Playoffs Week 2: Scouting the Northern Lake
No. 14 Belvidere North Blue Thunder (6-4) at No. 11 Grayslake North Knights (7-3)
When: 4 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Belvidere North def. Rockford Auburn, 20-7; Grayslake North def. Chicago Mather, 42-0.
Playoff history: Belvidere North is making its sixth playoff appearance. In 2015, its most recent appearance, the Blue Thunder lost in the first round to Kaneland, 33-31 ... Grayslake North is making its sixth playoff appearance and also its sixth straight. Last year, the Knights lost in the Class 6A second round to Cary-Grove, 56-7.
Skinny: A win against Belvidere North would make history for Grayslake North. The Knights have never before in school history advanced out of the second round and into the quarterfinals. Grayslake North has been to the second round three times over its six playoff appearances, all over the last three seasons, but has lost all three games. Belvidere North is in a slightly better, but similar position. The Blue Thunder's best showing in the playoffs was a quarterfinals appearance in 2009. This year, Belvidere North hit a bump in the middle of the season and lost three straight games, but has since won four straight games. The Blue Thunder had to win its Week 9 game against Rockford East (20-6) in order to qualify for the playoffs on points with five wins. On the season, Belvidere North, led by head coach Jeff Beck, averaged 25.1 points per game, second-highest in the Northern Illinois (NIC-10) Conference. Meanwhile, the Blue Thunder allowed 17.6 points per game. Last week against Auburn, Belvidere North earned the upset win behind quarterback Callahan Diercks, who rushed for a touchdown and threw for a touchdown ... Grayslake North has won six of its last seven games with its only loss over that stretch being to Northern Lake County Conference champion Antioch in Week 9, 14-7. The Knights' other losses on the season were shutout losses to Willowbrook in Week 1 (42-0) and Lakes in Week 3 (31-0). On the season, Lakes is averaging 23.7 points per game and is allowing 16.4 points per game. Last week against Mather, Grayslake North was stingy. Not only did the Knights keep Mather off the scoreboard, they allowed just 6 first downs and only 145 yards of total offense. Offensively, Grayslake North was led by quarterback Austin Martineau, who completed 11-of-19 passes for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the ground, the Knights were led by Frederick Fischer who rolled up 85 yards on 7 carries and scored on a 55-yard touchdown run.
Winner gets: A berth in the state quarterfinals against the winner of No. 7 Hoffman Estates (8-2) at No. 15 Lake Forest (6-4)
No. 5 Lakes Eagles (9-1) at No. 4 Lemont Indians (9-1)
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Lakes def. Chicago Westinghouse, 48-22, Lemont def. Woodstock North, 50-0.
Playoff history: Lemont is making its 18th playoff appearance and its 12th in the last 13 years. The Indians' best finish in the state playoffs has been as state runner-up, which has happened three times (2007, 2008, 2014). Last year, Lemont lost in the state quarterfinals to St. Laurence, 27-20 ... Lakes is making its tenth playoff appearance and its ninth straight. Last year, Lakes lost in the Class 6A first round to Grayslake North, 42-28.
Skinny: Lakes is trying to equal its furthest advancement in the state playoffs in school history. In 2011, the Eagles made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Batavia, 42-0. Lemont is just three years removed from a state championship game appearance and is currently on a hot streak. The Indians, led by head coach Bret Kooi, have not lost since Week 1, a 21-0 shutout loss to Batavia. Since then, Lemont has won 9 games in a row and has averaged 34.4 points per game. Defensively over 10 games, Lemont is allowing just 7.3 points per game, best by far in the South Suburban Blue Conference. Last week against Woodstock North, quarterback Marcus Mathias threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for another and led the offense to 248 total yards ... Lakes has won three straight games and suffered its only loss in Week 7 against rival and Northern Lake County Conference champion Antioch, 34-31. The Eagles are averaging a league-best 35.6 points per game and have allowed 14.8 points per game. Last week against Westinghouse, the Lakes defense was stout, allowing just 9 first downs and only 115 total yards of offense, including 2 rushing yards. Offensively, quarterback Jake Johnson completed 7-of-8 passes for 179 yards and 4 touchdowns. Receiver D'Lo Hardy caught 3 passes for 80 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown.
Winner gets: A berth in the state quarterfinals against the winner of No. 1 Chicago Phillips (10-0) at No. 9 Chicago Solorio Academy (8-2).