Tabor Alemu MundeleinVoted the most valuable player of Mundelein's defense, Alemu certainly had the respect of his teammates. "Tabor was the most physical and most consistent defensive player," Mundelein coach Larry Calhoun said. "He began the season at outside linebacker where he was the team's leading tackler before injuries to teammates necessitated his move to inside linebacker where he continued to be a force. He is an extremely coachable player whose leadership by example is outstanding. He plays the game full speed all the time, and never takes a play off." Alemu finished with 42 tackles, 8 for a loss. He also had 2 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries.
Zaire Barnes CarmelBarnes had some issues with injuries over his career, but still manged to put up big-time numbers and earn a scholarship to play football at Western Michigan. "Zaire was elected captain and team most valuable player by his peers," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. Barnes, a three-year starter and an all-conference player in the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference in both 2016 and 2017, led the Corsairs in rushing this season over just four games. He had 458 yards on 51 carries for 8.98 yards per carry. He also ran in 6 touchdowns. On defense while playing safety, Barnes had 77 total tackles, including 5 tackles for loss. He had an interception as well.
Brendan Bazar LibertyvilleThe bulk of Libertyville's offense ran through Barzar the last two years. The two-time all-North Suburban Conference first-team running back has rolled up more than 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. "Brendan may not be big in stature (5-foot-10),but there is no doubt he plays with a big heart," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "He is a physical running back who can run through a tackle or make you miss. He is skilled not only as a runner, but also is an outstanding receiver. He has been a leader by example for our football team." Bazar rolled up 1,098 yards on 153 carries this season for a 7.2 yards-per-carry average. Bazar also ran for 17 touchdowns. As a receiver, Bazar had 18 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown.
Peter Brewster Grayslake CentralFor a much improved Grayslake Central team, Brewster put up big numbers that also left him in the school's record books. Brewster, a senior wide receiver, is now Grayslake Central's all-time leader in receptions (82) and reception yards (878). This season, Brewster rolled up 47 catches for 540 yards. He also caught 2 touchdown passes. "Peter had a great season and was the receiver that every team had to prepare for," Grayslake Central coach Jason Schaal said. "And he still had a quality game every week."
Travis Bronstein StevensonBronstein was everywhere for the Stevenson defense as a cornerback and safety. "Whenever the Stevenson defense needed a big play, Bronstein was there," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "Travis prided himself on giving everything he had, and then some. He was a force tackling, but also covered the pass sideline to sideline and had a knack for making the big play when needed." Bronstein, a senior, rolled up 102 total tackles, including 5 tackles for a loss. He had 2 interceptions, 3 pass break-ups, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
Alex Capstick StevensonSidelined throughout the off-season and summer because of a hip injury, Capstick looked plenty healthy during the season, becoming the Patriots' go-to receiver. "An explosive playmaker who we moved all over the field, Alex found a way to make big plays happen," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "He amped it up to a new level this season, becoming the primary passing threat and showing his ability to bounce off tacklers and take the ball to the end zone." Capstick, a senior, finished with 29 catches for 556 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Zach Carter Grayslake NorthTalk about versatility. "Zach could play all 22 positions on the field and dominate," Grayslake North coach Sam Baker said of Carter. "He is the true definition of a football palyer. He is a kid that just wants to play football and hit people. He is a rare player that doesn't come around very often and we are fortunate to have him in our program." Carter certainly dominated at times at his actual position, which was linebacker for the Knights. The junior rolled up 107 tackles on the season and was the leader of the defense.
Matthijs Enters Lake ZurichThe "Legend of Enters" might grow and grow as the years go by. The senior tight end made catches that the Lake Zurich football faithful won't soon forget. "Matthijs had the best hands on the team," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "His acrobatic catches will go down in Lake Zurich football folk lore for years to come. Playing a position in tight end that isn't usually known for its play-making ability, Enters was second on the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (677) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (9)." A rare two-way player for the Bears, Enters also made big plays on defense as a linebacker in third-down situations.
JM Etienne StevensonOnly a sophomore, Etienne quickly became the focal point of the Stevenson offense. The running back rolled up nearly 1,000 rushing yards in his first varsity season. "He has explosive playmaking capabilities, including his abilities to catch and block. That makes him a complete player," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "JM had defenses keying on him after Week 1. But he was up to the challenge and pushed himself, making tough runs after contact and explosive plays. JM is one of the most exciting young players in Lake County and has a bright future ahead of him." Etienne finished with 912 yards and 12 touchdowns on 161 carries. He also caught 8 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Ian Fitzgerald Lake ZurichThe Lake Zurich offense was the most prolific in the area and players behind the scenes such as Fitzgerald were critical. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound senior offensive lineman was the biggest player on the Bears' roster. "Ian proved to be one of the biggest reasons for the offensive successes this season," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "When in doubt, we knew who to run behind. By nautre of the postion, Ian is overshadowed by the higher-profile positions, however Ian has proven to be one of the most key offensive players over the past two seasons. Ian is the type of player I want: leads by actions, not words."
Branden Gallimore AntiochGallimore has traveled an interesting road in high school, thanks to injuries. "As a sophomore and defensive back, Branden started for the Sequoits in Week 1. He intercepted a pass in that game and on the return, he got tackled and broke his collarbone," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "Four weeks later (due to injuries to teammates), he (returned) and became the varsity starting quarterback and never looked back. He led the Sequoits to back-to-back undefeated Northern Lake County Conference championships and a 19-2 record." A dual-threat quarterback, Gallimore, a senior, rushed for 1,182 yards and 21 touchdowns and passed for 1,517 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last 2 seasons. "Besides his elusive running and accurate passing, our offense was really successful because of Branden," Glashagel said. "About 75 percent of the time, he was calling plays from the line. He was as good a captain as I've ever been around. A true leader."
Ethan Greenfield LakesAs Lakes' lead running back, a starting safety and a key player on the special teams unit, Greenfield rarely left the field this season. "He was a standout on both sides of the ball," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said of Greenfield, a senior who was named Class 5A all-state. "He is extremely dedicated and hard working and it showed this season. Ethan fought through every snap. He made an incredible impact on each and every game and is a special player." Greenfield rushed for 1,225 yards and 16 touchdowns on 133 carries. He also caught 15 passes for 230 yards and 5 touchdowns. On kickoffs, he had 10 returns for 170 yards. And on defense, Greenfield had 34 tackles, including 4 for a loss. He also had an interception and a fumble recovery.
Andrew Hare AntiochCredit the DNA. "Some are blessed with the play-making gene, and Andrew Hare has that gene," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said of his senior defensive back. "Coaches are always looking for a "ball hawk" to play in their defensive backfield and Andrew was truly that. He's the guy we put on the offense's best wide receiver and he took that player away. When the defense needed to make a stop or a big play, it was Andrew who always had a part in it. He's a very smart football player who called out the defense and made big plays for us in big games, during big moments." Hare, who was named Class 5A all-state, finished with 64 tackles and made 6 interceptions. That upped his career interceptions total to 9. He also had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 4 blocked kicks this season.
Jake Johnson LakesJohnson was determined to earn the job as Lakes starting quarterback this season and he went above and beyond that. Johnson rolled up 1,600 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, completing 91 of 162 passes along the way. "Jake worked extremely hard coming into his senior season to be the starting quarterback," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "And to see him have the success he did was very rewarding. Jake is someone our team looked up to." Johnson could also run with the ball. He had 245 yards and 2 touchdowns on 54 carries.
Micah Jones WarrenThe physical transformation that Jones made over his career at Warren was nearly as impressive as the plays he made for the Blue Devils on the field as a big-threat wide receiver. "Micah Jones came in as a skinny 6-foot-3, 170-pound kid and is leaving as a 6-foot-5, 210-pound kid who was able to use his body," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "With all of the muscle he had put on, he was still able to run in the 4.5's in the 40-yard dash. I don't know if I have seen as dramatic of an improvement out of a player ever. The sky is the limit for Micah as far as his potential is concerned. I am not sure if we will ever see another one like him at Warren." Jones, who was named Class 8A all-state, finished his career with 53 catches for 710 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season. He will be playing at the University of Notre Dame next year.
Austin LePage Lake ZurichOpposing quarterbacks threw passes in LePage's vicinity at their own risk. The junior cornerback certainly had a nose for the ball, and for interceptions. LePage rolled up a school-record 10 interceptions on the season. "Despite being one of the smallest players on the field, Austin's play makes him one of the biggest players on our defense this year," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "Many teams made a decision to attack Austin through the air and all he did was respond with a school-record of interceptions. He also had 25 tackles. Last year, Austin was the sophomore team quarterback, but he has transitioned seamlessly into the corner position." LePage was also a punt returner for the Bears this season.
Evan Lewandowski Lake ZurichWhile winning the numbers game, Lewandowski also almost helped Lake Zurich win a state championship. It was a record-breaking year for Lewandowski as he helped the Bears get to the Class 7A state championship game. The senior quarterback, a Class 7A all-state selection, now holds school records for single-game passing yards (320 yards vs. Lake Forest this season), passing yards for a season (2,786 this season), touchdown passes for a season (29 this season), career touchdown passes (42), career passing yards (4,223) and career completions (271). "Evan has re-written the school's record books," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "In addition to being our starting quarterback and team captain, Evan serves critical roles in our kicking game as our punter and holder for our field goal unit." Lewandowski averaged about 36 yards a punt, which is second all-time.
Austin Martineau Grayslake NorthMartineau rolled up 1,612 passing yards on the season, but he did far more than just throw the ball. The junior quarterback was often the architect of the entire offense. "Austin has complete control of our offense and makes checks at the line of scrimmage," Grayslake North coach Sam Baker said. " He is an old-school, strong-armed, drop-back quarterback that also has the ability to move around a little bit to gain a first down." Martineau was efficient, completing 53 percent of his passes (130-for-247) and had 21 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions.
Maema Njongmeta StevensonQuarterbacks, beware. Njongmeta is coming for you. The junior linebacker made life tough for opposing quarterbacks this season, racking up 12 sacks, 12 pressures and 13 tackles for loss along with 86 total tackles. "Maema made a living in the opponent's backfield," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "He is one of the most explosive defensive players we have ever had at Stevenson and he has just scratched the surface or what he is capable of doing. He has a burning desire to get better on a daily basis."
Payton Powell Lake ZurichPowell was Lake Zurich's burner, and a favorite target of quarterback Evan Lewandowski. "Having Payton on the field always gave us a deep threat," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said of his senior wide receiver. "It seemed like whenever we needed a play to be made, Payton made it for us. He flipped the momentum in the Zion-Benton, Warren and St. Rita games with his play-making ability." Powell had 42 receptions for 781 yards, both team highs. He also hauled in 9 touchdowns, which tied for first on the team. Powell also served as a kick returner for Lake Zurich, averaging 25 yards per return. He also ran in a kickoff return for a touchdown.
Hunter Price AntiochPrice was priceless for Antioch, especially considering his size. Price, a senior, was a 5-foot-7, 145-pound fullback who got the bulk of the carries within Antioch's rushing offense. "A fullback is not supposed to be that small," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "A 145-pound kid is not supposed to run oer 200-pound linebackers and 180-pound defensive backs. But that's precisely what Hunter did. For two years. He is one of the most electric running backs we've had. He's so elusive and tough. His size was actually his advantage. I honestly believe that defenses couldn't see him behind our big offensive line and by the time you do, he's gone. To watch him play is inspiring and many times this season it was a big run by him or him trucking over a defensive back that got us going." Price finished his career with 1,979 yards and 22 touchdowns. This season, Price had 1,070 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns.
Ian Schilling WarrenSchilling put up some big numbers, while having some big moments for Warren at quarterback in his senior season. "One of the most memorable moments I have of Ian is watching him throw a 55-yard pass into the end zone at the end of regulation against Lake Zurich that was caught and he threw it off of one foot," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "That is how strong his arm is. In a lot of ways, we went offensively as well as Ian played. When Ian was in the huddle we always knew we had a chance to be successful. He had a calm presence about him and our team had complete and total confidence in him." Schilling rolled up 2,280 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 179 of 342 passes. He also rushed for 4 touchdowns.
Jack Sanborn Lake ZurichSanborn wasn't just one of the best linebackers in the area, he is being recognized as one of the best in the country. A senior who has committed to play next year at Wisconsin, Sanborn is a Butkus Award Finalist. "That places him as one of the top linebackers in the entire nation," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "He is arguably the best linebacker in school history. He is one of the best examples of what coaches want from student-athletes. He is humble, respectful and always hard-working." Sanborn, named Class 7A all-state, rolled up more than 100 tackles on the season, with 4 tackles for loss. He also had 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 blocked kick.
Charlie Schmidt LibertyvilleLibertyville coach Mike Jones has seen some great players come through the North Suburban Conference in his many years in the league as either a head coach or an assistant coach. He doesn't mince words when he talks about how Schmidt, a senior offensive lineman, fits into the mix. "Charlie Schmidt has been the most dominant lineman in my 15 years in the North Suburban Conference," Jones said. "Charlie physically imposes his will on his opponents and routinely finishes blocks through the echo of the whistle. While we do not keep individual offensive line statistics, it is hard to watch one of our games and not notice the impact Charlie has." Schmidt, a Northwestern commit and a Class 7A all-state selection, has been on varsity for three years and was part of Libertyville's 2015 team that played in the Class 7A state championship game. He also saw time on the defensive line this season.
Joey Stutzman Lake ZurichSome players are just gamers. They show up to the games, but perhaps they aren't that serious about practice. Stutzman is a gamer at games, and at practices. "Joey is the heart and soul of our team, both in practice and on game days," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "People always comment to me how hard Joey plays. I wish those same people could watch him practice because he amps it up even more Monday through Thursday." Stutzman, a senior, rolled up 1,383 total yards as Lake Zurich's lead running back. He also scored a total of 16 touchdowns on the season. A rare two-way player for Lake Zurich, Stutzman was an impact player at linebacker. He had 40 tackles, 5 for a loss. Also, he had an interception, which he returned for a 13-yard touchdown and a fumble recovery, which he returned for a 61-yard touchdown.
Martin Walker, Jr. WarrenPassing was the name of the game for Warren, thanks to big seasons from quarterback Ian Schilling and wide receiver Micah Jones. But Walker, a junior running back, played a big role in the success of Schilling and Jones by giving the Blue Devils a legitimate rushing game and keeping defenses honest. "Martin came onto the scene as somewhat of an unknown and was sometimes overshadowed by Schilling and Jones, but he was consistent," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "At Warren, we have had a lot of good running backs recently (Melvin Pettis and Darius Crump) and I believe Martin is every bit as good as anyone we've had here. He's competiive, tough and instinctive. Martin's biggest games came in the biggest games. Everyone thinks we are a pass-heavy team, but fail to realize that Martin Walker averaged more than 100 yards per game in the tough North Suburban Conference." Walker finished the season with 1,109 yards on 225 carries in 10 games, for an average of 4.5 yards per carry. He also rushed for 10 touchdowns.
Tabor Alemu Mundelein LB Jr.
Zaire Barnes Carmel RB/S Sr.
Brendan Bazar Libertyville RB Sr.
Peter Brewster Grayslake Central WR Sr.
Travis Bronstein Stevenson DB Sr.
Alex Capstick Stevenson WR Sr.
Zach Carter Grayslake North LB Jr.
Matthijs Enters Lake Zurich TE/LB Sr.
JM Etienne Stevenson RB soph.
Ian Fitzgerald Lake Zurich OL Sr.
Branden Gallimore Antioch QB Sr.
Ethan Greenfield Lakes RB/LB Sr.
Andrew Hare Antioch DB Sr.
Jake Johnson Lakes QB Sr.
Micah Jones Warren WR Sr.
Austin LePage Lake Zurich DB Jr.
Evan Lewandowski Lake Zurich QB Sr.
Austin Martineau Grayslake North QB Jr.
Maema Njongmeta Stevenson LB Jr.
Payton Powell Lake Zurich WR Sr.
Hunter Price Antioch FB Sr.
Ian Schilling Warren QB Sr.
Jack Sanborn Lake Zurich LB Sr.
Charlie Schmidt Libertyville OL Sr.
Joey Stutzman Lake Zurich RB/LB Sr.
Martin Walker, Jr. Warren RB Jr.
Honorable mentionCarmel QB Athan Kalikmanis, fr., Grayslake North LB William Bauman, sr., Grayslake North LB/S Virgil Cannon, sr., Stevenson OL Jordan Caselberry, sr., Antioch OL Julius Catalan, sr., Libertyville DL Brendan Cook, sr., Grayslake Central LB Drew Dziura, jr., Lake Zurich LB Luke Dwyer, jr., Lake Zurich LB Jack Fabbrini, jr., Grayslake North DL Angel Flores, sr., Round Lake OL/DL Ethan Gomez, sr., Lakes WR/S D'Lo Hardy, jr., Libertyville LB Will Hare, sr., Grayslake North WR/DB Elliott Hochstein, sr., Grayslake North TE/LB Michael Johnson, sr., Lakes DL Gavin Kafka, sr., Antioch DL Joe Karolewicz, sr., Grant WR Jacob Lotz, sr., Warren LB Teddy Lowe, sr., Vernon Hills RB/CB Max Lyle, sr., Carmel RB Sean Lynch, jr., Lake Zurich OL Yianni Manousaridis, sr., Stevenson LB Sam Marks, sr., Grant QB Matt McGraw, jr., Warren WR Ricky McLaughlin, sr., Grayslake Central LB Joey Murphy, jr., Wauconda TE/LB/DL Andrew Nolan, sr., Wauconda TE/DL Matthew Nolan, sr., Mundelein QB Anthony Norris, sr., Grayslake Central WR/QB Nick Paul, jr., Mundelein LB Nick Pawlicki, sr., Warren DL Zak Pelland, jr., Vernon Hills WR/LB Luke Perlin, sr., Mundelein LB Michael Pini, sr., Warren WR Jaden Quartey, sr., Lakes WR/LB Ryan Selig, sr., Warren TE Ryan Short, sr., Grant DB Evan Viscioni, sr., Stevenson DL Ryan Walsh, sr., Mundelein WR Isaiah Wellman, sr.
Selections and profiles by Patricia Babcock McGraw