stop me from being quarterback."

Sebestyen, coming off a 5-5 season and preparing for his second year as head coach, had O'Hara in mind. "Traditionally, we put our best athlete and leader at quarterback. Since Miles Osei left, we have made a receiver the quarterback the next year. Devin is very athletic. We had played quarterback at lower levels. We knew he could do it," the coach said.

If there were any doubts, O'Hara quickly dispelled them. In Prospect's opening 55-41 victory over Glenbrook South, O'Hara rushed for 333 yards and six touchdowns and threw a 93-yard scoring pass to Nikko Gountanis on the Knights' first play from scrimmage.

In last Friday's 35-14 upset of Glenbrook North in the opening round of the Class 7A playoff, O'Hara ran for three touchdowns and completed 8 of 10 passes for 214 yards, including a 61-yarder to Joe Gleason that set up another touchdown. Jack Tuttle rushed 22 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

Prospect, which has won four games in a row after a 3-3 start, will host highly rated Wheaton North (9-1) in the second round on Friday night.

O'Hara, who has a scholarship offer from Western Illinois, has rushed for 1,300 yards and passed for 1,200 in Sebestyen's spread offense that utilizes four receiver sets.

Spread? Why not the split-back veer. Sebestyen is the son of Don Sebestyen, who was head coach at Fenwick for five years and served on Frank Lenti's staff at Mount Carmel from 1987 to 2000. He currently is principal at Providence in New Lenox.

But Mike, 36, has a lot of Prospect blood in him. He was varsity assistant under Brent Pearlman for 10 years. He coached on the state championship teams of 2001, 2002 and 2005. He knows what tradition is all about -- at Mount Carmel and Prospect.

"After spending so many years with Brent, we were successful running this (spread) offense," Sebestyen said. "We run some veer out of a shotgun to make my father and Frank Lenti proud. I tried to dabble at playing quarterback and tried to throw the ball, but we run 55 times a game. I still have some Catholic League in me."

O'Hara couldn't be happier. "I feel confident in my passing skills. I know we are more of a running team. We run about 25 times a game and throw about 10. I relish that role. I have good vision when I run. I have a lot of fun running with the ball. My offensive line opens up a lot of space," he said.

He admired Osei when he was younger and watching Prospect games. He was a freshman when Osei was a senior. He was promoted to the varsity for the playoff as a freshman. They worked together and O'Hara noted how patient and poised Osei was in the pocket.

"I like to think of myself as another Osei, only four inches taller," O'Hara said. "He is the best player ever to come out of Prospect. I would love to be as good as him. But I'm not the same player. When he played, he was a great passer. He passed more than he ran."

O'Hara's favorite play is called the "speed option to the outside." It is like a quarterback sweep except O'Hara has the option to pitch to Tuttle or Steve Isteefanos.

But O'Hara also has another tough assignment against Wheaton North. As a starting cornerback, he likely will be called upon to defend against Clayton Thorson, Wheaton North's outstanding 6-foot-4 junior wide receiver.

"We have to play our best game of the year in each round of the playoff because each team will be more talented and more physical," he said.

To counter Wheaton North's explosive offense, O'Hara will rely on his four wide receivers--5-foot-9, 170-pound junior Nikko Gountanis, 6-foot, 195-pound senior Andrew Hajek, 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior Joe Gleason and 5-foot-10, 160-pound junior Luis Leguer -- and his two running backs, 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior Jack Tuttle and 5-foot-5, 145-pound senior Steve Isteefanos. Pat Costello, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior tackle, is the mainstay of the offensive line.

Defensively, Prospect is anchored by O'Hara at cornerback, Hajek at linebacker, 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior end Mike Houghton, 6-foot-4, 230-pound end Colin Olson, 6-foot-1, 260-pound tackle Shola George and 5-foot-11, 205-pound senior tackle Kevin Kern.

"Last year (5-5) was a learning experience for all of us," Sebestyen said. "We struggled at the beginning and started 1-3. But I was proud of the way the kids fought back in divisional play. We took Elk Grove to the last play and lost by three--and they got to the quarterfinals. Then we lost to Glenbard West in the first round.

"It was a good experience in the sense that our kids got to experience a playoff game. For them, those three state championship teams were a long time ago. With nine starters back, we thought they could be a good group. We only have 32 on the varsity. We feel we have overcome adversity. We are where we expected to be--playing in November."

O'Hara believes this team has succeeded where last year's team didn't.

"The overall attitude and work ethic and bond of this team is different. There wasn't a great feeling that we were playing together last year. We never got what we should have out of the season. We changed our whole attitude and vibe this year and we're starting to take off," he said.

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks knew their meeting against the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago was a critical contest. This one is right up there, too.

The Blackhawks are trying to keep pace with the front-running Wild, who are seven points ahead of them entering tonight's game.

"There's certainly always something to play for," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks are 10 points ahead of third-place St. Louis. "We want to keep getting better and we're starting to improve over this part of the season. But the point of importance of today's game and keeping it close is important for us, so we'll approach it that way. We were going into the break a week ago, and I'm sure it's an important game for them but it's an extremely important game for us."

Meanwhile the Wild will be trying to do tonight what the Blackhawks did on Feb. 11: go into their bye on a high note. The Wild haven't had many hiccups lately, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Devan Dubnyk will get the start as the Wild look to keep extending their lead.

"It's one of those games that's a great challenge for your group," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You're playing a team that's still won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years and they've been in every battle you can imagine. That team gets up for every important game, and I think they'll think this is an important game. It's just about being an athlete. It's one of those things, you love to play in these situations."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tuesday marks the Wild's 59th game of the season; they had caught up to Chicago during the Blackhawks' bye week, yet will go into their break with a game in hand. Still, the Wild are ready for the respite.

"We're not complaining about it," Charlie Coyle said. "It's a little different, yeah, but in the long run it's going to help us. Just get this rest period, rest the legs, the body, [rest] mentally, come back and get ready for the grind. It's going to be crucial for us and we'll try to take advantage of it."

Matt Dumba (knee) could return to the Wild's lineup tonight but Boudreau wouldn't say for sure.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com and NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks

Forward lines
Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

Injuries/illnesses: None

Minnesota Wild

Forward lines
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder

Defensive Pairs
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba

Goaltender
Devan Dubnyk

Injuries/illnesses: None

CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

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CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

CSN, CSNChicago.com, and the NBC Sports app to carry LIVE coverage of the Class 1A-4A IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

from Redbird Arena in Normal, IL over the next two weekends

CSNChicago.com to also air highlight packages of all games throughout the weekend;

CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv to also live stream every post-game press conference

Chicago, IL (February 21, 2017) CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home of the IHSA Championships, will be airing LIVE cross-platform coverage of the 2017 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Basketball State Championships on Friday, February 24 & Saturday, February 25 (Class 1A & 2A) and Friday, March 3 & Saturday, March 4 (Class 3A & 4A) from Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal, IL.  Over the next two weekends, Illinois preps hoops fans can look forward to seeing every action-packed semifinal, consolation and championship battle starting Friday at 11:00 AM CT featuring four, live semifinal match-ups, along with a pair of consolation and two huge state championship title games on Saturday.  Plus – EVERY game will be telecast in a high-definition (HD) format.  The 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships will be produced by the IHSA & PlayOn! Sports.

In addition -- EVERY IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecast will once again be streamed live on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.  Authenticated CSN Chicago subscribers can watch live IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .  

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Several IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecasts, which includes every Class 3A/4A semifinals/consolation/finals match-up, will air on CSN+ (available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER or IHSA.org for complete channel location details for ALL games throughout the state. 
  • CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv will also be providing fans with a live stream of every IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship post-game press conference. 
  • Fans can interact via Twitter throughout the entire weekend by utilizing the hashtag #IHSA to share their comments and showcase their school spirit for their favorite teams.   In addition, fans are urged to visit CSN’s official preps Twitter handle (@CSNPreps) for up-to-the-minute tournament news, scores, and more 24/7.

In addition, CSNChicago.com’s IHSA Preps section (csnchicago.com/preps) will feature highlight packages from all games over the next two weekends, plus – CSN viewers can look forward to a special championship editions of High School Lites on Friday, February 26 & Friday, March 4 (both nights live at 11:00 PM) for a complete rundown of every girls championship game, including expanded highlights and player/coaches interviews, along with the latest highlights and playoff scenarios for the upcoming IHSA Boys Basketball State Championships, which will take place the weekends of March 10-11 & March 17-18 at Carver Arena in Peoria, IL.  (NOTE: Full schedule details regarding CSN’s live coverage of the 2017 Boys Basketball State Championships will be announced the week of March 6.)

The following schedule details CSN’s coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships over the next two weekends (all times Central Time) (play-by-play/color analyst/sideline reporting teams are in parentheses):

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24

11:00 AM –      Class 1A Semifinal #1: Harvest Christian Academy (Elgin) vs. Annawan (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A Semifinal #2: Unity (Mendon) vs. Calhoun (Hardin) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #1: Byron vs. Central [Coop] (Camp Point) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #2: St. Edward (Elgin) vs. Central Catholic (Bloomington) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25

11:00 AM –      Class 1A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

FRIDAY, MARCH 3

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

SATURDAY, MARCH 4

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)