Eight weeks passed, but not much changed the second time Lakes and Grant squared off on the football field.
Back on Sept. 9, Lakes moved the ball like a steamroller in fifth gear. Defensively, the Eagles were able to slow down Grant's triple-option rushing attack.
So Lakes' convincing 38-7 victory in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. It was essentially a distant replay of the Eagles' 38-14 win in the regular season.
Lakes (9-2) is headed to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history and will host the winner of today's Lake Forest-Batavia game next weekend.
"Every team's goal coming into the season is to make it to state," said coach Luke Mertens, whose winter jacket did a nice job of repelling a postgame water-bucket shower. "To still be alive at this point is pretty awesome."
Junior Direll Clark opened the scoring with a tackle-busting, 85-yard run with 5:31 left in the first quarter and finished the night with 211 yards on 17 carries.
The Eagles barely had to resort to any second or third options. Running behind a huge offensive line, Clark delivered all the offense his team would need by halftime. He had 185 yards on 14 attempts at the break, while visiting Lakes built a 24-0 lead.
"I give them all the credit. I've got nothing to say about us," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "They're a good team. They've got our number this year. They pounded us, both sides of the ball again. They put up 38 points both times. I'm no math guy, but that's 76 points."
Actually, Rous teaches calculus at Grant. Using basic math, Rous knew there was little chance of a comeback. The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the third quarter, but it took them 14 plays to travel 63 yards, most of it gained up the middle by junior running back Kyle Whitman (26 carries, 111 yards).
Lakes' defense was razor sharp on this night. Any time a Grant ball carrier found room to run, someone managed to make an ankle tackle. The Eagles were close to 100 percent on one-on-one tackling opportunities.
"We do this swarm drill. We try to swarm to the ball every time," senior linebacker Alan Gomez said. "If we don't do it in practice, we have to do a sprint. Therefore, we have to run our tails off to get to the ball.
"That was our main focus this game. We knew we would not win this game if we did not tackle great."
Grant could have used a sustained drive in the first half to keep its defense off the field, but hurt itself with mistakes.
After forcing a punt on Lakes' first possession, the Bulldogs took advantage of a couple of personal foul penalties to reach the Eagles' 22-yard line. On fourth-and-eight, quarterback Alex Villa hit Jerry Gaylor for a 6-yard gain.
Lakes was flagged for another personal foul, but not until after the play was over. So the Eagles took over on downs, then were moved back to the 10-yard line. Clark's 85-yard run rendered the poor field position irrelevant.
On Grant's next two possessions, it fumbled for a 6-yard loss on first down, then had a holding penalty erase a Villa run near midfield. The Bulldogs kept piling up mistakes and finished the game with 94 penalty yards.
An interception by Drew Recker set up Clark's second touchdown run of 19 yards. Clark finished the next drive with an 8-yard score to make it 21-0 and Tanner Blain's 36-yard field goal stretched the lead with 1:56 left before intermission.
"Grant has owned this series since we've come into this conference," Mertens said. "We have a ton of respect for them. They're a great program and their kids are always one of the toughest kids in the conference. Every time you play them, it's just going to be a tough, nasty game."
Just getting to the playoffs was an accomplishment for the Bulldogs (7-4) after losing badly to Grayslake Central and Lakes early in the season, then trailing Wauconda by 20 points at halftime in Week 4.
Villa finished his high school career with 71 yards rushing. Sophomore Jonathon Wells, who ran for 222 yards against Antioch last week, carried the ball just 5 times with Lakes' defense stacked for the sweeps.
"Not a bad season," Rous added. "Obviously, not the way we wanted it to end. Unless we go all the way, we're going to lose sometime. If it's going to be somebody, hopefully somebody from our division can go downstate. It would be great to see that."