Football: Lincoln-Way East using last season’s finish as starting point
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media July 8, 2014 8:08PM
Lincoln-Way East's Mike Weller throws a pass downfield. | Worsom Robinson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 10, 2014 6:36AM
Lincoln-Way East’s 2013 season ended in heartbreak.
In a Class 7A quarterfinal at Edwardsville, the Griffins took a 14-13 lead with just over two minutes left, only to see Edwardsville drive for the winning score in the final minute.
It’s a game that’s not far from the mind of the returning Griffins as they put in hard work over the summer.
“Coach Z (Rob Zvonar) brings it up just about every day,” East quarterback Mike Weller said. “We think about it all the time.”
East finished 9-3 last season after a state runner-up finish in 2012.
“If we could have finished that game against Edwardsville, it would have been nice,” senior linebacker Luke Epich said. “We definitely think about it a lot. It fires us up.”
The Griffins have some holes to fill, with quarterback Jordan Wirtz, do-it-all receiver Austin Winkler and all-state offensive lineman Nick Allegretti all having graduated.
Weller was in a quarterback competition last summer, with Wirtz eventually winning the starting job. Weller was the would-be hero against Edwardsville, throwing for 211 yards, running for 85 in the second half and leading the late go-ahead touchdown drive.
Now, he figures to be the guy for the Griffins his senior season.
“I’m excited to have a chance to be the starter, but I’m not taking it for granted,” he said. “I’m still competing this summer.”
Weller and Epich both said the team has been gaining a lot from summer competition.
“It’s good to get together with some other guys,” Epich said. “It’s better than just us all the time, beating each other up. We get a lot of work in, a lot of conditioning. We’re together almost every day. Playing other teams is even better.”
Weller and Epich, along with running back Alex Kraft, will be key senior leaders for the Griffins. It’s a role for which they believe they’re ready.
“I think being leaders is something expected from us with the positions we play,” Weller said. “We’re definitely taking on those roles. It’s different without having any players older than you. It’s a different feeling, but I like it.”