Scouting the football season in the Northern Lake County Conference
Antioch 2019 record: 8-3
Coach: Brian Glashagel
Worth noting: The Sequoits return an abundance of talent to be among the top teams in the Northern Lake County Conference. Senior quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, a Minnesota recruit, is healthy and primed for a memorable season. His twin brother, Dino, is a standout wide receiver also headed to Gopher Country. Senior linemen Lucas Bentley and Max Ness are the backbone of the defense. "We're a very complete team in all phases and at every position," Glashagel said. "It's one of the best teams we've ever had, if not the best team. We have lots of potential to make even a shortened season like this one very special."
Grant2019 record: 6-4
Coach: Chris Robinson]
Worth noting: A solid core of seniors is the backbone of the returning playoff team. Senior wide receiver/defensive back John Bolton, a do-it-all positional player, is a three-year varsity starter. Senior defensive back Brett Biggs, a two-year starter, is the leader of the secondary. Senior center Anthony Karow steadies the offensive line with his experience and leadership. "Our guys not only want to play football again, but they're hungry for showing off the hard work that they've put in," Robinson said.
Grayslake Central2019 record: 1-8
Coach: Michael Maloney
Worth noting: The Rams suffered a huge blow in the offseason when star running back Maurice Edwards transferred to Warren. The good news is the Rams return all five starting offensive linemen, including senior tackle Jonathan Trudeau and junior tackle Chase James. "We're in year two of a cultural overhaul in the football program," Maloney said. "Our first season was about learning how to prepare. This season we are challenging them to compete at their highest potential. If we can strive for competitive excellence each day, the scoreboard will take care of itself."
Grayslake North2019 record: 5-5
Coach: Corey Atwell
Worth noting: Atwell begins his first season leading the Knights' program with a strong senior group. Senior quarterback Nick Fish broke his foot playing basketball and is out for the season, but the Knights are strong on defense, especially at linebacker with Zaire Knight and Dimitri Cannon. "Our defense is the strong point of the team this year," Atwell said. "We're going to be young in spots on offense, but we're looking to make big strides throughout the season. The expectation is to contend for a conference title."
Lakes2019 record: 6-4
Coach: Jordan Eder
Worth noting: The Eagles are coming off a solid season that ended in the playoffs. Senior wide receiver Branden Nava and running backs Mark Hunter and Romie Johnson are players to watch. "We feel that this year's team will be a very balanced team," Eder said. "We have a good mix of seniors and lower level players on both sides of the ball. Our seniors have worked very hard and we're excited about their development."
North Chicago2019 record: 5-5
Coach: Wilton Hill
Worth noting: The Warhawks are aiming to build off a memorable 2019 season, which included a win over Antioch and a berth in the playoffs. The tough task for the Warhawks is to find a replacement for star running back Vondarious Gordon, but Hill expects quarterback Kyndel McKnight, wide receiver Jamar Mays and running back Travis Turner to be consistent contributors. "I think we have a lot of talent at pretty much all of our positions," Hill said. "While it's impossible to replace a talent like Vondarious, I think we're more well-rounded this year. I think our biggest strength is our offensive line. We're returning four of the five starters."
Round Lake2019 record: 1-8
Coach: Scott Blecha
Worth noting: The Panthers are relying on an uptick of athleticism and several two-way players this season. Running back Jamariel Brown, wide receiver/defensive back Alex Hair, quarterback/defensive back Isaiah Nixon, running back/linebacker Dominick Tovar and wide receiver/linebacker Jason Wooten are among the key returnees. "We have a solid group of senior leaders who have been working hard for four years and are ready to go," Blecha said. "We have playmakers at each of the offensive skill positions. We plan to lean on our athleticism this season."
Wauconda2019 record: 4-5
Coach: Dave Mills
Worth noting: Experience is a plus for the Bulldogs this season due to an abundance of returnees. Junior quarterback Nick Bulgarelli, who threw for 1,650 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, is back for his third year. "We expect a lot from them in this short season," Mills said. "We have a good mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors, and we'll be the fastest team we've had at Wauconda in awhile. We have a lot of experience in our skill positions."
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCHGrant senior running back John Bolton
Wauconda junior quarterback Nick Bulgarelli
Antioch senior quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis
Antioch senior wide receiver Dino Kaliakmanis
Grayslake Central senior receiver Colin O'Malley
FIVE CAN'T-MISS MATCHUPSWeek 1 -- Lakes at Wauconda, March 19
Week 2 -- North Chicago at Antioch, March 25
Week 3 -- North Chicago at Wauconda, April 1
Week 4 -- Wauconda at Lakes, April 9
Week 5 -- Antioch at Grant, April 16
Week 6 -- Lakes at Antioch, April 23