It didn’t take Chase Daniel long to build a reputation as a top-notch wide receiver.
Smart football teams didn’t hesitate putting their lock-down cornerback on this swift moving and highly skilled wideout.
The Glenbrook South High School senior, who played behind Cody Carroll as a junior, finished the fall season with impressive numbers: 47 catches, 670 yards.
Daniel was an offensive weapon. Most teams game-planned against him.
That certainly was the case in GBS’s opening round state playoff game against New Trier.
In that November contest, NT cornerback Francis Fay got his marching orders: chase — and stay with — Daniel for four quarters.
“The game plan was for me to line up against No. 24 all night,” said Fay. “One-on-one defense. Which is something, as a basketball player, I’ve been doing all my life. I looked forward to the challenge.
“(Defensive backs coach Jason) Dane told me to be physical against him and to read my keys,” Fay added. “And if I did that, I’d have success.”
Daniel started slowly. He was targeted only twice (one 8-yard catch) in the first half. But the 6-foot-1, 171-pound senior eventually hit his stride in the second half, finishing the game with five catches for 98 yards.
“He’s a stud receiver,” said Fay, following that game, a 24-14 NT win. “I watched a lot of film on him. He runs near-perfect routes — and he’s a burner.”
When Daniel went indoors, his role reversed.
This winter, when dressed in shorts and sleeve-less shirts, he was asked to be the shutdown defender.
“Even since I started playing with him, he’s been our best defender,” GBS teammate Jimmy Martinelli said. “I’ve had confidence in him from Day One.”
“Chase didn’t score a ton of points for us, but he’s a great defensive player,” added GBS head basketball coach Ben Widner, following his team’s 70-60 win over Carmel Catholic in the play-in game at the Class 4A Mundelein Regional on March 2.
Glenbrook South didn’t look like an 18th seed that night. The Titans came up with one of their best efforts of the season. Strong offensive performances by Daniel (15 points), Martinelli (20 points), George Mavrakis (11 points) and Matt Giannakopoulos (11 points) carried the Titans.
“Offensively, this was our best game of the season,” Widner. “Defensively, we’ve played better.”
And yet, one of the keys of the game was Daniel’s defensive work against Division I prospect C.J. Duff.
The 6-foot-2 Duff, a Western Illinois recruit, didn’t really catch fire — until it was too late for the Corsairs (11-20). The smooth and talented guard, a deadly three-point shooter who also likes to slash to the basket, scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the final four minutes of the game.
By that time, the Titans had a firm grip on the game.
“I don’t like seeing that number 22,” said Daniel. “I don’t like allowing my guy to score in double figures.
“But I was excited about defending a guy like him,” Daniel added. “He’s real strong. He’s real talented. I just tried to play to the best of my ability.”
Daniel turned in a complete performance. His point total (15) was a season high.
“I was shooting with confidence,” said Daniel. “Not thinking too much. Just shooting.”
Widner liked what he saw from his shooting guard.
“When he sets his feet, he can really shoot the ball,” said the GBS coach.
“He’s tough when he gets into a rhythm,” Martinelli added.
Like Daniel, Martinelli put together a solid all-around effort against Carmel. The 6-6 all-league selection was brilliant in the third quarter: eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks. The junior standout didn’t score in the fourth quarter, but he had two assists.
“I came out in the second half with a lot of energy and fire,” said Martinelli.
Sharing is good. And the Titans did plenty of it in this one.
“It’s way easier to make an extra pass, when the guy that you’re passing to is hitting shots,” said Widner. “And tonight our shots were going down.”
“We came out with confidence,” said Martinelli. “We got some easy shots early and said, ‘We got this.’
“And it didn’t matter who was taking the shot,” he added. “Everybody was shooting well.”
On March 3, the season came to a close for the Titans (10-18) when they dropped a hard-fought 60-50 decision to No. 2 seeded Lake Forest in a regional semifinal at Mundelein.
Martinelli finished the outing with a team-high 12 points, while Daniel and Sean McDonagh had nine points each.
Though he has the talent, Daniel is not intending to play sports in college.
“I plan to go all in with my academics,” said Daniel, who plans to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. “I really don’t know what life will be like without sports.”
The Spartans, who were eliminated from the state playoffs by Maine South 47-28 on March 3 at the Class 4A Evanston Regional, finished the season with a 12-16 record.
In the loss to the Hawks, the Spartans fell behind 20-4 after one quarter and never recovered.
Senior Pat Hamilton, who made the all-CSL North team, finished the game with team highs in points (10) and rebounds (4).
Without question, Hamilton came into his own this season. He averaged 18.4 points per game. And he was outstanding at the foul line: 63-for-72 (88 percent).
Meanwhile, James Karis is a player to watch in the GBN program.
The 5-foot-9 sophomore guard proved why on March 2, when his reverse layup and free throw with three seconds left in regulation lifted the Spartans to a 62-60 victory over Mather (14-9) in a regional play-in game.
Karis finished the game with 14 points to go along with six rebounds. Junior Michael Stacknik had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Hamilton came up with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Matthias Kim added eight points.