Conant's Seniors Savor Taste of Winning after Modest Beginnings, Cougars Veterans Build Successful Finish

Article excerpt

Byline: Marty Maciaszek Daily Herald Sports Writer

Pete Gennuso wants to get into some form of engineering.

Sean Considine eventually plans to work in construction.

But when they started their high school football careers at Conant, they were part of a group that wasn't a blueprint for success.

So much for initial appearances.

Gennuso, Considine and 22 other seniors who survived the bad times have blossomed into a group looking to help Conant to its second straight Mid-Suburban South title.

"A lot of them were 'B' team players," said Conant coach Dave Pendergast of a group led by former varsity coach John Ayres in his final year with the freshmen. "He gets a kick out of what this group has done because of the lack of success they had."

Gennuso, now a 5-foot-10, 230-pound starting offensive guard, saw his first 14 organized football games end in losses.

"The bulk of the linemen had never played before their freshman year," the former 'B' teamer said.

Considine, a starting wide receiver and defensive back, had some organized experience before coming to Conant. But it wasn't much better than the 1-8 'A' team.

"Even my grade school team was bad," Considine said.

But the Cougars' senior class finally experienced the good times and won their last 4 sophomore games when freshman Russ Michna was promoted and linebacker Pat Drugan returned from the varsity.

They went on to tie for the South sophomore title and are 17-5 since that dismal start going into tonight's game with Elk Grove. A win would be their sixth in a row and give them at least a share of their second consecutive varsity league title.

So how much stock does Pendergast put in a freshman team record?

"Not a real lot," he said. "A lot depends on how they grow and mature physically. Some of it has to do with the attrition rate and how many stay for four years.

"This group stuck with it and the kids that are left have done a nice job. They've meshed well with this year's juniors."

That's the class that has potential Division I prospects in Michna (6-2, 195), running back Yarmel Rush (6-0, 190) and middle linebacker Chuck Krol (6-1, 230).

Conant's senior group is populated by guys like Gennuso. Saturday afternoon glory isn't why the 3.7 student with a 31 ACT and 1310 SAT is considering Notre Dame, Illinois or Northwestern. …