All-Area Football Team, Lake County
Chase Becker AntiochGames were no different from practice when it came to Becker, a senior linebacker for the Sequoits. "We can't block Chase at practice and neither can our opponents on game days," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said of Becker. "He is one of the hardest working football players we've had here at Antioch. He was a leader of our stellar defense. Defensive end, linebacker, no matter where we move him on defense, he makes plays." Becker finished with 65 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and 2 for safeties. He also had 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Chris Carlsen WaucondaFitness both inside and out was a priority for Carlsen this year and it translated onto the field as he made an impact for Wauconda on both the offensive and defensive line. The senior has been a two-way player for three years for the Bulldogs. "Chris is one of those players that we have to kick out of the weight room. He loves to work out," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "Chris also made a lifestyle change going into this season. He planned his meals weekly. That disciplined approach allowed Chris to become leaner and faster, while still increasing his strength." Carlsen led the team in pancake blocks and was double-teamed on nearly every play on defense.
Dylan DeAngelo LakesIt was often about D for D.D. The senior middle linebacker led the Eagles with 52 tackles, including 6 for a loss. He also recovered 3 fumbles. But for the second year in a row, DeAngelo also made an impact on offense as a running back. He rushed for 6 touchdowns and was often a lead blocker for fellow running back DeAngelo Hardy. "He was the heart of our defense," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "But he made a direct impact on both sides of the ball in every game he played this season." On offense, DeAngelo rushed for 265 yards on 64 attempts.
Juan De La Cruz WarrenKnown best for his punishing hits and big plays on defense, De La Cruz, a junior linebacker, was also a weapon for Warren on offense as a wide receiver. His productive versatility is what earned him North Suburban Conference player of the year honors as well as Lake County All-Area Team Captain honors from the Daily Herald. "Juan was our do-it-all player," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "He led our team in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss. He was also our leading receiver. But the most important role Juan played was as a leader. I am not sure I have been around a kid who loves Warren football as much as Juan does. All he cares about is his teammates and their success. Just a tremendous player and person. I am pretty certain Juan will be a hot commodity on the recruiting trail." De La Cruz finished with 63 tackles, a whopping 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Offensively, De La Cruz had 268 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions.
Luke Dwyer Lake ZurichNorth Dakota State is a powerhouse in FCS college football and went after Dwyer hard. Dwyer, a senior linebacker for the Bears, committed to North Dakota State prior to the football season. "North Dakota State loves Luke for all the same reasons we do, his versatility, passion for the game, work ethic in and out of the classroom and citizenship," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. Dwyer has earned all-conference academic honors, all conference honors and academic all-state honors. He finished his career with 142 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 interceptions and 2 defensive touchdowns.
JM Etienne StevensonNicknamed "The Joker" with his teammates, Etienne was no joke for opposing defenses. The junior running back rolled up 1,000 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns even thought he was the centerpiece of the Stevenson offense. "Defenses routinely keyed on JM, and yet he made them pay with electric runs all over the field," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said. "Turn on the highlight film and you will see him shake and bake all over the defense. He plays with an edge, blocking, running and receiving the ball." Etienne also had 24 catches for 179 yards for nearly 1,200 combined yards on the season.
Jack Fabbrini Lake ZurichIn a program that has for years prided itself on stingy defense, Fabbrini ranks among the best. He was the Bears' leading tackler this season with 94, including 9 tackles for loss. He ends his career ranked eighth on Lake Zurich's all-time tackles list. Fabbrini also finished with 1 sack, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. He has been named academic all-conference and academic all-state as well as all-conference. "As great as Jack is on the field, he is even better off the field," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said. "He was one of the leaders of our entire team."
Quinn Geren Vernon HillsAt 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, Geren might be on the small side for a wide receiver. But he played big, just like another great receiver that most football fans appreciate. "His offensive game best resembles that of Julian Edelman," said Vernon Hills interim head coach Jay Czarnecki, comparing Geren to the undersized Edelman, a 5-foot-10 receiver for the New England Patriots. "Quinn is 5-foot-8, but plays like he is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds. His performance on the field played a big role in key situations during the season. He really helped this program excel over the past four years." Geren hauled in 68 receptions for 880 yards and 6 touchdowns. He finishes his career with his name all over the team record books, including first in career receptions with 107. Geren was also a defensive back and led the Cougars with 4 interceptions and 10 passes defended. He was also third on the team with 39 tackles.
Ivan Gleyzer StevensonAlthough he spent the offseason recovering from a shoulder labrum tear, Gleyzer had no problem pushing around defensive linemen. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior offensive lineman was the leader of the Stevenson line for the last two years. "He cleared the road for our running backs and kept our quarterbacks upright," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said of Gleyzer, a team captain. "He played with an intensity, dominating opposing defensive lines and providing vocal leadership to his peers. Ivan currently has four FCS offers and whoever gets him is going to be very pleased with an aggressive offensive lineman."
Zach Grindley AntiochAs Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis set passing records all over the place this season, but he had to have someone to throw to and that person was often Grindley, a senior. The 6-foot-3 Grindley rolled up 21 receptions and nearly half of them (10) were touchdowns. He finished with 599 receiving yards. Grindley set a school record himself with 203 receiving yards in a single game (vs. Wauconda). He also had multiple 100-yard-plus receiving games. "Zach turned out to be one of our best weapons on a team filled with weapons," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "His consistency at the wide receiver position often is what won us games."
DeAngelo Hardy LakesIt's hard to decide where Hardy, a jack-of-all-trades for Lakes, made his biggest impact. The senior, third-year varsity player finished the season at running back and was the centerpiece of the offense, rushing for 1,114 yards on 149 attempts for an average of 7.5 yards per carry. He also ran in 18 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he was a nightmare for quarterbacks on defense, setting a Lakes school record with 7 interceptions on the season. "D'Lo is one of the most dynamic athletes in Lake County," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "His versatility was a huge asset to our team as he started out at wide receiver, moved to running back (after Week 4) and was a constant impact player for our defense."
Derek Jarrell Vernon HillsHis numbers made him the most prolific passer in Lake County this season. Jarrell, the Cougars' senior quarterback, finished with 2,312 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. His 257-yard average per game is an all-time high at Vernon Hills. "Derek is an outstanding quarterback with superior arm strength," Vernon Hills interim head coach Jay Czarnecki said. "Early in the season, we allowed Derek to call his own plays. He did so for the rest of the season with a confidence and maturity rarely seen in a high school athlete. His understanding of defenses and how to exploit them was superior. Derek has a rare ability to communicate with the offensive coaching staff on strategy. On the field, he was a take-charge guy making sure the entire offense was on the same page." Jarrell, also a team captain, ran the ball effectively as well, rushing for 7 touchdowns. He is now featured prominently throughout the team record book, setting records such as most completions in a single game with 46.
Athan Kaliakmanis AntiochA transfer from Carmel, Kaliakmanis made himself right at home with the Antioch offense and the team's record books. The sophomore quarterback led Antioch to the quarterfinals and set records in the process. He broke Antioch's single-season passing touchdown record with 26 passing touchdowns this season. He completed 115 of 193 passes for 2,083 yards, with the yardage also being a single-season record. "Athan had the best season any quarterback at Antioch has ever had," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "He can throw with the best in the state, but his improvisation and his ability to make plays with his legs make him a special quarterback. Athan has handled every situation like a savvy veteran. As the season pressed on for us, we just continued to try to create as many pressure situations for him as we could and he responded with big play after big play. Throwing, running and decision-making all come natural to him and the best for him is yet to come." Kaliakmanis also rushed for 578 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Austin Martineau Grayslake NorthIt was a record-setting year for Martineau. Thanks to an eye-popping 2,275 passing yards and 27 passing touchdowns on the season, Martineau is now Grayslake North's all-time leader in career passing yards and career passing touchdowns. He broke his own record for single-season touchdowns as well. He also set the single-season passing yardage record and the single-game passing yards record with 511 yards and the single-game passing touchdowns record with 6 touchdowns in a game. "Austin is the best quarterback I have coached in my 10 years as a coach," Grayslake North coach Sam Baker said. "He is also the most gifted passer I have ever worked with. He can make any throw on the field and that really opened up our offense. He will be missed and hard to replace."
Maema Njongmeta StevensonNot long ago, football wasn't even on Njongmeta's radar. He had never played before he got to high school. Not once. "Four years ago, Maema barely knew how to put on a helmet," Stevenson coach Josh Hjorth said of the Patriots' senior linebacker. "Now every (recruiter) in the country knows his name. Wherever there was a defensive play to be made, Maema was there. He terrorized offenses, often commanding double- and triple-team blocks." Njongmeta, who committed to play next year at the University of Wisconsin, rolled up 134 tackles, including 24 for loss. He also had 11 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries and 2 fumble recoveries. A team captain, Njongmeta also excelled off the field with a 3.78 grade-point average and a 34 ACT. He is also a member of the student council and an Eagle scout. "Maema was one of the best in a long line of great linebackers from Stevenson," Hjorth said.
Nick Paul Grayslake CentralThe numbers that Paul has put up over the last two years are rather amazing, considering he's been playing out of position the entire time. A wide receiver by preference, Paul has been called on to be Grayslake Central's quarterback the last two seasons due to serious injuries to two different starting quarterbacks. "Nick has been a tremendous asset to our program the past two years," Grayslake Central coach Jason Schaal said. "He was asked to play quarterback and that's not his No. 1 position. But Nick always put the team first and gave his best effort each and every game. He is an explosive athlete who can turn any play into a touchdown." Paul finished with 949 passing yards with 2 touchdowns. He also rushed for 737 yards and 8 touchdowns. In his best performance of the year, against North Chicago, Paul rushed for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. On of his touchdown runs went for 65 yards.
Zack Pelland WarrenAlthough he was dead-set on being a basketball player going into high school, Pelland tried football his freshman year and discovered a new love. Over the years, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive lineman poured his heart into his new love, especially in the weight room. "Zack is probably the most known player returning to our defense from last season," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "Through his hard work in the weight room, Zack turned himself into a Division I prospect and currently holds over 16 offers. Zack is also an excellent student who boasts a 4.61 grade-point average and a 33 ACT. On the field, Zack has led our defensive front. Zack is what high school football players should be. He's a kid who worked for everything he's gotten. When Zack plays, you can immediately see his weight room work come out." Pelland finished with 39 tackles, 8 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
James Piggott Lake ZurichIn Lake Zurich's biggest win of the season, Piggott, a junior wide receiver, connected with quarterback Matt McGraw for one of the most spectacular touchdown catches of the season in Lake County. At Stevenson in Week 5, Piggott used his jumping ability to rise up in the corner of the end zone to make a juggling catch with a defender draped on him. That tied the game at 10-10 just before halftime. Piggott and McGraw again connected for a huge touchdown on fourth down with 25 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. That again tied the game and forced overtime, and the Bears eventually prevailed to hand Stevenson its first loss of the season. Piggott finished the season with 29 catches for 566 yards, for an average of more than 19 yards per catch. He also had 6 touchdown receptions. "The highlight (of the season for Piggott) was that 137-yard, touchdown performance in a thrilling overtime win at Stevenson," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said.
Jimmy Poremba WarrenWarren committed to a run-heavy offense this season and Poremba was a big reason why. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound senior offensive lineman helped open all kinds of holes for star running back Martin Walker Jr., who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards. "Jimmy was our physical leader this year on our offensive line," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "He is a quiet kid, but extremely tough. In the offseason, he transformed himself into a scholarship football player." On the season, Poremba had 51 pancake blocks.
Willis Singleton, Jr. WarrenSingleton often didn't get singular attention. The 6-foot-2, 285-pound junior defensive lineman was a load and required a village to handle him. "Despite seeing double teams every play, Willis still had an outstanding season," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "Through his hard work in the weight room and the classroom, he has turned himself into a major Division I prospect. He has multiple MAC offers and his upside is through the roof. He is probably the most talented football player I have been around as a coach. On top of that, he has really turned into a team leader, both on and off the field. He will be a force to be reckoned with moving forward." Singleton finished with 45 tackles, 8 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and 1 forced fumble.
Jalen Snell CarmelLinemen do the grunt work on the team, and Snell did it on every snap. Snell, a senior offensive and defensive lineman, rarely left the field for the Corsairs. He started at left tackle on the offensive line and played every position on the defensive line, and wound up leading the team with 56 tackles. "Jalen was a major key to our success as a team this season," Carmel coach Blake Annen said. "He started on both lines in all nine of our games. He was both a leader on and off the field."
Jack Turco LibertyvilleTurco is relatively new to football but became a familiar face on Libertyville's offensive highlight reel. The 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver hauled in 39 catches for 733 yards and 4 touchdowns. He averaged 18.8 yards per catch. "Jack made a huge impact considering it was only his third year of playing football," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "His growth as a player and leader has been tremendous. Jack was extremely reliable and his physical presence on the field gave you the sense that he was always open."
Syone Usma-Harper CarmelWhen Carmel star running back Sean Lynch went down with a season-ending injury midway through the season, Usma-Harper, just a sophomore, got the call. And he answered with a roar. Usma-Harper played in all nine games but started the last four and became a focal point of the offense in taking over for Lynch. He rushed for 719 yards on 101 attempts for an average of 7.1 yards per carry. He also ran in 13 touchdowns. "Syone became a huge contributor as the season unfolded," Carmel coach Blake Annen said. "As a sophomore, he stepped up and was ready to play. He was asked to quickly become a playmaker for us and to help us win in some big conference games."
Martin Walker Jr. WarrenWalker Jr. was a worker, a consummate workhorse for Warren. He was the focus of the run-heavy offense and was relied upon sometimes exclusively to keep the chains moving. Walker Jr., a senior running back, averaged nearly 28 carries per game for 304 carries on the season. And he made the most out of every last one. Walker Jr. finished with 1,472 yards (4.84 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns on the season. And he fumbled the ball only twice. "Martin was the heart and soul of our football team," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "Nobody in our program embodies Warren football like Martin does. He's tough, dependable, resilient and even a better person off the field. He is the best running back I have ever coached."
Honorable mentionLB Doug Antonucci, sr., Wauconda; OL Sean Bates, jr., Carmel; QB Nick Bulgarelli, soph., Wauconda; LB Anthony Concialdi, sr., Wauconda; OL Nico Corsini, sr., Warren; OL Dylan Czerlanis, sr., Antioch; LB Michael D'Angelo, sr., Stevenson; LB/TE Drew Dziura, sr., Grayslake Central; DL Jackson Farsalas, sr., Lake Zurich; OL Jack Grupka, sr., Lakes; LB Danny Hynes, sr., Stevenson; WR Jose Jacobo, soph., Wauconda; S Shane Kearns, sr., Libertyville; WR/CB Dylan Keilwitz, sr., Lakes; FB Jon Kull, sr., Stevenson; DB Austin LePage, sr., Lake Zurich; WR Nick Lovitsch, sr., Grayslake North; RB Sean Lynch, sr., Carmel; WR/CB Tavion McCarthy, sr., Warren; WR Ryan McElhinny, sr., Stevenson; DE Seamus Mellican, jr., Warren; S Brian Mohry, sr., Warren; RB/LB Jake Morris, sr., Vernon Hills; WR/QB Jack Moses, jr., Lake Zurich; LB/RB Joey Murphy, sr., Grayslake Central; RB Ben Nauman, sr., Antioch; QB Cole Okmin, sr., Stevenson; LB David Pentek, sr., Stevenson; DL Nathan Tobler, sr., Stevenson; S Josh Turner, jr., Warren; RB/S Jordan Vincent, jr., Stevenson; WR/DB TreShawn Watson, jr., Antioch; FB Dane Weinberg, sr., Warren