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Jacob Buscher returns from MCL injury for Mundelein football

MUNDELEIN — The Mundelein football team got a huge boost this week with the return of wide receiver Jacob Buscher.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior tore his MCL early in a game against Highland Park on Sept. 5, but was back in action during last week’s 55-0 loss at Libertyville.

He showed no ill effects against the Wildcats as he made sharp cuts on passing routes and caught three passes for 28 yards. And because Mundelein has just 36 players on its roster — with many playing both offense and defense — the Mustangs know every healthy body counts in the rugged North Suburban Lake Division.

“It felt great to be back out there again, finally,” Buscher said. “I feel 100 percent. I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to play more this season, but even being back for these last few games is something I’m thankful for.”

As an honor roll student, Buscher’s intelligence and passion for football have rubbed off on his teammates, according to Mundelein coach George Kaider.

“He’s a bright kid who knows what routes to run, and is our go-to guy in our passing game,” Kaider said. “Frankly, I think Jacob might have the best hands of any wide receiver I’ve ever coached. Even though we have an offense that’s run-based, his style of play suits our team well. He’s become adept at running short, quick passing routes, and brings a ton of energy every down.”

Buscher’s inspiration comes from an unlikely place. Growing up, he became a fan of Detroit Lions wide receiver Ryan Broyles. But he was a fan long before Broyles turned pro.

“Ryan Broyles is why I wear No. 85 for Mundelein,” Buscher said. “Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the NFL like some people are. I’m a huge Oklahoma Sooners fan, and that’s where he went to college.”

Broyles broke the NCAA FBS career reception record in October 2011, his senior year. He finished his college career with 349 receptions before tearing his left ACL, then was selected by the Lions in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Broyles’ first NFL touchdown reception, coincidentally, came against Buscher’s hometown Chicago Bears.

As a captain for the Mustangs, Buscher garners plenty of respect from his teammates.

“Jake is an outstanding captain for us, showing leadership on and off the field, and is a great example for the team,” Mundelein safety Mike Skarzynski said. “He’s been out the last couple of weeks because of an MCL [injury] but every day he continued to lead us even when he was injured. His best attribute on the field is his work ethic, he always gives 100 percent every rep.”

What would be the perfect ending to Buscher’s high school football career?

“I can think of a few things,” Buscher said. “We play at Stevenson, who is ranked No. 1 in the state, on Friday night. Even though we’re 0-7, I’d love to see every one of my teammates compete as hard as they possibly can. And our final game is at home against Lake Forest, and it’s senior night. If somehow we could get a win against them, that would be unbelievable. That … that would be a dream come true.”