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Article updated: 10/18/2012 10:28 PM
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Football: Scouting Week 9, Lake County
 

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Football: Scouting Week 9, Lake County
 

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

Notre Dame (5-3, 3-2) at Carmel (2-6, 2-4)

Story Continues Below

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Notre Dame def. Joliet Catholic, 42-33; Carmel lost to St. Patrick 6-3 (2 OT).

Last year's result: Carmel def. Notre Dame, 26-7.

Skinny: With 38 playoff points and at least 2 more coming tonight, Notre Dame is all but officially playoff-bound, regardless of tonight's outcome in Mundelein. The Dons face a Carmel squad that, despite its 6 losses, has been competitive in every game. The Corsairs haven't lost any contest by more than 25 points, and that was a 31-6 defeat to powerhouse Lincoln-Way East on Opening Night. "What I'm trying to impress upon the kids is that sometimes life's not fair and the ball bounces the wrong way," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "What's important from our standpoint is that we play with pride and character, whether we win, lose or draw." Carmel, which will have its run of 12 straight playoff berths snapped, is seeking to end a three-game losing streak. "We want to go out on a high note, play as best as we can, beat Notre Dame and finish the season with a win in front of our home fans," Bitto said. Carmel has beaten Notre Dame 14 straight times, and while the Dons are the better team on paper this season, expect the Corsairs to give their best effort. "We practiced and coached as hard this week as we have all year, maybe even harder," Bitto said. "The older guys need to show the younger guys that this is an opportunity for them to learn and get better going into next year. And certainly a victory would take some of the bad taste off our palate." ... One Corsair who should be looking forward to tonight's game is junior running back Mitchell Zovnic, who started Opening Night but injured his shoulder and has not played since then. "I don't know exactly how much, but he'll play," Bitto said. "He'll have a more significant role (tonight)."... Notre Dame is coming off a win over Joliet Catholic, which was missing injured star Ty Isaac and fellow senior playmaker Tyler Reitz. The Dons love to throw the ball and play fast, but they also boast a good running back in junior Chris James, who rushed for 148 yards and caught a TD pass against Joliet Catholic. "It's always a battle when we play them," Bitto said. "It's never easy either way, if they're having a bad year, or we're having a bad year, or whatever."

-- Joe Aguilar

FOX VALLEY FOX

Grayslake North (7-1, 5-0) at Woodstock North (6-2, 4-1)

When: 7:15 p.m., today

Last week: Grayslake North def. Grayslake Central, 49-7; Woodstock North def. Hampshire, 46-14.

Last year's result: Woodstock North def. Grayslake North, 47-35.

Skinny: Grayslake North has already clinched a share of its first Fox Valley Conference Fox Division championship, but the Knights would like to win it outright, while avenging last year's loss and taking momentum into their first-ever postseason game. "Another big test to see where we are as a program," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "We have had a great week of practice and are ready." While Grayslake North has scored 350 points (best in the FVC), Woodstock North has surrendered only 116 (best in the FVC Fox). Against Hampshire last Friday, the Thunder scored on 5 plays covering at least 30 yards. Adam Haimbaugh rushed 12 times for 175 yards, including touchdown sprints covering 64 and 45 yards. Quarterback Brian Loftin added 153 rushing yards on just 8 carries, including 47- and 58-yard scoring runs. "They have a very good offense that will try and control the ball and a defense that creates turnovers," Wood said. "We need to control the ball and tackle if we are going to win the game." With 3 more touchdown runs last Friday against Grayslake Central, Grayslake North quarterback A.J. Fish has 24 for the season. He also threw 3 TD passes, hiking his season total to 15. ... Grayslake North is riding a seven-game winning streak since a 35-21 loss to Lakes on Opening Night. Woodstock North's only losses are to Lakes (21-7) and Crystal Lake Central (21-14).

-- Joe Aguilar

FOX VALLEY CROSSOVER

Crystal Lake South (5-3) at Grayslake Central (2-6)

When: 7:15 p.m., today

Last week: Crystal Lake South def. Jacobs, 32-29; Grayslake Central lost to Grayslake North, 49-7.

Last year's result: Crystal Lake South def. Grayslake Central, 32-14.

Skinny: The season ends tonight for Grayslake Central, and the Rams will look to go out on a positive note against one of the FVC's elite programs. The Gators, who seek to clinch a playoff berth for the 12th straight year, have won four in a row. Their 3 losses are to 8-0 Marian Central, 8-0 Cary-Grove and 5-3 Huntley, which edged the Gators 20-19. With already 42 playoff points, Crystal Lake South is essentially guaranteed a postseason spot, regardless of tonight's outcome. The Gators have been clicking offensively during their current winning streak, as they've been averaging 31 points per contest. It's senior night for the Rams, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009. "Anytime you play Crystal Lake South you know it's going to be a challenge," Grayslake Central coach Ben Ault said. "They've obviously been a good, big school in our conference, especially the last several years. It's been a little bit of a tougher year for us, but it's senior night so the kids are still going to fight and play hard the whole game." Grayslake Central junior QB Alex Lennartz, who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus after injuring his knee prior to the Rams' Week-4 game against Woodstock, will end up missing his sixth consecutive game. "With a kid who's a junior, you never want to rush him back," Ault said. "He's got another year to play, and he's a basketball player, so you want to make sure he gets healthy." ... A bright spot for Grayslake Central against Grayslake North last Friday was its ability to rush the football. The Rams' Natori Galmore scored on a 74-yard run on the game's third play from scrimmage and finished with 101 yards on the ground, while Jourden Swopes gained 129 yards on 18 carries. "I think we're making great strides offensively," Ault said. "Defensively, the kids play hard all the time. They pursue. They're still tackling."

-- Joe Aguilar

NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE

North Chicago (7-1, 4-1) at Lakes (7-1, 5-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: North Chicago def. Mundelein, 38-15; Lakes def. Vernon Hills, 56-12.

Last year's result: Lakes def. North Chicago, 42-8.

Skinny: The regular-season finale amounts to a first-place showdown for the two playoff-off bound teams. Lakes is attempting to win its first outright NSC Prairie title since it started playing varsity football in 2005. The Eagles earned a share of their first division crown last season. While going 6-0 in the division would be nice and help secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs, the Eagles simply want to continue to do what's made them successful, and that's been getting contributions from all three phases (offense, defense, special teams). "The last thing we want to happen is to lose a game going into the state playoffs and have our confidence shaken a little bit," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "Conference is important to all teams, but it's also not the end-all, be-all for us. We have a goal, and our goal is we'd like to win state." ... While Lakes boasts ample offensive playmakers in RB Direll Clark (1,083 rushing yards, 16 TDs), QB T.J. Edwards (10 rushing TDs, 1,258 passing yards, 12 passing TDs), WR Justin Bergeron (12 catches, 3 TDs) and WR Andrew Spencer (18 catches, 3 TDs), North Chicago has a special one of its own in RB Arnold Shead. The Warhawks junior rushed for more than 300 yards against Mundelein last Friday. "There's no mistaking his playmaking ability," Mertens said. "He just pops out on film. He was a sophomore playing against us last year so we know he's a really good player. It's not like he's taking us by surprise at all. When you play great players like that, you have to be realistic: You're not going to stop those players. The biggest thing is, you just have to make sure they don't beat you." Looking to help keep Shead and QB Jay Amos Mays in check will be a defense that includes Drew Recker (team-best 39 solo tackles, 33 assists), Troy Crow (37 solos, 2 INTs), Blake Parsons (35 solos), Mike Brey (7 TFLs) and A.J. Goggin (5½ sacks). While Lakes leads the entire NSC in scoring at 41 points per game, the Eagles have allowed only 107 points, which is tops in the NSC Prairie and 3 fewer than North Chicago.

-- Joe Aguilar

Grant (6-2, 4-1) at Antioch (3-5, 2-3)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Grant def. Round Lake, 17-14; Antioch lost to Wauconda, 33-6.

Skinny: Last year, these two teams met not only during the regular season but in the playoffs as well. This time, only Grant, which got a first-round win over Antioch last year, will be moving on into the postseason…But Grant will be limping ahead rather than charging. The Bulldogs have been snake-bitten by injuries this season, dealing with everything from a broken neck to the loss of two 1,000-yard rushers from a year ago. Starting cornerback Christian Gomoll suffered a broken neck in Grant's win over Wauconda in Week 3. Then, a couple weeks ago, both quarterback Kyle Whitman and running back Jonathan Wells were lost for the season with a knee and shoulder injury respectively. On top of all that, the Bulldogs have been hampered by other injuries as well, some also season-ending. "It's been a tough season," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "But our guys aren't discouraged. They want to show everyone that they still deserve to be in the playoffs."…The Bulldogs will be running Jake Bychowski at quarterback. He is the back-up. He's had to deal with his own injury problems. He started the season at middle linebacker but missed some time with a sprained elbow (non-throwing arm). He's better now and will team up in the backfield with back-up Andy Cacchioine, who ran for more than 100 yards last week. Chris Smith (100-plus yards against Round Lake), Dade Bloomfield and sophomore Jeremy Bredwood, a recent call-up, will also get carries. "It will be running back by committee for us," Rous said. "We think we have a pretty good rotation to be able to do what we like to do, which is run the ball."…Antioch will be missing the playoffs for the first time in three years. In 2008, the Sequoits advanced to the semifinals.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Round Lake (0-8, 0-5) at Vernon Hills (1-7, 0-5)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Round Lake lost to Grant, 17-14; Vernon Hills lost to Lakes, 56-12.

Skinny: The end of this game will mark the end of the season for both of these teams. Round Lake is looking to at least duplicate last season's win total (1-8 in 2011) while Vernon Hills is looking to avoid its worst season in school history. The Cougars finished 2-7 in 2000, their first season with a varsity program. "It's hard, because we definitely didn't expect to be where we are," Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. "We're not used to this." Indeed, the Cougars have built quite a tradition of winning and postseason play. Although this will be the second straight playoff miss, Vernon Hills has made the playoffs in nine of its 12 years of existence. And in both 2001 and 2010, the Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals. "Every program has its cycles," Monken said. "We definitely had our opportunities this year. We had four games (St. Francis, Wauconda, North Chicago, Warren) that were decided on the final drive of the game. And we had another game (Antioch) in which we had an opportunity late to win. Sometimes, you just don't get the breaks."…Vernon Hills has also been hampered by injuries to key players, such as running back Dylan McNamara. He missed four games with a knee injury. He is cleared for tonight's game. Running back Sam Maloof also missed time, as did quarterback Brett Peterson. "The thing I've liked is that our guys have come out every day and kept working," Monken said. "They've kept playing hard and hopefully that will help us for next year."

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE

Stevenson (6-2, 4-1) at Zion-Benton (2-6, 1-4)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Stevenson lost to Lake Zurich, 21-14; Zion-Benton lost to Libertyville, 17-0.

Last year's result: Stevenson def. Zion-Benton, 31-7.

Skinny: Stevenson should be plenty motivated after seeing its five-game winning streak snapped at Lake Zurich last Friday. Moreover, a win for the Patriots will clinch for them no worse than a tie for first place in the NSC Lake. It would be their fourth straight division championship. Stevenson tied for the NSC Lake crown last year and won it outright in 2010 and 2009. "(Tonight) is a big night for the Patriots for two reasons," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We are playing Zion and they always play well on their turf, and we need to enter into the playoffs playing well in all three phases of the game. At times, we are a really good football team, but other times we are inconsistent. We are trying to improve our playing consistency as a team. We will certainly not overlook the Zee Bees and are looking forward to a great weekend. This is the best time of the year for high school football." ... Stevenson leads the NSC Lake with 233 points scored. Against Lake Zurich, Patriots sophomore QB Willie Bourbon ran for a touchdown and completed a TD pass to sophomore Cameron Green, but the Patriots were shut out in the second half. Zion-Benton has been shut out this season by Warren, Lake Zurich and Libertyville.

-- Joe Aguilar

Lake Zurich (6-2, 4-1) at Warren (5-3, 3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Lake Zurich def. Stevenson, 21-14; Warren def. Lake Forest, 21-18.

Skinny: By defeating Stevenson last week, Lake Zurich has put itself in the driver's seat in the North Suburban Lake Division. A win against Warren and the Bears will be the division champs outright. That would mark the second time in five years that Lake Zurich has earned such a distinction and the third time over that span that it notched a division title. Last year, Lake Zurich and Stevenson shared the division title. If, however, Lake Zurich would lose this game and Stevenson defeats Zion-Benton tonight, then Stevenson would be the outright champ. "We've been trying to maintain a high energy level the last couple weeks because we've been playing playoff caliber teams and Warren is one of those teams, too," said Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt, whose team boasts the stingiest defense in the Lake (4.75 ppg). "Our players expect to compete at that level. This is another big week for us."…Ditto for Warren. This is a big week for the Blue Devils, too. A win and they are into the playoffs with six wins. A loss and they finish 5-4 and have to hope that they have enough playoff points to qualify. Heading into tonight, Warren had the second-most points in the Lake Division with 39. "Without question, this is a big challenge for us and it's an important game for our program," said Warren coach Dave Mohapp, whose program has struggled against Lake Zurich and is 2-5 in seven meetings. "The best way for us to get in is on a win. We really want to get into the playoffs after missing last year."…The Blue Devils were 3-6 last season and missed the playoffs after four straight appearances and appearances in 11 of the previous 13 years. Lake Zurich, meanwhile, will be making its 12th straight playoffs appearance. The Bears have been the most successful playoff team in Lake County in recent years, having advanced to three state title games since 2006. The Bears won the Class 7A title in 2007. "I think we have a mental or psychological edge (at playoff time) because our players have been there," Proffitt said. "But Warren is dangerous. They are fighting for six wins. They'll be coming to play."…Warren has won three straight games and is finally healthy. This will be the first time the Blue Devils will be playing at full strength since Week 3…Lake Zurich has been banged up too, but was thrilled to have running back Connor Schrader back in the lineup last week. He scored 2 touchdowns against Stevenson. Quarterback Jake Stauner, meanwhile, missed the Stevenson game and is still questionable for this week.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Lake Forest (5-3, 2-3) at Mundelein (0-8, 0-5)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Lake Forest lost to Warren, 21-18; Mundelein lost to North Chicago, 38-15.

Skinny: Lake Forest is fighting for the playoffs. Mundelein is fighting for respect. First-year Mundelein coach George Kaider would love nothing more than to finish off a long and sometimes painful season with a win that could propel his program into next season. The Mustangs are already hopeful about their underlevel teams that combined for three wins and a freshman team that kept all 54 kids on the team from start to finish. "We're definitely not happy with our record this year. When you look at the scoreboard, it hasn't been good," Kaider said. "But there were a lot of positives that we accomplished behind the scenes that have allowed our kids to see the possibilities of what they can be next year. We've made gains in the weight room and in the way we practice. Against Lake Forest, I just really want us to compete the entire time. Sometimes this season, we would go out and just play football and not really compete and fight to win. That's the difference we're looking for. We have to make sure that we're always fighting to win and not just fighting to survive."…Mundelein spent part of its practice Thursday visiting veterans in a hospital in North Chicago. "There are some really neat things going on with our program," Kaider said.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

NORTH SUBURBAN CROSSOVER

Libertyville (6-2, 4-2) at Wauconda (5-3, 3-3)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last week: Libertyville def. Zion-Benton, 17-0; Wauconda def. Antioch, 33-6.

Skinny: Wauconda is on a roll and needs to keep that momentum going. The Bulldogs have won three straight games. A fourth consecutive win would give Wauconda a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, which would be big news in that community. The Bulldogs haven't made the playoffs since 2007, and all together they have made only five playoff appearances in school history. "Three of the last seven years, we've finished 4-5 and been one win away from qualifying, so we've been close but just haven't made it," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "It's been five years since we made it and before that, the last time was 1997. It would be really big for our program to get that sixth win and make it in." Even if Wauconda doesn't win tonight and finishes at 5-4, Mills believes there is a good chance his team could qualify for the Class 5A playoffs on points. The Bulldogs currently have 37 points, second-most in the NSC Prairie behind Lakes (40). "We've looked at every situation and we feel pretty good about the points," Mills said. "But we don't want to leave it up to chance. Last year, there were only 12 spots for 5-4 teams and there were 13 teams at 5-4 that all had the same number of points. The last spot came down to a coin toss. We don't want to be involved in something like that."…The challenge in front of Wauconda isn't an easy one. Libertyville, which secured its second straight playoff appearance after missing in three of the previous four years, is playing well on both sides. The offense is averaging 26.3 points per game (second-highest NSC Lake) and the defense is coming off its second straight shutout. "Libertyville is a very athletic team and they do a tremendous job of running to the ball on defense," Mills said. "We're going to have to be balanced, but we're going to have to disguise some things so they're not sure if we're running or passing."…Mills can't disguise his elation about his team's health. The Bulldogs are finally getting healthy. They've been plagued by injuries and were down eight starters at their worst. "Instead of acting like we were done, we had other kids that stepped up," Mills said. "That kept us going in the right direction."…Star running back David Starkey missed three weeks but is back on track now. His presence has opened up the passing game. Last week, Wauconda quarterback Austin Swenson completed 12-of-16 passes for 244 yards.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

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