Scouting Playoff Week 1 in Lake County

Updated 10/25/2018 7:08 PM
  • Lakes and quarterback Chris Selig will host Belvidere North Friday night in a Class 6A playoff game.

      Lakes and quarterback Chris Selig will host Belvidere North Friday night in a Class 6A playoff game. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson and junior standout JeanMarc Etienne will travel to Marist Saturday night for a first round Class 8A playoff game.

      Stevenson and junior standout JeanMarc Etienne will travel to Marist Saturday night for a first round Class 8A playoff game. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Class 8A

No. 25 Neuqua Valley Wildcats (6-3) at No. 8 Warren Blue Devils (8-1)When: 7 p.m., Friday

Last week: Neuqua Valley defeated Naperville North, 28-7; Warren defeated Mundelein, 43-7.

Coaches: Bill Ellinghaus, Neuqua Valley; Bryan McNulty, Warren

Playoff history: Neuqua Valley missed the playoffs last year but had made seven straight playoff appearances before that. The Wildcats' best finish was in 2012 when they advanced to the semifinals of the Class 8A playoffs but lost to Mt. Carmel, 26-21. Warren is making its 13th playoff appearance in the last 16 years. The Blue Devils have twice advanced as far as the quarterfinals, in 1991 and 2001. Last year, Warren lost in the second round to Maine South, 47-13.

Skinny: Warren has been on point since its Week 1 loss to Barrington (31-14). Since then, the Blue Devils have won eight straight games and are defeating opponents by an average of 29.4 points per game. The Warren defense, led by a huge defensive line, has recorded five shutouts in the last eight weeks and is allowing only 2.9 points per game over that span. The Blue Devils ran the table in the North Suburban Conference to win their first league title since 2008. Offensively, Warren is averaging 32.3 points per game since Week 1 and relies heavily on the run with workhorse running back Martin Walker Jr. Neuqua Valley got its biggest win of the season in Week 6, defeating Waubonsie Valley, 47-16. The Wildcats have won five of their last six games, including the last two. They rank second in the DuPage Valley Conference in scoring at 28.4 points per game while allowing 17.8 points per game. Neuqua Valley features some explosive athletes in running back Will Chevalier and receiver Brandt Stare, who has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 24 Conant (6-3) at No. 9 Hinsdale Central (7-2)

No. 28 Stevenson Patriots (6-3) at No. 5 Marist RedHawks (8-1)When: 7 p.m., Saturday

Last week: Stevenson lost to Lake Forest, 26-23; Marist defeated Benet, 24-7.

Coaches: Josh Hjorth, Stevenson; Ron Dawczak, Marist

Playoff history: Stevenson is making its 30th straight playoff appearance, dating back to 1989. The Patriots won the Class 8A state championship in 2014, defeating Homewood Flossmoor, 31-25, and placed second in 2002. Stevenson has been to the semifinals four times and to the quarterfinals nine times. Last year, Stevenson lost in the first round to Hinsdale Central, 33-21. Marist is making its ninth playoff appearance in the last 10 years and its fourth straight. The RedHawks have finished as the state runner-up three times, in 1986, 2009 and 2015. In 2015, Marist lost in the Class 8A state championship game to Loyola, 41-0. Last year, Marist lost in the quarterfinals to Loyola, 30-10.

Skinny: Stevenson is limping into the playoffs with two straight losses, to Warren (21-0) and to Lake Forest (26-23). Before then, the Patriots' only loss was in overtime to Lake Zurich in Week 5, 23-20. The Patriots are still a high-scoring team, averaging 29.4 points per game, which ranks second in the North Suburban Conference. Quarterback Cole Okmin and running back JM Etienne keep Stevenson balanced. Led by linebacker and Division I recruit Maema Njongmeta, the Patriots are also tough defensively, allowing just 11.8 points per game, second-fewest in the NSC. Marist won the extremely brutal East Suburban Catholic Conference, which also includes Class 7A state championship contender Nazareth Academy. Marist handled Nazareth in Week 7, 34-13. The RedHawks went a perfect 7-0 in ESCC play and suffered their only loss in Week 1 to Brother Rice, 20-16. On the season, Marist is averaging 33.8 points per game while allowing 11.6 points per game, fewest in the conference. Quarterback Mike Markett and talented receivers Jadon Thompson and Billy Skalitzky returned from a powerful Marist offense that averaged 40 points per game last season.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 21 Naperville Central (6-3) at No. 12 Plainfield South (7-2)

Class 7A

No. 23 Lake Zurich Bears (6-3) at No. 10 DeKalb Barbs (8-1)When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Last week: Lake Zurich defeated Waukegan, 48-0; DeKalb defeated Geneseo, 40-11.

Coaches: Luke Mertens, Lake Zurich; Matt Weckler, DeKalb

Playoff history: Lake Zurich is making its 16th playoff appearance in the last 17 years, with the only miss in 2015. Lake Zurich won the 2007 Class 7A state championship, defeating Wheaton Warrenville South, 7-3. The Bears have also finished as the Class 7A state runner-up four times, in 2006, 2010, 2013 and 2017. Last year, the Bears lost in the state championship game to Batavia, 21-14. DeKalb is making its sixth straight playoff appearance. In 1980, DeKalb finished as the Class 4A state runner-up. The Barbs' furthest advancement since then was a semifinals appearance in 2016. Last year, DeKalb lost in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs to Willowbrook, 29-10.

Skinny: Lake Zurich has won four of its last five games, but hasn't been tested in the last two weeks with a schedule that finished with 2-7 Mundelein (a 42-0 win) and 0-9 Waukegan (a 48-0 win). The Bears are averaging 20.3 points per game but have been in flux offensively with injuries to top running back Tommy Vages and top wide receiver James Piggott, as well as a rotation between quarterbacks Matt McGraw and Jack Moses. Led by linebacker Luke Dwyer and lineman Vinnie Panico, the defense is allowing 13 points per game and has posted 3 shutouts, against Zion-Benton, Mundelein and Waukegan. DeKalb won its first four games and its last four games. The Barbs' only blemish is a Week 5 loss to Kaneland, 21-20. DeKalb led the Northern Illinois Big 12 East in both scoring (30.3 ppg) and points allowed (10.7 ppg). The Barbs played four playoff teams this season while Lake Zurich played six.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 26 Thornton Fractional South (6-3) at No. 7 Mt. Carmel (8-1)

Class 6A

No. 15 Reavis Rams (5-4) at Antioch Sequoits (9-0)When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Last week: Reavis defeated Oak Lawn, 40-14; Antioch defeated North Chicago 58-12

Coaches: Tim Zasada, Reavis; Brian Glashagel, Antioch

Playoff history: Reavis is making its fourth playoff appearance in the last five years, with a miss last year. In 1982, Reavis won the Class 6A state championship, defeating New Trier, 20-7. The Rams have also twice finished as the state runner-up, in 1980 and 1981. Antioch is making its eighth playoff appearance in the last 11 years. The Sequoits' best run came in 2008 when they advanced all the way to the Class 6A state semifinals before losing to Lemont, 38-14. Last year, Antioch lost in the first round to Marian Central, 31-9.

Skinny: Antioch wants to avoid a replay of last year. The Sequoits cruised through the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record, just like they did this year. But last year, Antioch was ousted in the first round of the playoffs, dealt a 31-9 loss by Marian Central. The Sequoits upped their schedule this season and faced Lake Forest of the powerful North Suburban Conference in their season opener and handed Lake Forest a 27-14 loss. The Scouts went on to defeat NSC heavyweights Lake Zurich and Stevenson and qualify for the Class 6A playoffs at 5-4. Antioch is averaging an eye-popping 45.1 points per game while allowing just 9.4 points per game, both of which rank No. 1 in the Northern Lake County Conference. Sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis has been a threat both through the air and on the ground for the Sequoits. Wide receiver Zach Grindley has been a top target. Reavis had a do-or-die game in Week 9 against Oak Lawn. A loss would have ended the season for Reavis. But the Rams put together a 40-14 win to be eligible to make the playoff field on points. Before the Oak Lawn win, Reavis, which opened the season with three straight wins, had lost three straight games and scored just 27 points over those three weeks. The Rams average 24.7 points per game but allow 26.9 points per game.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 10 Belvidere North (6-3) at No. 7 Lakes (7-2)

No. 10 Belvidere North Blue Thunder (6-3) at No. 7 Lakes Eagles (7-2)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Belvidere North defeated Rockford East, 31-6; Lakes defeated Round Lake, 49-6.

Coaches: Jeff Beck, Belvidere North; Jordan Eder, Lakes

Playoff history: Belvidere North is making its fifth playoff appearance in the last six years. The Blue Thunder have advanced as far as the quarterfinals twice, in 2009 and again last year when they were eliminated by Hoffman Estates, 35-10. Lakes is making its 10th straight playoff appearance, dating back to 2009. The Eagles' furthest advancement came in 2011 when they lost to Batavia in the Class 6A quarterfinals, 42-0. Last year, Lakes lost in the second round to Lemont, 42-6.

Skinny: Lakes is trying hard not to look ahead. But a win in this first round against Belvidere North could send the Eagles into a second-round grudge match with sister school Antioch. Lakes has won six of its last seven games, with the only blemish coming in a rivalry game against Antioch, a 43-24 loss in Week 8. The Eagles average 37.4 points per game, second-most in the Northern Lake County Conference. But they have had a habit of letting up a lot of points, 24.2 points per game. Running back D'Lo Hardy has been on a tear all season. He regularly scores multiple touchdowns in each game and went off for a school-record 5 touchdowns in a win over Grayslake North. He's also a force on the defensive side, and has a school-record 7 interceptions on the season. Quarterback Chris Selig has been trying to keep the Lakes offense balanced and is connecting more frequently with Dylan Keilwitz, who hauled in a school-record 240 receiving yards last week against Round Lake. Belvidere North is coming off three straight wins in which its average margin of victory was 25.7 points per game. The Blue Thunder allowed 8 or fewer points in each of those three games. On the season, Belvidere North is averaging 30.6 points per game and allowing 17.7 points per game.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 15 Reavis (5-4) at No. 2 Antioch (9-0)

No. 16 Wauconda Bulldogs (5-4) at No. 1 Cary-Grove Trojans (9-0)When: 6:30 p.m., Friday

Last week: Wauconda defeated Grant, 21-13; Cary-Grove defeated Naperville Central, 55-41.

Coaches: Dave Mills, Wauconda; Brad Seaburg, Cary-Grove

Playoff history: Wauconda is making its third playoff appearance in the last four years. The Bulldogs' furthest advancement came in 1992 when they lost in the quarterfinals to Oswego, 48-0. Last year, Wauconda missed the playoffs. Cary-Grove is making its 15th straight playoff appearance. The Trojans won the Class 6A state championship in 2009, defeating Providence in the title game, 34-17. Cary-Grove has also finished as the state runner-up three times, in 2004, 2012 and 2014. Last year, Cary-Grove lost in the first round to Prairie Ridge, 17-13.

Skinny: Wauconda fought to get into the playoffs, and to get back into the playoffs. The Bulldogs had to win three of their last four games in order to reach the 5-win mark and qualify for the playoffs on points. They were determined to get back to the playoffs after missing last year and snapping a playoff streak of two years in a row. Running back Erik Trela has been a nice weapon on the ground for Wauconda while sophomore quarterback Nick Bulgarelli has stepped up to lead the offense. He threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown in Wauconda's clutch win over Grant last week. The Bulldogs are averaging 26.2 points per game and are allowing 22.7 points per game. Cary-Grove is averaging an eye-popping 44.2 points per game and hasn't scored fewer than 21 points all season. The Trojans, champions of the Fox Valley Conference, earned the top seed in the north bracket of Class 6A. Cary-Grove ended the regular season with a bang, rolling over DuPage Valley Conference champion Naperville Central last week, 55-41. Cary-Grove, which has passed for more than 1,000 yards this season, was limited in the passing game against Naperville Central due to injuries to key receivers. So the Trojans shifted gears and tore up Naperville Central with their rushing game, finishing with 429 yards on 58 carries. Fullback Blake Skol rushed 21 times for 222 yards and 4 touchdowns and quarterback Ben McDonald ran for 151 yards and 3 touchdown in 28 attempts.

Next: Winner will face the winner of No. 9 Von Steuben (6-3) at No. 8 Kaneland (6-3)

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