Denfeld News

Sept. 2, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Denfeld hoping for an improved season
By Rick Weegman

Luke Jazdzewski says his Duluth Denfeld classmates joke that, with his luck, he’ll probably be the first to contract the swine flu virus this fall.

After last year’s medical nightmares, Jazdzewski is keeping his fingers crossed that he stays healthy his senior football season. His teammates and coaches are relying on him to return to form and give the Hunters a chance at an improved season.

The Denfeld senior missed the first half of training camp and about half of the 2008 high school season after — in a span of a few months — contracting West Nile virus, coming down with mononucleosis and bronchitis during his recovery, having his tonsils removed and needing an emergency appendectomy to remove a nearly ruptured appendix.

“You’d have to witness it and experience it to believe it, because otherwise somebody would say, ‘He didn’t have all those things,’ ” Denfeld football coach Frank Huie said. “Yeah, he did.”

After receiving a mosquito bite on a camping trip near Mahtowa and suffering several unexplained symptoms, Jazdzewski spent three weeks at St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth. Jazdzewski said doctors took more than a week to diagnose the West Nile ailment, and by the time he turned the corner physically a few weeks later his weight had plummeted from about 180 pounds to under 100.

With his body’s immune system essentially shut down, Jazdzewski was susceptible to further problems. The mono and bronchitis hit as his strength began returning and he underwent the tonsillectomy two weeks before the opening game.

“I couldn’t move for three, four weeks,” he said. “I’m a pretty active kid so that bums you out. Knowing that I was going to miss the first couple weeks of football [practice] was pretty low.”

Teammates didn’t expect Jazdzewski to return at all his junior year, but he surprised them by regaining enough strength in time to play in the season opener.

“When you looked at him, he looked like a skeleton,” said Brendan Lawler, a fellow senior halfback and defensive back. “I didn’t think he’d be back, but seeing him come back was awesome. The whole team was pumped up.”

But following the fourth game of the season, Jazdzewski felt a sharp pain in his stomach. Three hours later, after another trip to the hospital, doctors told him he needed his appendix out and that his football season was over.

“[Doctors] said it was close to blowing up,” he said. “They were glad to get it out because something else could have gone wrong if that [ruptured].”

All the maladies gave Jazdzewski the impression he was the poster child for Murphy’s Law.

“I was a little scared thinking about being that unlucky and trying to figure out how to turn it around,” he said.

Jazdzewski hasn’t had any problems since. For the Hunters, who lost their last seven games to finish 1-7 in 2008, having a talented two-way player at halfback and defensive back can’t hurt.

“I would say he’s pretty close to full strength,” Huie said. “He’s sure enjoying football — a lot more than he did last year.”

Jazdzewski said doctors haven’t been able to give him a clear idea of what his future holds medically, but he’s just overjoyed to be on the field.

“I’m pumped that I’m 100 percent for my senior year and back out here hitting kids,” he said. “Being able to come back and play is definitely one of the better things to happen to me.”

Denfeld returns three-year quarterback Adam Scofield along with fellow seniors Brad Hoder at center and defensive line and Kyle Limoseth at defensive back. Juniors C.J. Ham (fullback-linebacker), Jordan Verry (split end-defensive line) and Tom Warren (tight end) also return.

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