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Lake Zurich Friday 09.07.12. Mundelein's Josh Aranda runs with the ball during their game against Lake Zurich on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012, in Lake Zurich. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Keeping one’s chin up when the going gets tough is easier said than done, perhaps more so for members of a football team that rarely enjoys successful results.
Such is the case this season at Mundelein, as the Mustangs fell to 0-3 under first-year coach George Kaider after a 49-0 loss to host Lake Zurich Friday night. Things were tough for Mundelein from the get-go, as the Bears bolted to a 21-0 lead with 7:24 still left in the first quarter en route to a 35-0 halftime cushion.
But the Mustangs showed their mettle, battling to the end despite the huge deficit.
“One of the things I want people to understand: Every group of coaches, officials, people in the stands — they comment on how this is the first Mundelein team in many years that doesn’t quit,” Kaider said. “And there’s something special in that. These kids have done more in the last six months to change the culture ... to lay the foundation for the future of Mundelein football. Their attitude and work ethic are phenomenal.”
That starts with a pair of seniors: Nick DeVito, a 5-foot-8, 195-pound running back/defensive back/linebacker, and RB/LB Josh Aranda (5-9, 170). Each of two-way players was cited by Kaider for maintaining grace — and leadership — under pressure during trying times.
“First of all, they’re our best football players, and it’s important that your best players are your leaders,” said Kaider, whose resumé includes head-coaching stints at Richmond-Burton (2000) and Pekin (2008), and a long run as a defensive coordinator at McHenry. “They’re our most physical players, and our most explosive. The others look up to them — they’re the type of kids you can count on. I believe our current senior class has won one game in high school, and I think they’re tired of losing. So, they understand winning is a process, and they feel good about laying a foundation. We’re measuring ourselves by the improvements we’re making, and not wins and losses.
“And those two, in particular, remain upbeat and want to continue to improve. One of the things, with our seniors, we ask what does leadership look like. When you have leadership, you have accountability, and Josh and Nick are two kids who will do that.”
Bring it on, DeVito and Aranda said.
“On the field, (other players) look over to you, and you can help them out,” DeVito said. “If someone has their head down, don’t worry about the score, and work harder to get better.”
Added Aranda: “Being on the field so much, I’m trying to keep everyone’s heads up to be motivated. As long as we have each other, no matter what the score is, coach Kaider says to play hard and keep everyone’s confidence up. You have to show the other kids — let them remember who you are, and cheer them up. If you show you’re down, it would be a chain reaction. A lot of people would quit functioning.
“No matter the score, we understand that as long as we fight back and give 100 percent, there’s no need to keep our heads down.”