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Until he got dinged up Waukegan’s J.D. Parsell was best player field Saturday would have been hero if game had

Until he got dinged up, Waukegan’s J.D. Parsell was the best player on the field Saturday and would have been the hero if the game had ended differently.| Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

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PRIME-TIME PERFORMER

Until he got dinged up, Waukegan’s J.D. Parsell was the best player on the field Saturday and would have been the hero if the game had ended differently. He’s shown here on his kickoff return for a touchdown that ignited the Bulldogs after they fell behind 12-0 in the first quarter. He also caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from promising sophomore QB Melvin Bobo IV. Parsell plays wideout, defensive back and also is in on special teams.

Updated: September 28, 2012 6:14AM



The view from the observation deck — in this case, the bleachers at Waukegan High School’s football field.

That’s where Saturday afternoon was spent, sitting in the stands in 90-degree heat — watching the Bulldogs lose their season-opening football game 30-26 to North Chicago — and hopefully sweating off the 3 pounds 4 ounces gained on what turned out to be a four hot-dog afternoon:

This will be the biggest home crowd Waukegan has for a game all season.

The more games you watch at Waukegan’s field, with its trees and bushes right next to the gridiron, and the home bleachers shaped funny because of some of those trees, the more the whole setting kind of grows on you.

“Quaint” is the word for it.

That said, lights for Friday night games, would be a great addition.

Artificial turf ... No. That would require removing the trees and bushes.

Lights. ... Yes.

Because of the heat, the game was stopped nearly a dozen times to treat players for cramps.

That said, the closest that the rescue squad came to springing into action came in the first half when North Chicago quarterback JaVairius Amos-Mays — JAM — went down with an apparent injury while sacked and fumbling on a play.

JAM is a key member of the school’s basketball team which very well could win the state championship next March.

When JAM was writhing on the grass, North Chicago basketball coach King Coleman — watching the game from the sidelines — grabbed his heart while his face turned white as snow — quite a feat when you consider King never has to worry about getting a tan..

JAM, who played quarterback at Zion-Benton last year before transferring to North Chicago, appears to be one of the those kids who is a 100-percenter in terms of effort and will do whatever it takes to win, but also has about 5 percent drama king in him.

Whether it be on the basketball court or the football field, JAM seems, for some reason, to get under his opponents’ skin.

It’s a guess here, but the pick is that when opponents are jawing at the Warhawks in hoops or football, they’re way more likely to be targeting JAM that Arnold Shead, who is the best football player at North Chicago High School.

■ You cannot overestimate the meaning of North Chicago’s win to the students, parents of the players, and fans of Warhawk athletics.

Its was a feel-good moment for residents of a community who have far too few of those.

Calling North Chicago’s K-12 school system a train wreck is an insult to the rail industry.

The entire school board just got fired, the superintendent just got relieved of duties, and the guess here is that in the next 30 days, another handful of people with long titles are going to be excused.

Still, the community’s residents persevere. No place in Lake County do they do more with less for their children than in North Chicago.

The residents care, the teachers care, the students care. And there’s no quit in them.

Just as there was no quit in the football team Saturday, as it erased a 26-12 deficit by scoring the game’s final three touchdowns.

■ By the way, say what you want about the laundry list of problems in North Chicago.

The fact is, two of the main streets in the city — MLK Blvd going east/west and Sheridan Road going north/south — look maybe 1,000 percent better today than they did a half-dozen years ago.

The thing that’s missing is businesses ... stores. Sadly, because of the economy, that’s an uphill battle that’s still being fought in the town.

Don’t know who’s responsible, but North Chicago’s cheer squad looked like ... well, like a cheer squad on Saturday.

They were doing sideline stunts at the game, with girls being held in the air by just three “bases” (girls who do the heavy lifting; weak teams need four “bases.”)

North Chicago’s never competed in cheer competitions against other area schools, but it looks like this year’s squad actually is headed in that direction.

At this rate of improvement, they’ll be dominant by the time they take the floor in Peoria to cheer the Warhawks onto the state basketball title.

Two best bets:

1) If you’re in the barber shop on MLK Blvd. this week and talking North Chicago football, and you’re trying to come up with a point total for Saturday’s game against Chicago King, whatever your total is, add 20 to it.

2) Warhawk coach Glen Kozlowski will be in Antioch on Friday watching the Sequoits play Waukegan.

Coach Koz knows that almost every scenario that gets his team to six victories and a playoff berth involves beating Waukegan, King and Antioch.

It was duly noted that in Saturday’s game, North Chicago left about 20 points on the field, due to its own silly mistakes.

But that said, the way North Chicago plays leads to mistakes that leave those points on the field.

You can’t have it both ways ... Well, Maine South can and Stevenson can and Carmel can. But not North Chicago.

■ By the way, at the end of the Saturday’s game, Coach Koz had perfect clock management, surrendering the ball one last time to Waukegan with just 23 seconds left in the game.

When it came time to win, the coach coached like a winner and the kids played like winners.

Now, they have to prove they can do it again next Saturday.

Enough about football.

When the basketball team wins the state title next March, we want the city’s water tower painted with the Warhawk logo and the words “North Chicago: Prep Basketball Capital of Lake County.”



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