When a team wins more games than they lose, its season can usually be defined as a success. Yet, Lincoln Way-North High School varsity football coach George Czart was not satisfied with the team's 5-4 record in 2011. Patch caught up with Czart to find out how the Phoenix plans on getting back to being conference champions, as they were in 2009 and 2010.
Patch: What are your goals and expectations for this year’s Lincoln Way North varsity football team?
George Czart: The goal is to always try and improve your program, and be better than the year before. Last year we had a letdown from the previous year. Obviously, to win every game that we play, and make sure we finish the year with everyone we start with healthy.
What is one point of emphasis that you really want to get across to your players?
This year we’re trying to get across leadership to the whole group of seniors, not just one or two individuals. It’s got to be everybody buying in. And everybody can be a leader.
Why should other teams be afraid of the 2012 Lincoln Way North football team?
I don’t know if (other teams) should be afraid of (the Phoenix), but they should respect us. We’ve been working hard, which should be evident on the field. I hope they respect our competitiveness, and our sense of fair play. We’re going to have some skilled kids that can run pretty fast.
What matchup on the schedule are you looking forward to the most?
We never look past the next opponent, but Lincoln-Way Central may be the one week we’re thinking about and talking about and preparing for. Obviously every other conference game is key for us. But you really never look past the next opponent.
How important is your team’s chemistry?
I think it’s extremely important. If you’ve got a bunch of guys that can’t work together, and are constantly nagging each other, it is a disruption. That was part of our leadership, to make sure that we’re leading guys to go off in the same direction and work for a common goal. I think last year we didn’t all share the same goals. Some kids were out there wanting to have fun, and just be part of the team. This year I think we’re more focused on pulling our hard work and talents together to get victories, too.
Which players do you think are ready to breakout this year?
I think we have several seniors that played last year that are ready to breakout. Tre Lewis is one of them. He’s a kid that we saw flashes of highlight reel material from him last year. So, I think he’s ready to go.
What is the biggest difference between this year’s team and last?
It’s leadership. You can just tell it by the workouts. There’s no goofing around, and they’re focused.
Which player has the biggest shoes to fill in terms of who they replaced on the team from last year?
I can’t pick out an individual person. Everyone’s got to fill a role that’s important to us. What I think one of our strengths are is that we don’t have just one superstar. Every year I think we’re a complete balanced team.
Which position do you think your team has the most depth at?
Running back. We have four or five kids that we think can run the ball. It’s going to be tough spreading those carries around because we have two guys that we think can break for touchdowns at any time. They’re all a bunch of savvy runners.
What is your biggest overall strength?
I think that we don’t have an overall glaring weakness is a strength really. We’re pretty solid at all positions. We have nice depth. And the quality of our first stringers are pretty good, too.
What does your team need to improve on in order to do well this year?
From a football standpoint, we need to be able to score. We had a lot of drives last year that went to the red zone and didn’t end in scores. We gave up way too many plays for big yardage on defense.
From what you’ve seen thus far, how deep can your team go this season?
I think our team can go as far as they will let themselves. If they stay focused and healthy, there’s no juggernaut out there. I think we’re going to be equally matched with some of the teams out there that we’ve seen in the past that have done pretty well.
The Lincoln-Way North Phoenix will play its first game of the season on Friday, August 24 at Lincoln-Way Central.
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