Scouting Week 7 football games in Lake County
Grayslake Central (5-1, 3-1) at Antioch (3-3, 3-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grayslake Central 59, Round Lake 28; Antioch 44, Grant 0
Outlook: Grayslake Central is playoff eligible, needing one more win to guarantee that spot. Antioch's three losses have come to opponents that have not lost a game yet (Waukesha Catholic Memorial, Morris and Wauconda are a combined 19-0). "If we can win out, we may be the highest-seeded 6-3 team in the state. Stay tuned," Sequoits coach Brian Glashagel said. Glashagel knows his team will be challenged Friday. "Grayslake Central is having a great year," he said. "I feel this is the best team they have had in a long time. It's the playoffs for us, we can't lose another game. We need to be solid in every phase and not give them anything." Antioch has enjoyed success with the fullback combination of junior Aiden Lennon and sophomore Nick Day. "Aiden and Nick have been an incredible 1-2 punch for the offense," Glashagel said. "Both are tough runners and both are developing into pretty great backs." Senior Hunter Bukowy and junior Quade Moll also have been spot-on for the Sequoits of late. "Hunter is a ball hawk and has turned into a great defensive back making plays sideline to sideline," Glashagel said. "Quade just came off a 200-yard passing game. He's consistent in his passing with a 70% completion percentage."
Warren (5-1, 4-0) at Mundelein (3-3, 2-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Warren 75, Waukegan 0; Lake Zurich 31, Mundelein 7
Outlook: A Warren win locks the Blue Devils into a playoff spot, plus keeps them in good shape in the North Suburban title race. Mundelein has to win out in order to be guaranteed a playoff berth. Remember, the Mustangs beat Libertyville three weeks ago at home. "Warren is a good football team. They are a well-coached team that plays aggressive on both sides of the ball," Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "For us to be successful, we must execute the fundamentals. The little things go a long way in games like this -- winning the turnover margin, sustaining our blocks and finishing tackles. We need 11 hats playing through the whistle on every play." Senior offensive linemen Raytheon Hamblin and Jake Prejna have been key for the Mustangs of late. "These two have been outstanding all season and have really set the tone for our offense," DeFrancesco said. "I have been really happy with their work ethic and desire to continue getting better and to improve our program." DeFrancesco also is high on Zach Frenzel and the continued strong play of Omari Rhinehart. "We have used Zach in a variety of roles this season," he explained. "He's been all over the field on defense for us and has also seen an increased amount of work offensively. He takes great pride in all elements of his game. Whether he's blocking, tackling, running the ball or catching the ball, Zach gives great effort and does it well. Omari is such an explosive athlete. He plays the game at 100% effort every play. In addition, on the defensive side he's been one of our most consistent DBs and has grown into a leader within our program. He's always seeking to improve not only his game, but his teammates. Every time Omari touches the ball, you have to hold your breath because he has the ability to take it the distance."
Wauconda (6-0, 4-0) at North Chicago (0-6, 0-4)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Wauconda 29, Lakes 13; Grayslake North 31, North Chicago 6
Outlook: "Our success formula against North Chicago is play great defense, use special teams to create field position and an offense that can run the ball," Bulldogs coach Dave Mills said. "We need to be who we are and do what we do." Let's talk Wauconda receivers, namely Chase Grolle, Clayton Glasby and Luke Hansen. "We run the ball a lot and they are asked to block a lot," Mills said. "Then, when we do pass they are expected to make big plays." In six games, that group has combined for 17 catches and 7 touchdowns, averaging 23 yards per catch (41% of their catches are for scores). "They are performing great," Mills said. Senior offensive lineman TJ Witkus has been a big asset of late for Mills. "In the Antioch game and Lakes game he had to step in as a starter," the coach explained. "His ability to accept the challenge and go from backup to starting against the top teams allowed us to continue being successful. TJ plays with everything he has. He is a great teammate and wants to be the best he can be to help us be the best we can be." Senior defensive back Chase Watkins is given the opposing team's best receiver on a nightly basis and hasn't blinked. "He is put in the position of hero or not," Mills said. "He has been a hero a lot this year. On the times a play was made against him, he has bounced back the next play. His mental toughness has helped our defense. He makes plays in space." Sophomore running back Connor Vaneslow is averaging 6.5 yards a tote and has 4 touchdowns. "Connor has been able to step in and be that third running back," Mills said. "Vince Bennett and Colin Husko get a lot of attention from defenses. Connor has been able to be that steady, next threat. He is developing into a great offensive threat." Kicker Austin Fink has kicked 60 percent of Wauconda's kickoffs into the end zone. "It is a great feeling knowing your defense gets a long field and the opposing team does not have a chance to return the kick for points," Mills said.
Niles North (3-3, 2-0) at Vernon Hills (4-2, 1-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Niles North 62, Maine East 0; Vernon Hills 40, Maine West 0
Outlook: Both teams have plenty to play for. Vernon Hills can become playoff eligible with a win here, while Niles North still needs two victories to get in the same boat. "Niles does a very good job of running its offensive scheme," Cougars coach Bill Bellecomo said. "Their quarterback does a great job running the offense and extending plays. We need to take the next step this week with our preparation. It is at the point in our schedule when we need to take the next step in the process. We have not played even close to our best football yet."
Lake Forest (5-1, 4-0) at Lake Zurich (3-3, 2-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Lake Forest 56, Libertyville 19; Lake Zurich 31, Mundelein 7
Outlook: North Suburban co-leader Lake Forest hits Lake Zurich needing to win to clinch a playoff berth and stay atop the conference (currently tied with Warren). Lake Zurich needs two wins for playoff eligibility and to win out to guarantee a spot. "Lake Forest is a very well-coached team that plays extremely hard," Bears coach Ron Planz said. "They fly around and are very physical. We have to match their intensity and physicality." Planz calls Ben Cooper Lake Zurich's big-play guy on offense. "He is getting better every week with his vision and physical presence in the run game." Colin Byrne also has turned things up a notch of late. "Colin has really picked it up on defense," Planz said. "He is our starting right guard on offense, but his play on the defensive line has really improved, and he will be a two-way starter for us this week." Kicker Danny Vuckovic drilled a 48-yard field goal against Mundelein last week. "It was great to see Danny hit that field goal," Planz said. "Our kicking game is doing really well right now."
Libertyville (4-2, 2-2) at Zion-Benton (2-4, 0-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Lake Forest 56, Libertyville 19; Stevenson 56, Zion-Benton 12
Outlook: A win puts the Wildcats on the playoff eligibility list and would erase a two-game losing streak. "Zion is a big-play team that we must contain defensively," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "They can score in a hurry. Offensively, we must be able to run the ball to keep it away from them." Offensive guard Lucas Bruckner continues to make a difference up front for the Wildcats. "Lucas is an unsung hero," Jones said. "He plays with great attitude. You don't always see his work, but he has been very consistent." Jones added Sam Pinsel is another consistent performer on the defensive line, while Kristian Gavric "has turned into our big play receiver," Jones said. Of note, Libertyville has not surrendered a quarterback sack through the first six weeks.
Stevenson (2-4, 2-2) at Waukegan (1-5, 0-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Stevenson 56, Zion-Benton 12; Warren 75, Waukegan 0
Outlook: In the win against Zion last week, senior captain Jordan Skolmar scored 3 special teams touchdowns, including two on kickoff returns and one on a punt return. The Patriots must win out to become playoff eligible. "We are focused on getting better every week so we are playing our best football at the end of the season," Stevenson coach Brent Becker said. Waukegan has given up 70 or more points twice this season and 40 or more points four times.
Round Lake (2-4, 1-3) at Grayslake North (1-5, 1-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grayslake Central 59, Round Lake 28; Grayslake North 31, North Chicago 6
Outlook: Round Lake needs three wins to become playoff eligible, while North will play the role of the spoiler, looking to finish the regular season strong. "It's like looking in a mirror," Knights coach Corey Atwell said. "Round Lake runs a wide-open offense and a 3-4 defense just like us. The only exception is they have won two games and we have won one. We need to control the ball and keep their offense off the field. Their offense has some big-play capability that should test our defense." North scored last week against North Chicago on defense, special teams and offense. "Coach Hill and the defensive staff put together a great defensive game plan last week and the kid did a great job executing it," Atwell said.
Other Friday Lake County GamesCarmel (2-4) at Marmion (3-3), 7:30 p.m.
Grant (1-5, 1-3) at Lakes (4-2, 3-1), 7 p.m.