Lake County All-Area Football Team Captain: Lincoln Adams, Lake Zurich

When the National Federation of State High School Associations made the jersey No. "0" legal in football in late 2022, Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz got right to work.

He created Agent 0.

"The No. 0 represents the selflessness of a great Lake Zurich football player," Planz explained. "The zero signifies this player creates zero issues on or off the field. They put 0 things before the team. This player has zero excuses preventing them from a relentless pursuit of attacking the process in and out of season. The player who wears the No. 0 is elected by their teammates to be Agent 0. Although only one player each year wears the No. 0, they represent the goal of all Lake Zurich football players - to be a player who holds themselves and others accountable, while being the best teammate, and a leader on and off the field. They place their effort into being someone who understands the traditions and values of the Lake Zurich football program and helps to lead others to understand what it takes to be a Bear."

Not surprisingly, Lake Zurich senior inside linebacker Lincoln Adams was voted by his teammates to be the first Agent 0 this season.

"Lincoln is one of the best linebackers to ever play for Lake Zurich. That is not something we throw around easily," said Planz, given alum Jack Sanborn currently plays for the NFL's Chicago Bears and his brother, Bryan, plays at the University of Wisconsin (redshirt sophomore this season). "He is the heart and soul of our team and one of the best people I have ever coached."

And also not surprisingly, Adams is the 2023 Captain of the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area Football Team.

Adams was a driving force in helping the Bears reach the state semifinals for a second season in a row. A third-year varsity starter (he missed his freshman season with a partial fracture in his back), Adams was part of Lake Zurich teams that racked up a 22-4 mark (including a 13-1 record in North Suburban Conference play) over the last two seasons, coming within a game each time of playing for a state championship.

The 6-2, 200-pound Adams, a 3-time all-North Suburban Conference selection and a 2023 Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 6A all-state selection, finished the season with 148 total tackles (76 solos, 72 assists) to go with 10 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback sack, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble in 13 games.

The 148 tackles obliterated Jack Sanborn's previous single-season record of 124 (set in 2017) and he also broke another school for most tackles in a game (held by James Becker since 2005) with 19 sticks against Belvidere North in the Class 6A state quarterfinals this season. He tied Becker's previous record of 17 twice this season against Stevenson and eventual 6A state-champion Cary-Grove. Sanborn finished as LZ's all-time tackles leader with 280. Adams walks out the Church Street front doors in second place all-time, six behind, with 274.

Adams also found time to hit the offensive backfield in key moments this fall, rushing 29 times for 135 yards and 5 touchdowns.

"He's the best player in Lake County," Planz said earlier this season. "He's all over the field on defense."

Adams' exploits on the field opened plenty of opposing eyes.

"He's a very good player - from talking with coach Planz and watching Lincoln on film, he was the heart of their team," one Lake County coach said. "He played on both sides of the ball. He was relentless as a defender and a tough ball carrier in short-yardage situations as well."

"Just a phenomenal athlete," another Lake County coach noted. "Tough player, smart kid with great instincts and plays sideline to sideline. He was definitely a force for Lake Zurich."

For Adams, an offseason dedicated to improvement paid huge dividends.

"I focused a lot last offseason on speed, agility and strength," said Adams, the owner of a 4.25 grade-point average at Lake Zurich. "I'm still working on the strength, but I got faster and more explosive. I will filling downhill this season. My overall tackling got better with putting more force into tackles and finding a way to be at every play - getting to the ball no matter where it is."

Lake Zurich senior tight end-defensive Cason Gwizdala said a strong work ethic and drive elevated Adams to elite status. "Lincoln worked so hard to get where he is," he said. "He always has wanted to work hard for himself and the others around him. He is selfless and does everything for his teammates. He does everything in his power to push his own limits and his team. He has a relentless desire to accomplish whatever he wants. I look up to him and the way he works hard and never gives up."

Bears senior quarterback Lucas Lappin said Adams never saw a challenge he didn't like. "No matter how tough the other team would hit or play, Lincoln took that as a challenge and played even harder. We wouldn't have had the season we had without him."

While Adams, who wants to play in college and is currently talking to University of South Dakota, Eastern Illinois and Northwestern (as a preferred walk-on in Evanston) turned in a performance for the ages on the field this season, he's beyond humbled that he was chosen to don the special jersey as Lake Zurich's first Agent 0.

"I was chosen to represent what the standard should be for the team," he said. "I was extremely honored to be chosen to start that tradition. It helped me step up even more as a leader on the field and in the locker room. I 100 percent enjoyed being a leader. I love the game and I love the people I play it with. I wanted to have the most positive effect possible for this team. We worked hard for every bit of this and ended up with a great season. I'm very thankful."

Kaneland's Dominick DeBlasio runs between Lake Zurich's Lincoln Adams (left) and Owen Peshek Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, during their Class 6A second round playoff game at Kaneland High School in Maple Park.
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