IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Jack Mislinski shook hands with a Congressman in Lincolnshire and used that same right hand to throw a touchdown pass in a football playoff game in Lake Forest — all in a span of about three hours.
How was your November 4?
Mislinski’s was eventful.
To say the least.
Lake Forest High School’s first-year varsity quarterback — as a senior — donned a sharp suit and a blue tie in the morning for a 25-minute interview with Brad Schneider, who represents Illinois’ 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s part of the application process for West Point candidates.
Mislinski then donned an entirely different set of togs for an afternoon battle with visiting Hoffman Estates High School in a Class 6A second-round state playoff game.
“The interview went well,” the 6-foot, 180-pounder said after the game, which started well (up 7-0, after one possession) for Mislinski and the Scouts but ended with Hoffman Estates (9-2) advancing to a state quarterfinal after a 48-28 victory.
Army hopeful Mislinski chose to ‘Air Force’ it on the sixth play of the game, completing a tight-spiral pass to a wide-open Luke Nolan for a 43-yard touchdown.
“Nice pass, a very nice pass,” Scouts coach Chuck Spagnoli said.
Hoffman Estates tallied its first TD at the end of the first quarter and then took a 14-7 lead on the first of senior quarterback Austin Coalson’s six TD passes and a two-point conversion. LFHS (6-5) answered with a one-yard TD run by senior running back Bryan Ooms (16 rushes, 77 yards) but did not score again until it trailed 48-14 in the fourth quarter.
The other memorable moment of Mislinski’s 11/04/17 involved a 32-yard reception. Mislinski — a wideout a year ago — caught a strike from junior wideout Ryan Cekay (4 catches, 81 yards) on a trick play midway through the second quarter.
Mislinski (10-for-20, 141 yards against Hoffman’s Hawks) finished with 16 receptions for 207 yards for a Class 6A quarterfinalist last fall.
His signal-caller numbers this fall, in 11 games: 118-for-216 (55 percent) for 1,459 yards, with 11 TDs and six interceptions. Mislinski was sacked only 12 times, and he rushed 76 times for 389 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and five TDs.
“Jack got better and better each game,” Spagnoli said. “He was put in a tough situation, not being a quarterback last year. But you have to feel good about the way he won the job and progressed. Maturation came with his progress.
“We’re all happy with the way Jack developed and led our team.”
Before the 2017 football season, Mislinski’s sports thing was lacrosse, lacrosse and more lacrosse. He’d made the Scouts’ varsity lax squad as a freshman and became a steady force in his junior season.
A lax ball sits in the backseat, behind a football resting in the shotgun seat.
“It surprised me,” Mislinski said of his increased interest in football this fall and the sport he’d like to pursue at the next level. “Trying to be a quarterback, then thinking about winning the job … all of that was in the back of my mind [as he entered the preseason in August]. I knew I had a lot to learn, had a lot to soak in at the beginning.
“I had some jitters during our four-game losing streak [to Stevenson, Warren, Libertyville and Lake Zurich, in Weeks 3-6], but that was against strong competition. I got over those and did my best to make sure we got it together at the end of the season.”
The Scouts put together a four-game winning streak before running into pass-happy Hoffman Estates last weekend.
Following a 20-minute post-game meeting with coaches last weekend, Scouts gridders — some of them sad, some of them frustrated, some of them with straight faces — exited a room near the team’s locker room. Many then met up with their position coaches.
LFHS senior linebacker John Deering, a 6-1, 220-pounder, patiently answered questions about the game, his standout career and his future in football. He then was asked to talk about Mislinski.
Deering’s entire face grew animated in an instant.
“Jack!” he bellowed with a football-sized smile. “Jack is the toughest dude I’ve ever met. He plays through it all — bleeding arms, fingers going in all kinds of wild directions, you name the injury.
“Jack,” he added, “is tough … Army-tough.”
Notable: LFHS senior running back Bryan Ooms ran for two touchdowns (1 yard, 2 yards) in the 48-28 loss to visiting Hoffman Estates in a Class 6A second-round playoff game on Nov. 3. Scouts senior defensive lineman Spencer Yauch scored the team’s final TD of 2017, chasing down an errant shotgun snap on a first down from Hoffman’s 21-yard line and carrying it into an end zone at 4:48 of the fourth quarter. … LFHS senior linebacker John Deering and sophomore defensive lineman Rylie Mills each blocked a Hoffman Estates extra-point attempt. … LF’s leading tacklers were Deering (5), Yauch (5), Eddie Scheidler (5), Alex Moss (4), Will Wisniewski (4), Luca Passinato (4) and Patrick Yale (4).