Football notes: Round Lake, Carmel look for improvement

Updated 9/9/2017 9:28 PM

Penalties disrupted Round Lake and its offense time after time on Friday.

And that disrupted the best start to the season the Panthers have had in more than a decade.

After a 2-0 start, Round Lake experienced its first loss of the 2017 season in its Northern Lake County Conference opener against visiting North Chicago, 34-0. The Panthers had not started 2-0 since 2006.

"After the game, you could tell the kids were kind of like, 'Well, what do we do now?' " Round Lake coach Cristo Garza said after the game. "Thank God we have 23 great seniors who kept the team together. Those seniors got up right away to talk and told the other kids that we could only go up from here."

Of course, the penalties will have to go down.

Round Lake (2-1, 0-1 NLCC) was plagued by penalties against North Chicago.

The Panthers had 7 offensive penalties in the first half, contributing to a 14-0 deficit at halftime. They finished with 6 more offensive penalties in the second half. Overall, Round Lake rolled up a total of 19 turnovers.

"Penalties killed us," Garza said. "We had at least one on every offensive series. We have no one to be mad at but ourselves about that. We weren't able to eliminate the penalties after halftime and the game just got away from us. And North Chicago played great. That's a very explosive team."

Getting defensive: As effective as North Chicago was offensively in its 34-0 victory over Round Lake, Panthers head coach Cristo Garza still found plenty of positives in his defense.

Defensive end Ethan Gomez finished with 6 tackles, including one for a loss. He also had a sack. And defensive back Julio Pacheco had 3 pass break-ups and was able to cause a North Chicago turnover with a strip and recovery.

Banged up: Carmel is not only a young team this season, it's also an injured team.

On Friday at Marist, the Corsairs were playing without several key players, all of whom were out with various injuries. Carmel's depleted roster, up against a Marist team that has high expectations for a long playoff run as well as two Division I linemen in tow, struggled to keep up. Marist pinned a 45-14 loss on the Corsairs, who are now 0-3 on the season (0-1 East Suburban Catholic Conference).

"We're not making excuses because injuries are a part of the game," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "But our first three games have been against teams that are probably at least quarterfinal teams this year.

"That's tough when you've got as many key people out as we do."

Carmel was without two of its top rushers in Zaire Barnes and Sean Lynch, both of whom have missed the last two games. Barnes has a broken thumb and Lynch has an injured ankle.

Also, starting defensive lineman Jalen Snell is banged up and only playing on the offensive line when he usually plays both sides.

"It's not enviable being 0-3," Bitto said. "What we need to do is get healthy and then figure out ways to get better. The silver lining is that a lot of other guys are getting experience (in replacement of the injured players)."

Carmel, which is expecting to get its injured players back soon, is starting three freshmen and a sophomore. And a third-string running back was called on against Marist due to the all the injuries, and he produced.

Mikey Lucas rolled up 108 yards on 15 carries in place of Lynch.

The production of Lucas took some pressure off of freshman quarterback Athan Kalikmanis, who accounted for all of Carmel's points against Marist with 2 touchdown passes.

Kalikmanis first connected with his brother, fellow freshman Dino Kalikmanis, for a 33-yard touchdown and then hit Shaneal Greene with a 7-yard touchdown pass. Greene, who also caught a pretty pass for 41 yards, is going to Indiana State.

Marist opened with a 7-0 lead and then Carmel tied up the game 7-7. But then, Marist went on a run. Literally.

"We couldn't stop them in their run game," said Bitto, who reported that Marist also blocked a punt for a touchdown. "And we made some mistakes.

"But I am happy that we played hard and with class in the second half. You've got to look for those silver linings."

Big Jim: Carmel's defense got pinned for 45 points against Marist.

But Carmel outside linebacker Jimmy Harvey still managed to roll up some impressive numbers of his own. He finished with a team-high 14 tackles on the game.

"Jimmy just plays hard all the time," Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. "He had a really good game."

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