Highland Park junior Jack McGuire was an unknown quantity to many of the varsity football players and coaches when school let out in June.
“I didn’t see him play last year,” senior quarterback Tommy Sutker said.
Added Giants coach Hal Chiodo, “The sophomore team didn’t throw the ball much, so he didn’t get a chance to shine. He played other sports and we didn’t see a ton of him, so he wasn’t a guy we were counting on.”
To change that, McGuire knew that summer would be a critical time for him.
“I hadn’t made much of a name for myself (in football),” said McGuire, who also is a varsity lacrosse player. “The summer was a time to prove my potential and skill.”
So on hot summer days in Highland Park’s seven-on-seven action, McGuire made sure he played like a guy who could contribute at the varsity level.
He impressed enough to earn playing time in a season-opening 32-20 victory over Lake Forest Academy. Then, against visiting Mundelein Friday, he earned a starting assignment and had three receptions for 105 yards in a 31-12 victory.
“He’s going to be a hard guy to get out of the lineup,” Chiodo said with a smile. “He’s got excellent speed and can stretch the field. He’s got a very good sense for the game and how to get open. He’s got great hands and we feel really good that when the ball is going his way he will catch it.”
McGuire’s first start, however, did not begin smoothly. On the opening play from scrimmage, McGuire turned the wrong way and was not able to bring down a catchable ball from Sutker.
“It could have been a 30-yard reception,” McGuire said. “I was disappointed with myself and just hoping that I would have another chance.”
More chances came quickly, and McGuire made the most of them. He came through with catches for 50 and 43 yards to help the Giants improve to 2-0 on the season.
“He had quick bursts of speed and the ability to beat the cornerback down the sideline,” Sutker said. “He’s been getting better with every practice, and it showed Friday night.”
Chiodo said McGuire is proving that he is a player his teammate and coaches can rely on.
“He’s a quiet kid and he (leads) by his actions,” Chiodo said. “He’s a count-on-me type of guy.”
To that end, McGuire already is thinking about how he can improve for the next game at 7 p.m. Thursday against visiting Evanston.
“I need to work on my blocking and make sure I’m sealing the edge for our running backs,” McGuire said.
As for the Giants, Chiodo said he believes this is the team’s first 2-0 start in at least 20 years. However, he is keeping it in its proper perspective.
“We’re happy, but we didn’t find a cure for cancer,” Chiodo said. “We have to realize it’s just two games and we have to keep building momentum and keep getting better.”