Scouting the Lake Zurich Bears
The football coach's son did not just take care of water-bottle duties along the sideline for his father's team on Game Days.
Ron Planz also served beverages and snacks to his father -- also named Ron -- and his father's assistants during film sessions in the Planz basement.
X's and O's and … Doritos.
"I was always around football and football coaches," recalled Ron, the son, Lake Zurich's first-year football coach following a five-year run as Elmhurst College's football coach.
Planz grew up in Bensenville and played quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver and outside linebacker (not all at the same time) at Fenton before focusing on the free safety position at Carthage College in Wisconsin.
His 2019 Lake Zurich Bears?
They're hungry, just like all those whistle-wearing grown-ups were in the basement all those years ago.
But this kind of hunger has more to do with success on the gridiron than with gobbling anything prepared on the grill.
"Our guys are eager, and they play with a hard-hat, lunch-pail mentality," said Planz, who succeeded Luke Mertens, the coach of the Bears' Class 7A state runner-up squad in 2017 and playoff qualifier in '18 (7-4 record). "They're hardworking, blue collar.
"They're very excited to be coached, to be pushed, to be challenged," Planz, also a PE teacher at the school, added.
Jack Moses earned starts at quarterback in the second half of last season, including the Bears' 17-0 playoff win against DeKalb and LZ's 17-14 second-round loss to Mount Carmel. Now a senior and a member of the team's Leadership Council, Moses has to grapple with one emotion as soon as football practice ends: fury.
"I get upset," Moses said. "We all do. We don't want to go home; we want to keep practicing, keep working."
It then should come as no surprise to anyone that "relentless" once again is the only word the Bears want witnesses to utter when they describe LZ's style of play. The word adorns the team's poster, the one with the 2019 schedule on it, the one featuring stern-looking teens, the one on walls of local businesses.
"I framed the poster," Moses said. "It's up on a wall in my room."
Running room, for opposing running backs? Look for LZ junior inside linebacker Bryan Sanborn and senior linebacker Justin Quast, along with the squad's defensive line, to make sure that space doesn't exceed the square footage of a shoe box.
Sanborn's brother, Wisconsin sophomore linebacker Jack Sanborn (LZHS, '18), played in 11 games for the Badgers as a true freshman last fall.
"Bryan," Planz said, "is big, athletic, hardworking and hungry to be better. He took some lumps last year as a sophomore on varsity, but he's been on top of his stuff -- understands defense better than ever. He's a field general out there."
Other Bears likely to stand out on turf this fall include senior WR/DB Anthony Mangano, an Iowa baseball recruit; senior OL Spencer Bacon; senior and Northwestern-bound tight end Hunter Welcing; senior OL Josh Pollard; senior tight end Logan Moskal; and senior wide receiver James Piggott, whose father, Chris, coaches varsity baseball at Fremd.
Fremd (5-5 in '18) will host Lake Zurich in a football opener Aug. 30 (7:30 p.m.). The Bears topped the Vikings 20-7 in the teams' season opener last fall.
"I like our team's chemistry," said Bacon, another Leadership Council member. "We're meshing well. We're going to play fast, with a lot of physicality."
And they'll do it for a new coach who, during games, will never be mistaken for a Buckingham Palace guard.
"I'm a laugher and a hugger," Planz said. "I'm just me. I also scream and yell. I get excited.
"I enjoy the game."