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Playing to (Bald)win Dedicated Highland Park High School safety sets the tone in win over Cougars BY KEVIN REITERMAN, SPORTS@NORTHSHOREWEEKEND.COM


uke Baldwin is wildly enthusiastic about football. Which impresses his coach — thoroughly. “He’s a kid that needs football as much as football needs him,” says Highland Park High School head football coach Joe Horeni. “If he’s not playing football, what’s he going to do? Play chess? “And there’s nothing wrong with chess,” the coach adds. But Baldwin, a 5-foot-8, 170-pound safety, plays football with an unapologetic passion and checkmate precision. “He’s 100 percent dialed in,” says Horeni. “He’s what you want in a high school football player. He makes the most of every second that he’s out there. “He embraces the game,” the coach adds. “Has fun with it.” A pumped-up Baldwin gave it his all in HP’s 27-14 victory over host Vernon Hills on Sept. 22. The two-year starter helped to set the tone in this CSL North battle, when he came up with a critical pass breakup at the goal line on a fourth-andshort call late in the first quarter. “A great play,” says Horeni. “He’s always out there flying around.” Baldwin wanted the interception. He settled for the pass breakup. “We were in man coverage,” Baldwin says. “I saw him run the out route, and I jumped it.” Baldwin also had a PB late in the second quarter on a sideline toss by Vernon Hills quarterback Derek Jarrell. He played that one to perfection. “I’m better at tackling, but I had a chance to make a play on the ball there,” says Baldwin. “I gave it my best effort.” Baldwin went into the game at Vernon Hills flying high after coming up with arguably his best game ever against Prospect a week earlier. In the 31-7 victory over the Knights, Baldwin made 11 tackles, broke up three passes, intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. Thus, Baldwin was bursting at the seams to get going against the Cougars. On a

some interest. “I’m trying to do whatever it takes to play at the next level,” says Baldwin, who plans to study sports journalism or health and wellness in college. “Just want to do something in sports,” he says.

The other offensive standout for HP was junior Giancarlo Volpentesta. Perhaps, Volpentesta means Versatile One. He definitely showed his range in this game. At 6:01 left in the first quarter, Volpentesta caught a five-yard TD catch on a fade in Notable: Jared Bloom was the right corner. — please permit — in full Then, with 8:53 remaining bloom. in the second quarter, VolpenThe junior became Highland testa snagged a short pass from Park’s first 100-yard rusher of John Sakos in the right flat, the season in the win over forcefully broke a couple of Vernon Hills. tackles and raced into the end On the third handoff in HP’s zone for a 69-yard score. first series, Bloom used a Unfortunately, Volpentesta number of spin moves and (3 catches, 82 yards) missed the ended up twisting and turning second half with an injury. his way into the end zone on a And then, there’s Noa Mor38-yard run. genstern. “Just following my blocks,” His final numbers will look like a misprint: 5 ½ sacks, 13 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup. The junior defensive end/ outside linebacker was unmistakably impressive in this Week Five contest. No one on the Vernon Hills side could block No. 7, who lined up on both edges. “Just listening to my coaches,” said Morgenstern, an outfielder on the HP baseball team. Five and ½ sacks. “I wasn’t counting,” he said. “Just kept getting ready for the next play. “I was taught a lot of new methods [earlier in the week],” — Head football added Morgenstern. “It was coach Joe Horeni. fun.” He certainly played with purpose and fire. But his night said Bloom, who finished the wasn’t perfect. He was called game with 128 yards on 22 for two major penalties. carries. “I’ve been a running “His potential is limitless,” back since the fifth grade. So said Horeni, not pleased with I’m pretty comfortable running the infractions. “He can be an the ball. Don’t need to be elite player.” nervous.” The other defensive standThe slippery back also broke outs included junior inside free on a 15-yard TD run on linebacker Tommy Motzko (9 HP’s second series of the third tackles, 8-yard sack), senior quarter to put the Giants ahead defensive lineman Tyler Hunter 27-7. (1 ½ sacks, 1 other tackle for The Giants, who improved loss), Luke Baldwin (3 tackles, to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the 2 pass breakups) and outside CSL North, needed Bloom to linebacker Nick Heilizer (instep up — especially since start- terception). ing tailback Ryan Brincks didn’t dress for the game.

He’s a kid that needs football as much as football needs him.”

Luke Baldwin of the Giants reacts after breaking up a pass at the goal line against host Vernon Hills. His play helped HP come out a 27-14 winner. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB DICKER

game-opening pooch kick by Damien Campos, he accelerated down the left sideline and nearly beat everyone to the ball. “I was flying downfield,” says Baldwin. “Their return man picked it up a split second before I got there.” Not bad for a player dealing with some obvious pain. He’s

got turf toe — and a little bit of a limp to go with it. “That injury is as annoying as heck,” says Horeni. “You treat it and it’s fine. And then, a play later it gets inflamed.” Baldwin also is dealing with a sprained left ankle, which he sustained against Hersey in Week Three.

“Yeah, my feet are going through a lot right now,” he says. “I’m just trying to play through it.” Baldwin, who also plays baseball at the school, doesn’t want his football life to end. He’s put together a profile on the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) Recruiting website. He’s drawn

The North Shore Weekend East, Issue 260  

The North Shore Weekend East is published weekly and features the news and personalities of Wilmette, Kenilworth., Winnetka, Northfield, Gle...

The North Shore Weekend East, Issue 260  

The North Shore Weekend East is published weekly and features the news and personalities of Wilmette, Kenilworth., Winnetka, Northfield, Gle...