SKOKIE — Injuries started early for the Maine East football team this season, with starting running back Munkh Bayer, a senior, suffering a broken fibula on the Blue Demons’ first possession of their opening game against Schurz. They haven’t let up, with junior running back Alberto Suarez among the latest victims.
Suarez, who stepped into Bayer’s role in a 53-7 loss to Niles West on Friday, left the game in the third quarter with a wrist injury.
Nevertheless, Suarez expects to play Friday against Maine South, and Bayer said he thinks Suarez is prepared for the challenges of starting as running back.
“He’s the key player to our offense right now,” Bayer said.
Suarez understands his starting role isn’t easy.
“I feel pretty good,” Suarez said before his start on Friday. “It’s going to be a little hard, but I’m just going to do my best.”
This is Suarez’s first season on the varsity, and he said that means “harder training and harder responsibilities,” but said the rewards are greater. Suarez said his personal goal is to help his team win and to make his coaches happy.
Suarez, who described his running style as intense, said his favorite thing about playing running back is “trucking people.” He said Bayer’s strength is speed, while he prefers to jam the ball up the middle.
Maine East can only hope Suarez can stay healthy. Last year, the Blue Demons played much of their season without their first- or second-string quarterbacks. Coach Gabe Corey said he hoped the injuries would ease up this season, but that hasn’t happened.
“Again tonight, we had three or four guys go down and it killed us,” Corey said after the loss to Niles West.
After Suarez came out of Friday’s game, the Blue Demons relied heavily on junior Woody Corey, who played both running back and quarterback in the second half. The running game was key for both teams, as wet conditions made protecting the ball crucial. The Blue Demons turned the ball over five times, three times on fumbles and twice on interceptions.
Woody Corey, who scored Maine East’s touchdown on a 63-yard run, said he doesn’t mind if his role changes as the result of injuries. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
“I give it my all on every play,” he said. “Our goal is to score on every play, so I just try to make it happen.”