Football: Scouting Week 6 in Lake County
Wauconda (5-0, 3-0) at Lakes (4-1, 3-0)When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Last week: Wauconda 24, Antioch 13; Lakes 34, Grayslake North 28
Outlook: Wauconda had a big conference test last week against Antioch and now gets another one this week in Lake Villa. The winner of this game moves to 4-0 and takes sole possession of first place in the Northern Lake County Conference with three weeks of action left. "Lakes is playing good football," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "Their offense scores points and their defense gets stops. For us to be successful, we have to be us: play great defense, create long fields with our special teams and make plays on offense. For the second week in a row we get to face an undefeated conference team and battle for the conference lead." The Bulldogs have allowed 27 points in 5 games, and Mills calls Nick Bennett the emotional leader of the team's defense. "As a captain, he leads by his actions and words," Mills said. "He is not afraid to challenge teammates, himself or anyone else to get the best out of his teammates." Bennett is the team's leading tackler with 44 total tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, a pair of tackles for loss and an interception. Also key to the Wauconda defensive success has been the linebacking unit that includes Nick Smith, Collin Cheshire, Hunter Rathgerber and Dennis Kloss. "All of our linebackers have been playing great this year," Mills said. "As a group they are always around the football and making big plays." The Wauconda linebackers have 141 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. "They play fast and hard,' Mills noted. Lakes rolls into this critical game on a 4-game winning streak. This after the team went 0-6 during the spring season. "To watch this team come from 0-6 this spring to being 4-1 on a four-game winning streak has been great," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "The team has worked extremely hard since the end of the spring season and all their work is paying off." And now the Eagles have a chance to take control of the conference race. "Wauconda is a very good team," Eder said. "They are playing very well on both sides of the ball and have yet to be beaten this season. We need to protect our drives on offense and control their run game on defense." Anthony Grande has been a stalwart on defense for Lakes. "Anthony has been a key contributor," Eder said. "He had a great game against Grayslake North and was making plays all over the field." And Mark Hunter continues to pile up the numbers out of the backfield. He ran 26 times for 264 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win last week and is just shy of 800 rushing yards for the season. "Mark Hunter continues to be a crucial piece to our offense," Eder said. "Our run game has been very effective thus far and he has been a big piece of that." Eder also gave a shout out to the Lakes offensive line. That group includes Spencer Trawin, JP Sullivan, Blake Goodson, Cameron Goodson and Casey Heraty. "Our offensive line has been playing very well and is another reason our run game has been as effective as it has," the coach said. "They have been playing very well together and have done a great job." Besides Hunter's huge output, Amir Al Hindi ran 6 times for 81 yards in the Week 5 win. "Again, our running game was huge for our team and our success," Eder said. "Another game over 300 yards rushing. Both sides of the ball came up big late in the game against Grayslake North when a score or stop was needed."
Antioch (2-3, 2-1) at Grant (1-4, 1-2)When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Last week: Wauconda 24, Antioch 13; Grayslake Central 35, Grant 26
Outlook: Both teams are coming off Week 5 losses. Antioch needs a win on the road here to remain in the chase for the Northern Lake County title. Both teams are still in the hunt for playoff berths. "Grant seems to be improving every week and their record is deceiving," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "We need to take care of us. We have turned the ball over too much and it cost us the game against Wauconda. To be successful against Grant -- win the turnover battle." Glashagel said Joey Neumann, while getting social media hype, rankings and accolades for his role at tight end-wide receiver, also isn't too shabby on the other side of the ball at outside linebacker. "He's been lights out defensively at outside linebacker," Glashagel noted. More recent standouts for Antioch include senior offensive lineman Tommy VanSickle and senior defensive lineman Austin Vasquez. "Tommy has turned into a very good offensive lineman and vocal leader," Glashagel said. "Austin is undersized, but feisty and is playing really well."
Round Lake (2-3, 1-2) at Grayslake Central (4-1, 2-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Round Lake 26, North Chicago 10; Grayslake Central 35, Grant 26
Outlook: As the clock ticks to Week 6, playoff talk starts to creep into the picture. Both teams are still in the chase to become playoff eligible, Grayslake Central can officially accomplish that with a win here, plus stay in the NLCC title conversation. "Round Lake has several athletes who present issues for opponents," Grayslake Central coach Mike Maloney said. "Their quarterback is an exceptional athlete who distributes the ball well. It's obvious their multiple-sport athletes' impact on the football program is increasing. They play an aggressive brand of defense that hustles to the ball and gang tackles. We will need to play well fundamentally. We have to improve our blocking and tackling in space in 1-on-1 scenarios. Ball carriers getting yards after first contact has been an issue for us. We need to improve in that area immediately." Freshman Jonny Lindberg-Sage and two-way standout Matt Ziemke continue to impress Maloney. "Jonny is our starting inside linebacker," he said. "The body of work he is putting together with Matty Jens is pretty impressive for a 14-year-old kid. He hustles everywhere. He plays like lightning in a bottle. Matt is quickly establishing himself as a dominant physical force. His forced fumble and recovery basically iced the game against Grant. Matt is very much a throwback Catholic League-type guard. He doesn't just look to get in the way of a defender, he's out there burying defenders." Round Lake coach Scott Blecha likes how Marco Jimenez and Jalynn Burton continue to impact the game. Jimenez leads the team in tackles with 93 (55 solos). "He is our defensive captain and is always around the ball," he said. "He also forced a fumble and has two fumble recoveries this year." Jimenez helped Round Lake hold North Chicago to under 100 yards of total offense last week. Burton had touchdown runs of 17 and 73 yards in the North Chicago game. "Jalynn had a breakout performance last week," Blecha said. "He has shown the ability to catch passes, block and run the ball effectively." Tyler McManus had a "career game last week," Blecha noted, with an interception, a fumble recovery and 8 total tackles including one for loss. Blecha also likes how his team has dealt with adversity this season. "I have been extremely happy with guys stepping up during games at positions they have not had a lot of reps at during practice," he said. "Due to multiple injuries, we have had many players have to jump into a position during a game that was unfamiliar to them and they have done so admirably. It truly has been a team effort so far this season."
Grayslake North (0-5, 0-3) at North Chicago (0-5, 0-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Lakes 34, Grayslake North 28; Round Lake 26, North Chicago 10
Outlook: Both teams have been eliminated from playoff consideration. Grayslake North went toe-to-toe with conference co-leader Lakes last week. "North Chicago is an explosive team and they seem to be getting better each week," said Grayslake North coach Corey Atwell. "We need to stop their run game and not give up big-chunk plays." Ethan Case leads Grayslake North in tackles with 38. "Ethan is always around the ball," Atwell said. "He is a high-energy kid that only knows one speed." Travis Standerski had nine tackles in the Lakes game and also scored a touchdown on offense. Highlights from the Lakes game: Jake Kukis, filling in at quarterback, threw 2 touchdowns, one to Nathan Atwell (15 yards) and one to DJ Neely (30 yards), plus he also had a 7-yard rushing touchdown. "Jack did an unbelievable job," Atwell said.
Lake Zurich (2-3, 1-2) at Mundelein (3-2, 2-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Lake Zurich 56, Zion-Benton 7; Mundelein 14, Libertyville 6
Outlook: Mundelein scored a huge win in Week 5 against previously unbeaten Libertyville. "This is a special team," Mustangs coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "This is one of the most unselfish groups I have ever coached. It is a physical team that plays extremely hard and for each other. Our kids are constantly looking to get better and improve our program. We are led by an excellent senior class that has served as great role models for the younger kids in our program." DeFrancesco knows his team must be prepared against an improving Lake Zurich squad. "Lake Zurich is a very good football team," he said. "They play an aggressive style of defense and are disciplined in their assignments. For us to be successful, we must control the line of scrimmage and play fundamentally sound football. Specifically, we need to take care of the football, rally to the football, stay on our blocks and tackle well. All three phases of the game must be locked in and disciplined in their assignments. Senior linebacker Zach Frenzel has been a major plus for Mundelein's defense. "Zach is a tough kid who is only in his second year of playing football," DeFrancesco explained. "He is extremely athletic and plays the game with a relentless motor. He has a great football IQ and is always seeking to improve. He's one of our team leaders in tackles, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, and continues to get better every week." Other standouts of late for Mundelein have included senior offensive lineman Ratheon Hamblin, senior running back Xavier Ortiz and Omari Rhinehart. Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz sees an improved Mundelein team heading straight for the Bears. "Coach DeFrancesco has done a tremendous job with the Mundelein program," he said. "They are well coached and physical. This is probably one of the best Mustang teams they have had in a while, and we are going to have to make sure we play our brand of football. We have to block, tackle and take care of the ball." Planz noted Lake Zurich is young on defense with mainly juniors in the lineup. "Those guys have gotten better every week," he said. "It's hard to replicate game speed and physicality in practice, so every game is a learning experience for those guys." Defensive standouts of late include Cal Grabowski at linebacker, defensive lineman David Penaherrera and defensive back Tyler Erkman. Lake Zurich also has benefited from some new starters on the offensive line in Colin Bryne, Richie Marmol and Jack Loccoco. "I have been happy with the production we ae getting out of some of the new starters at offensive lineman," Planz said. "Just like with the defense, it is hard to practice what they are going to see in the game."
Waukegan (1-4, 0-3) at Warren (4-1, 3-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Lake Forest 1, Waukegan 0 (forfeit); Warren 41, Stevenson 3
Outlook: Blue Devils coach Bryan McNulty said quiet standouts for the team have been linebacker Chris Eubanks and defensive end Jeremy Walton. "Both are playing consistently well and our standouts on our defense," he said. Eubanks had 10 tackles last week against Stevenson, while Walton has 7 quarterback sacks this season. Two more recent stars have been strong safety Benjamin Wilson, defensive lineman Kam Shaw and offensive lineman Kole Weinberg. "Ben Wilson has been the leader of our secondary all year," McNulty said. "Kam is a standout on the defensive line and plays 50 percent of our offensive snaps at fullback and Kole has played every position on our offensive line, and is playing at as high of a level as I have seen." Warren is tied atop the North Suburban with Lake Forest at 3-0. "As good as we have been at times, we can still get a lot better," McNulty said.
Maine West (2-3, 1-0) at Vernon Hills (3-2, 0-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Maine West 48, Maine East 6; Deerfield 28, Vernon Hills 14
Outlook: The Cougars look to get back on track after last week's Central Suburban North loss to Deerfield. "Right now, we have to compete against ourselves," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "We have to push ourselves to get better every day. The outcome on Friday will take care of itself if we push ourselves to get better every day."
Other Lake County GamesFriday
Lake Forest (4-1, 3-0) at Libertyville (4-1, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Zion Benton (2-3, 0-3) at Stevenson (1-4, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.
SaturdayCarmel (2-3, 0-1) at Chicago St. Patrick (3-2, 1-0), 5:30 p.m.