Glenbrook North: Captains will be key to success, Purdy says
Now is go time for Glenbrook North football and coach Matt Purdy.
You obviously want your coaches to passionately lead their teams into a season, and no one is more raring to go than the Spartans' third-year head coach, whose 25 years overall in the program make him the most tenured coach in the school.
"Truly, I'm just excited to get going," Purdy said.
He's got a team that returns seven offensive starters, a defense he believes will be a highlight, and a superb kicker and return man to anchor special teams.
"It sounds cliched," Purdy said, "but they have a spring in their step, they're excited about being out there and they've got smiles on their faces. Do we have a significant amount of work to be done? Yeah."
A lot of teams do. What's in the Spartans' corner is they have four team captains who will hold themselves, each other and their teammates accountable.
Two-way players and returning starters J.R. Flood, Nate Glazebrook, Ryan Henschel and Murphy Mulvihill provide a combination of athleticism, physicality and leadership.
"Our four captains are going to be integral to our success," Purdy said.
Henschel -- like Flood and Glazebrook, an all-Central Suburban League South pick his junior season -- is a great athlete at receiver and cornerback. He led Glenbrook North this past spring with 15 catches, 218 yards and four touchdowns. His one interception on defense mainly meant teams didn't like to test him.
Flood and Glazebrook are bruising linebackers who turn right around to play offense. Flood will be a running back, with a 100-yard game last season under his belt.
The 225-pound Glazebrook, a guard on offense and the rare three-sport athlete, joins juniors Patrick Mahoney at center and 245-pound tackle Max Mulvihill, Murphy's younger brother, as returning starters on the offensive line. That unit will miss graduated all-stater Jackson Carsello, already making strides at Northwestern, and the huge Mihailo Milutinovic.
Murphy Mulvihill led the Spartans (2-4, 2-3 CSL South) with two interceptions this past season at free safety but will focus on quarterback this fall. He competed for the position last season with starter Avery Burow and brings both running and passing ability.
Mulvihill has a solid corps of receivers, including returners Henschel, Charlie Schult and Quinn Clarke, plus sophomore wideout Patrick Schaller and 6-foot-3 junior tight end McCartney Kalmar.
"I think one of our biggest areas of growth will be our offensive line," said Purdy, the former Iowa Hawkeyes captain who coaches Spartans linemen. "You lose Jackson Carsello and Mihailo Milutinovic, that's a huge shift."
Defensively sophomore Jack Philbin looks to replace Murphy Mulvihill at free safety, while the line returns senior Nate Weissler, whose 5 tackles for loss led the team in the spring. Clarke returns at linebacker and is also a live wire returning kicks and punts.
"Quinn is that kid that you wish you had 10 of," Purdy said.
Senior kicker and punter Michael Cosentino is a weapon who will give the coach options whenever the Spartans are around the 40-yard line. He made two field goals in three attempts last season but with 55-yard range will undoubtedly get more attempts. He also will consistently give the 4-2-5 defensive scheme a head start by delivering touchbacks on kickoffs.
"I think Michael can be a huge factor in our games this year," Purdy said.
They start Friday in Northbrook against nonconference foe Taft. Purdy is pumped.
"I'm excited about Friday night lights," he said. "It's an exciting time in Illinois, and it's an exciting time across our country."