Highland Park football is hungry for playoff spots and ready to ‘make a statement’

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If the excitement of Highland Park High School football practice seems heightened this season, that’s because it is.

From a literal standpoint, the Giants’ program is seeing an increase in attendance that has boosted the buzz at Wolters Field. Additionally, among that larger group are more than a dozen returning starters from a 2021 team that finished short of the playoffs with a 4-5 mark for the third straight regular season.

That’s the formula behind a team who are excited for their opener against Leiden on Friday night August 26 at Highland Park.


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” I’m excited. We’re excited,” said Jacques Munkhjargal, a senior defensive tackle for the Giants. “I think me and everyone as a team want to make a statement. We want to prove a lot, because we have a lot to prove. And it’s going to start that night. Everyone is going to see how we have improved.

Leading them into competition is freshman coach Anthony Kopp, a Highland Park (2009) alum who played football (quarterback) and baseball (pitcher) at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Assistant coach of the Giants for 10 years, Kopp knows the program and the ghosts well. Looking at the field experience, he feels lucky.

“I said I’m very lucky for this situation I got into,” Kopp said. “Coach (David) Lindquist has done a great job putting this program together. Taking over for him is great, and then getting into a situation where we have so many returning starters who are also good workers, to do their job and understand the team game.


GIANT KEY TURNERS

OFFENSE: QB David Finfer, RB/DB Nikko Rosenbloom, WR/DB Emmett Pulte, WR Andrew Cortes

DEFENSE: DT Jacques Munkhjargal, LB Tyler Glezer, CB Asher Stern


First-year head coach Anthony Kopp works with the Giants offense in practice.

Last season, the Giants did not play close games. The closest finish was a 13-point Giants win over Maine West in the season finale and a 13-point loss to Lakes in Week 2. HP’s other four losses were 33, 23 , 29 and 22 points, respectively.

Kopp believes the team’s experience and confidence will close that gap and push the Giants into playoff contention, a spot they haven’t held since 2017.

It won’t be easy. To their non-conference schedule, the Giants have added Buffalo Grove and Hersey, two teams that have combined to win 16 games in 2021. Highland Park, however, will also face Leyden and Hubbard, neither of whom made the playoffs the season. last, at home to start. the season.

From there, the Giants will move through a five-game Central Suburban League North slate against 2021 playoff teams Deerfield (league champion) and Vernon Hills, as well as Niles North, Maine West and Maine East.

As one of 10 juniors returning to the starting lineup, Nikko Rosenbloom believes Highland Park has what it takes to claim that elusive fifth victory.

“We want to make the playoffs. We want to win,” he said.

The tailback was an All-CSL selection a year ago and helps lead an experienced offense until it also includes quarterback David Finfer and wide receivers Emmett Pulte and Andrew Cortes.

Kopp said Finfer increased his leadership abilities and size in the offseason, spending quality time in the weight room. Rosenbloom said the balanced offseason will boost numbers this season.

“I think we can do some really good things this year,” he said. “We have a very good quarterback. A lot of passes are going to happen and we can run the ball.


Highland Park Football Schedule 2022

Time Date Far from home Opponent Record 2021 Result 2021
7 p.m. on Friday, August 26 H Leiden 3-6 N / A
1 p.m. Saturday, September 3 H Hubbard 2-7 N / A
7 p.m. Friday, September 9 A Buffalo Grove^ 9-2 N / A
6:30 p.m. Friday, September 16 H Hersey^ 7-3 N / A
7 p.m. on Friday, September 23 A Nils North* 4-5 L, 30-7
7 p.m. Friday, September 30 A Deerfield*^ 9-2 L, 35-6
6 p.m. Friday, October 7 H East Maine* 0-9 W, 48-6
6:30 p.m. Friday, October 14 H Vernon Hills*^ 2-7 L, 28-6
6:30 p.m. Friday, October 21 A Maine West* 2-7 F, 20-7
* Conference opponent, ^ 2021 playoff team

On the other side of the ball, Rosenbloom anchors an experienced secondary that also includes Pulte and cornerback Asher Stern. Talented linebacker Tyler Glezer sets the tone in the middle, and Munkhjargal puts forward a defensive line that excites Kopp.

“Our defensive line has been playing really well lately,” the coach said. “If we can get a good pass and force the quarterback off the ball, I really trust our secondary to make a few plays.”

The pieces are in place for Kopp and company, and the hard part begins Friday night at Wolters Field.