Prep Football: Area high school football players among tops in state

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Five Machesney Park Harlem High School football players are ranked among Illinois’ elite after three weeks into the season.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Cody Digiovanni is third in the state among passing leaders. In his three games, he has completed 41 of his 76 passing attempts. He’s amassed a total of 631 yards through the air. That’s an average of 210.3 yards per game. He’s thrown four touchdown passes and three interceptions.

Digiovanni’s favorite two targets are also ranked among the top 20 receivers in the state. Jordan Baxter ranks fourth with 11 catches in three games for 223 yards. Three of his receptions have gone for touchdowns. Teammate Brandyn Stout has caught 10 passes for 167 yards. He is ranked 20th.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior A.J. Wentland is the top-ranked tackler in Illinois. He has 28 solo tackles and 16 assists, for 44 total. His fellow linebacker, senior Tom Tammen, is ranked third with 33 solo and six assists, for 39 total.

Harlem is 2-1 on the season, with their only loss coming in week two against Rockford Boylan Catholic.

Several other area players are also showing up in the top 20 in a variety of categories.

Rockford Auburn junior linebacker Wes Sargeant is the seventh-ranked tackler in the state. He has 20 solo and 14 assists, for 34 total. His teammate, Zach Sanders, a senior defensive tackle, is ranked 12th among the sack leaders. He has three.

Rockford East High School quarterback Andrew Lantz is ranked 15th in passing. He has completed 22 of his 57 attempts for a total of 440 yards and five touchdowns in the three games he’s played.

Rochelle senior running back Will Metzger has rushed for 339 yards on 30 attempts. His 11.3 yards-per-carry average and seven touchdowns have earned him the 15th spot among rushers and his 48 points is seventh among the scoring leaders.

Boylan senior running back Tyreis Thomas has scored 36 points in three games, and that is good for the 17th spot on the scoring list.

If you haven’t been to an area high school football game this season, I encourage you to get out and see some of these young people play. They are clearly some of the best in the state.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue

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