Same number, same family, same football field

Alex Ketcham, Sports Editors

Football can be very much a family game. One that starts at a very young age within households with older siblings leading the way.

This is true about Bryan Sanborn, sophomore varsity football player, who first put on the helmet eight years ago, and has not stopped playing the game since. The 6’2” linebacker and tight end has watched his brother Jack, 2018 graduate, put on the LZ helmet for a while, but now, it’s his turn, while wearing the same number 7.

I am just trying to create my own game,” Sanborn said. “On the field, we all have our certain responsibilities. Once I do my job I can play ball. In life it’s the same thing, I’ll take things one step at a time. I’m not looking [in the] past so I live in the moment and am not looking into the future.”

Even while not looking into the future, the future is starting to look at him, as Bryan has recently received his first Division I football offer from Eastern Illinois University.

“It is just a blessing to find out that a school that plays at a high level in Division I and has faith in you to be able to play for their team and wants you to play for them. It is just a blessing to know that all your hard work and dedication to pursue something you want to come true,” Sanborn said.

That hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Luke Mertens, varsity football coach, as his work ethic during the offseason, said Mertens.

“Any drill we did, Bryan was the first guy in line and you would never guess his age based on how he carried himself during the offseason,” Mertens said. “He puts some hits on people two to three years older than him that are pretty devastating. To think where he’s going to be in two years is pretty exciting for the program.”

Bryan has also shown qualities of being a great leader which, according to Mertens, is something that can be grown upon even further.

“I think it’s really important that the position he plays and how talented he is that just, by default, he’s going to be a leader, which he embraces,” Mertens said. “I think he needs to hold himself to a high standard, but he can’t get so down on himself when things don’t go his way.”

Handling adversity is nothing new to the Sanborn family, however. Bryan’s father passed away while Bryan was very young.

“Growing up without a father really took a toll on our family but at the same time it showed us to never take life for granted,” Sanborn said. “Because growing up without a father made us a little stronger and able to handle adversity when it hits.”

Persevering through tough times has made himself and his family better people, he said. However, he sees himself as goal oriented and not dwelling on the past.

“I just want to bring a state championship back to Lake Zurich,” Sanborn said. “Beyond high school, I want to go to the college that’s best for me and if they offer me a scholarship, I’d love to play. If God gives me given talent, I would love my dream to go to the NFL. That doesn’t happen to many, but I just have to keep working hard for that.”

Sanborn’s football priority at the moment is to win a state championship for the community that deserves it, Sanborn said. Lake Zurich has made state championship appearances three times in the past 10 years, but have come up just short of the ultimate prize.

“It’s just about how many people come out on Friday nights to support us at home or on the road. Just walking around town, the people saying ‘good luck on Friday’,” Sanborn said.  “Everybody has each other’s backs in this community through the ups and downs. In general, they deserve a state championship and we want to bring it to them.”

The next opportunity to accomplish that goal is this year, Sanborn believes, as the team has the pieces and the fight to make a run for the state title.

“Watch out. We’re going to be going full steam ahead,” Sanborn said. “We will play every snap to the fullest. Our defense is hard-nosed, wearing the opposing offense down and our offense is just going to put points on the board. That’s what we’ve shown, and that’s what we will do.”