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Lazerus leaves indelible mark on sports section

Kankakee Valley head coach Brad Stewart shakes hHobart head coach Ryan Turley after Hobard defeated Kankakee Valley 38-0 Kankakee Valley

Kankakee Valley head coach Brad Stewart shakes the hand of Hobart head coach Ryan Turley after Hobard defeated Kankakee Valley 38-0 at Kankakee Valley Highschool in Wheatfield on Friday October 19, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 25, 2012 11:47AM



Mark Lazerus picked an unlikely profession in which to be a savant: sports writing and editing.

I’m sure he could’ve been a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or even worked on Wall Street, but he fell in love with newspapers, boxscores, the New York Islanders, Mets, Knicks and Giants, and Northwestern football and basketball. Sports writing as a noble pursuit? I sure as hell think so.

A few things you might not know about “Laz”, as some people around the office like to call him.

He graduated high school at 17 in 1997 and from Northwestern’s School of Journalism, the best j-school in the country, at 21, one quarter early. He became the sports editor of the Post-Tribune at 28.

Of the thousands of e-mails he sent to us dispensing instructions, I once found a typo. One time. I was going to rip him mercilessly for the mistake but I let it go. I got busy and forgot about it. I was waiting for the second mistake to jump on him. I’m still waiting.

He was absolutely the most talented all-around editor I ever worked with. He could write snappy headlines, copy edit and design pages, while simultaneously massaging the massive egos of his writers while he made 16 phone calls for the five stories he was writing.

He was fast, too. He could do all that in an eight-hour day.

His preseason high school football preview section (make no mistake about it — that was his section) is a standard-bearer for the industry. In an age in which resources and space for newspapers is dwindling, he made certain our high school football readers, the backbone of this section, were as informed as any reader in the country about their team — and that truly is not an exaggeration.

On a personal note, he was always courteous and kind-hearted when he found mistakes in my stories and columns. I’m sure he saved my butt way more than I even know.

He was always complimentary of stories done well, a trait that is not universally practiced in this business.

After four years as the boss, Laz got the call last week. The good ones usually do. He was hired by the Sun-Times. The good news is that his byline will still be in the paper. He will cover the Blackhawks when the NHL lockout ends.

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Hobart football coach Ryan Turley isn’t optimistic that a review of the scrum that happened during Friday’s game with Kankakee Valley will absolve wide receiver Anthony Burgos of his one-game suspension.

Burgos, the best wide receiver for the Brickies, has to sit out against Mishawaka in the sectional semifinals because he was ejected, along with KV’s Johnny Morrison, after a pile-up occurred and punches were thrown.

Problem is, Burgos didn’t throw a punch. What happened in the melee happened quickly and it escalated out of control even more rapidly.

Let me say this: The officials were doing the best they could to control the situation, which was potentially a dangerous one.

However, they wrongly implicated Burgos right after the incident, according to Turley, as someone who threw a punch. He didn’t.

Burgos did a hit a KV player high with his helmet. Turley believes it happened within the confines of the play — meaning before the whistle blew.

The officials changed their story to say that Burgos “viciously” hit a KV player high.

At worst, that should’ve resulted in a personal foul penalty, assuming it happened before the whistle blew.

Turley has moved on. He was reluctant to even talk on the record about it. This is where the IHSAA should step in and make the right call. That would take time and someone actually taking the effort to watch the tape and talk to officials and coaches. That’s why it probably won’t happen.

It’s important this time because Burgos is a senior and this could be his last game.

It would be a shame if his season ended because of a mistake by the officials.

Follow Mike on Twitter
@MikeHuttonPT



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