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Article updated: 10/20/2012 12:10 AM
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Lakes delights with big defensive effort

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Lakes delights with big defensive effort

Sure, Andrew Spencer plays wide receiver, makes athletic catches and contributes a lot for Lakes' high-scoring offense.

"A little bit," the modest senior said with a shrug. "I'm in the mix."

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Translation: He's likes to mix it up on defense, too, and the safety is proud of the "D" he and his teammates deliver.

And the consensus for the Eagles heading into Friday night's first-place showdown with visiting North Chicago was that their defense wasn't being respected enough. Never mind that the Eagles had allowed only 107 points all season.

That number didn't budge against North Chicago. In what might have been its most impressive performance in a season full of highlights, Lakes won by a staggering final of 62-0 over a Warhawks squad that counted just 1 loss. The win gave the Eagles (8-1, 6-0) their first outright North Suburban Conference Prairie Division championship and all the momentum they could ask for heading into the playoffs next week.

Lakes' defense set the tone on North Chicago's opening series, and Spencer's 54-yard interception return for a touchdown -- the Eagles' first Pick Six of the season -- commenced a running clock early in the second half.

"A lot of people were putting our defense down and saying we were just all offense," Spencer said. "Our defense was kind of mad about that. We came out strong. We wanted to prove that we're not just an all-offense team."

Well, the offense wasn't bad. The Eagles jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter on touchdown runs of 50 and 4 yards by running back Direll Clark (13 carries, 158 yards) en route to their third 60-point effort of the season.

A trio of T.J. Edwards TD throws -- 24 yards to Justin Bergeron, 28 yards to Spencer and 5 yards to Nick Battaglia -- had Lakes up 35-0 at halftime. Edwards finished 8-of-14 passing for 110 yards and 4 touchdown throws, and rushed 11 times for 122 yards.

North Chicago (7-2, 4-2) had minus-16 yards of total offense in the first half and finished the game with minus-2 total yards. With the Warhawks in an early hole, they never got playmaking running back Arnold Shead going, as the Eagles held him to 25 rushing yards on 8 carries.

"We didn't do what we were supposed to do, and they're a good team," North Chicago coach Glen Kozlowski said. "At the end of the day, it gets a little depressing with the blatant, horrific refereeing."

Oh, yes, the penalties. North Chicago was flagged 13 times for 100 yards. Lakes matched the 100 yards in penalties, as the Eagles were flagged nine times.

But the story was Lakes' dominance on the field. The Eagles even got a special-teams score when Cameron Johnson recovered a fumbled punt snap in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

"You never know," Spencer said. "Everybody plays hard out there. We played harder tonight, but no disrespect to (North Chicago). They'll bounce right back."

Lakes had an interesting start. On fourth-and-5 from their own 40 on the game's opening series, they faked a punt and lost 9 yards. North Chicago took over at the 31, but went only backward, thanks in part to a 3-yard tackle for loss by Drew Recker.

"We make a big deal out of sudden changes, anything from a turnover or something else that forces us back out on the field," said defensive end AJ Goggin, who had 2 of the Eagles' 5 first-half sacks. "We take pride in that, and that's where we try to do our best defensive. That's what we did."

Lakes' third quarter included Bergeron's second TD catch, from 8 yards out. In the fourth, the junior Johnson scored on a 35-yard run, scored again on the bad punt snap and registered a sack.

"Human bowling bowl," a smiling Spencer said of the 5-foot-7, 186-pound Johnson, whose running style is similar to the all-stater Clark.

Lakes piled up 431 yards of offense.

"They're beatable,"Kozlowski said, "if you execute. They're a talented team, so give them credit."

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