Guerin quarterback Gavin Byrne undergoes trial by fire
River Grove Thursday 08.16.12. Guerin Prep's Gavin Byrne throws a pass during football practice on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, at the school in River Grove. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
At Walther Lutheran, 1 p.m.
At Leyden, 4 p.m.
At Ridgewood, 4 p.m.
Hosts Marian Central, 4:30 p.m.
At Cristo Rey, 11 a.m.
Hosts Northtown, 4:30 p.m.
Hosts ACC, 4:30 p.m.
At St. Viator, 8:30 a.m.
Hosts Montini, 6:30 p.m.
At St. Edward, 6:30 p.m.
Hosts Latin School, 6:30 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:12PM
WOODSTOCK — Suffice to say that it’s been a couple of rough weeks for the Guerin football program.
After dropping a neighborhood rivalry game with Elmwood Park 55-9 score on Sept. 1, the Gators traveled to Woodstock for a Suburban Christian crossover game with Marian Central Catholic and didn’t fare any better.
The Hurricanes delivered a punishing blast, and by the time it was over, Guerin was left pondering a 63-0 score and more injuries to an already depleted group.
Already missing junior tailback and linebacker Mike Marra and sophomore running back James Cockrell, senior Andrew Rangel was taken to the emergency room for a leg injury on the game’s opening kickoff. Rangel had played quarterback, receiver and defensive back, and was slated to pick up the running slack. That plan was scuttled quickly and his availability going forward is still unknown.
Making matters worse, sophomore right tackle and defensive tackle Ken West left the game in the second quarter with a concussion, forcing Guerin head coach Tony Pecoraro to shift around his linemen on both sides of the ball.
“We knew we were undermanned,” Pecoraro said. “We had 19 guys on our sideline and they had over 50 suited up. Defensively, we had too many broken coverages. Out of the 29 we suited up against Elmwood Park, we had four with varsity experience, and out of the 19 against Marian, we had only three.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s a learning curve. Our goal was to get out of the game healthy, and we obviously failed that miserably.”
A bright point was the poise displayed by junior quarterback Gavin Byrne. While he didn’t put up any gaudy numbers — he completed 6-of-15 passes for 63 yards with three interceptions — he showed command despite the game not going well. Confidence from the team, his coaches and from himself in his ability to play the position at the varsity level is growing with every snap.
“It was a rough night, but I just tried to stick it out and play the best I could every play,” Byrne said. “I don’t like games like this, but I know it and the coaches keep telling me that I can only learn from these games.”
“He matured throughout the game,” Pecoraro said of Byrne. “His three interceptions were more like punts. He threw the ball out of bounds when he needed to, and we moved the ball periodically against them. We threw him into the fire as he played every snap. He made no mental mistakes and managed the game very well.”
Senior Kevin Kross has been a jack-of-all trades for the Gators this season, a main target on the receiving corps while also playing full-time linebacker and handling punting and place-kicking duties. He returned a fumble for a touchdown and kicked a field goal against Elmwood Park and has been one of the many multi-tasking Gators this season.
“I’m just happy to do whatever I can to help the team,” Kross said. “We’ve had a couple of frustrating games in a row, but we get a chance to start the conference season next week against Walther Lutheran and see if we can get healthy and get back on track.”