On Wednesday, David Faccone began a more than 850-mile journey to New Jersey to his new college football home.
He and his teammates at NCAA Division I Monmouth University, a Football Championship Subdivision program, will begin summer workouts Monday.
Not long ago, the Prairie Ridge graduate and a college football opportunity seemed a million miles apart.
“I didn’t really get a whole lot of playing time in high school,” he said. “That was tough on me. All I really wanted to do was play.”
As a high school senior, he learned of an open tryout at the College of DuPage, an NJCAA program. Over two days, about 200 players were part of the NFL combine-style tryout.
“I gave it my all,” he said. “I went there not having much film for them to evaluate me.”
While sitting in the Prairie Ridge cafeteria days later, he got an email that he was one of about 15 players chosen from the tryout.
“That was a real special moment,” Faccone said. “It was a turning point for me. I thought, ‘Wow, they’re giving me a chance to compete.’ It was an incredible feeling.”
Despite an injury that limited his time as a freshman, Faccone played middle linebacker as a sophomore, collecting 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and three pass breakups, according to NJCAA.org.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Faccone’s play caught the eyes of coaches at Monmouth and fellow FCS member Morehead State in Kentucky. He visited both schools and accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Monmouth, located in West Long Branch, N.J., where he has family.
“He started from literally ground zero, to now having a Division I (opportunity),” College of DuPage head football coach Matt Foster said. “It’s a testament to him because he worked his tail off. He’s a lunch pail and hard hat type of guy. He just comes to work every day.”
Foster said Faccone’s biggest gains came in his strength and speed over the past two years.
“He put himself on a whole different level in (recruiting) by working his butt off in the weight room,” he said.
Because of his family ties and a having a similar 4-3 base defense to COD, Faccone said Monmouth “felt like a place I can fit in.”
The Hawks went 9-3 a year ago, narrowly missing an FCS playoff spot. They return 13 starters and were chosen by Street & Smith’s national football preview magazine to win the Big South Conference this fall.
He will compete for playing time at middle linebacker and hopes to make an impact on special teams. Faccone said the more he plays, he will have an opportunity to potentially earn some scholarship money.
“I’m forever grateful for the coaches at College of DuPage for giving me that shot,” he said. “I proved a lot of people wrong.”
Shepley, Stanford shine: Stanford senior women’s rower Chase Shepley (Crystal Lake Central) helped her school earn a top-four podium finish at the NCAA Division I championships for the fourth time in six years this season.
On June 2, Shepley and her teammates helped the Cardinals place fourth as a team. A member of Stanford’s varsity eight boat, Shepley was part of a fourth-place finish in the event’s Grand Final at the Indianapolis Rowing Center in a time of 6 minutes, 9.344 seconds, which was only 2 seconds behind national champion Washington.
Stanford, which also placed fourth at nationals in 2014, 2016 and 2018, finished with 116 team points, just three behind third-place Michigan.
Carthage honors: Crystal Lake South grad Nate Meador earned All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin honors this spring in two track and field events for D-III Carthage College.
At the CCIW outdoor meet last month, Meador placed fourth in the hammer throw with a personal-best throw of 159 feet, 8 inches. His throw this season was nearly 30 feet better than last season at the CCIW outdoor meet.
In the shot put, he posted an eighth-place finish for Carthage, which placed sixth as a team. Meador’s throw was 46-6 3/4, his best career effort outdoors.
Connor Bell, a sophomore from Johnsburg, earned all-conference recognition in the decathlon. He placed fifth with 5,543 points, his career-best effort by more than 300 points.
Summer hot streak: Cary-Grove grad Ryan Ignoffo has started his summer baseball season on a hot streak for the Quincy Gems of the wood-bat Prospect League.
Ignoffo, who recently finished his freshman season at Eastern Illinois, is hitting .474 for the Gems. While playing in five games, he has collected eight RBIs, which ranks second on the team.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.