NORTHBROOK — Lined up at practice Monday under impending rain clouds, the Glenbrook North football team ran through drills with renewed determination while one of its captains watched from the sideline.
Balancing on crutches, senior linebacker Josh Lee wore a white sweatshirt, a baseball cap and a big smile, despite the brace strapped to his right leg.
Glenbrook North lost more than just a game Friday against Maine South: It lost two of its starters to injuries. Junior wide receiver Keegan Samuelson’s separated AC joint in his shoulder is expected to sideline him for the next three games while Lee’s torn ACL in his right knee likely puts him out for the season.
“I knew it was bad because I’d heard from other people who’d torn it that you can hear it pop,” Lee said of his injury, “I heard it and I knew immediately. The reaction was half pain, half freaking out because I knew this couldn’t be good.”
The injury occurred toward the end of the first quarter on a Maine South pass play on second down. It’s the second injury to Lee’s knee in two years.
“He can’t catch a break — and he was playing really well this year,” Glenbrook North coach Bob Pieper said.
Added Pieper: “I think it says a lot about Josh that, he got hurt last year and missed a bunch and still got voted as a captain by the other players. I think that means a ton about the kind of kid he is, his character, what a hard worker he is. He worked really hard in the offseason to get himself back and it’s really too bad.”
Lee’s teammates said they already feel his absence on defense, but Lee said he isn’t going anywhere. One of four team captains, he said he plans to still show up at every practice and game, happy to help coach and encourage.
The 40-0 loss to Maine South dropped the Spartans to 1-2.
“We’ve got a couple injuries as you can see, and we’ve had a tough couple games,” said David Burnside, a senior receiver and captain. “But I think we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the work we have to put in during the week in order to come out successful on Friday nights.”
This Friday, Glenbrook North takes on Niles West (2-1) at 7 p.m. in its third away game. Coming off of two early losses, Burnside said there’s “no room for error anymore” and the Spartans are already attacking practice differently.
Practice this week began with gray clouds, but ended as players ran through drills shouting at each other to “Push past the pain!” and “Finish strong!”