Pow: Powell's 4-TD games catches plenty of attention

Updated 9/26/2017 4:08 PM
  • Lake Zurich's Payton Powell catches a touchdown pass as Warren's Tavi Dungee defends Friday in Gurnee.

      Lake Zurich's Payton Powell catches a touchdown pass as Warren's Tavi Dungee defends Friday in Gurnee. John Starks | Staff Photographer

The wide receiver in blue kept making plays in Gurnee last Friday night.

Was anyone surprised?

Well, if you thought a wide receiver in the Lake Zurich-Warren showdown would rack up 206 receiving yards and catch 4 touchdown passes, you probably would have guessed it would be Micah Jones.

"He's playing like an all-state player," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of his senior and Notre Dame commit.

"Everyone in the conference knows about him," Lake Zurich senior wide receiver Payton Powell said of Jones. "He's a great player. He had a good game too."

While Warren's 6-foot-5, 210-pound Jones put on another show for fans, catching 8 passes for 143 yards and a TD in overtime, the 5-11, 150-pound Powell might have stood out more than any player on the field. He and Bears quarterback Evan Lewandowski hooked up on touchdown passes of 12, 80, 11 and 10 yards. The final one came in overtime, as Lake Zurich prevailed 41-35 in double OT to move to 5-0 and 3-0 in the North Suburban Conference, while snapping Warren's three-game winning streak.

"It was a game where both sides were making amazing plays," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "I'm sure the fans loved it."

Powell finished with 6 receptions, half coming on fade routes. His 80-yard TD grab down the left sideline late in the first half came one play after Lake Zurich's Ryan Vrenios intercepted QB Ian Schilling (20-of-42 passing, 364 yards, 4 TDs) in the end zone. It tied the score at 14-14.

" 'Lew' and I were clicking a lot," Powell said. "The man coverage opened up a lot for us."

Powell has 6 touchdowns on the season and has been a valuable addition to the Bears after he and his family moved from Zion to Lake Zurich this summer. He played three years of football at Zion-Benton and was a varsity starter last season.

"It's fun (being at Lake Zurich)," Powell said. "When I came here, I feel like I was accepted right away. Everyone's been nice. It's a great place to be."

Mertens saw Powell's potential immediately.

"When he started practicing with us in the summer, we knew that he was a big-play-capability guy for us," Mertens said. "Typically we do a pretty good job of establishing the run. To Warren's credit, they shut down our run game (holding Joey Stutzman to 45 rushing yards on 17 carries). We went more to the air, and Payton and Evan had a good connection going on."

One of Powell's scores this season came when he returned a kickoff in his return to Zion-Benton in Week 4. He met up with former teammates before and after the Bears' 36-6 win.

"We talked after the game and they said it was a nice kickoff," Powell said with a smile. "We were talking before the game and having a lot of fun."

Powell and Lewandowski played together in a 7-on-7 league this summer, and that helped lead to a smooth transition on the varsity field.

"That kicked off the chemistry," Powell said. "It just translated to the fall."

Lake Zurich hopes the chemistry between Powell and Lewandowski is on display again Thursday night, when the Bears travel to Lake Forest.

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