Super 25 countdown: No. 2 Stevenson

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The spotlight isn’t an unfamiliar place for Stevenson’s football program.

The Patriots haven’t missed the IHSA playoffs since 1988. Two of their current players have committed to Division I schools and a few others are on recruiters’ radar. And three Patriots have former Chicago Bears as dads.

So it’s only natural that some big dreams are floating around as the Patriots — ranked second in the Sun-Times preseason Super 25 — head into what could be a memorable 2013 season.

“With some of the leaders, we talk about it,” said senior Matt Morrissey, a Michigan State recruit and son of ex-Bear Jim Morrissey. “But we’ve got to take it day by day, practice by practice. When playoff time comes, we’ll worry about that.”

In the meantime, opponents likely will be worrying about Stevenson’s high-flying offense.

Quarterback Willie Bourbon is coming off a breakout sophomore season in which he set school records for attempts (280), completions (155) and passing yards (2,400) while throwing for 17 touchdowns.

“He has transitioned into much more of a leadership role,” Patriots coach Bill McNamara said of the 6-1, 190-pounder. “He’s really become our field general.”

Morrissey, a two-way starter at receiver and defensive back, is looking forward to working with Bourbon in a more complex system this season.

“We get to put in more … now that Willie’s got the offense under control,” Morrissey said. “We can diversify our offense a little more.”

Bourbon’s main targets again will be Morrissey (6-3, 195), who had 33 catches for 563 yards and five touchdowns last season, and junior Cameron Green (6-3, 190), whose dad Mark also played for the Bears.

“Cameron is one of the most underrated 2015 prospects in the state,” Morrissey said. “His potential and ability is unmatched. I think he’ll have a breakout year this year.”

The third son of a former Bear is 6-5, 285-pound Zach Novoselsky (his dad is Brent), another Division I recruit (Western Michigan) who also happens to be the only returning starter on the offensive line.

“He has really taken a lead, not only on the line, but with his team,” McNamara said of Novoselsky.

The Patriots have six starters back from a defense that buckled down last season after giving up 63 points in its first two games. Morrissey, who will play defense in the Big Ten, leads the way and junior lineman Nick

Dillon (6-2, 265) is another Division I prospect. Also back are linebackers Itai Gerchikov, Jason Vravick and Josh Junker along with lineman Patrick O’Connell.

The top priorities for McNamara: getting leadership from the seniors, bringing the offensive line up to speed with four new starters and staying healthy.

If the Patriots hit that trifecta, who knows what could happen?

“On paper, we’re supposed to be pretty good,” McNamara said. “We are not trying to look down the road. There have been some great, great teams here. … We’ve got some big shoes to fill.”

And maybe some time in the spotlight awaiting them.

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