Lincoln-Way East's Langenderfer is 150 pounds of dynamite

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Lincoln-Way East's Langenderfer is 150 pounds of dynamite

Kyle Langenderfer describes himself as a wrestler who plays football. But this is a very emotional week for the defending state 138-pound wrestling champion who does a very good job of masquerading as a 5-foot-8, 150-pound linebacker for Lincoln-Way East's unbeaten football team.

On Saturday, win or lose, he will put on his football uniform, shoulder pads and helmet for the last time and play the last game of his life against Glenbard West for the Class 7A championship in Champaign.

For a kid who recalls playing flag football in first grade and tackle football with the Mokena Burros in third grade, being coached by his father, playing with his friends, it is a very emotional experience.

"It hits you. This is my last football game," Langenderfer said. "In truth, I was thinking about it the other day with my dad. We are a football family. My dad played football at a small military school on the East Coast. If you are a Lincoln-Way East football player, the community knows you. It is sad for it all to come to an end.

"But this is the best way, in the final. I'd rather go out on top than in the second round, like the last two years. Oh, I do think about if I had more size, what my life would be. But you play the cards you are dealt. On Saturday afternoon, I'll put on my football uniform for the last time."

His athletic career won't end on Saturday, however. He has accepted a scholarship to wrestle at the University of Illinois. In college, he'll compete against other 149-pounders. He won't have to face 300-pound offensive linemen any longer. He'll miss the challenge.

"How many people have told me that I'm too small to play football? Too many to count on first impression," he said. "Usually before they see me play they say I'm too small to play. But after they see me in practice or a game, they lean to thinking I'm not too small."

Langenderfer admits he probably is 5-foot-7 rather than the listed 5-foot-8 on the roster. But that doesn't take away from his tenacity and nasty demeanor on the turf. Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar refers to him as "our mini-Clay Matthews," comparing him to the Green Bay Packers' mercurial linebacker.

"He is an All-State football player, just a shorter body," Zvonar said. "He is as physical and aggressive and quick and ferocious as any football player we have had. His wrestling skills carry over to the football field. He sets the tone for our physicality on defense. He is our team leader on defense. He can come off the edge and rush the passer or he can drop into coverage. He is hard to block."

But there came a time last spring when Langenderfer had to make a difficult decision. Wrestling or football? He had won a state title in wrestling and had a scholarship offer from Illinois. Did he want to skip his senior year of football to concentrate on wrestling? Or would he try to win a state title in football with his friends?

"He was being pulled in a lot of directions in recruiting," Zvonar said. "It is tough for a multi-sport athlete when he is elite in one sport. He had to sort out his future after the state wrestling meet. In the spring, he wasn't sure what to do. But he signed for Illinois in wrestling and decided to complete his senior year in football. It was a happy ending to the story when he decided to finish out his football career with his friends and teammates."

Langenderfer started wrestling when he was 4 years old with the Orland Park Pioneers. His older brother was too big to play football at his age so he began wrestling and Kyle followed him around the mat.

"I loved wrestling, the one-on-one aspect," Kyle said. "It's just you on the mat. Sure, it's embarrassing if you get pinned. You win or lose by yourself. But there is no better feeling than pinning an opponent. You get out of it whatever you put in it. What you do is what you will get on the mat."

He placed sixth in the state at 125 as a freshman, second at 135 as a sophomore and won at 138 as a junior. As a senior, he likely will compete at 145. At Illinois, he could be a 149-pounder.

He started to play flag football in first grade, then tackle football in third grade with the Mokena Burros. He also played baseball and hockey. Why football?

"I was into contact sports in general. I liked the contact and the team aspect. And my dad coached me in fourth and fifth grade," he said.

"I liked the team aspect of football, more than wrestling. I was playing with my best friends. It was fun to play, flying around. I got better when I was in high school. I had more time with my friends. My friends and family went to Burros games. But in high school we had a chance to play in front of the school and the community and the state."

The challenge of competing against 300-pound offensive lineman was appealing to him. As a sophomore, he weighed 135 pounds at most. He "got landed on" by a big lineman. But he insists he never, ever has been "washed out, blown away or pushed around." And he hasn't been "landed on" since. He learned to play smart, utilize his speed and explosiveness, use his feet and hit and shed blocks.

"I learned from that experience. As a junior and senior, I didn't back down from anyone," he said.

Lincoln-Way East's 4-4 defense is testament to Langerderfer's resolve.

"We are aggressive and scrappy. Any position you put us in, we'll battle you, whatever you are trying to do. From defensive line to linebacker to defensive back, we have no weak link, no area to pick on," he said.

When the season began, he set some goals for himself and his team. "I wanted to be the best player I could. Being an All-Stater was a goal. I wanted to break the 100-tackle mark (he has 112). And I wanted a pick-six (return an interception for a touchdown). I haven't got one yet. I'll see if I can get one this week. But the biggest thing was the team championship," he said.

As he prepares for the trip to Champaign, he is trying to keep everything in perspective.

"It will be the last time I put on my football uniform. But I still have a job to do. I don't want to let my emotions take over. One thing is for sure: I'll keep a film of the game," he said.

"I've been on the varsity since I was a sophomore. In the last two years, we lost in the second round of the playoff. Last year was very disappointing. We thought we had a state championship team. So this season we wanted to have a rebirth of Lincoln-Way East football on offense and defense. We have sold out to do it. And here we are."

CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

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CSN to carry expanded, live SoxFest 2017 opening night coverage

4:00 PM on CSN & CSNChicago.com -- LIVE SoxFest 2017 “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by Chuck Garfien & CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes,

featuring live interviews with numerous White Sox players, coaches, and front office execs!

5:00 PM on CSN -- Special SoxFest 2017 edition of “SportsTalk Live” - hosted by David Kaplan featuring special White Sox guests!

Complete SoxFest coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘WhiteSoxTalk’ section via reports from Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, and White Sox digital reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include the latest Convention news, live streaming segments, and special CSN prize giveaway details! 

Chicago, IL (January 24, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago White Sox, is ready to start up the 2017 MLB season in a big way with expanded, live Opening Night coverage from “SoxFest 2017,” which will be held downtown this weekend (January 27-29) at the Hilton Chicago.

On Friday, January 27 beginning at 4:00 PM CT on CSN & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of “SoxFest 2017’s” Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of White Sox players/coaches/broadcasters/front office executives, plus video montages, and much more.  CSN’s “SoxFest 2017” Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by White Sox Pre/Post Game Live host Chuck Garfien and CSNChicago.com White Sox “Insider” Dan Hayes, which will feature live interviews with White Sox players, coaches, and team VIP’s.

Immediately following the Opening Ceremonies coverage at 5:00 PM, CSN’s “SoxFest” coverage continues with live player/coaches/team exec interviews from the annual fan convention, along with detailed 2017 White Sox discussion, on SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado (hosted by David Kaplan).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive SoxFest coverage on CSNChicago.com’s WhiteSoxTalk section (csnchicago.com/white-sox) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Garfien, Hayes, CSN White Sox beat reporter Siera Santos, CSNChicago.com White Sox digital baseball reporters JJ Stankevitz & Paul Roumeliotis, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes White Sox experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow “SoxFest” updates all weekend long via Twitter from Garfien (@ChuckGarfien), Hayes (@CSNHayes), Santos (@SieraSantos), and Stankevitz-Roumeliotis/WhiteSoxTalk (@CSNWhiteSox). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest fan convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s “SoxFest” booth.

In addition, fans are urged to follow @CSNChicago on Instagram & Snapchat for enhanced, exclusive content featuring real-time sights and sounds to experience all the exciting weekend festivities.  Plus, fans can also get interactive with CSN’s “SoxFest” coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #WhiteSoxTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s “SoxFest” booth this weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN White Sox announcers Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Steve Stone, and Jason Benetti, along with special, exclusive “player experiences,” where fans can meet White Sox stars for autographs, take selfies, and much more!  Fans in attendance need to follow CSN’s White Sox Twitter handle (@CSNWhiteSox) for full details about the player experience opportunities. In addition, fans can even pick up special CSN White Sox-themed giveaways throughout “SoxFest” weekend (while supplies last). 

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Dennis Rasmussen or Marcus Kruger could play Tuesday night and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Rasmussen did not skate Tuesday morning due to illness but coach Joel Quenneville said the center could still play vs. the Lightning. Quenneville said Kruger is "close" to playing — he was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon — and his status could depend on how Rasmussen feels.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks, sitting in second place in the Western Conference, are on a three-game winning streak entering Tuesday's game. The Lightning, the Blackhawks' 2015 Stanley Cup opponent, has struggled with injuries (Steven Stamkos has been out since November) and is last in the Eastern Conference. Despite the Lightning's struggles, Quenneville isn't taking the team lightly.

"Obviously they've had some health issues, significant guys missing big stretches of their year, but they still have guys out there that are skilled and it's an extremely dangerous team and a very competitive East side," Quenneville said. "I'm sure they'll be ready for tonight."

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start Tuesday night for the Lightning. Coach Jon Cooper said J.T. Brown and Jason Garrison are game-time decisions.

BLACKHAWKS VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com or NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm), Dennis Rasmussen (ill).

Tampa Bay Lightning (projected; some are game-time decisions)

Forward lines

Ondrej Palat-Vladislav Namestnikov-Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-J.T. Brown
Bryan Boyle-Valtteri Filppula-Jonathan Drouin
Michael Bournival-Cedric Paquette-Gabriel Dumont

Defensive Pairs

Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn-Nikita Nesterov

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilvskiy

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Steven Stamkos (knee), Brayden Point (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Jason Garrison (illness).