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TF North’s Dominic Gradford to play quarterback, safety, and more in senior season – other local scores

LANSING, Ill. (August 18, 2023) – Dominic Gradford’s football career hasn’t always gone as planned.

He wound up missing his freshman season — which was delayed till spring 2021 and shortened because of the pandemic — while waiting for medical clearance. Then as a junior last fall, the 5-foot-9, 150-pounder was pressed into service as TF North’s quarterback in addition to his usual defensive duties.

But now Gradford is a senior and hoping to finish his high-school career strong as the Meteors open a new era under first-year head coach Anthony Pignatiello.

“From last year to this year, I feel I did get better at quarterback, especially with reads and stuff like that,” Gradford said at Friday’s Purple and Gold Scrimmage. “For me it was a lot faster (in 2022). But now I’m able to slow the game down and actually take my time to do everything.”

Gradford had played quarterback in youth football, but not at the prep level.

“It was a hard transition,” he said. “But I’m better now.”

New coach, expanded team

TF North finished 1-7 last fall and was low on numbers. But Pignatiello, who played football and baseball for the Meteors and previously was a football assistant, has seen the roster grow in his first year. North lists 31 varsity players and also expects to be able to field a frosh-soph/JV team this season.

That doesn’t mean Gradford won’t be playing all over the field. He could see action at wide receiver when junior quarterback Jamihr Jolli gets some snaps. And he returns at safety after leading the team in tackles and earning All-South Suburban Blue recognition last season. Plus, he’s the Meteors’ punter, the holder for extra points and field goals, and could return kicks.

Gradford also wants to help the team in other ways.

“I contribute by bringing the team up when it’s down and helping us battle through tough situations because I’m a positive leader,” he said.

Pignatiello appreciates Gradford’s upbeat approach to the game.

“He’s quiet, but he goes about his work the right way.” Pignatiello said. “Leads by example, will get his teammates involved with his verbal communication when he needs to. But for the most part, he’s a leader by example. Loves the game of football, willing to do anything for us.”

Opening schedule

Gradford and the Meteors open the season with three straight road games: Friday at Proviso West, September 1 at Thornton, and September 8 at Shepard. Their home schedule opens with the Battle of Burnham game against District 215 rival TF South on September 16. That’s a noon kickoff.

Gradford is looking forward to seeing what North can do with Pignatiello in charge.

“Coach brings energy and he needs us to feed off it,” Gradford said. “I feel like (the program) is actually heading in the right direction. These little ones, they will have a good future.”

TF South

Boys golf

The Red Wolves started their season with a pair of duals, losing 151-205 to Lemont at Village Greens of Woodridge on Tuesday and falling 194-201 to Richards at Centennial Park on Wednesday. Both courses are par 36.

Scorers against Lemont were Anthony Gianoli (48), Ryan Marnell (50), Andrew Danehl (52) and Jacob Lindsey (56). Marnell led the way against Richards with a 44, followed by Gianoli (46), Danehl (53) and Lindsey (58).


Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.