It was 5 p.m. last Friday, two and a half hours before Lake Forest High School was scheduled to play at Libertyville. A win would give the Scouts a share of their first North Suburban Conference Lake Division championship in 16 years._
Sitting in his coach's office at Lake Forest's West Campus, Jordan Beck waited on the news. Would he or wouldn't he play?
While his teammates ate their pre-game meal, Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli and offensive coordinator Phil DeWald told Beck that after consulting with his trainer, and his father, Dan, he wouldn't start.
"Unless a tsunami came out and washed out the town of Libertyville, I wasn't going in,'" said Beck.
With no rain predicted in the area that night, it was obvious to Beck that he would not play. He may not have been happy with the decision -- "it tore his face off," said Spagnoli -- but there would be more football in this 2011 season.
And he would dress, in uniform to watch his teammates play for a championship they eventually won.
"I kind of understood. I didn't argue as I knew it wasn't going anywhere," said Beck. "The biggest thing was going out and warming up with the team."
Path to Recovery
When the Scouts host Fenton Friday night in their opening-round Class 6A State playoff game, it will be three weeks since Beck's left elbow crashed down on the synthetic turf at Varsity Field.
Arm in a sling, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound leader of the Scouts watched his teammates hold on and defeat Warren that night. After a trip to the doctor, the diagnosis was ruptured tendons and a small crack in the elbow.
Beck's doctor told him the injury would need time to heal. He could still practice, participating in drills the week leading up to the Libertyville game. Another part of the healing process would involve more solitary activities: rehabilitation and therapy.
So for four days a week before school, Beck drives to Athletico in Bannockburn for physical therapy sessions. Exercises are tedious, like squeezing putty to strengthen the elbow or stretching it to promote flexibility.
"I love it because I can really feel my elbow regaining strength. I know it's going to get me back to 100 percent as fast as possible," said Beck.
Offense Back on Track
For the coaches, replacing the rehabbing Beck with Andrew Clifford was an easy decision. The backup has seen playing time all season and is comfortable in the offense. As a starter though, the offense sputtered with the 6-foot-3 junior under center.
Going into the Libertyville game, the offense hadn't scored in six quarters, managing just two field goals in a 16-6 loss to Lake Zurich on Oct. 14. The Scouts had six wins, a lock for the playoffs. For that reason, there was no reason to risk playing Beck.
But that's not why he didn't play.
"We didn't feel there was a good risk/reward," said Spagnoli. "His parents and I were not comfortable with him playing."
The long view more important than the short, any hit Beck took to the still- damaged elbow could lead to further injury and "could be a fracture, which is another set of problems," said Spagnoli.
Taking a Snap
There would be no problems with him dressing against Libertyville, a gesture as much practical -- he was the team's emergency quarterback -- as symbolic. He did play one snap, handing the ball off on the game's final play. His teammates cheered for their quarterback, knowing how impactful just his presence was on a night no one will soon forget.
"Just to see him come out gave us such a lift," said senior running back Owen Williams.
Said Beck: "I was scared. My hand was numb. I thought I was going to drop the ball."
He didn't, nor did the Scouts.
- For an update on Jordan Beck's playing status for Friday night's playoff game, look for Thursday afternoon's posting of "Inside the Huddle."