Scouting Week 9 in Lake County
By Joe Aguilar and Bill McLean
NORTHERN LAKE COUNTY CONFERENCE
Grayslake North (4-4, 3-3) at Grayslake Central (1-7, 1-5)When: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Grayslake North def. Grant, 20-17; Grayslake Central lost to North Chicago, 27-20.
Last year: Grayslake North def. Grayslake Central, 53-14.
Outlook: The predominant color in the battle of Grayslake won't be gray. It won't be any color, in fact, because white is achromatic (having no hue). Expect a spectacle, nonetheless.
"Both sets of fans, I hear, plan to 'white out' the student sections," Grayslake North coach Sam Baker said of the blinding sartorial tradition that Penn State's rabid football fans deploy for big home games at Beaver Stadium.
A game ending in a tie on the Rams' home turf would be fitting, but don't count on that -- stalemates are extinct because of overtime(s).
North's Knights need a win to be playoff-eligible, accent on "eligible." Their opponents' win total is 33. The Knights are guaranteed 36 points and would gain another point if 6-2 Deerfield wins at home vs. 3-6 Niles North.
"We should be OK if we win," said Baker, whose club has won three straight games after dropping four of its first five contests. "We're expecting a tough game; Grayslake Central's record is not indicative of how they've played."
GC coach and former Marian Central coach Mike Maloney gets his first taste of the District 127 rivalry.
"The game means a lot to the kids, to the schools, to the community," Maloney said. "It's a game with players going against their neighbors and their friends and their cousins. Emotions ratchet up in a game like this."
Grayslake North edged a 6-1 Grant squad 20-17 last weekend, getting a 178-yard rushing effort from junior running back C.J. Johnson and 3 more touchdown receptions from senior wideout Joe Swanson (36 catches, 854 yards, 12 TDs). Swanson finished with 3 TD snares in a defeat of Wauconda in Week 7.
"Want to hear an incredible stat?" Baker said. "Of Joe's last 11 or 12 catches, eight of them ended up as touchdowns."
Another sumptuous stat: Swanson averages 106.8 yards receiving per game.
GN junior Nick Fish (4-of-8, 2 TDs) and freshman Jacob Donohue (8-of-14, including a 27-yard TD toss on a 4th-and-12) shared time at quarterback against Grant's Bulldogs. North capped the win by running out the clock with a lengthy drive that begin at its 5-yard line and featured nothing but running plays, including a 50-yarder by Johnson (6.91 yards per carry after eight games).
Maloney said Grayslake Central sophomore running back Maurice Edwards pounded his way to "some amazing and exceptional runs" in the Rams' 27-20 loss to North Chicago's Warhawks last weekend. QB Darryl Overstreet, another sophomore, threw a pair of TDs, as the visitors totaled 304 yards. North Chicago's defense stopped the Rams on a 4th-and-4 from Central's 40 in the fourth quarter.
"Our players deserved better outcomes than the ones we've seen on scoreboards this season," Maloney said. "Our seniors, all season, have been open to what my staff has implemented. They've adjusted well, they're accountable, and they've embraced everything we've presented to them. Their legacy will be the solid foundation they started to establish on my first day."
Grayslake North senior defensive back Jeremy Rowder has collected a team-high 5 interceptions, and junior linebacker Zaire Knight paces the team in tackles (79). Knights senior defensive end Brian Kenebrew and senior outside linebacker Tayo Oladunmoye have 4 sacks apiece. Kenebrew has 17 tackles for loss, more than double the total of North's No. 2 man (Knight, with 8) in the category.
Maloney was an offensive tackle/defensive end at Joliet Catholic and then served the program as an assistant coach from 2004-07.
"You want to talk about a rivalry?" Maloney said. "It didn't get more intense than a Joliet Catholic-Mount Carmel football game on a Friday night."
Maloney, on Grayslake North: "Coach Baker has a bunch of fundamentally sound football players. And all of them believe in the program's mission."
Baker, on the Grayslake schools' overall records this fall: "Irrelevant."
North Chicago (4-4, 3-3) at Antioch (7-1, 6-0)When: 7:15 p.m., Friday
Last week: North Chicago def. Grayslake Central, 27-20; Antioch def. Lakes, 10-7.
Last year: Antioch def. North Chicago, 58-12.
Outlook: After losing back-to-back one-point decisions to Wauconda and Grant, North Chicago earned a win last Friday at home against Grayslake Central. Since an 0-3 start that also included a one-point loss to Lakes, the Warhawks are 3-2. Antioch manufactured a 99-yard, fourth-quarter drive against host Lakes last Friday to stretch its NLCC winning streak to 27 games. The playoff-bound Sequoits also clinched their fourth straight NLCC championship. They did so despite DB/WR Tre Watson (knee) missing his fifth game in a row and QB Athan Kaliakmanis (season-ending broken collarbone) missing his second game in a row. QB AJ Kutcher scored the game-winning TD against Lakes.
Wauconda (3-5, 3-3) at Grant (6-2, 4-2)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Wauconda def. Round Lake, 47-27; Grant lost to Grayslake North, 20-17.
Last year: Wauconda def. Grant, 21-13.
Outlook: The tables have turned since last year's Week-9 game between the two teams. Wauconda needed a fifth win, got it and earned a playoff berth, while handing Grant its fourth loss in five games. This year, Wauconda will miss the playoffs, while Grant, despite losing last Friday at Grayslake North, is headed to the postseason. Wauconda opened Round Lake's new stadium last Friday with an impressive display of offense. RB Colin Husko (17 carries, 132 yards) and backup QB/RB Vince Bennett (14 carries, 141 yards) combined for 3 rushing TDs, QB Nick Bulgarelli threw for 218 yards and 3 TDs, and WR JJ Jacobo had 2 TD catches and 108 receiving yards.
Lakes (5-3, 4-2) at Round Lake (1-7, 0-6)When: 7:15 p.m., Friday
Last week: Lakes lost to Antioch, 10-7; Round Lake lost to Wauconda, 47-27.
Last year: Lakes def. Round Lake, 49-6.
Outlook: Round Lake gets another home game in its new turf-field stadium after debuting it last Friday against Wauconda. With 5 wins, Lakes is playoff-eligible and will likely earn a playoff berth regardless of Friday's outcome, as the Eagles are guaranteed 39 playoff points and would gain additional points if Deerfield (6-2) and Highland Park (4-4) win their games. It will be Lakes' 11th straight postseason appearance. Round Lake sophomore QB Cristian Castro threw for 285 yards and 1 TD against Wauconda, and RB/WR Jamariel Brown rushed for 109 yards and 2 TDs on just 7 carries.
NORTH SUBURBAN CONFERENCE
Mundelein (2-6, 1-5) at Warren (8-0, 6-0)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last week: Mundelein lost to Lake Zurich, 34-7; Warren def. Stevenson, 37-0.
Last year: Warren def. Mundelein, 43-7.
Outlook: It's Senior Night for Warren, which looks to complete an undefeated regular season and second straight outright championship in the NSC. The Blue Devils lead Lake Zurich (5-1 NSC, home vs. Waukegan) by 1 game. Warren's win at Stevenson last Friday gave the Blue Devils (21 points allowed all season) their fourth shutout. RB Derrick McLaughlin (1,030) surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season in the win. His 13 TDs are second on the team behind Christian Phillips' 14. Mundelein has lost four games in a row.
Stevenson (4-4, 4-2) at Lake Forest (4-4, 3-3)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last week: Stevenson lost to Warren, 37-0; Lake Forest lost to Libertyville, 23-10.
Last year: Lake Forest def. Stevenson, 26-23.
Outlook: A pair of long playoff streaks are on the line, as both teams need a victory to become playoff-eligible. Stevenson is guaranteed at least 44 playoffs, and Lake Forest is assured of having at least 40, making it all but certain the winning team will make the postseason. Stevenson has made the playoffs 30 consecutive seasons, while Lake Forest has earned a playoff berth nine years in a row. Stevenson RB JM Etienne (787 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and QB Liam Crawley both suffered injuries against Warren last Friday. Crawley has been starting since season-opening starter Justin Hiller suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3. Lake Forest's Notre Dame-bound Rylie Mills has played the last two games after missing four games in a row with an ankle injury.
Waukegan (0-8, 0-6) at Lake Zurich (5-3, 5-1)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last week: Waukegan lost to Zion-Benton, 26-14; Lake Zurich def. Mundelein, 34-7.
Last year: Lake Zurich def. Waukegan, 48-0.
Outlook: Lake Zurich will qualify automatically for the playoffs with a win, but with at least 38 playoff points guaranteed, the Bears would almost assuredly would get in with 5 victories. Lake Zurich played its road game at Mundelein last Friday without RB Jack Dwyer (646 rushing yards, 8 TDs), who suffered a leg injury in Week 7 against Warren. QB Jack Moses has rushed for 742 yards and 9 TDs and has thrown for 905 yards and 7 TDs. WR James Piggott has 30 receptions (2 TDs). LB Bryan Sanborn leads LZ in tackles with 80 (59 solo), including 3 sacks.
Zion-Benton (3-5, 2-4) at Libertyville (4-4, 3-3)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last week: Zion-Benton def. Waukegan, 26-14; Libertyville def. Lake Forest, 23-10.
Last year: Zion-Benton def. Libertyville, 48-0.
Outlook: Zion-Benton handed Libertyville its worst loss of the season last year, while earning an at-large playoff berth in the process and finishing off an uncharacteristic 2-7 campaign for the Wildcats. Exacting revenge this year would be sweet for the Wildcats, who need a win to become playoff-eligible. They might need some help, however, as they are guaranteed only 33 playoff points. Libertyville, which has won three of its last four, was led last Friday against Lake Forest by RB Sean Luce (12 carries, 102 yards, 2 TDs) and QB Blake Ellingson (248 passing yards, TD).
Carmel (1-7, 0-2) at St. Viator (4-4, 2-0)When: 7 p.m., Friday at Forest View Stadium
Last week: Carmel lost to Brother Rice, 32-3; St. Viator lost to Mt. Carmel, 37-7
Last year: Carmel def. St. Viator, 27-14
Outlook: It's the final game as Carmel's coach for Blake Annen, who announced his resignation, effective at the end of the season, a couple of weeks ago. St. Viator, which has won both of its previous division games in overtime, has the Purple division championship on the line in what has been an even CCL/ESCC this season. More importantly, a win puts the Lions (39 playoff points) back in the playoffs. After a sparse home crowd attended last week's game with Mt. Carmel, the Lions expect a huge turnout. Viator is hopeful it can get its offense back on track after injuries at quarterback in recent weeks. Carmel has lost five in a row and has been outscored in those games 183-68.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN LEAGUE NORTH
Vernon Hills (4-4, 1-3) at Maine East (0-8, 0-4)When: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Vernon Hills lost to Maine West, 59-38; Maine East lost to Niles North, 56-16.
Last year: Vernon Hills def. Maine East, 57-6.
Outlook: Once 3-0 and 4-1, Vernon Hills has lost three straight games and is fighting for its playoff lives. Even with a win over the winless Blue Demons, the Cougars might not have enough playoff points (guaranteed only 29) to earn a postseason berth. Maine East has scored only 69 points all season and has allowed 362. Vernon Hills junior H-back Justin Morris had the best game of his two-year varsity career against Maine West last Friday, catching 13 passes for 173 yards and 3 TDs. Cougars QB Thomas Monken has thrown for 1,634 yards and 15 TDs.