FOX VALLEY FOX
Grayslake North (4-3, 3-1) at Grayslake Central (6-1, 4-1)
When: 7:15 p.m., today
Last week: Grayslake North lost to Crystal Lake Central, 35-24; Grayslake Central lost to Woodstock North, 25-0.
Skinny: It's the annual "Battle of Grayslake." And this year, the crosstown rivalry game means more than ever. Grayslake Central, on the brink of its second-straight playoff appearance, is not only fighting for the Fox Valley Fox Division title, it's also fighting for a possible home playoff game. Grayslake North, meanwhile, is angling for its first playoff berth in school history. The schools split six years ago and the Knights are still looking for that first postseason appearance. Last year, they reached the 5-win mark but didn't have enough playoff points to make the field. This season, by winning out, Grayslake North could leave no double and guarantee a spot with six wins. "There's no doubt this is a big game for both of us," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "But, then again, when you play only nine games, every game in football means something."-Both of the Grayslakes are similar in that they can light up the scoreboard. Grayslake North, which had a three-game winning streak snapped last week, leads the Fox Valley Fox in scoring at 32.7 points per game and Grayslake Central ranks second at 29.3 points per game. What could be the difference is the Central defense, which has been beyond stingy all season. The Rams are allowing a Fox Division-low 9.3 points per game. They've also pitched 2 shutouts-The challenge for the Central defense will be to stop a North air assault that has been nearly unstoppable all season. Even in a loss last week, quarterback AJ Fish completed 28 passes for 327 yards and 3 touchdowns. "We play mostly teams that like to pound the ball on the ground," Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe said. "It is a challenge to simulate a passing game like North's in practice. They spread the field very well and they have playmakers who can score. We are really going to have to tackle and execute on defense."-Four teams in the Fox Valley Fox are gunning for the division title with one loss apiece. Grayslake Central is 4-1 in Fox games while Grayslake North, Woodstock North and Crystal Lake Central are all 3-1. Patricia Babcock McGraw
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Marist (5-2, 5-1) at Carmel (5-2, 5-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., today
Last week: Marist def. St. Patrick, 31-28; Carmel def. St. Viator, 51-32.
Skinny: There's a logjam at the top of the East Suburban Catholic Conference but that will begin to change once this game is decided. Marist and Carmel are among four teams in the ESCC with only one league loss. The others are Nazareth and Joliet Catholic, both of which are 5-1. "This is an awesome way to end the season, with all the games meaning so much," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "So many games that will be played over the next two weeks could literally be conference championship games. If we win out, we'd get at least a share of the title."-Carmel finishes the season with 1-6 Benet-Marist, on the other hand, has a much tougher road, ending with both Carmel and Joliet Catholic. Joliet Catholic defeated Carmel but lost to Nazareth. Carmel's loss to Joliet Catholic in the season opener (32-31) came on a touchdown in the final seconds. The Corsairs' only other loss was an out-of-state nonconference game to Wayzata of Minnesota-In that game against Wayzata, Carmel recorded its second-lowest point total of the season at 27 points. Relatively speaking, that's not low, but it is when you consider that the Corsairs are averaging 36.4 points per game. Patricia Babcock McGraw
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE
Antioch (7-0, 4-0) at Grant (5-2, 4-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., today
Last week: Antioch def. Round Lake, 34-6; Grant def. North Chicago, 50-12.
Skinny: It might be shorts weather in Fox Lake, no matter what the temperature is. Because Grant is hot, and Antioch is hotter. Two of the best teams in the North Suburban Prairie will duke it out in a border war for pride and much, much more. Since Antioch and Grant share their southern and northern boundaries, respectively, there is always a bit of an edge to any matchup between these two schools. But this season, even more is at stake. Antioch is going for its second undefeated season and second North Suburban Prairie Division title since 2008. Likewise, the more wins the Sequoits pile up, the better seed they'll get in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Grant is trying to pry away the Prairie Division title from Antioch and also needs to get at least one more win to guarantee a playoff spot. "We have a lot to play for," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "If we beat Antioch, it will give us at least a share of the Prairie Division championship."-Lakes is also in the race with just one loss. The Eagles are 3-1 and have lost to Antioch but have beaten Grant-Grant's only two losses are to likely playoff teams in Grayslake Central (32-21) Lakes (38-14). After dropping those two games in Weeks 2 and 3 respectively, the Bulldogs have won four games in a row and are lighting up the scoreboard. Grant leads the entire North Suburban Conference in scoring at 35 points per game. Quarterback Alex Villa and backs Kyle Whitman and Jonathon Wells give the Bulldogs three great options in the option offense. The Antioch defense will have its hands full but has its own credentials. Just as Grant tops the NSC in offense, the Sequoits boast the best defense in the entire league. They are allowing just 8.3 points per game. Patricia Babcock McGraw
VH (3-4, 1-3) at Round Lake (1-6, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m., today
Last week: Vernon Hills def. Mundelein, 39-7; Round Lake lost to Antioch, 34-6.
Skinny: Vernon Hills, the two-time defending North Suburban Prairie Division champion, is fighting for its playoff life. The Cougars, who finish the season next week with 2-5 Wauconda, need to win out in order to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs on points. The good news is, Vernon Hills already boasts a solid 30 points-The Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak last week and got back to rolling up the points. After averaging just 6.3 points per game over those three losses, the Cougars rolled up 39 points against Mundelein and now rank second in the Prairie Division in scoring at 25.7 points per game-Round Lake is at the other end of the spectrum, struggling to score points. The Panthers, who have lost four straight games after a Week 3, final-minute win over Wauconda, are averaging just 13.1 points per game. On the flip side, the Round Lake defense is allowing 34.3 points per game, second most in the Prairie Division after North Chicago (36.9 ppg)-Vernon Hills rolled up 378 yards of offense on Mundelein last week, 281 of which came on the ground. Senior Tyler Peterson had 5 rushes for 97 yards and scored a 43-yard touchdown. Jarrett Wood and Dylan McNamara are also dangerous coming out of the backfield-Round Lake's two biggest threats all season have been quarterback Anthony Burton and running back Daniel Vega. Patricia Babcock McGraw
Lakes (5-2, 3-1) at N. Chicago (1-6, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Lakes def. Wauconda 33-13; North Chicago lost to Grant 50-12.
Skinny: Lakes clinches a third straight playoff berth and fourth in seven years as a varsity program with a win. Lakes running back Direll Clark is coming off a career-best 260-yard rushing effort against Wauconda, while wide receiver Justin Bergeron caught his fifth touchdown of the season. Lakes had scored just 21 points the last three weeks against Lake Zurich, Vernon Hills and Antioch. Clark leads the Eagles in rushing (863 yards) and TDs (8). Bergeron has 22 catches. The Eagles' defensive leaders include Alan Gomez (42 tackles), Drew Recker (41 tackles), AJ Goggin (28 tackles, 13 TFL), Brandon Brumm (25 tackles, 6 TFL) and Dalton Garland (18 tackles, 7 TFL). Levi Haymaker, Tanner Blain and Nick Battaglia have 2 interceptions apiece. "With a state playoff berth on the line, we are approaching this game with a lot of intensity and focus," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "We did a great job last week of controlling the line of scrimmage and running the football; however, we still need need to eliminate penalties and the big play defensively. Controlling the clock is a key to this game, so we keep their playmakers, especially their QB, (Arnold Shead) off the field." Joe Aguilar
NORTH SUBURBAN CROSSOVER
Wauconda (2-5) at Stevenson (5-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Wauconda lost to Lakes 33-13; Stevenson def. Lake Zurich 24-17.
Skinny: A victory clinches a 23rd straight playoff berth for the Patriots, who engineered a 98-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter to defeat Lake Zurich last Friday. Kevin Foley's 3-yard run with 23 seconds left snapped a 17-17 tie. The Patriots' only loss since Opening Night was a 10-7 defeat to Lake Forest in Week 6. "This is the time of the year when you want your football team to be playing their best," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We are treating all games as if they are playoff games." The Patriots will be playing a Wauconda squad that was eliminated from playoff contention with its loss to division-rival Lakes last Friday. Quarterback Branden Rowe, a transfer from Marian Central, threw his 13th touchdown pass of the season. "Wauconda is very well-coached and will present us with many challenges," McNamara said. "Our team needs to be prepared for those challenges and needs to play well. We have been working very hard in practice on all three phases of our game and hope to be hitting on all cylinders against Wauconda."
NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE
Lake Forest (6-1, 4-0) at LZ (5-2, 3-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., today
Last week: Lake Forest def. Warren, 27-19; Lake Zurich lost to Stevenson, 24-17.
Skinny: The only remaining undefeated team in the North Suburban Lake Division, Lake Forest is inching ever closer to its first league title in well over a decade. The Scouts lost their season opener in a nonconference battle with Buffalo Grove but have been on fire ever since, leading the league in scoring and ranking as one of the best defensive teams as well. Lake Forest is scoring 34.3 points per game and is allowing just 12.7 points per game. Interestingly, Lake Zurich, which is nipping at the Scouts' heels with just one Lake loss at 3-1, boasts the best defense in the Lake. The Bears give up just 9.1 points per game. So what will give? Lake Forest's high-octane offense or Lake Zurich's stingy defense-The Scouts are coming off a stiff test last week in which they had to fend off a pesky Warren team that made things interesting after falling behind 27-0 in the second quarter. But Lake Forest closed out thanks to the impressive play of both its starting quarterback, Jordan Beck, and its reserve quarterback Andrew Clifford. Early on, Beck completed passes all over the field and helped the Scouts build a 14-0 lead. But then he was pulled down with a horse collar tackle and spent the rest of the night on the sideline with his left (non-throwing) arm in a sling. He has been day-to-day. Clifford came in and kept the passing game going by throwing for another Lake Forest touchdown-Lake Zurich, which had a four-game winning streak snapped with last week's loss to Stevenson, can also pass thanks to the versatility of quarterback Zach Till. Patricia Babcock McGraw
Warren (2-5, 2-3) at Libertyville (4-3, 2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Warren lost to Lake Forest 27-19; Libertyville def. Zion-Benton 21-10.
Skinny: A win makes Libertyville playoff-eligible and all but guarantees the Wildcats a postseason berth in retiring coach Randy Kuceyeski's final season. Libertyville, which has missed the playoffs the last two seasons, hosts Lake Forest in Week 9. The Wildcats will gain plenty of playoff points from their two nonconference opponents: Barrington (5-2) and Chicago Urban Prep (6-1). Plus, the Wildcats played Antioch (7-0) in their conference crossover. Against host Zion-Benton last Friday, Jack Deichl, who's entrenched himself as the starting quarterback after beginning the season as the back-up, threw for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ed Pike (16-yard run), Justin Guarnaccio (19-yard pass) and Max Ebert (43-yard screen pass) each scored their first TD of the season. The defense got interceptions from Joey Salata, Clay Cusek and Dan Tropple, while Michael Parker had 2 sacks and Stephen Skul recovered a fumble. ... Warren will miss the playoffs for the first time since going 4-5 in 2006. Since 1999, the Blue Devils have missed out on the postseason just that one time. ... A bright spot offensively for Warren has been the play of three-year varsity wide receiver Mitch Munda. His 7 receptions and 2 touchdown grabs against Lake Forest last Friday gave him 31 and 8, respectively, for the season. Joe Aguilar
Mundelein (0-7, 0-4) at Z-B (2-5, 0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Mundelein lost to Vernon Hills 39-7; Zion-Benton lost to Libertyville 21-10.
Skinny: Mundelein seeks its first win since beating Zion-Benton 14-13 in the teams' regular-season finale last year. The Mustangs jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Vernon Hills last Friday, as quarterback Gable Leppert scored from 4 yards out after Andy Chernyavskiy's interception on the game's first play from scrimmage gave the hosts the ball at the VH 17. But Vernon Hills answered, and led 30-7 by halftime. Zion-Benton also jumped out to an early lead last Friday, as Hannah Magiera booted a 24-yard field goal against Libertyville. But 3 interceptions and a lost fumble ultimately helped do in the Zee-Bees. ... Zion-Benton has played the last two weeks without star running back Alex Pasiewicz. ... No North Suburban Lake Division team has scored fewer points (63) or allowed more points (288) than Mundelein. ... Zion-Benton opened the season with a win over Deerfield. Round Lake (overtime, Week 6) is the Zee-Bees' only other victory. Joe Aguilar