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Pioneer Press 2018 Football All-Area Defense: First Team and Second Team


5 minute read

By Bob Narang and Steve Reaven
Contact Reporter
Pioneer Press

2018/12/27

First Team

Aidan Cruickshank
School: Hinsdale Central.
Year: Senior.
Position: Safety.
Accolades: All-conference, team MVP.
Key stats: School’s all-time leader in tackles. Made more than 100 tackles as a junior and repeated the feat as a senior.

Armoni Dixon
School: Loyola.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference. Committed to Tulane.
Key stats: Made 86 tackles, including a team-high 18 tackles for loss, with seven sacks and nine quarterback hurries.

Luke Dwyer
School: Lake Zurich.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference. Named to Class 7A all-state team. Committed to North Dakota State.
Key stats: Made 66 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, with four sacks and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.

Jake Gonzalez
School: Loyola.
Year: Senior.
Position: Safety.
Accolades: All-conference. Named to Class 8A all-state team. Committed to Penn.
Key stats: Made a team-high 135 tackles with five pass breakups and two interceptions. He’s Loyola’s all-time leader with 355 tackles.

Antonio Hardaway
School: St. Joseph.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 78 tackles, including 31 tackles for loss, with 12 sacks.

Zane Heemsoth
School: York.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 110 tackles, including six tackles for loss, with two forced fumbles.

Rylie Mills
School: Lake Forest.
Year: Junior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference. Has more than 40 college scholarship offers.
Key stats: Made 37 tackles, including 20 tackles for loss, with four sacks.

Maema Njongmeta
School: Stevenson.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference. Named to Class 8A all-state team. Committed to Wisconsin.
Key stats: Made 134 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss, with 11 sacks, eight quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.

Duke Olges
School: New Trier.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference. Committed to Northwestern.
Key stats: Made 47 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, with five sacks and five quarterback hurries.

Izaiah Ruffin
School: Oak Park-River Forest.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference. Committed to Cincinnati.
Key stats: Made 51 tackles, including five tackles for loss, with four sacks, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.

Khali Saunders
School: IC Catholic.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference. Committed to Purdue.
Key stats: Made 86 tackles with two interceptions and one forced fumble.

Second Team

Jermaine Baker
School: Nazareth.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive back.
Accolades: All-conference. Committed to Yale.
Key stats: Made 61 tackles, including two tackles for loss, with three interceptions.

Patrick Carden
School: Notre Dame.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference. Defensive team MVP.
Key stats: Made 81 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, with two forced fumbles and one interception.

Mark Di Iorio
School: Barrington.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 101 tackles with four sacks and two tackles for loss.

Edward Eastman
School: Loyola.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 71 tackles, including 11 tackles for loss, with nine sacks. Forced a fumble on a sack during the Class 8A title game that led to a Loyola touchdown.

Jonny Halvorsen
School: Maine South.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: Named all-conference and CSL South Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Key stats: Made 15 tackles for loss with nine sacks.

Jordan Hansen
School: Hersey.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive back.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 63 tackles, including three tackles for loss, with two interceptions.

Sean Jacobs
School: Buffalo Grove.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 132 tackles, including nine tackles for loss.

Sean Kelly
School: Hinsdale Central.
Year: Senior.
Position: Linebacker.
Accolades: Committed to Air Force.
Key stats: Made 55 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss, with six sacks.

Austin Le Page
School: Lake Zurich.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive back.
Accolades: All-conference.
Key stats: Made 32 tackles with three interceptions and three pass breakups. He is the Bears’ all-time interceptions leader with 13.

Nate Pedraza
School: Rolling Meadows.
Year: Junior.
Position: Defensive line.
Accolades: All-conference. Named to Class 7A all-state team.
Key stats: Made 58 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss, with four sacks and two pass breakups.

Khalil Saunders
School: IC Catholic.
Year: Senior.
Position: Defensive back.
Accolades: All-conference. Named to Class 4A all-state team.
Key stats: Made 64 tackles, including two tackles for loss, with three interceptions and one fumble recovery.


Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Twitter @Pioneer_Press

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