Alex Rose endures bittersweet Leyden halftime performance

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FRANKLIN PARK — While Friday’s game wasn’t a very pleasant experience for senior Alex Rose, he will have at least one positive memory from the night. It was homecoming and he was elected king for East Leyden.

“I had a lot of people coming up to me and telling me that I have their vote,” Rose said. “But I would much rather have a ‘W’ than be homecoming king. It’s my senior year and I want to go out being on a good football team.”

Rose spent most of the extended halftime in the locker room with his teammates but raced out with five minutes left so he could be introduced as king with the homecoming queen, senior swimmer Maya Bulka.

“Being down 26-0 and being called in as homecoming king is not exactly the best thing,” Rose said. “I wanted to stay in the locker room and go over the adjustments. Luckily they let me stay in the locker room until the last five minutes.”

Being named homecoming king, as well as serving as captain each of his two years on varsity shows just how much Rose is respected on and off the field.

“We haven’t had a two-year captain in my 10 years here; he’s the first one,” Eagles coach Tom Cerasani said. “He never comes off the field and plays with maximum effort every play. It’s nice that he was homecoming king, too. We’re proud of him.”

Leyden will definitely be relying on Rose this week in practice.

The Eagles (0-4, 0-1) are coming off a 40-7 West Suburban Gold loss to Addison Trail and it will be up to Rose to keep the team focused and ready for Friday night’s game at Downers Grove South (2-2, 1-1), last year’s conference champs.

“Being 0-4, it’s so easy for guys to put their heads down and let the season go down the drain, but we have five weeks left and we just gotta put something together,” said Rose, a two-way starter. “It comes down to leadership at practice. We need to step up and make sure the intensity is there every day.”

The season has not shaped up the way Leyden and Rose had hoped. The squad was young last year. Rose hoped things would be different with more experience this season, but the schedule hasn’t been very kind.

After dropping a winnable game to Buffalo Grove in Week 1, the Eagles had to square off against Oak Park-River Forest, Lyons and Addison Trail in succession.

OPRF and Addison Trail are both ranked in the Sun-Times Super 25 rankings and the three teams are a combined 10-2.

“When we took that ‘L’ against Buffalo Grove, we knew we had to step it up,” Rose said. “Lyons, OPRF and Addison Trail are great teams but we go into every game thinking we’re going to win. We just have to get more consistent. We shut down OPRF and Addison Trail on their first drives but we couldn’t score on offense.”

Rose plays tight end and defensive end, but the most important thing he brings to the team is his leadership.

“He’s everything you would want in a captain,” said classmate Benji Smajlovic. “If anyone has their head down he knows the things to say. He understands the circumstance we’re in right now. Even after the game when so many people were feeling down he was there to make sure everyone was OK and pick their heads up.”

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