Sept. 2, 2009
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
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,”
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)