Football team hopes to have strong season
September 20, 2011 • Renee Griffin, Sports Writer
Filed under Sports
The football team had an off and on start to the season, with a wins over Fremd and Warren as well as a close loss to the Cary Grove Trojans. The Bears hope to build on a strong 2010 season in which they came in second in the state finals at the 7A level.
“The expectations are the same for us every year. I always tell the guys that the expectation is to be the best team that we can become,” Bryan Stortz, dean and head coach of the varsity team, said. “To me, we haven’t felt added or decreased pressure [from having a good season last year] because we always have those high expectations and goals.”
Despite having several players graduate last spring, including record-breaking running back Jacob Brinlee, Stortz is optimistic that the team can continue to be successful with the newer players.
“I don’t think we can ever replace a player. What I think we do is find our own identity,” Stortz said. “We have guys that we think are going to be able to step up for us – Mike Shield, Connor Schrader – Jack Lynn, Zach Till, Chris Rantis, and a lot of other guys who could be big for us.”
In the preseason, the Bears were ranked highly by many different publications; the Chicago Tribune ranked them at number seven in the state and the Daily Herald had them at number three.
“I think we’ll make a run. The coaching staff really put their hard work into that. We’re maybe not the best athletes in the world, but we’re the best fighters,” Jack Lynn, senior and varsity football wide receiver/linebacker, said.
Lake Zurich will have to face five more division teams first, however, to justify those high rankings. Among them is Stevenson, who was ranked 15 in the state by the Chicago Tribune in the preseason and who finished 11-1 in 2010.
“Stevenson, Libertyville, and Lake Forest are all difficult teams we still have to play,” Stortz said. “They’ve consistently had successful programs, and that’s helped them reload every year because their kids have already bought into those systems.”
Lynn agrees there are several teams that could threaten the Bears’ success.
“Cary Grove [was] tough. Stevenson and Libertyville will be too. You can’t overlook anybody,” Lynn said.
Of the many things that have contributed to the team’s success thus far, Stortz says there is one strength that really stands out, but like all teams, there are weaknesses that go along with those strengths.
“We have great depth on the skill positions defensively. We have six or seven guys at each position that can all play,” Stortz said. “The area of concern would just be overall inexperience. Once we start playing games, though, they’ll start to see that they can compete.”
After beating Fremd (6-5 last year), Warren (6-4 last year), and Lakes (6-4 in 2010), Stortz is confident the Bears will be able to increase their success through the end of the season.
“Finish[ing] is a big theme of ours,” Stortz said. “I feel that the schedule in the beginning of the year will help us win down the stretch, because we’ll get more experienced as we play those good teams.”