With its victory over Maine East, Niles North’s football team moved one step closer to its goal of making the playoffs, a feat the Vikings haven’t accomplished since 1992.
Niles North now needs to win two of its three remaining games to earn a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
Leading the charge for the Vikings is senior quarterback Tony Granato, who completed 12-of-14 passes for 182 yards and four touchdowns in the 62-16 rout of Maine East on Oct. 2 in Skokie.
“I think he’s an ultimate competitor,” Vikings coach Mark Egofske said of Granato. “He’s sort of a perfectionist. Sometimes that can be a negative, but it’s been a real positive for us.”
Granato said making the playoffs this season would mean “the world” to him. Instead of setting personal goals, Granato is focused on his team, which is tied for first in the Central Suburban North.
“[My goals are] to make the playoffs and have a winning record, nothing else really matters as long as the team is winning,” Granato said.
According to Egofske, Granato’s leadership skills have made him invaluable to the Vikings (4-2, 2-0). Egofske said that after Granato threw an interception earlier this season he apologized to his receivers and offensive line. It was an act that Egofske felt showed an impressive level of maturity.
“He takes responsibility when he makes a mistake, and I think that’s where he’s grown most as an athlete,” Egofske said. “It takes a special kid to do that.”
Granato has been a member of the Vikings football team since he was a freshman, but he has yet to play a complete season due to injuries.
“Injuries have been hard in the past, but this year I’ve been taking care of my body better so hopefully I can last the whole time this year,” Granato said.
In addition to playing football, Granato is a member of the Vikings baseball team. Last season, he was named to the All-Central Suburban North Team. Niles North baseball coach Ed Toledo said Granato, who pitches and plays center field, will be crucial to the team’s success in the upcoming season.
“Tony is a talented young man,” Toledo said. “He runs well, he has a good arm and he has a very competitive spirit.”