NORTHBROOK — Glenbrook North seniors Ben Weinstein, Matt Tedeschi and Josh Lee began this season as a trio of experienced and talented inside linebackers who were expected to thrive at the center of the Spartans’ defense.
Now, five weeks into the season, only Weinstein remains from that group. Lee tore the ACL in his right knee against Maine South on Sept. 12. Tedeschi dislocated his right kneecap and tore his medial patellofemoral ligament against Niles West the following week.
Both captains are expected to be out for the season.
“We’ve never had it this bad,” Glenbrook North coach Bob Pieper said. “We’ve had guys get banged up for a game, and you’ve got to replace a guy here and a guy there. But they’re two starters, two captains and [being out] for the year … I don’t think any team can handle that. That’s a crushing blow.”
Weinstein has replaced Tedeschi at middle linebacker, and the Spartans have shifted several players around on defense to try to overcome the injuries. Weinstein’s move from SAM linebacker — the inside linebacker on the strong side — has been a big change for him.
“As close as they are physically to each other, it’s a lot different of a position,” said Weinstein, a two-year varsity starter. “Part of it is the leadership. The other part is you have to kind of watch both sides of the play, whereas when I was at SAM, it was more just making sure my side was handled.”
The leadership aspect — for instance, Weinstein has to call out the strong side quickly and then make sure everyone’s aligned correctly before the snap — is especially important because Weinstein has less experienced linebackers flanking him. Junior Patrick Strickland moved from safety to SAM linebacker, while junior Milad Hosseini is playing in Lee’s old spot, inside linebacker on the weak side. Junior Mitch Schermerhorn is Glenbrook North’s far outside linebacker on the strong side, and senior Jake Golbus is its far outside linebacker on the weak side.
The two injuries forced Pieper and his staff to move several players around. Strickland is one example, and senior Brandon LaBunski — who went from defensive end to linebacker — is another.
“We have some depth now, but obviously we wouldn’t want anybody else to get injured,” Weinstein said.
With so many moving pieces, the Spartans spent a great deal of their practice time before beating Maine East 56-6 on Friday doing individual group work instead of working as a team. Pieper said the linebackers focused on their run and pass reads during that time, as well as what to do when an offense runs certain sets.
Pieper added that he anticipates Glenbrook North will continue to do a lot of individual group work for the rest of the year. He also will continue to try different players in different positions, based on the team’s needs.
“We’re going to keep moving the pieces of the puzzle around,” Pieper said. “You don’t like to do that into the season — moving guys around — but we’re going to have to do that. We’re going to have to continue to get depth at different spots.”