Glenbrook North’s defense keeps it in the game

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Even with some mistakes, Glenbrook North’s defense kept the Spartans in their season-opening game against Hersey.

There were missed checks when the Spartans failed to call out the offense’s formation in time as well as missed tackles, but Glenbrook North grinded on defense in the 16-0 loss at Hersey on Aug. 29. The Spartans — including senior linebackers Matt Tedeschi, Josh Lee and Ben Weinstein, senior safety David Burnside, junior cornerback Keegan Samuelson and junior defensive end Dimitrije Milutinovic — held Hersey scoreless in the first half.

Turnovers were key against Hersey. Tedeschi forced a fumble, Samuelson intercepted a pass and Milutinovic forced a fumble. Tedeschi said that the Spartans defense is good at intercepting passes and creating takeaways.

“The second or third guy who gets there on a tackle is there ripping the ball out,” Tedeschi said. “That’s how we’re coached up. I think that we will probably take the ball away a lot this year.”

The Spartans’ success at forcing fumbles came in spite of limited practice. They don’t have many opportunities to work on stripping the ball in practice because plays are often blown dead right away.

The opening week miscues weren’t limited to defense for the Spartans.

Glenbrook North’s offense was held to 16 total yards and one first down in the second half. They missed some blocking assignments, had communication issues on third-down plays and only gained 116 yards.

As a result, the team’s defense was on the field most of that time and finally wore down, allowing two touchdowns and a field goal. But the defensive unit still showed some fight.

“They battled the whole time,” Spartans coach Bob Pieper said. “We didn’t get many first downs, so it was pretty tough for them to rest with their backs up against the wall.”

Togetherness was a reason for the defense’s success. Many of the key players on defense played together last year on varsity.

“We play really well together and he have really good chemistry with each other,” Weinstein said. “We play like a family, and that really helps us. We always all swarm to the ball. It’s not just one guy making plays out there, we’re all doing it together.”

Up next is Friday’s home game against Steinmetz. The Spartans expect a different look than what they faced against Hersey, foreseeing more power runs.

“It’s definitely going to be a change,” Tedeschi said. “If we can communicate well and get our checks in and just play hard, like we did against Hersey, I think we should be fine.”

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