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Schofield will play important role in Super Bowl, even if he doesn’t play at all

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The soon-to-be 27-year-old was a star defensive player in high school for a couple of very good North Chicago Warhawk teams that made the playoffs. He then was a scholarship player at the University of Wisconsin where he starred at defensive end. In an all-star game after his senior season with the Badgers, he suffered an injury that caused him to drop drasticallyi in the NFL draft and resulted in him missing most of his rookie season after the Arizona Cardinals picked him. He had a solid Year 2 with the Cardinals, and then was seriously injured late in his third year in the NFL, a freak injury that occurred while tackling Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. He was cut by Arizona last summer and then signed by the Seattle Seahawks. He battled to make the final 53-man roster and has been a reserve and role player for the NFC champions all season. At the end of this season, he’ll be a free agent, able to sign with any NFL team that wants him.

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Updated: April 1, 2014 3:32AM

A Lake County high school graduate was on the field for one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history.

Google “St. Louis Rams 1999 Super Bowl” and you can watch that game’s final play, when a Tennessee receiver was tackled one yard short of what would have been the game-tying touchdown.

On the video, after the saving tackle is made, you can see a Ram player wearing jersey No. 90 waving his arms emphatically to indicate that the Titan had not made it into the end zone.

That Ram wearing No. 90 was Carmel High School grad Jeff Zgonina.

This Sunday, another Lake County football player has a chance at Super Bowl and YouTube history when North Chicago High School grad O’Brien Schofield dons his No. 93 jersey and takes the field for the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos.

Truth be told, Schofield is a backup linebacker, whose impact will be either on special teams or on the occasional defensive play when the starter at his position needs a rest.

But regardless of how many snaps the fourth-year NFL player gets, he’s already a hero in his hometown of North Chicago.

And on Sunday afternoon, that will very evident thanks to the Super Bowl celebration planned for the Youth Center on Lewis Avenue in North Chicago.

The party is the brainchild of Brother Willie Brooks and Gale Young — two longtime friends with North Chicago ties who now both live in Zion and belong to the same Christian Faith Fellowship Church on 27th Street in Zion — a church that also counts the Schofield family among its membership.

The Super Bowl party will start at 5 and continue until the game winds up, probably round 8:45. The cost to attend is $10 per person, and that includes some food and soft drinks, and also the guarantee that there will be no alcohol and no swearing. Every child and their parents who live in North Chicago are invited.

A total of 200 tickets were printed up, and to get one or more, you can call Young at (847) 849-0174 or Brother Willie at (224) 223-0180.

Brother Willie, who is one of the high-energy guys in this corner of the county — he calls himself an activist — said the Super Bowl party is important for the youngsters in North Chicago. The Schofield family has contributed to the event to make it a success.

“There’s so much bad publicity in North Chicago ... the kids hear that they ain’t ever gonna be nuthin’,” Brooks said. “I’m using this as a tool to bring kids together and show them a positive image (Schofield, wearing No. 93). “This says something good to the kids ... that they have a chance.

“They can watch the game with one of their own playing in it who played on the same turf they play on, this says something good to kids ... that they have a chance. You don’t have to be a football player. Our North Chicago schools provide a basic education and you can go to the University of Wisconsin (where Schofield went to play college ball).”

A 70-inch TV has been rented for the event, and the hope is to create a Super Bowl atmosphere for the kids, presumably including cheering for the Seahawks.

“We’ve heard so much negativity in North Chicago the last the years in North Chicago. All that stuff that they say happened in North Chicago, how do you combat that?,” Brooks asked. “You combat that with community.

“You use an example of somebody who is cut from the same cloth. We’re going to see him play in the biggest football game in the world ... one of our home-grown.”

Brooks and Young put this event together after the Seahawks beat San Francisco to qualify for the Super Bowl.

“Some kids at this school (a grade school in North Chicago) have no hope. I want to change the language in North Chicago,” Brooks said,. “Instead of saying that they won’t make it, that they can’t make it; we’re going to be here showing they can be whatever they want to be.

“We’re trying to get positive people to come out and celebrate this young kid who came up through the North Chicago Flames (youth football), went through high school with the (North Chicago) Warhawks, came through the (Wisconsin) Badgers, and overcame a lot of issues to get where he is now.

“A lot of successful people come through North Chicago, not just football players. We just didn’t want it to go unnoticed that one of our own has made it to the Super Bowl.”

Gale Young, by the way, is the father of Maurice Young, senior starting point guard on Zion-Benton High’s boys basketball team that hopes to be playing in Peoria in March.

Starting with Young is junior Admiral Schofield. The Admiral is the brother of O’Brien Schofield and The Admiral will be in New Jersey on Sunday watching his brother play (Z-B High has no basketball game scheduled until next Tuesday).

As for O’Brien Schofield, after a great prep career at North Chicago and a strong college career at Wisconsin, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Arizona Cardinals.

His pro career there was adversely affected by injuries and he was cut this past summer, which means he was out of football. He then signed with Seattle and battled is way onto the 53-man roster.

After Sunday’s game, he will be a free agent, and the 27-year-old outside linebacker will be able to sign with any NFL team that wants him.

We assume he knows his way to Halas Hall.

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