Scouting Round 2 of the playoffs in Lake County

  • Warren's Christian Phillips carries the ball for a second-quarter touchdown against Plainfield East during the Class 8A football playoffs in Gurnee last Saturday night.

      Warren's Christian Phillips carries the ball for a second-quarter touchdown against Plainfield East during the Class 8A football playoffs in Gurnee last Saturday night. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 11/7/2019 10:08 PM

Daily Herald report

CLASS 6A

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

No. 5 Antioch (8-2) at No. 4 Cary-Grove (8-2)When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Last week, first round: Antioch def. Mather, 57-0; Cary-Grove def. St. Ignatius, 41-13.

Winner plays: No. 1 Prairie Ridge (9-1) vs. No. 8 Simeon (7-1) winner.

Outlook: Uncertainty swirled -- and snow fell -- last week during Antioch's preparation for its scheduled football playoff opener against Mather. Would the game be played? Or would it be scrubbed because of the Chicago Public Schools teachers' strike? The strike ended. The teams played. Antioch's Sequoits routed Mather's Rangers, 57-0. "Unique week. Crazy week," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "Then that early snowfall made it a bizarre one." What's certain this weekend: two hard-nosed, playoff-tested grid squads -- C-G won its second Class 6A state title last year; Antioch reached a 6A state quarterfinal last fall -- will butt helmets for a quarterfinal berth on Saturday afternoon. "Cary-Grove has an All-World fullback and a good quarterback," Glashagel said, referring to seniors Blake Skol (6-foot, 180 pounds) and Luke Eleftheriou (6-0, 170), respectively. "That's what Brad [C-G coach Seaburg] does. He finds players like that, and everything else falls into place. We're going to the state champion's house. We'll go there with the mentality we always have for a big game."

"Big" was Antioch's halftime lead (36-0) in last weekend's postseason opener. Senior running back Victor Monzon finished with 2 of the victors' 7 rushing touchdowns; his scoring trips on home turf covered 8 and 17 yards. A sack by senior defensive end Andrew DeBoer, his second of the season, led to the Sequoits' second TD. Junior running back Gavin Calabrese (574 yards, 4.82 yards per carry) paces Antioch's ground attack. Classmate Dino Kaliakmanis tops the club in receiving yardage (535, on 29 catches), and senior linebacker Ryan Shaputis has amassed a team-high 113 tackles. "They have difference makers on the perimeter and good speed from their slots," Seaburg said. "They do a lot of misdirection that really causes you to be disciplined on defense. Really, the key is keeping track of where they're most talented guys are."

Cary-Grove seeks its 12th quarterfinal appearance since 2004. Three-year starter Skol does it all for the Trojans. Playing linebacker last week, he nabbed his second interception of the season. Playing fullback, he rushed for touchdowns of 34 and 10 yards to increase his season total to 19. His 30-yard punt return set up one of 3 first-quarter touchdowns by triple-option QB Eleftheriou, who rushed for 120 yards on 14 carries. The senior QB has rushed for 688 yards and 8 touchdowns. C-G scored 40 or more points in 4 of its 7 regular-season wins this fall.

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Glashagel, on the Trojans' defense: "It's a 3-3, with a 3-4 hybrid as well. It's very flexible; they can do a whole bunch of things on that side of the ball."

Glashagel, in his 13th season at the school, has guided Sequoits teams to nine playoff berths and 7 of the program's 14 postseason victories. "It sure is," the coach said of November being the best time of the football season. "You're not going to find any pretenders in the second round of the playoffs. Everybody left at this point of the season is pretty darn good."

Antioch's unsung heroes in its dismissal of Mather last weekend? "Have to go with our scout team," Glashagel said. "We ask the guys who don't start to do a lot for us at practice, and they did a great job all week."

-- Bill McLean

CLASS 7A

No. 4 Hersey (9-1) at No. 20 Lake Zurich (7-3)When: 1 p.m., Saturday

Last week, first round: Hersey def. Rockford Auburn, 49-0; Lake Zurich def. Andrew, 14-7.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Winner plays: No. 5 Willowbrook (9-1) vs. No. 12 Yorkville (8-2) winner

Outlook: Former Lake Zurich sharpshooter Austin Scott coaches boys basketball at Hersey. Were he to attend this second-round football clash at his alma mater, would he wear LZ blue or Hersey orange? "Maybe he would wear a mixture of the colors -- lavender," LZ first-year coach Ron Planz cracked. "That way he wouldn't upset anybody." Basketball and football do have something in common: 3-point field goals.

But Hersey's Huskies will look to continue to do what they've been doing since the start of Week 1 -- score gobs of touchdowns. The Mid-Suburban League East runner-up club averages 48 points per game. Forty-eight, or 1 point shy of 7 TDs and 7 extra points. "That's a great football team, from a tough conference," Planz said. "It's a team with athletes all over the field. It's a team that's setting records, left and right."

LZ, meanwhile, is a team that's adept at protecting its end zone, having allowed only 13.5 points per game, including its 14-7 defeat of host Andrew in Round 1 last weekend. The Bears' relentless 'D' has surrendered only a combined 14 points in the last 3 games. Andrew's 13th-seeded Thunderbolts managed a quiet 155 yards, with more than half of that total (87) coming via three passing plays on their fourth-quarter scoring drive.

"Hail Mary passes got them most of their yards," Planz said. "We pretty much shut them down."

Junior linebacker Bryan Sanborn's late sack virtually sealed the triumph and gave Bears fans tingles in Tinley Park. Lake Zurich senior quarterback Jack Moses (6-of-12, 80 yards) tossed a pair of TD passes, one to senior wideout James Piggott (33 yards), the other to senior tight end Hunter Welcing (4).

"Offensively, we played composed football," Planz added. "After our first TD, we took a conservative approach. But our guys battled, stayed calm and picked up some big first downs."

Hersey's 49-0 defeat of Rockford Auburn in the first round last weekend secured the Huskies' third straight second-round appearance. The win came after Hersey lost an emotional battle of unbeatens in Week 9 to Rolling Meadows. That game decided the Mid-Suburban League East Division champion.

"It was such an intense Week 9," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "Two undefeated teams. A conference championship on the line. We had to make such a tough turnaround. We had to quickly take that pain and refocus. But I'm a firm believer that you can take pain and learn from it and get stronger and I think we played pretty well last week."

Hersey, a 6A school coached by Bruce Glover at the time, won its only state football title in 1987 -- 20 years before a Bryan Stortz-helmed Lake Zurich team (7A) would win its first state football championship.

In 13 playoff seasons since 2006, including this one, LZ failed to reach the second round only twice (2008, 2014). The Bears' postseason record in that span is a nifty 33-11 (. 750). They played each of their nine regular-season games under the lights. Their playoff game at Andrew started at 5 p.m., and the Hersey coaches were there scouting.

"Lake Zurich is a really physical football team," Pardun said. "They have size, they have speed, they fly to the football and they run their defense so well. We will have our hands full."

Lake Zurich, meanwhile, will have its hands full with Hersey quarterback Jordan Hansen, who committed to Northern Illinois earlier this season. Hansen is setting school scoring and yardage records left and right and is a threat both through the air and on the ground. Hansen was part of all 7 of Hersey's touchdowns Friday under the lights against Rockford Auburn. Now Hersey and Lake Zurich, schools (separated by 10.6 miles) that each stand a hop, skip and a prodigious punt from Illinois 12, will have to adjust to a daytime game.

"I'm accustomed to that," Planz, a former Elmhurst College football coach, said. "Saturday afternoon football was routine for me at the college level." Think Planz is pumped for a shot at advancing to a state quarterfinal? You'd be right.

"I'm excited. I'm looking forward to seeing our 'D' continue to roll. Hey, we get to prepare for another football game. A lot of playoff teams had to hand in their stuff last weekend."

Hersey is hungry too. The Huskies have gotten bounced from the playoffs in the second round the last two years.

"That has sat with us, that has pushed this group to want more," Pardun said. "We want to take that next step forward. We want to continue to grow and keep playing."

-- Patricia Babcock McGraw and Bill McLean

CLASS 8A

No. 13 Fremd (8-2) at No. 4 Warren (10-0)When: 6 p.m., Saturday

Last week, first round: Fremd def. Plainfield North, 19-0; Warren def. Plainfield East, 49-7.

Winner plays: No. 5 Oswego (9-1)/No. 21 Bolingbrook (7-3) winner

Outlook: Warren is seeking a return trip to the state quarterfinals and figures to have a much tougher test than it did last Saturday night in Gurnee. The Blue Devils not only got 2 rushing apiece from Derrick McLaughlin (2 5-yard runs) and Christian Phillips (2 and 44 yards) but also scored 2 touchdowns on blocked punts (Juan De La Cruz, Malachi McNeal). Warren led 49-0 at halftime, with Plainfield East accounting for the only second-half points thanks to a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. The Blue Devils, who had shut out five of their last seven opponents, have given up just 28 points all season.

Fremd won the Mid-Suburban League West Division and has won seven in a row. The Vikings have allowed just 113 points -- and only 37 in their last 7 games (4 shutouts).

Although Fremd has never played Warren, the Vikings are very familiar with the Blue Devils' scheme. Up until this year, Fremd had summer camped with Warren at Illinois Wesleyan for five consecutive seasons. There the teams worked out together on the same fields. Fremd moved to a different location this summer, but the memories of Warren are still with Fremd coach Lou Sponsel and his staff. "They are big, physical and very talented," Sponsel said. "Their defensive line is the best I have seen in high school in some time. They are physical on film. They have players a lot of high school teams don't have. We have to look at what we can do and develop a good team strategy and put ourselves in a position to win." Fremd has done just that in the last seven weeks. The Vikings have won all seven of their games during that span, with a tremendous defense of their own.

Fremd's defense, led by Jack Walsh, Nate Stevens, Ryan Palmer, Jack Hipchen, Anthony Villano, Matthew Rodi, Jason Haas, Trey Castella, Joey Rattin and Will Kristo, has been tough. "The kids are playing with a ton of confidence," Sponsel said. "They love playing football together. It is fun to watch them in practice, focus on the details and take pride."

The Fremd offense isn't flashy, but gets the job done well. Ryan Saxe leads the attack, throwing for 1,251 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 587 yards. His brother Andrew has caught 33 passes for 422 yards while Hipchen has 45 receptions for 695 yards. Brian hardy has rushed for 621 yards. Walsh (6-4, 285) is a junior and two-year starter, anchors the offensive line. He has received interest from about a dozen D-1 schools.

"They are going to play very stingy defense and are creative on offense," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of the Vikings. "They have an excellent QB and receivers who can flat out make plays on the ball. They are well-coached and believe in themselves. We are going to have to beat them, because they will not beat themselves. Everything we get will be earned. We are looking forward to a competitive, four-quarter game."

-- Joe Aguilar and Dick Quagliano

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