Kukis shines as Grayslake North picks up first win

  • Grayslake North's Jack Kukis (7) is knocked out of bounds against Round Lake in March. Kukis led Grayslake North to a 31-6 win over North Chicago on Friday night.

      Grayslake North's Jack Kukis (7) is knocked out of bounds against Round Lake in March. Kukis led Grayslake North to a 31-6 win over North Chicago on Friday night. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/2/2021 6:36 PM

Grayslake North slot receiver Jack Kukis was pressed into a second week of emergency quarterback duty and did not disappoint once again.

Kukis, filling in for the injured Jake Donohue, completed 10 passes for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran the ball 13 times for 75 yards to help the Knights earn a 31-6 Northern Lake County Conference win against North Chicago to move to 1-5 overall on the season.


"Jack has done a great job two weeks in a row leading the offense," North coach Corey Atwell said. "I can't say enough about the kid. It's not his position and it's not something he probably wants to do, but he's doing it for the team and been doing a great job at it. The kids have rallied around him the last two weeks. He did an amazing job managing the offense. It's been a fun experience."

Kukis hit Nathan Atwell with a 43-yard touchdown pass and Ethan Cass with a 5-yard scoring strike for the Knights (1-3 NLCC).

DeAndrea Neely returned a punt 65 yards for a score, sophomore Max Bouma, just called up this week, took a fumble recovery 39 yards to the end zone and Cooper Perhacs hit a 36-yard field goal as North had its special teams and defense dialed in against winless North Chicago.

"The kids are hanging in there," Atwell said. "Our defense played great all night and gave us the opportunity to score. It's been a tough last couple weeks. Jack has done a great job at quarterback and we're battling out there. That's all we can do."

Nathan Atwell finished with 6 catches for 94 yards and Ryan Page had 3 catches for 74 yards. Travis Standerski led the defense with 5 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss.

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"We scored in all three phases," coach Atwell said. "You will win a lot of games when you can do that. The defense played great, giving up 161 yards of offense and one touchdown. We didn't give up any big plays and forced North Chicago to drive the ball."

Grayslake North hosts Round Lake Friday.

"A lot of the teams we have played already so far are doing quite well and we have been in a lot of those games," Atwell said. "Hopefully this win gets us going and puts us on the right path to finish strong at the end of the year."

Grayslake Central 59, Round Lake 28:

The Rams rushed for 267 yards, passed for 207 yards more and scored touchdowns on 9 of their 10 possessions in this NLCC victory that made them playoff eligible (Rams now 5-1 overall 2-1 in NLCC action).

"We did things offensively personnel- and formation-wise that we took advantage of," Grayslake Central coach Mike Maloney said. "Everybody got a lot of reps and the seniors enjoyed homecoming."


Darryl Overstreet completed 14 of 19 passes for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also ran for 12 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Kaiden Miller ran 6 times for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Matty Jens ran 8 times for 78 yards and 2 scores. Kurt Heerdegen caught 5 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, while Luca Maravola ran for 14 yards and caught 4 passes for 41 years. Jaeger Breault ran 4 times for 23 yards and 1 touchdown.

"Our chunk plays were more prevalent," Maloney said. "Normally, we grind it out with 10-, 11-, 12- and 13-play drives. It's a credit to our guys. Kaiden is a great athlete, Kurt got possession in space and showed off his blocking skills, Darryl distributed the ball, Matty is a tough runner, and three different running backs had significant carries."

Grayslake Central heads to defending conference champion Antioch Friday.

For Round Lake (2-4, 1-3), Cristian Castro threw for 103 yards and ran for 84 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on the ground. Anthony Bishop added 64 rushing yards, while Jamariel Brown scored on a 64-yard run. Marco Jimenez ran for 35 yards and a touchdown and had 16 total tackles on defense. Tyler McManus had 11 total tackles, forced a fumble and recovered it.

"We put up points, but could not stop their offense," Panthers coach Scott Blecha said. "They have a lot of size on the offensive line and a bunch of athletes. They did a great job of distributing the ball and had too many weapons for us to stop. We also turned the ball over a few too many times on offense, which gave them extra possessions, and a short field way too often. We have shown the ability to run the ball the last few weeks, which makes us a much more balanced offense and is a huge step in the right direction for a team that has been pass heavy the last few years."

To that point, Blecha lauded the work of offensive linemen Adrian Montelongo, Eddie Espinosa, Saul Ugarte, Marco Jimenez, Roberto Herrera, Joey Wiesner and Erik Tellez. Round Lake ran for 165 yards in Week 5 and upped that output to 268 against Central. "This week's rushing total was more than the first 4 games combined, and the last 2 weeks individually were higher rushing totals than all of last year's spring-season games combined," Blecha pointed out. "The offensive line is improving and it shows."

Antioch 44, Grant 0:

Grant fell to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in NLCC action after this loss to Antioch (3-3, 3-1 NLCC) in Fox Lake.

"Last night was a rough one for us," Bulldogs coach Chris Robinson said.

Robinson lauded the play of quarterback Rylan Art and fullback Yedidiah Israel. "Rylan was able to find a rhythm eventually late in the game and Yedidiah played in his first varsity game for us and was able to pick up 3.5 yards per carry when he got the ball. We struggled with keeping any momentum that went our way and executing on third and fourth down on both sides of the ball."

Vernon Hills 40, Maine West 0:

The host Cougars returned 3 interceptions for touchdowns on their way to this Central Suburban North victory. Jake Pieper, Alex Gil and Erik Boehmer each had a pick-6. Pieper ran the ball 10 times for 98 yards, while Nate Lee had 3 tackles for loss on defense for Vernon Hills (4-2, 1-1 CSLN), now one win shy of becoming playoff eligible. Maine West fell to 3-3, 1-1 CSLN.

"Our defense played well," Cougars coach Bill Bellecomo said. "Our secondary was flying around. We had those three defensive scores and that can change momentum quickly. Coach Jason Czarnecki did a great job of developing a game plan that stressed putting pressure on their QB, which led to some errant throws."

Other Friday Lake County scores:

Warren 75, Waukegan 0

Stevenson 56, Zion-Benton 12

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