When Terence Marable was in fifth grade he remembers his friend, Kyle Savino, putting a damper on their summer plans.
“My best friend started playing football,” Marable said. “I didn’t have anybody to hang out with, so I started playing and had some success as a youngster. I never would’ve started playing then if it wasn’t for him. I’m glad it happened, and he’s still a good friend today.”
Marable would go on to star at Crete-Monee Junior High before becoming Marian Catholic’s all-time leading rusher and helping the Spartans capture the program’s lone state championship in 1993.
Marian Catholic finished 14-0 and beat Geneseo 13-6 in the Class 4A state championship game.
“Winning a state championship is obviously a big deal, but doing it in the fashion we did with a perfect season makes it even more special,” Marable said. “Going 14-0 with my buddies (including Savino) was a great experience. I think I appreciate it more years later, looking back and seeing what a rare accomplishment it is. Now that I’m getting older, I tend to think about those days more often and how fun they were. I’m really proud of what we did.”
Marian had nine All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selections that season in Player of the Year Marable, Mike Bartolini (offensive lineman), Allan Danielwicz (center), Dave Perozzi (defensive back), Brian Kochanski (defensive lineman), Mark Clifford (linebacker), Brian Vanderluitgaren (quarterback), Dana Smith (receiver) and Oric Perry (offensive lineman).
Marable rushed for a Marian single-season record 2,291 yards and 35 touchdowns to lead the offense, while Vanderluitgaren threw for 1,386 yards and eight touchdowns and Smith rushed for 762 yards and 11 TDs and was the team’s leading receiver.
Clifford anchored the defense with 111 tackles and nine quarterback sacks, while Jerry Verde had a team-high 128 tackles and four sacks.
“I just knew in my heart, even as freshmen, that we had a legitimate shot at doing something special our senior year,” Marable said. “With our unique cast of characters, we felt like we would one day win a championship.
"We just had a lot of respect for each other and an appreciation for our roles on the team. On top of that, we had a really good coaching staff and great chemistry. We matured at the right time and just had a lot of talented guys.”
Marian cruised to playoff wins over Hillcrest 39-22, Tinley Park 29-0, Morris 32-15 and Riverside-Brookfield 34-14 to reach the title game.
In the championship game, Vanderluitgaren scored on a 1-yard run with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter to break a 7-7 tie and the lead held up to set off a wild celebration.
“The first feeling I had was a sense of relief that we were able to do what we expected and what a lot of people expected us to do,” Marable said. “Once the relief subsides, you’re kind of shocked because it’s a surreal feeling.
"Getting there having won every game up to that point and having the expectations we did, losing that game would’ve been even harder to take. There were a lot of emotions going on after the win.”
Humble Despite Record-Setting Success
Marable, who went on to play at the University of Illinois, set a number of records during his high school career.
He still owns Marian program records for single-season rushing yards, career yards (3,724), career scoring (332 points) and single-season touchdowns (36). He ranks third (269) and sixth (258) in single-game yards.
“Honestly, that aspect doesn’t mean much,” Marable said. “That’s not to discount anyone who has had an accomplishment like that, but I look at that as a barometer for what my offense was able to do as a unit and the success we were able to achieve, not what I was able to accomplish.
“I was always taught to do the best you can and hope that’s enough at the end of the day. Football is not like any other sport, you can’t do much on the field by yourself. You need a lot of help from your teammates. I do take a sense of pride in having the records, but it’s with a grain of salt.”
COMING THURSDAY: Log on at 6 a.m. Thursday to find out what Terence Marable is doing with himself nowadays and what he thinks of Marian Catholic coach Dave Mattio reaching the 250-win milestone marker.