Glenbrook North’s Michael Keane realizes his dream in season finale

SHARE Glenbrook North’s Michael Keane realizes his dream in season finale

WHEATON — The Glenbrook North football team’s season ended with a 53-7 loss to Wheaton North in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.

While Friday’s score was lopsided, the Spartans’ seven points represented a dream come true for Glenbrook North senior Michael Keane.

Keane played free safety for the Spartans as a junior, and he said he was moved to outside linebacker after Glenbrook North’s third game this year. Keane also was the team’s No. 3 quarterback during his senior campaign. He was behind senior A.J. Spitz, the CSL North Offensive Player of the Year, and junior Danny Ahern on the depth chart.

Spitz was not able to play against Wheaton North after sustaining a high ankle sprain to his right ankle in the second half of Glenbrook North’s 21-17 victory over Highland Park on Oct. 25. Ahern started in his place against the Falcons, but Keane replaced Ahern near the beginning of the second quarter. Glenbrook North coach Bob Pieper was the one who informed Keane he was going into the game, telling him, “ ‘Michael, it’s your turn. Here we go,’ ” Keane said.

“I wasn’t really nervous,” Keane said when asked how he felt right before he took his first varsity snap. “I was very confident in myself. I was feeling excited. I was happy to be playing quarterback. I love playing quarterback. It was my dream to play in a game this year and throw a touchdown pass, and I did just that.”

Keane initially caught the Falcons’ defense off balance. Wheaton North senior cornerback Billy Buhle said he and his teammates expected Keane to be more of a scrambling quarterback, but the 6-foot-1 senior reared back on his first pass attempt and completed a 37-yard throw to senior Alex Zera.

The Spartans weren’t able to score on that drive, but Keane and Glenbrook North’s offense drove down the field near the end of the first half. The Spartans advanced to Wheaton North’s 12-yard line with .7 seconds remaining in the first half. Pieper, with his team down 28-0 at the time, elected to go for the touchdown. Keane took the snap, avoided the Falcons’ pass rush and found senior Nick Cox in the middle of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass.

“He’s a senior — a good kid, a good character kid,” Pieper said. “I’m proud of him for leading us down the field.”

Keane had some positive moments against Wheaton North, but the Falcons’ talented defense was able to take advantage of Spitz’s absence and it shut down the Spartans for most of the game.

“We knew that he (Spitz) was their focal point on offense,” Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. “He was their main ballcarrier as well, from the quarterback spot. They have a lot of designed quarterback runs in their offense, and it’s tough. It’s like playing with one hand tied behind your back for those guys. I felt bad that they weren’t at full strength, but it benefited us.”

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