Perfect in Prairie, Lakes looks forward to getting healthy
The Division I recruit is sidelined with injuries to his finger and knee, and quarterback T.J. Edwards isn't the only banged-up football player for Lakes' 7-1 Eagles.
"We have a ridiculous amount of injuries," coach Luke Mertens said.
So no wonder Mertens wasn't in a celebratory mood after Lakes outlasted host North Chicago 51-34 in an ugly, division-clinching game last Friday night.
While Lake Zurich and Stevenson battle for the North Suburban Conference Lake Division championship in Lincolnshire on Friday night, Lakes will visit 1-7 Mundelein having already won the NSC Prairie by going 6-0 in the division for the second year in a row.
After the North Chicago game, a reporter noted to Mertens that his Eagles just wrapped up the NSC Prairie.
"Uh, I guess so. I don't know," Mertens said. "Couldn't even tell you. I don't pay attention to that, to be totally frank with you.
"Well, this is our last Prairie game and we haven't lost, so I think so."
Mertens' candor is appreciated. And it tells you how far Lakes has come as a program in nine years.
Lots of coaches, in lots of sports, will tell you that winning conference is their team's No. 1 goal. The Eagles surely appreciate their NSC Prairie championship, but extended playoff runs and improvement are their focus.
Lakes advanced to the Class 6A state quarterfinals two years ago, before suffering a second-round loss to Lake Forest last year.
The 2013 Eagles have not lost since Opening Night against Grayslake North.
Getting its backs back: Against Libertyville last Friday, Lake Zurich welcomed back running backs Dylan Schassler and Joey Holtz, who ran for 67 and 59 yards, respectively, on 13 carries each.
Holtz (knee surgery) was playing in his just his second game all season, while Schassler (concussion) had not played since Lake Forest in Week 5, when his helmet absorbed the helmet of a defensive player. Holtz tore his meniscus a week before the season started. He had 1 carry in his only other game this season.
"He didn't have surgery right away because he thought he could get through it and play," coach David Proffitt said of Holtz.
While Schassler and Holtz had the bulk of carries for the Bears against Libertyville, sophomore Ben Klett had only 3 offensive touches, rushing twice for 10 yards and catching 1 pass for 1 yard.
Klett, who scored 13 touchdowns in the Bears' first six games, has been limited the last two weeks by an ankle injury. Proffitt said after the Libertyville game that he wasn't sure Klett would be at full strength for Friday's game at Stevenson.
Getting his kicks: With Vernon Hills serving as Round Lake's homecoming opponent last Saturday, Cougars kicker Jeremy Cohen got to play for both the soccer and football teams over the weekend.
He showed off his ability to kicks balls between posts.
Cohen scored 2 goals and had an assist in the soccer team's 4-1 win over Grayslake North on Friday. He then kicked 5 extra points in the football team's 35-21 victory Saturday.
Special (teams) night: Lake Zurich has the best record in the North Suburban Conference (8-0) and best defense (54 points allowed), and against Libertyville, the Bears' special teams had themselves a night.
Zach Wallace, who started at offensive tackle, used his 6-foot-7 frame to block an extra point in the fourth quarter. Then late in the game, Lake Zurich's Tommy Clancy blocked a punt and sophomore John Strojny returned the ball 7 yards for a touchdown.
Getting it right: Ryan Rubenstein, Lake Zurich's principal for student activities and facilities, kept statistics for the varsity football team at Libertyville on Friday night, as usual stats keeper/girls basketball coach Chris Bennett was out of town. Rubenstein walked up to Lake Zurich coach David Proffiitt after the game and handed him the stats.
"That is about the hardest job in the world, just to let you know," Rubenstein told Proffitt.
"Now you appreciate what (Bennett) does," a smiling Proffitt responded.
On behalf of everyone who's kept stats during a high-school football game, thank you, Ryan.
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