Hornets hope excitement continues building
Hinsdale South's Arian Toney (39) picks up tough yardage running into the Oak Forest defensive line. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 5:42PM
DARIEN — Hinsdale South senior linebacker Stephen O’Neill needed to just walk around town to know the strides the football program has made the past two seasons.
“Hinsdale South used to not have very many people at the games,” O’Neill said. “Now, members of the community would come up to me and tell me good luck. It fills me with pride to have the school district proud and people knowing about Hinsdale South football. It means a lot to me.”
After finishing 5-4, but narrowly missing the playoffs last season, Hinsdale South won six games during this regular season to earn its first playoff berth since 2005. Hinsdale South tied Willowbrook and Downers Grove South for second in the West Suburban Gold with a 4-2 mark, behind Leyden (6-0).
The Hornets (6-4), an eighth seed in Class 6A, lost at top-seeded Oak Forest (9-1) 29-0 Friday in a first-round playoff game.
“The way we started out the year (4-0) and finished by making the playoffs was great for the community and the school culture,” second-year Hinsdale South coach Mike Barry said. “The kids got excited about everything. Hopefully some of that success rubs off on the younger kids and they see want needs to be done to keep this going.”
While ending the playoff drought was a positive step in the rebuilding process, just making the playoffs won’t be enough in the future.
“Although it was a tremendous season, it didn’t end the way we wanted,” Barry said. “(Making the playoffs) has been our goal. Now we need to move a little bit past that. We’re taking big steps in the right direction. There’s only one team in Class 6A that wins a state championship every year and that’s what we’re striving for.”
O’Neill led the Hornets in tackles with 39, tied for the team lead with two sacks and added a team-best four fumble recoveries and an interception.
“I’m just glad I could help,” O’Neill said. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone else. I knew I could just go out there and give it my all because I knew everyone else would do their job. It was a very good experience. I enjoyed playing every second. We had great coaches on both sides of the ball and Coach Barry is a phenomenal coach.
“There is a strong class of juniors coming back and some good sophomores. Hopefully the team can continue the success we had and improve even more.”
Hinsdale South will graduate a talented senior class, including two-year starting quarterback D.J. Deolitsis, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards and scored 18 touchdowns and threw for over 800 yards.
The Hornets will return junior leading rusher Arian Toney (1,138 yards, 12 TDs), along with other promising underclassmen.
“The senior class was awesome,” Barry said. “They not only had tremendous talent, but provided great leadership and played very good as a team, not as individuals. They were a pleasure to coach and it was fun to get out there every single day.”