ST. CHARLES – St. Charles North senior linebacker George Litgen has his marching orders.
“Every year, there’s a kid on a team we all pull off to the side and say, ‘There’s going to be a moment in the season where everybody is going to be counting on you. It might be a state championship game and everybody is going to be counting on you,’ ” North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. “You’re going to have to get the job done.”
In the recent past, examples of those types of players at North included the Nubin brothers, Tyler and Jordan, and Carmine Bastone.
This season, that “get the job done player” will be Litgen. In the spring as a junior, the 6-foot-2, 182-pound linebacker recorded a team-high 35 tackles, averaging seven a game, with eight of those tackles going for a loss.
“He’s the man [this year],” Pomazak said. “He’s got to elevate everybody around him, and he’s got to kind of be the dad. That’s probably his biggest challenge is leading everybody. I’m excited to see how he does.”
The North Stars, after a 5-1 spring season that ended with a thrilling victory over Wheaton Warrenville South at Northern Illinois University in April, are retooling after a number of key graduations.
Offensively, the North Stars graduated their starting quarterback in Michael Priami, running back Josh Bridges, their top five pass catchers and their top offensive lineman in Bastone.
With linebacker Zach McClure at North Central College and Jordan Nubin a freshman at Minnesota, the program clearly has undergone a major face-lift in the past four months.
While two-way starters on the line Lucas Sharkey, Michael Whitted and Paolo Gennarelli return, the North Stars offense will be piloted by freshman quarterback Ethan Plumb, senior running back Carson Kuligowski and wideout Joey Curzon. Tight ends Soren Erickson and Jake Furtney are expected to have big roles in bringing along the offense as well.
Defensively, junior Drew Surges will star alongside Litgen in the front seven. Junior Brody Geary will guide a young secondary.
“The playmakers we have [is the best quality of this defense],” Geary said. “With George, Paolo, Whitted, Sharkey, just no one is going to be able to run on us or pass on us.”
The North Stars will have six sophomores on varsity, further pointing to their youth movement.
“We have mirrors up. We know who we are. We know we’re young. We know we’re talented but it’s going to take time,” Pomazak said. “We’re going to have some good moments and some bad moments and the goal is to play good football. And put ourselves in position to win games when it matters, and that’s kind of what we’ve been working on.
“They’ve been super diligent,” Pomazak continued. “They’re motivated, energetic, young, which is fun. The bonus is they might not know how athletic and talented they are and they might not know the pressure that others might feel because the arena is a little bit newer to them.”
Plumb, a talented 6-foot-3 dual threat, will be tasked with leading the offense. His first varsity snaps are Aug. 27 against Palatine at home.
“Ethan, as a 15-year-old, you forget [that he’s that age],” Pomazak said. “He’s very mature for his age, but yeah, the stage is going to be huge.
“He’s got a great head on his shoulders. He’s going to succeed, bottom line, but we talked about it. It’s that process that we all have to go through individually. Success is not linear. We have to be OK with those climbs up and those falls down. I think that’s going to be a test of who he is and I’m excited to see how he responds to that.”
Furtney said the amount of growth Plumb has shown from the first practice to the present is “unreal.”
“I feel like the next couple years he’ll be great,” Furtney said. “[Progress means] controlling the offense. … He’s just doing such a good job trying to control the offense and getting everyone together.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle