Lake County all-area team
Cole Anderson WarrenAt 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, Anderson is an imposing figure on Warren's offensive line, where he started for two years. "Cole is extremely athletic and long," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of Anderson, a senior who has started at every position on the line. "He also has a nasty streak and will knock you completely off the ball." Anderson, who helped open up holes for star running back Darrius Crump, a 3,000-yard rusher over the last two years, gave up just 1 sack in two years. "That is impressive considering the caliber of the defensive linemen in the North Suburban Conference," McNulty said.
Dave Boudart LakesBoudart did something this season that no other player at Lakes did. "He was the only player who played both ways for the entire game," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "He is a true 'throwback' type of player." Boudart was a standout linebacker and offensive lineman for the Eagles. He was the team's leading tackler with 112 stops (including 5 tackles for loss and 2 quarterback sacks) and, as a three-year starter, he finishes as the program's all-time leading tackler with 230 tackles. His 24 tackles against Antioch set a program record for tackles in a game.
Riley Buncic LibertyvilleBuncic, a linebacker, was the ring leader for a Libertyville defense that was one of the stingiest in the area. The Wildcats could also be flashy on the defensive side, thanks to Buncic. "Riley has a knack for making the big play," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "He had touchdowns in successive weeks, a fumble recovery and a 99½-yard interception return for a touchdown." On the season, in helping Libertyville advance to the Class 7A state championship game, Buncic recorded 72 tackles, including 6 for loss. He had 2 sacks, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery.
Darrius Crump WarrenCrump was a gamer at running back. "Darrius is a very competitive runner who always seems to get into the end zone," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "He had his biggest games against the biggest opponents. I believe his vision is second-to-none." Over the last two seasons, Crump rolled up more than 3,000 yards. "That's very tough to do in our conference (North Suburban)," McNulty said. As a senior this season, Crump finished with 1,286 yards and 15 touchdowns on 231 carries. He also caught 17 passes for 111 yards.
Colten Fisher MundeleinMundelein finished with its most wins (4) since 2004, when it finished 5-5 and made its last playoff appearance. Fisher played a big role in the resurgence of the offense. The senior quarterback passed for 803 yards and 7 touchdowns while rushing for 1,608 yards and 18 touchdowns. "He's such a good athlete, a really talented kid and the sparkplug for our entire offense," Mundelein coach Larry Calhoun said of Fisher, a 3-year varsity starter. "He's got good speed and good vision and he's just tough as nails. Colten is just a playmaker."
Sean Foster CarmelA 6-foot-7, 285-pound, three-year starter at offensive tackle, Foster drew all kinds of attention from college recruiters and wound up earning a scholarship to the University of Minnesota. In his final season at Carmel, he helped pave the way for 2,400 rushing yards over nine games. "Sean is extremely coachable," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "He's been the leader of our team for two years. He was selected captain by his peers."
Cade Gilbert StevensonKnown as "Big Country" to his coaches and teammates, Gilbert was a big reason the Stevenson offense had so much success over the last three years. Gilbert has been a three-year starter on the offensive line, leading the Patriots to a state championship last year and a state semifinals appearance two years ago. He helped pave the way for nearly 4,000 yards of offense this season. "He has been the anchor of our offensive line for the last three years," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said of his 6-foot-1, 265-pound senior. "He combines that rare combination of size and speed for his position. It was very common to find Cade 20 yards downfield making a touchdown block."
Jake Gokan MundeleinThe most valuable player of Mundelein's defense, Gokan flexed his muscles with a team-leading 88 tackles, or nearly 10 tackles per game. He led the team in sacks and tackles for loss as well. Meanwhile, Gokan also flexed his muscles in the weight room. He set a state record for his weight class in squats at the state power lifting meet at New Trier. "Jake is a great combination of size, strength and speed," Mundelein coach Larry Calhoun said of Gokan, a senior linebacker and two-year starter. "He also provided our offense with a power-running option, playing part-time running back and averaging 6 yards per carry."
Griffin Hill AntiochIn a crazy season for injuries, Antioch lost four quarterbacks. That put even more pressure on star senior running back Griffin Hill, who was already being singled-out by defenses. The injuries made him even more of a focal point. "We asked Griffin to line up in the I-formation and we had to give him the ball," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "He had to take on almost the entire load of the offense this season." Hill was also asked to play defensive back. Yet, Hill still managed to finish his career with 2,410 yards and 44 touchdowns. "Griffin Hill is a freak," Glashagel said. "For three years, he was a force in the North Suburban Prairie and one of the best offensive players in the county."
Rondel Jamison CarmelOnly a junior, Jamison has already made the East Suburban Catholic all-conference team twice. At his current pace, he's poised to become the all-time rushing leader in Carmel history next season. He rolled up 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns on 171 carries this season. "Rondel is the staple of our offense," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "He has awesome balance and great ability to gain yards after contact. He has tremendous hands and his best attribute is that he plays intense no matter what the situation. Nothing gets him off his game."
Colton Jewell LakesJewell was certainly a gem for the Eagles. He played so many positions that there wasn't enough space on the program to list them all. "Colton is the unofficial MVP for this year's squad due to the fact he impacted all aspects of the game, playing nearly every position," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "He played running back, tight end, wide receiver, quarterback, inside linebacker, outside linebacker and defensive back. He was also the team's snapper for both the punt and field goal units." Jewell was the Eagles' leading receiver and finished with more than 800 all-purpose yards and 6 touchdowns. He also had 15 tackles, 5 for loss, and 4 quarterback pressures.
Ben Kimpler LibertyvilleA three-sport athlete who also excels at basketball and baseball, the 6-foot-6 Kimpler has found his niche with football as a defensive end. He will play football next year in college at Miami of Ohio. "Ben is a great competitor who plays hard on every snap," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "He is very athletic for his size and has a tough demeanor. He excels at rushing the passer, but he is equally tough against the run." Kimpler had 51 tackles, including 7 for a loss this season. He also finished with 9 quarterback sacks. Kimpler also handled punting duties for Libertyville, which advanced to the Class 7A state championship game.
Ben Klett Lake ZurichAs a running back, Klett had to absorb plenty of hard hits. But he also dished out his fair share of payback. "You better have your chin strap on and mouth guard in when going against Ben," Lake Zurich coach David Proffitt said. "He's intense and talented, one of the best players we have had here at Lake Zurich in the last 10 years." Klett, a senior, rushed for 2,261 yards over his three-year varsity career, which ranks fifth in the school's record books. He also finished with 42 career touchdowns, third best all-time at Lake Zurich. "Ben is willing to do whatever for the team," Proffitt said. "If we would have changed his position to help the team, he would have never questioned why."
Riley Lees LibertyvilleTo fully appreciate Lees, Libertyville's star senior quarterback, it's best to see him play in person. Even his numbers, which are off the charts and certainly speak volumes, don't do his game justice. Lees had the rare ability to be a game-changer on every play, particularly with his uncanny scrambling abilities. No jam was too messy or impossible for Lees to negotiate and even overcome. Lees, who has committed to Northwestern, finished with a mind-boggling 4,453 total yards this season. He passed for 2,002 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 2,451 yards and 33 touchdowns, all while leading Libertyville to the Class 7A state championship game.
Kevin Malisheski WaucondaA three-year starter at quarterback, Malisheski's experience was invaluable. "Kevin was an outstanding coach on the field," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "His experience and knowledge of the offense allowed the team to create an offense that began to roll in the second half of our season. It will be hard to replace his leadership and skill set." Under Malisheski, the offense rolled up 2,720 yards. He threw for 1,094 yards and 13 touchdowns. Malisheski holds the school career records for pass completions (287), passing yards (4,113) and passing touchdowns (41). In a win over Grant, Malisheski was a perfect 7-for-7 with 2 touchdown passes and an average of 35 yards per completion.
Henry Marchese StevensonThere were times this season that Stevenson tried to be very strategic with Marchese, its star wide receiver. "We moved Henry around to make it difficult to guard him, and to create favorable matchups," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. Then there were times that the Patriots just let Marchese do his own thing. "Sometimes we'd simply say, 'Throw the ball up and Henry will go get it,'" McNamara said. "Henry is simply the complete package as a football player. He is smart, athletic and physical on the field. He has incredible ball skills as a receiver and takes great pride in his blocking. He is a legit Division I football prospect because of his size, speed and skills." Marchese caught 59 passes for 981 yards and 9 touchdowns. He averaged nearly 17 yards per catch.
Connor McNamara Vernon HillsThe apple certainly didn't fall far from the tree. McNamara is the son of Stevenson football coach Bill McNamara, a standout high school and college quarterback himself. The younger McNamara made his own name, though. He was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Lake County over his three-year varsity career. He leaves Vernon Hills with well over 5,000 passing yards. "Replacing his production will be hard to do," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "Connor has been the leader of our offense." This season, McNamara completed 230 of 401 passes for 2,383 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4 touchdowns. He was named all-state for Class 5A.
Jordan Mercure LakesIt's hard to decide which numbers are more impressive: Mercure's football numbers, or his academic numbers. Mercure has a 4.6 grade point average, a 34 ACT and ranks in the top 5 percent of his class. His is choosing between Ivy League schools and other colleges of that caliber. Meanwhile, over a two-year varsity career, Mercure has rolled up 4,500 all-purpose yards and 45 touchdowns. "He was a dual-threat quarterback," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said of Mercure, who was a threat to gain big yardage on the ground as well. Mercure is a three-sport athlete for the Eagles. He led the football team to two conference championships.
Connor Mitchell WaucondaQuick off the ball, Mitchell, a senior defensive end, made countless plays in the backfield. He had 50 tackles on the season, 24 of which were for a loss. "His 24 tackles for loss set a new school record," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. A Class 6A honorable mention all-state selection, Mitchell ignited Wauconda's run of regular season wins that helped to clinch a playoff spot. "His pass deflection against Vernon Hills led to a pick-6, sealing the game and beginning the Wauconda run to the playoffs," Mills said. Mitchell had 9 pass deflections on the season. As a tight end, he caught 2 touchdown passes.
Sean O'Malley LibertyvilleThere have been some talented football players in Libertyville's history, but O'Malley and his teammates along the offensive line hold a special place. "Sean has been an anchor for our offensive line," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "He is the leader of a group of young men who have evolved into one of the most talented offensive lines in our school's history." The offensive line paved the way to nearly 5,000 yards of offense en route to the Class 7A state championship game. "Sean is unique because his is a vocal leader and one who also leads by example," Jones said. "Sean is a mentor to younger players."
Dami Oladunmoye Grayslake NorthAlso a star at lacrosse, Oladunmoye has already committed to play lacrosse in college, at Syracuse. The junior might need to revisit that decision after his break-out season in football. Football recruiters are bound to be throwing some sweet offers his way. After playing defense for the Knights last season, Oladunmoye crossed over and led the offense from the running back spot. He rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 26 touchdowns this year. He also carried Grayslake North to its first-ever playoff win. "Dami is the best pure running back the program has ever had," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "His vision on the field is second-to-none and his speed is very deceptive. He has the ability to make people miss or lower his shoulder and run over you."
Sean Pearce Grayslake NorthPearce was at the center of an offensive line that paved the way for more than 4,000 yards of offense for Grayslake North. Literally, Pearce is the center. "He was a really good center," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "And he had no bad snaps. He was a big reason (running back) Dami (Oladunmoye) was all-state." Oladunmoye used blocking from Pearce and the rest of the offensive line to rush for more than 1,800 yards. Overall, the Knights rushed for 3,000 yards this season.
Jalen Powe WarrenPowe was Mr. Electric for Warren this season. He had the potential to turn ordinary plays into extraordinary highlights. "Jalen is probably the finest all-around athlete on the football field I have ever coached," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "He's extremely versatile and can do so many things. Every time he touches the ball he is a threat to go the distance and was a clutch performer." Powe returned kicks for Warren, was a Wildcat quarterback and also was a defensive standout at strong safety. He had 41 kickoff returns for 801 yards and 3 touchdowns. He rushed for 3 touchdowns at quarterback and had 73 tackles and 3 interceptions. "I believe Jalen's best football is well ahead of him," McNulty said. "He will definitely be a name to watch at the next level."
Henry Schmidt LibertyvilleLean and just 5-foot-10, Schmidt's size isn't particularly imposing. But his numbers as one of Libertyville's top receivers certainly were eye-catching. Schmidt finished with 50 catches and 927 yards. He also hauled in 14 touchdowns, including 2 in the Class 7A state championship game. "Don't let Henry's size fool you," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "He plays much bigger than he is. Henry is a sure-handed receiver who is not afraid to go over the middle. Once he catches the ball, he is very dangerous in the open field. Henry also excels at reading coverages and finding holes within the defense."
Luke Shepherd Grayslake CentralShepherd, Grayslake Central's senior quarterback, was literally the focal point of the Rams' offense. "Our offense was built around him and his strong arm," Grayslake Central coach Jason Schaal said of Shepherd. "His size allows him a great opportunity to take the ball and run, which he did very effectively. He showed tremendous growth this year." Shepherd rolled up 1,157 passing yards and 7 touchdowns. He also ran for 142 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Jack Sorenson StevensonSorenson made a quick switch to quarterback for the Patriots. Last year as a junior, he was a standout receiver for Stevenson and was a key contributor in the team's state championship run. Sorenson was switched over to quarterback this season and the transition was seamless. "Jack is the complete package as a quarterback," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "He is a multi-threat player who can beat you with his arm and legs. However, it is his mind and decision-making that makes him a consistent winner. Jack provided great leadership of our team." Sorenson, an all-state selection, completed 123-of-209 passes for a 59 percent completion rate. He finished with 1,832 passing yards and 14 touchdowns. He also ran for 475 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Chick Smith Vernon HillsDon't let Andrew Smith's sweet-sounding nickname (Chick) fool you. He can be anything but sweet on the football field. A two-year varsity linebacker and just a junior, Smith relentlessly pursued his way to a team-leading 98 tackles, 7 of which were for loss. He also had 2 sacks and 2 caused fumbles. "Chick has been the heart and soul of our defense for the past two years," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "He will be one of the better defensive players in the state next year."
Tyler Vincent StevensonCoaches like to say that the best athletes are made in the off-season. Vincent is one of the best examples. "Tyler is a product of his hard work in the off-season," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "He has great vision, awesome agility and strength and makes great cuts in the open field. Last year, Tyler was our hybrid "jet" runner as a wide receiver. This year, he became our running back and had the ability to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. He had an electric year." Vincent rushed for 1,015 yards in nine games for 113 yards per game and nearly 9 yards per carry. He led Stevenson with 14 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 17 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown.
Player School Yr. Pos.
Cole Anderson Warren sr. OL
Dave Boudart Lakes sr. LB
Riley Buncic Libertyville sr. LB
Darrius Crump Warren sr. RB
Colten Fisher Mundelein sr. QB
Sean Foster Carmel sr. OL
Cade Gilbert Stevenson sr. OL
Jake Gokan Mundelein sr. RB/LB
Griffin Hill Antioch sr. RB
Rondel Jamison Carmel sr. RB
Colton Jewell Lakes sr. WR/LB
Ben Kimpler Libertyville sr. DL
Ben Klett Lake Zurich sr. RB
*Riley Lees Libertyville sr. QB
Kevin Malisheski Wauconda sr. QB
Henry Marchese Stevenson jr. WR
Connor McNamara Vernon Hills sr. QB
Jordan Mercure Lakes sr. QB
Connor Mitchell Wauconda sr. TE/DE
Sean O'Malley Libertyville sr. OL
Dami Oladunmoye Grayslake North jr. RB
Sean Pearce Grayslake North sr. OL
Jalen Powe Warren sr. SS
Henry Schmidt Libertyville sr. WR
Luke Shepherd Grayslake Central sr. QB
Jack Sorenson Stevenson sr. QB
Chick Smith Vernon Hills jr. LB
Tyler Vincent Stevenson sr. RB
* All-area team captain
Honorable mentionAntioch S Matt Adams, sr., Grant DL Ricky Allen, jr., Lakes LB Nick Austill, sr., Carmel S Shareif Bailey, sr., Carmel DL Joe Belill, sr., Wauconda RB Jacob Bicknase, jr., Grayslake North TE/OL Payton Campbell, Carmel LB Remy Chitwood, sr., Grayslake Central WR Noah Comerford, sr., Grayslake North LB Stefan Davis, Antioch FB Nick Dorosan, sr., Vernon Hills LB/TE Jefferey Echeverria, sr., Round Lake WR/DB Alan Espinosa, jr., Libertyville OL Jon Evers, sr., Grayslake North DB Devin Gains, Libertyville OL Walker Hare, sr., Wauconda LB Jeremy Hollander, sr., Vernon Hills WR Kyle Hull, jr., Warren LB Max Kravitz, sr., Warren WR Nick Marcinkus, sr., Lake Zurich LB Ryan McGeever, jr., Grant WR Kemar Miller, sr., Libertyville DB Brian Murphy, sr., Lakes OL Tim Ohlwein, sr., Mundelein LB Davin Quebrado, sr., Round Lake OL/DL Ross Reahm, sr., Wauconda LB/TE Grant Rodgers, sr., Lake Zurich RB Kyle Roth, jr., Lakes RB/DB Cameron Ruiz, jr., Grant OL Issac Ryczek, sr., Vernon Hills WR/DB Andres Salazar, sr., Lake Zurich LB Jack Sanborn, soph., Stevenson DL Connor Santini, sr., Lakes LB/TE Jeremy Sasser, sr., Wauconda RB/LB Tyler Stankiewicz, jr., Stevenson OL Jake Steinberger, sr., Lake Zurich OL Mikey Stutzman, sr., Antioch LB Pete Tognarelli, sr., Warren WR Jalin Tolbert, jr., Carmel DL Jack Wayland, sr., Grayslake North DB Blake Wilshire, Warren LB/DL Eric Yunker, sr.
Selections and profiles by Patricia Babcock McGraw