Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/27/2014 10:04 PM

Friendly rivalry growing between VH, LZ

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  • Grayslake Central's Luke Shepherd throws during practice Wednesday afternoon at Central Park in Grayslake. Take a look at the bigger football picture for Lake County in Friday's Football Focus section.

      Grayslake Central's Luke Shepherd throws during practice Wednesday afternoon at Central Park in Grayslake. Take a look at the bigger football picture for Lake County in Friday's Football Focus section.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


Vernon Hills and Lake Zurich might be playing each other every year once the North Suburban Conference unveils its new look starting in the 2016-17 school year.

In the meantime, a friendly rivalry might have already started.

Vernon Hills closes out the regular season this year by hosting Lake Zurich on Oct. 24.

"We spent some time with Lake Zurich (last year)," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "We knew we had a lot of young kids coming up that could play for us early on, so we really wanted to see how they handled their two-platoon practices."

During the playoffs last season, Bellecomo said he and assistant coach Greg Stilling went out to Lake Zurich and spent some time with head coach David Proffitt and his staff.

"They opened the doors to us," Bellecomo said. "Proffitt's a great guy. We went over there and watched what they did, and we brought a lot of that practice stuff back."

Clark on track: Vernon Hills senior running back/outside linebacker Richard Clark is drawing interest from Ivy League coaches, Bill Bellecomo said.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Clark was called up to varsity midway through his sophomore year. He played strong safety and running back last season but added significant muscle during the offseason, hence his switch to linebacker. Going out for track for the first time also helped his development.

Clark said the sport helped his form and conditioning. He went downstate in the 100- and 200-meter dashes last spring.

"I was shocked," Clark said. "I didn't think I'd be able to do that well."

His added speed should help him on the football field.

"I've been told by some of my friends that I look faster on the field, too," Clark said.

Castonzo in the house: Between the sophomore and varsity games at Lake Zurich on Friday night, the school will honor former Lake Zurich star and current Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo, who's expected to be in attendance.

Castonzo played collegiately at Boston College. He was selected by the Colts in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2011 draft.

Malisheski growing up: At 6 feet 3 and 180 pounds, Wauconda junior quarterback Kevin Malisheski hardly looks like "the baby," but he is just that, at least in his household. He's the youngest of four boys.

As a first-year varsity QB last season, he piled up 929 passing yards, throwing 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He's ready to take the next step.

"I think I've come pretty far," said Malisheski, who also played varsity basketball and varsity baseball as a sophomore. "Last year as a sophomore I wasn't used to the speed of the game. I went to a few quarterback camps, worked on my footwork, my arm slot and a few things like that. Everything's feeling good."

Rodgers that: Like former star wide receiver Jake Ziolkowski, who's now at Brigham Young, junior Grant Rodgers has a chance to play four varsity football seasons for Wauconda.

The 6-2, 205-pound Rodgers has moved from outside to inside linebacker. He played tight end as a freshman and acknowledged it was tough for a 14-year-old playing against primarily juniors and seniors.

"In practices, the bigger guys definitely knocked me around," Rodgers said with a laugh. "My only real blocking technique was get inside, fall down and have guys fall on top of me."

Like father, like son: Carmel's Andy Bitto gets the chance to coach his oldest of two sons, Pete, on varsity this season. Pete Bitto (5-10, 140) is a junior and listed as a running back/defensive back. He's a candidate to play special teams.

"He should be a coach," dad said. "He's really good at dissecting stuff."

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