North Shore Country Day football season preview

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2014 schedule
Aug. 30 Chicago Hope, 1 p.m.
Sept. 6 Hiawatha, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 Mooseheart, 1 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Christian Liberty, 1 p.m.
Sept. 27 Christian Life, 1 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Marquette, 6 p.m.
Oct. 11 Luther North, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Alden-Hebron, 1 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Westminster Christian, 1 p.m.

Best game on the schedule: North Shore Country Day at Marquette, 6 p.m. Oct. 2

Marquette went 9-0 in conference last year and will potentially be North Shore’s toughest opponent. It’s also a 100-mile trip for the Raiders and their only weekday and evening game. They will have to be in top form after losing 49-0 to Marquette in 2013. “Those guys, they run a really good program down there,” Raiders coach Kevin Darling said. “We’re looking forward to going down there and having them host us. It’ll be good, it’ll be a big challenge.”

Best-case scenario: North Shore made the playoffs in 2010, 2011 and 2012, but last year dropped to 1-8 after eight impact players graduated. Only three seniors departed from the 2013 team, so an upperclassman-heavy team remains. A winning season is possible with the return of junior quarterback Jackson Gray and senior running back Danny Young. The key for the Raiders will be keeping their 22-man roster as healthy and fresh as possible.

Best member of the secondary: North Shore’s small roster means players play multiple positions. For example, Danny Young is also a free safety. He studies film and then calls out the opposing offense’s formations and shifts around his teammates during games. After the ball is snapped, Young’s preparation allows him to jump pass routes. “He’s a very smart player,” Darling said. “It’s a benefit since he never really comes off the field that he understands the route philosophy that the opposing teams are running, so he’s got good anticipation skills.”

Best student-athlete: Senior offensive and defensive lineman Jonathan Segal is interested in business and entrepreneurship and is considering attending Northwestern or Vanderbilt next year. He also founded and organizes the annual Dunk Alzheimer’s Basketball Bash at North Shore. The January event has raised $15,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association over its two years through outside donations, T-shirt sales and a dance after the tournament. “There’s no better North Shore kid in any respect than Jonathan Segal,” Young said.

Best teammate: North Shore only has a varsity football team, so freshmen are immediately playing with the big boys. Senior offensive and defensive lineman Mike Morette’s four years on the squad makes him a guide for younger players. “I’m always talking to them, seeing if they have any questions and doing anything I can to help them learn the playbook,” Morette said. “They’re a part of this team; we need them to succeed for us to succeed.”

Best season: The Raiders reached the Class 1A state semifinals under coach M.J. McCarty in 1977. They lost to eventual state champion Genoa-Kingston 28-14.

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2013 record: 1-8 overall, 1-8 Northeastern Athletic

2013 playoffs: Did not qualify

Head coach: Kevin Darling, entering second season

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