Antioch hoping to keep NLCC supremacy going
A narrow 10-7 win last week over rival Lakes kept alive Antioch's hopes for another magical season.
If the Sequoits can get a win over North Chicago Friday night, they will secure their fourth undefeated Northern Lake County Conference title in a row.
And Antioch's regular season record over that span would move to 35-1. The Sequoits' only loss in the last four years would be their season-opening loss this year to Lake Forest, 10-7.
Antioch, which could finish 8-1 with a win over North Chicago, went 9-0 in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
"We don't emphasize any of this daily. It's just about getting ready for the next game," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "But the kids know the history. We have a team room where we have boards with all the conference titles, playoff runs. We have T-shirts for the kids when we win conference. We're happy (with the regular season), but what we really want to do every year is make a deep playoff run. We've been to the quarters (and the semifinals) and now we really are hungry for a state title."
Three newbies: In a key tilt against Lakes last week, Antioch started three newbies in key positions.
AJ Kutcher got his first start at quarterback, stepping in for injured Athan Kaliakmanis. Jackson DeVaughn, normally a linebacker, started on the offensive line. And junior varsity player Khalil Anderson got his first start at wingback.
"Jackson actually played both ways for us and did a really good job," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "And Khalil had been doing a good job as a JV running back and making plays on special teams. We had moved some guys around and brought him in."
Then there was Kutcher.
He engineered Antioch's winning drive against Lakes in the final moments. He took the Sequoits 99 yards in 16 plays and scrambled for the winning touchdown run.
Kutcher finished with 97 passing yards on 4-of-5 attempts.
"I thought AJ handled the pressure really well," Glashagel said. "In the first series, he fumbled it and they scooped it and ran it down to the 2-yard line and eventually scored. But AJ calmed down by the second half and really took control of the offense. He is a great athlete, a really good basketball and baseball player and he's been in pressure situations before. It's a little different pressure being the starting quarterback, but I feel he handled it excellent."
Deep rotation: It's been many hands on deck this season for the Antioch defense, which is by far the most dominating defense in the Northern Lake County Conference.
The Sequoits have allowed only 30 points over eight games, for an anemic average of 3.6 points per game. They've also recorded 4 shutouts.
But it's not just the 11 starters who deserve the credit.
"It's been more like 16 guys," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "We've been rotating in a lot of guys on defense."
And that number is about to increase by one.
Freshman Joey Neumann, one of three freshman on the varsity roster, will likely be getting some time this week at defensive back. He also plays some wide receiver for the Sequoits.
"I've never had that many freshman on varsity," Glashagel said. "But Joey is going to get some time (on defense). He's doing a great job."
Close calls: It's not that the Lakes football team is happy with its 10-7 loss to Antioch last week.
But the Eagles do recognize the value of going toe-to-toe with the top team in the Northern Lake County Conference.
"Against Antioch, it was our first big environment, it was an amped up game and I thought we responded well to that. We battled hard," said Lakes coach Jordan Eder, whose team is in second place in the NLCC behind Antioch. "We had our chance, just like we've had our chance in a lot of games against Antioch lately."
Lakes is 0-4 against Antioch in their last four meetings, but three of those games have been decided by a combined 7 points.
"We are right there," Eder said. "Antioch has been phenomenal. They haven't lost a conference game in four years. And we are right there. We just have to find that one play. But regardless, that's a great game for us going into the playoffs."
QB shuffle: Chris Selig starts at quarterback for Lakes.
But every now and then, the Eagles have a different quarterback under center.
Jack Lochner, normally a wide receiver, gets a handful of snaps under center each game to give the Lakes offense a different look.
"We spread it through the game," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said of Lochner's appearances. "We let him run and do sprint-out passes. He was formerly a quarterback and he even started the Grayslake Central game because Chris was hurt. It's worked out well."