Colton Moskal was a fan before he was a player for Lake Zurich.
“Yeah, I can remember sitting in the end zone watching the ’07 team,” said Moskal, now a senior linebacker for the Bears.
That was the greatest team in school history, a 13-1 club that won the Class 7A title. But it was hardly the only good squad to come out of this Lake County community.
“The whole town revolves around football,” Moskal said, and it’s not hard to understand why.
The Bears have been to the IHSA playoffs for each of the past 11 seasons — under three different coaches — with three trips to the state title game. Lake Zurich reached the 7A semifinals in 2012 for the sixth time in seven seasons, falling 19-13 to eventual champ Glenbard West to finish 10-3.
That run, with a junior-dominated defense, has kept expectations high for the Bears, who are No. 3 in the Sun-Times preseason Super 25.
The leader of that unit is Moskal, a 6-foot, 204-pounder who has committed to Syracuse. “He’s a good player or he wouldn’t be going to a Division I school next year,” coach David Proffitt said. “He’s getting better, but he must get better [still].”
Just having last year’s 13 games under their belt should guarantee a level of improvement.
“Definitely more comfortable with the guys out there, knowing the system,” Moskal said.
The Bears defense may not be quite as experienced as some expect — especially early in the season — according to Proffitt.
The coach is hoping to limit the number of players going both ways. So starting quarterback Noah Allgood, who also started at linebacker, won’t play defense for now. Another returning regular is switching positions and a third is coming off an injury.
“We have some issues we’re dealing with,” Proffitt said.
Meanwhile, the plan is not to use Sean Lynch, who started at running back and safety last season, on offense. “We’re hoping we can only play him on defense.” Proffitt said.
Defense was the Bears’ calling card last season, when they shut out five opponents and held three more to six points or fewer. With the experience, it figures to be a strength again this fall.
“The whole defensive line does a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback, which makes the DBs’ job easier,” Moskal said.
How good this team will be is something Proffitt isn’t sure of yet.
“The first couple of games will tell us a lot,” he said. “We lost seven key guys last year, both offensively and defensively, that were very instrumental to our success.
“We think we have a good nucleus, we think we could develop into a pretty good team. But it remains to be seen.”