Lakes headed west to Woodstock North on Friday night to square off against their second straight opponent from the Fox Valley Conference's Fox Division.
Their reward at the end of the evening was a warm, fuzzy 2-0 start to their season after earning a 23-14 victory over the host Thunder.
"It is tough to play a team that you don't know," said Lakes coach Luke Mertens. "Grayslake North (last week's opponent) is our natural rival, so that was a fun game. However, it is also neat when two newer schools get to play each other."
What was also neat for the Lakes offense was the return of quarterback Chris Hoffman. He'd missed last week's game due to injury, and after throwing an early interception against Woodstock North, he settled in and directed a Lakes attack which finished with over 250 rushing yards.
As much as Hoffman's return boosted the offense, Week 1 starting quarterback Levi Haymaker continued to be a crucial part of the Eagles' game plan. Haymaker took a lateral from Hoffman behind the line of scrimmage and lofted a 28-yard strike to Justin Bergeron in the second quarter to extend the Eagles' lead to 13-0.
"We have been practicing that play and (the coaches) said, 'We are going to run it in the game,' and we scored," said Eagles running back Direll Clark, who led all rushers with 159 yards and scored the game's first touchdown.
"We thought we would have it there," said Mertens. "We felt that it was the right moment to call that play on a third and 7."
Woodstock North (1-1) came back and took a 14-13 lead in the third quarter with touchdown runs from running backs Ryan Wade (13 carries, 47 yards) and Adam Haimbaugh (9 carries, 53 yards).
Lakes regained the lead in the fourth quarter courtesy of Tanner Blain's 23-yard field goal. On the ensuing Woodstock North drive, Haymaker landed another huge blow by intercepting a pass from Thunder quarterback Brian Loftin and returning it to the end zone -- only to have the touchdown called back due to a penalty. The interception led to Clark's second rushing touchdown to cap the scoring.
"We just came up a little short today," said Loftin. "However, I am proud of every one of my guys out there tonight."