North Chicago earns 25-6 win over Waukegan
August 31, 2013 9:50PM
North Chicago Varsity football team erupts in enjoyment after scoring the first touchdown against the Bulldogs in Waukegan. | Mark Ukena/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2013 6:19AM
Random thoughts from someone who thought he was old enough to have seen it all, and now wonders if he, indeed, HAS seen it all after watching a high school football game that featured 31 points (a deserved 25-6 North Chicago victory over host Waukegan) and 34 penalties (no records available on whether that is record).
■ The game lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes, but still was 12 minutes short of being long enough to spread the best news of the day regarding Waukegan High School football.
Shortly after the game ended, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs announced that Waukegan High School grad Rashaan Melvin made the team’s 53-man roster as a cornerback for the coming season.
Melvin did not get drafted by an NFL team in April after finishing his playing career at NIU in DeKalb. He chose to sign with Tampa because of a close relationship he has with the Bucs’ star defensive back, Darrelle Revis.
In the NFL, 45 of the team’s 53 players get to suit up on game day. Tampa Bay opens on the road against the New York Jets on Sunday.
■ Usually, the only time this kid will get his name mentioned is for screwing up, but actually he was an important contributor to North Chicago’s win, so we’re going to tip our cap to him today for a job well done.
Chris Mendoza plays the non-glamour position of long snapper for the Warhawks on punts, and he didn’t botch any, allowing Jay Amos-Mays to punt the ball out of danger whenever the offense was shut down by a good Waukegan defense.
In contrast, North Chicago got on the board in the opening minutes when a poor snap on a punt on the game’s first possession set up the winners at the Waukegan 15 yard line.
■ This Waukegan team is good enough on defense, and you can tell the offense is going to be productive. The concern is that it follows last year’s pattern of hitting its stride so late in the season that it gets good when the level of competition goes way up and the defense starts surrendering points.
Waukegan has to start producing on offense and start winning N-O-W, as in Friday night at Zion-Benton, a team that was shut out by Deerfield in its opener.
■ Billy McKinney, a basketball legend at Zion-Benton High School who went on to have a long NBA career and now works with the Milwaukee Bucks, was on the North Chicago sidelines, spending the afternoon with longtime friend Brian Colbert.
Colbert and McKinney were backcourt teammates at Z-B back in the day and arguably were the best guard duo ever to play in Lake County. McKinney, a year older, went to Northwestern and Colbert played at Wisconsin.
Now, Colbert is the athletic director at North Chicago.
McKinney confessed that even though he was at the game rooting for the Warhawks, being a true Zee-Bee, he could not bring himself to wear a shirt that was colored North Chicago red.
McKinney mentioned that one of his cousins is Rufus Woods, who was the greatest player ever at North Chicago, made the second-greatest shot in Lake County prep basketball history, and now is a preacher man in Mississippi.
In the mid-1960s, Rufus threw in a miracle shot for North Chicago at the buzzer in a regional win over Waukegan — a shot that stood as the greatest clutch shot of all time until Waukegan’s Jereme Richmond beat Warren in the sectional final in 2009 with a halfcourt buzzer-beater.
■ Arnold Shead, North Chicago’s best all-around player, hardly played on offense, due to an ankle he injured in practice. He still made his presence with a 31-yard reception on a swing pass to set up the game’s second score, an interception, and a 31-yard punt return to set up the team’s final TD.
■ North Chicago defensive players Richard Cunningham and Khalil Rogers played like what they are — future NCAA Division 1 linebackers.
■ Big Kurt Hall, a 6-5, 225-pound basketball player who joined the football team for this fall, played wideout and was matched up against 5-10 cornerbacks. Inexplicably, the biggest target on the football field was targeted just once by North Chicago’s QB.
On that play, Big Kurt caught the pass in the end zone, but the score was nullified because he had pushed the defender and was flagged for offensive pass interference. Then, after catching the ball, Big Kurt did exactly what he sees the pro wideouts do when they score: He spiked the football.
That drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, so the only time he was targeted the entire game, Hall cost his team 30 yards of field position.
By unanimous vote, Warhawk fans feel Big Kurt should be targeted at least a dozen times each game.
■ The North Chicago crowd included the city’s mayor, Leon Rockingham. Football is a community event in North Chicago, and the residents take pride in their football team.
That said, many on that side left Waukegan’s stadium feeling that North Chicago coach Glen Kozlowski called way too conservative an offensive game and want to see things open up from here on out.
■ Next up: Waukegan is at Zion-Benton on Friday, and North Chicago hosts Robeson from Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Expect both the Purple/Gold and Red/White to win. Waukegan’s a lot better than North Chicago made it look on Saturday.