Even the untrained football eye is drawn to Curie lineman Marquis Burks. The 6-5, 200-pound senior busts open the biggest holes on most of the Condors’ runs and dominates the line of scrimmage from his defensive end position.
He’s blocking with relish this season, using his speed and size to help give Curie the Public League’s most dangerous ground game. You’d never know this is his first season playing offense. He even lined up as a receiver on one play and caught a 35-yard pass.
“I only played defensive line last year,” Burks said. “Playing both sides is a big change for me, but I like blocking. The line isn’t as big this year so I have to take more action.”
Burks helped the Condors average 27.5 yards per carry in a 42-0 victory against Lane on Thursday at Rockne Stadium. Eight different players rushed for the Condors, gaining 716 yards on 26 carries. Burks was quick to give credit to the leader of the offensive line.
“The line is actually led by Deandre Hicks,” Burks said. “When we don’t know what to do he lets us know what’s up.”
Hicks is a 6-1, 273-pound senior. Junior AJ Sanya is the star back. He had five carries for 83 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown. Sophomore Steven Cheek had seven carries for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
“Running behind that line is amazing,” Cheek said. “The holes are right there for you, you just have to hit it. I’m very happy with this performance. It’s all because of the offensive line, but I did my job.”
Senior Antonio Howard had a 48-yard touchdown run and sophomore Decari Randle did everything well. He caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ja’ki McNeil, had five carries for 37 yards and grabbed an interception.
“This offense is just really exciting right now,” Randle said. “I know I can make a big play if I just do things right and a huge play if I do even better. In the future I have to be a leader of this team. Today I stepped up, it was perfect.”
The Condors (4-1, 2-0 Illini Red Bird) should lock up a spot in the state playoffs with a win against Young next week. Taft should provide a challenge in Week 7 and then their regular season concludes with a big matchup against Simeon.
“We think we can challenge anyone,” Cheek said.
Lane entered the game as a bit of an unknown. The Indians beat South Shore and lost to Leo, Mount Carmel and Simeon. Scoring 21 against Simeon showed the offense could make things happen.
Lane quarterback Luke Calkins played smart and was 8-for-13 passing for 93 yards with one interception. But three fumbles doomed any chance the Indians (1-4, 0-2) had of scoring. Running back Thomas Jacobs, a junior, had 12 carries for 38 yards.
The game ended with a classy bit of sportsmanship. Curie had a chance to score again with seven minutes to play and the running clock in effect, but chose to take a knee four times and give the ball back to the Indians.
PHOTO GALLERY (click to enlarge image)
Curie’s Steven Cheek (1) runs past a Lane defender. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Ja’Ki McNeil switches directions against Lane. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Lane’s Jacob Clohisyn (28) pulls down Curie’s Steven Cheek (1). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Christopher Hill (16) and Marquis Burks (3) line up on defense. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Decari Randle (15) of Curie breaks free from Lane’s Ethan Galvin (85). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Stephon Jones (20) gets tackled by a Lane defender. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s AJ Sanya (22) rushes for a first down. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Marquis Burks (3) runs down the sideline. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Damarius Johns (12) fires a short pass over the middle. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s DJ Howard (4) tries to stay in bounds. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Lane quarterback Luke Calkins (5) rolls out for a pass against Curie. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Ja’Ki McNeil (7) steps back for a handoff. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Stephon Jones breaks up a pass intended for Lane’s Patrick Lavelle (44). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s DJ Howard slips past a Lane player. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.
Curie’s Marquis Burks (3) applies pressure on Lane quarterback Luke Calkins (5). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.