Crystal Lake South football coach Chuck Ahsmann was impressed with Crystal Lake Central quarterback Kyle Lavand’s performance against Grant last week.
“He reminds me a little bit of [former South quarterback] Drew [Ormseth],” Ahsmann said. “It’s the way he can throw and run. Just when you think you have him corralled, he gets away.”
Being mentioned as having qualities like South’s former do-it-all quarterback, the 2010 Northwest Herald Player of the Year, is high praise. Lavand, a senior and second-year starter, has put in the offseason work to improve. Lavand and the Tigers (1-0) host South (0-1) in a 7:15 p.m. nonconference game Friday at Owen Metcalf Field.
Central is leaning on Lavand to engineer its fast-break offense that wants to run a play every 12 seconds. The Tigers hope to dictate the pace, tire defenses faster and minimize how defenses can adjust through the quick tempo.
“I love it. It’s so fun to run, spreading them out,” Lavand said. “You can pick apart and read the defenses. It’s fun with the high-tempo when you’re wearing them down.”
Lavand (6-foot, 190 pounds) helped the Tigers to a 29-15 victory in their opener, throwing for 147 yards and running for 59. He completed 8 of 14 passes and threw one interception, along with one touchdown to wide receiver Matt Tegtmeier, who turned a short hitch into a 47-yard score.
“He was already an athletic kid, but he’s gotten a lot quicker and more athletic,” Tegtmeier said. “He’s a lot smarter with the ball. He throws balls where they need to be and it’s easy for us to make plays.”
Lavand spoke with Minnesota quarterback Chris Streveler, a Marian Central graduate who worked with former NFL quarterback Jeff Christensen at his Throw It Deep Academy. Three or four times a week, for four months, Lavand attended Christensen’s camps and honed his footwork and throwing motion.
Lavand also worked on his speed and agility with trainer Chris Leathers at Your World Fitness in Spring Grove, then with trainer Dave Davis at Davis Speed Center in Crystal Lake. He also lifted and added 15 pounds.
“I definitely wanted to put on good weight and improve my quickness and speed,” Lavand said. “I wanted to get more arm strength and accuracy. And just become a better leader for everyone.”
Central coach Matt Fralick says the difference is quite evident. Lavand dropped his 40-yard dash time from 4.9 to 4.68 seconds and made the Tigers’ 1,000-pound club (combine lifts of bench press, squat and dead lifts).
“Kyle, his father [Ken] and I sat down and talked about what he needed to do to play college football,” Fralick said. “The biggest thing in my opinion was to get faster and stronger. He already had a very good, accurate arm, but I felt he needed to become more of a running threat. He never misses a day [training] and leads through example, as he did in the previous offseason as well.”
Fralick admires Lavand’s commitment and feels he will be successful in whatever he does later in life.
“He’s a team-first player and leader off the field,” Fralick said. “He doesn’t get rattled by adversity, he doesn’t get too up or down, he just moves on to the next play.”
The Central-South rivalry was renewed two years ago and the Gators have had the best of it with 9-0 and 16-6 victories. The Tigers will be at a disadvantage with running backs Ryan Williams and Connor Hines both out of this game after being ejected late in the game against Grant.
South had its own problems in its opener, a 28-2 loss to Marian Central. The Gators did not advance inside the Hurricanes’ 20-yard line and allowed two long touchdown passes.
“We did some things really well, we just couldn’t hit a big play that could have turned the tide in the game,” Ahsmann said. “If we have that opportunity, we have to hit it, that’s kind of the key.”
Ahsmann thought the big pass plays against his defense were uncharacteristic of the way the Gators have played.
“We have to make Central drive the field, it’s hard for anyone to drive the field without making mistakes,” Ahsmann said.