CHICAGO (CBS)–A new beginning will never be more true for Von Steuben, when the state high school football playoff kickoff this weekend. The Panthers are making their postseason debut against Kaneland on Saturday. As Megan Mawicke reports, it’s quite an accomplishment for the North Side School, that didn’t even have a football team until 2015.
“It definitely came from the students. They made it worthwhile. They asked for a football team,” says football coach David Rivera.
It was the seniors who pushed for the team when they were freshman. Von Steuben, a magnate school, went 95 years without a football team.
“The neat thing about starting a program from scratch, you don’t have to erase bad habits you just have to create good habits. The reason we’re having success now is they picked up on it early,” adds Coach Rivera.
They picked up on it so fast, just four years after the program started. They have a 6-3 record and are in the playoffs for the first time.
“Me come as a sophomore watching half the team as freshman, very uncoordinated. I’m proud of what they are able to accomplish,” says senior receiver Chris Hill.
“There’s a lot of schools programs who’s programs are dropping and we’re growing. We wanted to show that we can actually do this,” says junior safety Mohamedali Emrani.
Von Steuben football doesn’t have their own facilities. So they walk 10 minutes to Northeastern Illinois University’s field for practice and use the baseball dugout as their locker room to get dressed.
“At first I thought it was kind of odd, but over the years you just get used to it , as long as we are together,” adds Emrani.
“They’ve changed. They have grown as men, seen them as immature boys coming in 14-15 years old they’re selfish, they’re greedy and becoming a football player, they learn how their actions affect other people and their teammates. That’s one of the benefits of football,” says Coach Rivera.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, the program is already a big success.