Prep team plays critical role for Deerfield

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GLENVIEW — Not much seemed to go right for the Deerfield football team last Friday night.

The Warriors turned the ball over five times to Glenbrook South, creating crucial shifts in momentum as well as excellent field position for the Titans. The first Deerfield fumble came less than a minute into the game, and the Warriors never fully recovered while losing 43-6.

But they never quit, either.

Even with a running clock in the second half, the coaches and players lining Deerfield’s sideline kept each other in the game.

Three voices of support belonged to guys who have led Deerfield’s prep team each week in practice: juniors Sergio Rangel, Nick Katz and Will Sardi. The prep team, often called a scout team, runs the offense and defense of Deerfield’s opponent each week. They’re the players who may not see many reps on a Friday night, but their team’s success depends on the effort they give each day in practice.

“We all have to work hard so we can improve as a group,” Rangel said Monday. “Football’s not really an individual sport, it’s a team sport. So it’s about players helping out.”

Every week, the Warriors coaching staff awards a game ball to a prep player who has stood out in practice. Rangel, Katz and Sardi have all been honored for their work this season.

It was former Chicago Bears’ coach Mike Ditka who said, “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” It’s that attitude that helped the Warriors punch in a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter last Friday. Two long runs from junior fullback Johnny Fisher — one for 50 yards and a second for a 38-yard touchdown — helped the Warriors get into the end zone. And two 5-yard gains from junior quarterback Anthony Ranallo helped, too.

But if it wasn’t for the determined voices of Deerfield’s collective backup players pacing the sideline and yelling in support of the starters, that score may not have happened.

“Cheer on the team that’s out there,” Rangel said of his role. “Try to motivate them to work hard, to keep going for that next play.”

Deerfield (1-2) will likely need more than one touchdown Friday night as it hosts an undefeated New Trier team.

Coach Steve Winiecki said he’s happy with his team’s progress this week, adding that the Warriors took to heart what they talked about in Saturday’s film session. That included the guys on the prep team, who didn’t see much time on the field Friday night.

“These are kids that have been out there being selfless, doing all the right things at practice that don’t get noticed a lot,” he said.

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