By Jeff Vorva
The first day of football practice at Sandburg on Wednesday featured a big surprise.
Big – as in 6-foot-6, 300 pounds big.
Sandburg alum Michael Schofield, who is on the Carolina Panthers active roster, has joined the team as a volunteer assistant coach. With the Illinois High School Association moving football from fall to spring because of COVID-19 concerns, this is one of the few positives that change brought.
Schofield was a high school star at Sandburg, an elite offensive lineman at Michigan and won a Super Bowl ring as a starting lineman with Denver.
“He approached me in the fall and said, ‘if you guys play in the spring, I’m interested,’’’ Sandburg coach Scott Peters said. “So, I said ‘you’re hired.’ The great rate of zero bucks is perfect.
“It’s awesome having his perspective out here and we’re going to learn from him, and he’s going to learn from some of our coaches who have been coaching high school sports for 20-plus years. It’s a win-win situation for sure.”
It was quite a week for Schofield. Two days before starting his new role as coach, it was announced that he and his wife, Kendall Coyne Schofield, are among more than a dozen new part-owners of the Chicago Red Stars.
“It took about a month to finalize,” he said of buying into the NWSL club. “But it’s great to have a chance to be owners. We’re all in.”
Ready to Roll
The high school football season will be abbreviated to six weeks with no postseason. There may be limited or no crowds. But that didn’t stop the Eagles from being charged up for the first day of practice on Wednesday.
Junior quarterback Kevin Zimmer brought a large speaker to the field and was in charge of providing the practice music, which was a combination of rap and heavy metal.
“I’m glad we’re here – I’m so excited,” Zimmer said. “When we got the news that all of these sports are coming back, it feels like everything is getting back to normal.”
He said the team has used gym facilities, even home gyms, to stay strong and sharp during the pandemic.
“We’ve been working hard,” Zimmer said. “We only have six games to play so we’re going to play our hearts out. It’s going to be fun.”
The schedule finds the Eagles opening the season by hosting District 230 rival Stagg on March 19. They visit Lockport on March 26 before a three-game meat grinder, hosting Homewood-Flossmoor and Bolingbrook and visiting Lincoln-Way East. They wrap up the season on April 23 at Bradley.
It’s the second year in a row the Eagles will take on the three perennial state powers back-to-back-to-back.
“We have a great attitude about those games,” Zimmer said. “We’ve got kids on this team that need film and are looking for colleges. We think of that as an opportunity and want to use it to our advantage. And we’ll have fun with it.”