The state of Lake County high school football includes ... an actual state.
Say yes to Michigan.
Note that Stevenson senior defensive back/wide receiver Matt Morrissey will follow his dad Jim's footsteps to Michigan State University after giving a verbal commitment to the Spartans this summer. The same week that Morrissey said yes to MSU, his Stevenson teammate, supersized offensive tackle Zach Novoselsky, verbally committed to Western Michigan University.
At WMU, Novoselsky's teammates will include Lakes senior T.J. Edwards. The athletic Edwards is a threat both throwing and rushing the football. He had a prolific season playing quarterback last fall for the Eagles and will operate under center again this season, but he has been recruited by Western Michigan as a linebacker.
The first official day of high school football practice in Illinois commences today, and Lake County will boast more than its share of top talent again. In addition to Morrissey, Novoselsky and Edwards, Lake Zurich linebacker Colton Moskal also accepted a Division I offer this summer. A three-year varsity starter for the perennial state power Bears, Moskal committed to Syracuse University.
Lake Zurich has gained a reputation for producing great linebackers and great seasons. Last season, the Bears earned a share of the North Suburban Conference Lake Division championship with Stevenson, then reeled off three straight wins in the postseason to before losing to eventual Class 7A state champ Glenbard West in the state semifinals. Since 2006, Lake Zurich has 22 wins in the state playoffs, good for six semifinal berths in those seven seasons.
Lake Zurich's other returning players include quarterback Noah Allgood and running back/defensive back Sean Lynch.
Libertyville, which earned its second playoff berth in as many years after three misses in four seasons, features running back Conor Simpson.
Stevenson will trot out more than its D-I duo of Morrissey and Novoselsky. The Patriots' other returnees include a bunch of junior talents in quarterback Willie Bourbon, wide receiver Cameron Green, defensive tackle Nick Dillon and lineman Patrick O'Connell.
Behind its returning all-area QB Edwards, Lakes will seek to continue its dominance in the North Suburban Prairie. The Eagles won their first outright division title last season, going 6-0. Under Luke Mertens, the only head coach in its existence, Lakes has qualified for the state playoffs in five out of eight years. The Eagles have won 9 games in each of the last two seasons.
The NSC Prairie has a pair of new head coaches. Veteran assistant Bill Bellecomo takes over at Vernon Hills after Tony Monken resigned. The only head coach in the history of Vernon Hills football, Monken went 77-55 in 13 seasons. The Cougars have missed the state playoffs the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, at Round Lake, former Grant assistant Jordan Eder takes over for John Coursey, who stepped down.
At Carmel Catholic, the Corsairs (3-6 in 2012) will try to bounce back from missing the state playoffs for the first time since 1999. While the Corsairs played well on the defensive side of the ball, their 148 points scored last season were the second fewest in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.