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Daily Herald's 2014 Season Coverage
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Article updated: 8/29/2013 9:53 PM
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Scouting Week 1: Lake County
 

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Scouting Week 1: Lake County
  • Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Running back Tim Vestuto, left, runs through plays during the first day of football practice Wednesday at Stevenson High School.

    Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherald.com Running back Tim Vestuto, left, runs through plays during the first day of football practice Wednesday at Stevenson High School.

 

Stevenson (0-0) at Kenosha Indian Trail (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

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Last year's game: Teams did not play each other

Skinny: The talent-rich Patriots head north of the border to face Indian Trail for the first time ever. Indian Trail has had varsity football only since last year. Coach Mike McKay's Hawks went 2-6, but started their 2013 season last Friday with a 35-14 win over host Plymouth, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half. Tonight's game will be played on turf. "We were able to get a little border war going," Patriots coach Bill McNamara said with a smile. "We're excited about going up to their place. We know the Kenosha-Racine area has really good athletes, so we wanted a nice challenge that was a little different because when you get into the playoffs, you go into different environments." The Patriots feature four returning starters on offense and six on defense. They're led by senior WR/S Matt Morrissey (Michigan State) and senior OT Zach Novoselsky (Western Michigan), junior QB Willie Bourbon (school-record 24,000 passing yards in 2012), WR Cameron Green and junior DL Patrick O'Connell and Nick Dillon.

-- Joe Aguilar

Palatine (0-0) at Libertyville (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other.

Skinny: Libertyville has a new Opening Night opponent after starting the season against Barrington for years. Both teams have plenty of talent to replace. Palatine even has a new head coach in Rick Splitt, who takes over for Tyler Donnelly, who stepped down for health reasons. The Pirates new to replace 19 starting spots from a team that won the Mid-Suburban West for a second straight year and advanced to the state quarterfinals. "Last year was phenomenal," said Splitt, who was the team's defensive coordinator last fall. "The kids and the program are all excited because they were all here. They just want to keep it going." Palatine returns just three starters from last year, including two on offense. Chaka Kelly returns at running back, while 6-foot-3 Eric Theis, who had a solid year last year, will be back at wide receiver. Brad Bauer, who played cornerback last year, slides up to anchor the defense at linebacker. The Pirates will continue their under 15-second offense, where they look to get the play in and ball snapped quickly. Nick Orlando, who started at quarterback on the sophomore level last year, takes over reins at quarterback. "They're going to be good," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "They're a quality program so it will be a good challenge and hopefully we're ready for it." Libertyville returns all-conference running back Conor Simpson and wide receiver Bryan Scanlan. Jones said Thursday that he still had not decided who would start at quarterback. Senior Anthony Monken, junior Jake Mansfield and sophomore Riley Lees have been battling for the position in practice.

-- Joe Aguilar

Lake Zurich (0-0) at Fremd (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Lake Zurich won 21-0 at Lake Zurich

Skinny: The matchup between perennial state powers is always one of the best on Opening Night in the area. Coming off its sixth state semifinal berth in seven years, Lake Zurich boasts Syracuse-bound LB Colton Moskal (93 tackles last season) and S Sean Lynch, both of whom are three-year varsity starters. Rugged Noah Allgood returns at quarterback to run the Bears' vaunted option attack, but the graduation of Connor Schrader (1,222 rushing yards, 16 TDs last season, Northern Michigan) leaves a big hole at running back. Fremd returns 16 starters with 9 of those on the offensive side of the ball, giving coach Lou Sponsel and his crew lots of options when they have the ball. The Vikings will be running the single wing for the second year in a row after earning an at-large state playoff berth last fall. "We played a lot of juniors last year and we were very undersized last year," Sponsel said. "This year, we have physical, experienced skill positions and we also have a big, strong offensive line like we had in the mid to late 2000s." Sam Beutler is in his fourth year as the starting quarterback, but Trevor Cutler is expected to start tonight while Beutler is idled. Running back Jeff McGlade rushed for 912 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last year. "We feel the last couple of years they've had some really good lower-level teams, and those kids are on the varsity now," LZ coach David Proffitt said. "We think they can be one of the better teams we play."

-- Joe Aguilar

Warren (0-0) at Lyons (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other.

Skinny: Warren has a new Opening Night opponent and makes the long drive to LaGrange tonight. "That's the only down side of it," Blue Devils coach Dave Mohapp said. "Other than that, it should be a lot of fun." Warren graduated its quarterback (Adam Reuss), top RB (Davonte Willcox) and top WR (Connor Iwema). That leaves the opportunity for several untested varsity players to make their mark. Senior Andrew Nickell starts at QB. How quickly the Blue Devils are able to come together offensively figures to go a long way in determining how successful they'll be this season. Lyons lost to Stevenson 35-28 in its season opener last year, then advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals for the third year in a row. "Very similar school to us," Mohapp said. "Offensively, we're like identical. The schools are very similar. They got two campuses (like Warren). Hopefully it's a real good game. Stevenson has played them very well the last couple of years, so hopefully we can represent the conference well against them."

-- Joe Aguilar

Wheeling (0-0) at Mundelein (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Wheeling won 23-22 at Wheeling.

Skinny: Mundelein has endured back-to-back winless seasons, but after having experienced their first full off-season under fiery coach George Kaider, the Mustangs believe they're a much different team. Sophomore QB Gavin Graves, who started last season, will direct the single-wing, after the Mustangs played a spread last season. Senior RB Emanuel Jones will also be a key player in the offense. Brent Pearlman, who won a couple of state titles at Prospect, is in his second season as coach of the Wildcats, who went 3-6 last year. "Wheeling is going to be great, well-coached," Kaider said. "We're playing a school that's similar to us in demographics and size and has similar issues. And we're playing against a great coach. That's going to motivate them and get them ready to play."

-- Joe Aguilar

Antioch (0-0) at Kenosha Tremper (1-0)

When: 7 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other.

Skinny: Antioch coach Brian Glashagel admits that he knows "almost nothing about Wisconsin football." But the Sequoits were in a bind and needed an opponent for the season opener, and they were finding nothing in Illinois. So Antioch went north and hooked up with Tremper, which opened its season last week with a 42-0 romp over Milwaukee Bradley. "I do know that Tremper is about our size and they have won multiple state titles in the past," Glashagel said. Last year, however, was a down season for Tremper, which went 3-5 … Antioch, which went 3-6 last season, is trying to get back to the playoffs this year. The Sequoits are much more experienced, with 9 starters back on defense compared to just 1 back last year. Offensively, Antioch returns 7 starters, compared to just 3 last year. Alan Taylor will move from quarterback to a two-way utility position while Zach Andre will take over under center. Workhorse running back Cam Corey is also back for the Sequoits.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Crystal Lake Central (0-0) at Grant (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play in the regular season. In the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, Crystal Lake Central defeated Grant, 30-13.

Skinny: Hampered by injuries at key positions through all of last season, Grant did well to even get to the playoffs. But by the second round, the Bulldogs had hopes for a long run, only to be cut off by Crystal Lake Central. "We're looking forward to getting some revenge in this game," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "I thought we hung pretty tough with them last year. We didn't have our (starting) quarterback or fullback. Hopefully, we'll be healthier this year."…Grant, which was 8-3 last season, features two solid runners for its option offense in Billy Sullivan and Jeremy Bredwood. Starting quarterback Jake Bychowski, who was the backup last year and also was sidelined for part of the season due to injury, is healthy and anxious to stay on the field. He's a tough runner but will also look to throw the ball to Joe Sadauskas and sophomore Kemar Miller … Crystal Lake Central was 9-3 last season.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

DeKalb (0-0) at Vernon Hills (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other.

Skinny: Both DeKalb and Vernon Hills were 2-7 last season but are ready for big turnaround seasons. DeKalb boasts one of the best running backs in the state of Illinois in Dre Brown. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior has received scholarship offers from Illinois, Northern Illinois, Kent State and Toledo, among others. "He's a kid you're really going to hear about this season and beyond," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "He runs really well between the tackles. Playing a team like DeKalb gives us a tough nonconference schedule, but we want to be a team that doesn't run away from a challenge."…Vernon Hills was hurt by turnovers last year. Mistake-free football will be the biggest challenge this season and an emphasis for the offense, which will be led at quarterback by senior Jordan Friebrun and sophomore Connor McNamara. The Cougars may use both players in a rotation.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Grayslake North (0-0) at Lakes (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Lakes defeated Grayslake North in the season opener, 35-21.

Skinny: Already, a rivalry game is on the docket. These two schools might actually be bigger rivals than Grayslake Central is for North and district sister Antioch is for Lakes. Many kids from North and Lakes start out at the same junior high school, Palombi in Lake Villa. "Our kids get excited to play Grayslake North," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said … Both teams are coming off big seasons, which should add to the hype. Lakes was 9-2 last year and won its second straight North Suburban Prairie Division title while Grayslake North was 8-2 and won its first Fox Valley Fox Division title … Lakes returns dynamic quarterback TJ Edwards, who threw for more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He recently committed to Western Michigan. Grayslake North had its own prolific quarterback last year in AJ Fish, but he is now playing college lacrosse at Virginia. Sophomore Merrick Gentile and junior Titus Booker will be sharing time under center. "They're a great program," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said of Lakes. "We're kind of in opposite positions. They lost everybody, except their quarterback, and we lost our quarterback and have a whole bunch back. We were joking around as a coaching staff: I'm not sure what's the better position. They're going to be good. Luke is a good coach. They do a nice job over there. I expect it to be close. It's been close every year we've played them."

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw and Joe Aguilar

Grayslake Central (0-0) at Fenton (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other.

Skinny: A bounce-back season? Both teams hope so. Grayslake Central went 2-7 last year under first-year coach Ben Ault, after back-to-back playoff campaigns. Fenton posted a 3-6 record, snapping a run of three-straight postseason appearances. "They're a school that's similar to us in some ways," Ault said of the Bison. "They're going to be tough, hard-nosed kids. We're hoping this is one of those opening game where you get a good test to see where you are." The Rams will run the option again and are led by QB Alex Lennartz and speedy backs Kacey Adams and Cam Schwartz. Lennartz missed the second half of last season with a knee injury. Ryan Aoki is part of an offensive line that features some experience, and he will also help anchor the defense and a linebacker spot.

-- Joe Aguilar

Woodstock North (0-0) at Wauconda (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Teams didnot play each other.

Skinny: Both Wauconda and Woodstock North were knocked out of the playoffs last year by Marian Central, in the first and second rounds, respectively. But the familiarity between these two teams goes back further than that. "We've competed with Woodstock North for the last three summers in 7-on-7s," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "They run a great system and we know that they have very tough-nosed kids there. This is going to be a very competitive game for us."…Wauconda, which went 5-5 last season, will be led by sophomore quarterback Kevin Malisheski who looked impressive during camp. He'll be protected by a sizable line and will have a veteran target at wide receiver in Alex Schwichrath … Woodstock North finished 7-4 last season.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Lincoln-Way East (0-0) at Carmel (0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m., today

Last year's game: Lincoln-Way East defeated Carmel in the season opener, 31-6.

Skinny: The sounds of growling stomachs might be coming from the field in this one. "Both of these teams should be pretty hungry," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. Bitto is referring to Lincoln-Way East's near-miss in the Class 7A state title game last year. The Griffins lost to Glenbard West 10-8 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. It was the only loss of the season for Lincoln-Way East (13-1) … Meanwhile, the Corsairs are anxious to get back on track after finishing 3-6 last season and missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years … Carmel is more experienced this season and is hoping to be healthier as well. Running back Mitch Zovnic could provide a boost after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. He's a physical slasher who can run a 4.5 40. Jake Kane and Darrius Crump will also get plenty of carries.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

Saturday's game

Round Lake (0-0) at Gordon Tech (0-0)

When: 1:15 p.m., Saturday

Where: Lane Stadium, Chicago

Last year's game: Teams did not play each other

Skinny: New head coach Jordan Eder is excited to get his first season going, even if he's got to make a bit of a trek to do so. "It should be fun for the kids to play somewhere new," Eder said of the Panthers' trip to historic Lane Stadium in Chicago. "We don't know much about Gordon Tech, but I think it's going to be a fun trip."…Gordon Tech was 3-6 last season while Round Lake struggled to an 0-9 finish. The Panthers are returning some nice weapons, though. Back is starting quarterback John Ridley and speedy wide receiver Chris Washington … But expect the Panthers to be heavy on the run. Eder's only coaching experience has come under two head coaches who love running option: Kurt Rous of Grant and Andy Bitto of Carmel.

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw

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