Maine East coach Gabe Corey, AD Steve Schanz defend decision to rest starters

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Maine East football coach Gabe Corey breaks his team’s season into two categories.

Corey said he uses the regular season’s first four contests to prepare the Blue Demons for the five-game CSL North stretch at the back half of the regular season. Corey treats those first four contests like a preseason, he said.

Corey rested the vast majority of his starters to try to get his team healthy for CSL North play, which Maine East begins Friday night against Glenbrook North.

As a result, Corey had what he called “a JV group” playing against a team that hasn’t lost a CSL South game in 12 years.

“Could we have played some of them? Yeah, with the risk of making (the injury situation) worse,” said Corey, after Maine South trounced the Blue Demons 49-0 Friday. “Injuries are going to happen. It just seems like right now, we needed to stop that chain of events and I just felt like tonight, if we played some of those kids, it was going to re-tweak some of those (injuries).

“I just felt like we needed to get healthy right now. I think, next week, we’re going to have a healthy team. We’re going to have a good shot in our first conference game with GBN.”

Maine East, a team with 30 players listed on its varsity roster, had been beset by injuries during the first three weeks of its season.

It lost five players in its first game of those season, Corey said. Then, against Niles West on Sept. 12, junior left tackle Nick Pavlovic, senior fullback Javed Lukovic and senior wide receiver Andrew Wint were injured.

The Blue Demons’ staff elected to sit those three players and several others. Among them were junior running back Munkhaldar Bayar; sophomore wide receiver, defensive back and quarterback Woody Corey; senior running back and defensive back Christian Lopez; and senior Julian Brummitt and junior George Corey — both start on Maine East’s offensive line and also play defense.

Gabe Corey said all of Maine East’s players, excluding senior quarterback Alex Corey (knee) and junior backup quarterback Steve Youel (shoulder), should be able to play against the Spartans. Woody Corey, Alex Corey and George Corey are Gabe Corey’s sons.

The Hawks, in a display of good sportsmanship, pulled off the throttle very early against Maine East (2-2). Coach Dave Inserra removed his starters once Maine South led 14-0, and he removed many of his second-stringers after the Hawks took a 28-0 lead with 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Only one Maine East player — junior quarterback Justin Ethakattu (ribs) — left the game due to an injury.

“I wasn’t happy with (Maine East’s decision),” Maine South coach Dave Inserra said after the game.

He added: “I can’t comment and say it the right way, so I’ll just say Coach Inserra has no comment on that issue.”

Inserra was then asked another question and, after answering it, he added that, “It just shouldn’t have been handled that way (by Maine East).”

Blue Demons athletic director Steve Schanz said forfeiting the contest was discussed in the week leading up to the game, but he considers forfeiting to be a last-ditch measure taken when there are no other options. Schanz said part of the reason Maine East decided against forfeiting was it didn’t want to mess up Maine South’s Hall of Fame ceremony and Maine South’s ability to make money by hosting the game.

Schanz said on Monday that no one from Maine East had complained to him. Schanz stood by his coaches, saying that Gabe Corey and his staff made “Herculean efforts” to prepare a depleted Blue Demons squad to play against one of the best teams in the state.

Gabe Corey “had concern about going against a very good team like Maine South with a patchwork varsity crew, but as I told him, ‘You don’t have a choice,’ ” Schanz said. “You’ve got to go in and, even though a lot of these sophomore boys that you brought up are certainly not ready for varsity ball yet — especially against a team like Maine South — I thought he did a tremendous job getting them ready for that game.”

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