H-F Vikings 2016 HWFM_012
Local News

No longer underdogs, undefeated Vikings prepare for Glenbard West

For the Homewood-Flossmoor football team, it’s been a decidedly impressive – and undefeated – season of triumph over the odds. Not only because of the team’s sheer domination on the field. It is simply because the H-F team (10-0), now ranked eighth in the state, was never supposed to be here.

  The Homewood-Flossmoor 
  High School Vikings football 
  team has been dominant 
  all year in spite of losing 
  half of last year’s successful 
  team to graduation.
(Provided 
  photos from H-F High School)

For the Homewood-Flossmoor football team, it’s been a decidedly impressive – and undefeated – season of triumph over the odds.

Not only because of the team’s sheer domination on the field: 48-0 over Sandburg, 35-0 over Thornton and 50-7 over Thornridge, just to name a few.

Not just because of H-F’s undeniable control over the ball, resulting in a 49-21 smackdown against Evanston in the first IHSA playoff game on Oct. 28. 

It is simply because the H-F team (10-0), now ranked eighth in the state, was never supposed to be here.

“Everybody thought our program was going to come to an end,” says Craig Buzea, H-F head football coach. With a roster of about 100 players “we lost over 50 seniors from last year’s team, many of our three-year starters, and QB Bryce Gray.

“But you’ve got to believe in the process and you’ve got to believe in your program,” he added. “I think that’s exactly what happened here. Our guys really stepped up and we’ve had great results.”

Those results have culminated in a palpable surge of energy and pride in Viking country. This Saturday, Nov. 5, H-F will play at 1 p.m. against Glenbard West High in Glen Ellyn in the next round of IHSA Class 8A football playoffs.

During the first playoff victory over Evanston, an enthusiastic sea of red and white spread across the H-F stands, cheering on the likes of QB Bryant Wright who threw for an incredible 102 yards, three TDs and picked up 111 yards rushing, proving his run game and pass game are a dual threat.

Fans cheered on WR Tyrice Richie “TR3” who had two TDs and 126 yards rushing. Richie can seemingly find the ball anywhere, getting into position for Wright’s passes with the hustle, flow and speed that had the crowd on its feet.

“We practice it everyday,” Richie says. The 6’1”, 195-lb. senior credits his coach for getting the team on the same page and making them accountable to each other.

“What you do in practice carries into the game. And practice is harder than the game, so it just makes everything easier,” he adds.

According to Buzea, Richie is the best wide receiver in the state.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who can do the things that he can,” Buzea said. “Not only with pass receiving, but when we put him in the back field. We try to make it a point to put the ball in his hands. He’s by far the best receiver I’ve ever had. He’s done unbelievable things.”

RB Justin Hall, who has the unique talent of playing both sides of the ball, says that the team’s chemistry on the field is due to their communication and unity off the field.

“Our communication with each other is really great,” he said, “and that actually started in the off-season when we had a lot of team bonding and we got to know each other more than we already did.”

What Hall knew already, and is apparently perfecting, is how to block a play and run one down the field.

“Justin is a two-way player and you don’t see that very often in 7A or 8A football. Usually, a player is only on one side of the ball,” Buzea says. “But Justin is a special kid and he’s doing things on both sides of the ball for us and we need him to do that.”

Indeed, the H-F coach is calling on his team to do the extraordinary, and thus far, they haven’t let him down.

“I think our players respect the fact that we correct and coach them up hard and demand a lot of them. They know we have their wellbeing in mind. That’s important,” he said.

“It’s okay to coach our guys hard so long as you have a relationship with them on and off the field. I think if you do that, I think your kids will run through a wall for you. I think that’s what we try to do,” he stressed.

As the Vikings try to beat their next opponent in the postseason, they are not looking back on past victories for inspiration.

“We don’t get anything from the game before,” Buzea says. “We’re confident because we think we can compete.”

“I’m looking forward to playing another game with my teammates and hopefully getting a win and being able to continue to play,” says Hall. 

The Viking fever has spread to the classrooms, the hallways and in the neighborhoods that surround Homewood-Flossmoor.

“There’s a real positive energy,” says Courtney Commodore. The senior and member of the H-F dance team led a halftime performance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” while the Viking team did just that. 

Bryant Monteilh, father of WR Paul “Bear Bryant” Monteilh, said the impact goes far beyond football.

“I think this experience has helped my son in many ways, as far as discipline, building friendships and camaraderie that will last forever,” Monteilh said.

Buzea asks one thing from his players before they go onto the field: Play like a Viking.

“If they do that, no matter the outcome, I’m proud of them. So far, they’ve answered every call and we’ll see what happens this week,” the coach said.

 

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