The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Special teams explains its role

Putting the foot in football
Sophomore Jonah Kleiman attempts an extra point against Deerfield on Sept. 22. Kleiman converted the extra point in the fourth quarter to make the score 21-14, decreasing Deerfield’s lead. Kleiman converted two total extra points in the game which resulted in a 28-14 loss. Photo by Euben Ko

After a snap went over his head at midfield, senior Jack Philbin was forced to run to pick up the ball behind him. With defenders just five yards away, Philbin was able to get the punt off in time. The ball landed and rolled within Lane Tech’s 10-yard line during the team’s first game of the season on Aug. 26. 

“That allowed our team to get down there,” said Philbin. “So they weren’t able to return it, and they had bad field positioning, so [the punt] had a pretty big impact.” 

According to head coach Matt Purdy, special teams is an extremely important part of the team, and he considers it the lost art form. 

“Over the years, games are won and lost by a simple mistake on the special teams,” Purdy said. 

According to Philbin, special teams is an aspect of football that people usually do not see.

“Everyone knows offense, everyone knows defense,” said Philbin. “Special teams is the area that gets looked over the most, but it has extreme importance. Punt returns, kick returns, extra points and extra point blocks can really change the momentum of the game.”

In the game against Lane Tech, senior Patrick Schaller blocked a punt. 

“That made a difference in the game because that gave us good field position,” special teams coordinator Matt Miller said. 

Special teams is allocated one or two 10-minute segments of practice daily. 

“There are certain things we try to do almost every day, which is literally just have the kickers kick,” said Miller. “They need repetition just like you do for everything.” 

Sophomore Jonah Kleiman is the only player on the entire team who solely focuses on kicking.

“On offense or defense, everyone is moving and everyone is going,” said Kleiman. “During [plays involving] special teams or during a field goal, you’re only watching the kicker and that is what matters.”

Kleiman worked on staying focused while attempting extra points  at a special teams camp designed for kickers, punters and long snappers in Florida this past summer, he said. 

According to Purdy, Kleiman works on field goal and extra point drills during practice, but his workouts in the fitness center are not specific to kickers. 

“[His workouts are] no different than anybody else,” said Purdy. “We really focus on everyone doing the exact same thing. Everybody’s coming in doing total body workouts across the board.”

According to Kleiman, he wears one of his favorite coaches’ cleats on his left foot, which is his kicking foot, and a regular soccer cleat on his right foot for both games and practices.

“So [my coach Mason Laramie] kicks with the right one, and I have the left one to kick with,” Kleiman said. 

As of Oct. 2, Philbin leads the team with six touchdowns. Kleiman has converted four extra points. Philbin leads the team with 489 rushing yards and an average of 5.15 yards per carry (1-5, 0-2 Central Suburban League South Division).

“It’s pretty satisfying when you get off a good punt or the special teams make a good play,” said Philbin. “It really gets your team going.”

About the Contributors
Chris Andreou, Sports Editor, Executive Advertising Editor
Chris Andreou (‘24) is a Sports Editor and Executive Advertising Editor and has been a member of Torch since his sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Sports Editor (22-23), Advertising Editor (22-23).
Dani Gichner, Staff Writer
Dani Gichner (‘24) is a Staff Writer and has been a member of Torch since her sophomore year. Previous positions: Staff Writer (21-22), Staff Writer (22-23).