In a season filled with injuries for the Glenbrook North football team, quarterback Danny Ahern has fought through an injured ankle all year.
Ahern missed the first game of the season with a sprained left ankle and has aggravated it twice since then. Yet, the senior still has 708 passing yards and seven touchdown passes to only two interceptions.
Glenbrook North coach Bob Pieper said that Ahern hasn’t been 100 percent at any point this year and he can tell that Ahern has been hurting. Ahern said his ankle doesn’t affect his throwing motion but it does make him think twice about scrambling.
“When we do the rollout passes it does affect my mobility, and my ability to run on a pass play,” Ahern said.
Ahern isn’t quite as mobile as last year’s starting quarterback, A.J. Spitz, but he can run around if needed — he has three rushing touchdowns. His ability to launch the ball, though, is his strength. Ahern said that he can throw the ball effectively even if his feet aren’t set.
“He’s got a great arm,” Pieper said. “He can throw the ball anywhere on the field. He can make all the throws necessary to be a good quarterback.”
While Ahern has the physical tools, making the right reads has been a work in progress. Pieper said Ahern has to stay in the pocket longer and stay with the primary receiver longer before looking elsewhere. Ahern said he’s been re-watching games and noting his mistakes so he doesn’t make the same errors again.
“He takes it really personally,” senior wide receiver David Burnside said. “He tries his best to make sure that he makes good reads, and he’s always watching film during the week to make sure he knows what he needs to be looking at during the game. He’s done a great job with it and he’s gotten better and better at it every week.”
The Spartans have been banged up this year, with senior linebackers Matt Tedeschi and Josh Lee suffering injuries that will likely keep them out for the rest of the season. As the team closes out its schedule against Central Suburban North foes Niles North, Maine West and Highland Park, the Spartans (2-4, 1-1) need to win out to have a chance of making the playoffs.
Ahern said the goal is to play as hard as possible, and for him that will include playing on an ankle that’s hurting. He tweaked it yet again against Deerfield on Oct. 2, but finished the remainder of the suspended game the next day. The Spartans lost 35-21.
“He’s given it everything he’s got, which I applaud him for,” Burnside said. “It’s sometimes tough as quarterback.”