Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/3/2013 10:24 PM

Warren's offense looms large

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Stopping Warren's offense has been a tall order this season. Literally.

The Blue Devils, who are coming off a 660-yard outburst against Libertyville last week, are averaging 36.2 points per game behind a balanced attack that is long on talent and inches in the passing game.

A big part of what makes quarterback Andrew Nickell so effective is that he has a stable of big, tall receivers to target. He rolled up 338 passing yards last week against Libertyville and spread them between four wide receivers, all of whom are at least 6-feet tall.

Senior Zack Rappel, who is 6-foot-2, led the way with 6 catches for 130 yards. Junior Caleb Reams, who stands 6-foot-3, had 2 catches for 100 yards. Senior Javon Charleston, who is 6-foot-1, had 3 catches for 64 yards and senior 6-footer Daniel Rockingham has a 25-yard catch.

"We have a cornerback on our team who is about 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2, but that's not very common so usually our taller receivers are going to have some height mismatches against those small cornerbacks," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "We have a nice big group and these guys all have good hands and they're all athletic and Andrew (Nickell) does a great job with his reads so that he can get the ball to them."

Ridley is ready:

After missing the last two weeks with a knee injury, Round Lake quarterback John Ridley is ready for action.

Then again, he would have kept playing had it been his decision.

"He wants to be able to play so badly. It's his senior year," Round Lake coach Jordan Eder said. "But we've been taking our time with him. We haven't wanted to rush anything. We want him to come back when he is healthy."

Eder says Ridley should get the OK from doctors for Saturday's game against Wauconda. He strained his MCL against Lakes in Week 3 while getting sacked.

Ridley's absence created a domino effect for the Panthers, who have had a tough time putting points on the board as some players have been forced into new roles.

"We took Cole Steger, one of our best receivers, and put him at quarterback for John," Eder said. "When we have Cole at quarterback, we lose such a good target at wide receiver. With John back, we'll be able to throw more and we'll have Cole as that threat and that will help our entire offense more."

Towing the line:

Linemen often do the grunt work that goes unnoticed.

But Mike Bianchi and Nate Magiera have been tough to overlook at Wauconda. The two linemen have made one big play after another this season.

Bianchi is an offensive tackle while Magiera is on the defensive line and also plays a bit of tight end.

At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Bianchi, a junior, is starting to draw interest from Big Ten schools such as Illinois.

"He is playing fantastic," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said of Bianchi. "It's been fun to watch a big kid figure out the game. And it's been great to see him accept a leadership role and assert himself as a leader among the offensive linemen."

Meanwhile, Magiera is leading the Bulldogs in tackles with 25 on the season.

"When's the last time you saw a defensive tackle lead the team in tackles," Mills asked. "Nate also makes some great blocks for us on offense. Nate is just a beast for us."

Spooky scary:

Halloween is still more than three weeks away, but here's a thought that will frighten any opponent that still has to face Lakes.

Senior running back Cameron Johnson has yet to play at 100 percent this season.

This is the same Cameron Johnson who has rolled up 526 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns in leading the Eagles to a 4-1 start.

Johnson, nursing a lower leg injury, is averaging an impressive 7.97 yards per carry and is coming off a 127-yard, 2-touchdown performance last week against Wauconda.

"Each week, he's played a little healthier, but he's still been hurt," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "This all started the Thursday before our first game and we were unsure what we would be able to get out of Cameron, but he's been able to play through.

"We've been very judicious with him a practice and he pretty much goes only twice a week. But that's been working for him."

The fact that the Eagles' offense is so balanced also helps. Because Lakes has other options, such as dynamic quarterback TJ Edwards and a reliable receiving crew, Johnson isn't pressured to carry a heavy load.

"The fact that people can't key on one player in our offense has been really important for Cameron," Mertens said. "It's made it easier for him to do his job."

Old days:

Ten years ago, Grayslake Central got one of its biggest victories in school history, beating Dundee-Crown by 53 points.

Now, the Rams will take on the coach who choreographed that historic win. Ironically, he happens to be the head coach at Dundee-Crown, where Grayslake Central treks for a Fox Valley crossover tonight.

Vito Andriola was the head coach at Grayslake Central from 2001 to 2004. His 2003 team went 8-3 and qualified for the playoffs. That ended a 13-year postseason drought. In the final week of the regular season that year, the Rams handed Dundee-Crown a 60-7 loss.

After leaving Grayslake, Andriola eventually got the job at Dundee Crown. His Chargers are now 4-1 on the season.

Second-year Grayslake Central coach Ben Ault was a first-year assistant during Andriola's last year at Central.

"We'll talk and catch up whenever we see each other," Ault said. "Even though I spent just that one year with Vito, I definitely got a good look at how well he prepares his players and how he coaches his kids and you just know that he will always have his kids ready."

After Andriola, Grayslake Central was led by two other head coaches, Mike Munda and Nick Goshe, before Ault got the job prior to last season.

(Quarter)back on defense:

Many coaches save their quarterbacks.

No matter what talents they might have for other positions, quarterbacks often are asked to stick to their job behind center, which, in theory, decreases their odds for injury.

But Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt says he can't afford to let senior Noah Allgood be that kind of quarterback.

Allgood plays at least a dozen plays each game as an inside linebacker for the Bears, mostly because he's too valuable not to. Also, Lake Zurich, which is 5-0 despite being riddled with injuries, needs him to help with depth.

"Noah is the kind of player who tells you about something we should be doing on the field, and I can't tell you how many times I was standing there thinking the same thing," said Lake Zurich head coach Dave Proffitt, who is also the Bears' defensive coordinator. "He's such a smart kid, very cerebral, and he's got so many great instincts for the game.

"He's also just a really good defender and with all the injuries we've had on defense this year, we're not real deep. Even though Noah's our quarterback, we're going to use him on defense. We need him."

Syracuse-bound linebacker Colton Moskal has missed nearly three games for Lake Zurich with an ankle injury while standout defenders Sean Lynch, Dominic McNeil and Colton Wagner have all played banged up.

"We're just hobbling along most of the time," Proffitt said. "We have guys who aren't practicing much and a lot of guys who don't feel their best, so we're not very deep. But somehow on Friday nights, we're able to put it all together."

Quote of the week:

"After 100, does it even really matter?"

Lakes coach Luke Mertens when asked exactly how many penalty yards his team was assessed in last week's win over Wauconda. For the record, the Eagles were tagged with 15 penalties for 160 yards, by far their most penalties or penalty yards of the season.

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