Rams football forms new identity

Rams football forms new identity in a record breaking season


Andrew Oelschlager

Varsity quarterback Daryl Overstreet prepares to throw a pass against North Chicago in their last home game. The team ended the season with a winning record of 3-2, which hasn’t been done at Central for almost ten years. “I think we’ve created a fabric of belief of hard work,” said Maloney.

Ryan Atkinson, Staff Reporter

From wearing masks while playing, to a constantly changing practice schedule, and fewer games in the season, that did not stop the Grayslake Central football team from having one of their best seasons in the past ten years. This year in high school sports brings many challenges and a smaller window of opportunity for students to perform.  

Head varsity football coach Michael Maloney was focused on changing the culture when heading into this season.“We really need to learn how to prepare, do things right off the field, learn how to win, and be able to keep your focus in your head when there’s some adversity going on,” said Maloney.

Grayslake Central junior and starting varsity quarterback Daryl Overstreet expected only nothing less than a successful season.“I expected to have a winning season and to be able to compete against every team in our conference. Personally, I wanted to be the best leader that I could,” said Overstreet.

Grayslake Central senior, starting varsity wide receiver and cornerback Colin O’Malley explained what changes had to be made to improve.“One of the main challenges we had was staying disciplined. It was a matter of doing your job consistently throughout the entire game. Disciplined teams win games,” said O’Malley.

Coach Maloney pointed out some athletes who showed they truly put in work during the offseason.“One of the most improved kids has been Aaron Slattery. We had an offensive lineman who dealt with an injury halfway through the season, and Aaron stepped up at right tackle and he’s really put in the work in the weight room and put himself in a position to be prepared,” said Maloney.

Slattery wasn’t the only lineman that stepped up this season. According to Maloney,“Matthew Ogunube put together a season I don’t think that anyone was expecting as far as how consistent and physical he performed. He was dealing with a little bit of injury but battling through it and just laid it on the line for his teammates,” said Maloney. Also, “I really liked Daryl stepping up. In some of the plays we had on tape that weren’t followed through upon were hit this year and that comes from his moxie, his leadership, and performance,” said Maloney.

Overstreet’s improvements at the quarterback position were not silent. He broke the school’s record for passing yards in a single game. His high performance also contributed to O’Malley breaking the school record for most receiving yards and touchdowns in a single game for a receiver.

According to Overstreet, “The offense this year flowed really well. We got key pieces back like Colin, Kurt, Luca, Jonas, and myself as well as we kept our awesome offensive line who in my opinion is the best in the county. Then we added Kaiden Miller who is a stud and really good.” 

The defense showed major growth and stepped up in times most needed. “Our defense was not as solid as our offense, but we pulled through. We had some clutch 4th and goal stops, and we were more physical than any other Central team I have been a part of,” said O’Malley. 

When reflecting on his performance this season, Overstreet explains that it could not have been done without his teammates. “I feel like I had a great year, but due to COVID ending it early I didn’t meet the 1000 yards that I wanted. I had some rough games that I wasn’t happy about, but my teammates helped me regain confidence and play better the next week,” said Overstreet.

O’Malley was satisfied to say he gave it his all. “I met my expectations of how I thought I would play this season. I knew it was my time and I knew I had a lot to prove, so I left it all out on the field.” 

Maloney, who also is the offensive line coach, has high praise for the progress his men upfront made since last year. “Our offensive line was a mainstay from last year this year, so the blocking and the intricacies of our offensive group, but the biggest thing that you can see on the field was we were, we were a threat to take a shot at any point, which opened up the run game and allowed us to run our system,” said Maloney.

Unfortunately, the team’s season was cut short a day before a monumental game against town rival Grayslake North due to the team being exposed to COVID-19.

“I went through all the emotions. I grieved like it was a death because I know how precious our games are for young men and to take that last one away. There were a lot of things that could have happened in that game that were really good for our program and for our individuals. . . But most of all I felt really heartbroken for our seniors to not get that last opportunity,” said Maloney.

O’Malley was disappointed with the sudden end but is confident his guys will take care of business next year. “I was really upset we couldn’t play our last game against Grayslake North. They continue to get lucky when it comes to playing us. Our boys got them next year; it’s been a long time coming.”

Although the team played three fewer games this year, they were able to achieve a winning season of 3-2, which hasn’t happened at Central for almost a decade. This achievement shows a bright future for the program. “I think this season shows we are a force in the conference, and we aren’t leaving anytime soon. We showed that our past years don’t shape who this team really is,” said Overstreet.