Scouting Week 5 football games in Lake County
Antioch (2-2, 2-0) at Wauconda (4-0, 2-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Antioch 24, Grayslake North 10; Wauconda 49, Grayslake Central 14
Outlook: This is where the rubber starts to meet the road in the Northern Lake County Conference. Someone will remain atop the NLCC after this showdown and if Lakes wins its game, the loser of this contest drops to third in the loop. Antioch is the defending NLCC champ and has won every conference title since the circuit was established, while Wauconda is unbeaten and has bulldozed four opponents to the tune of a 180-14 scoring advantage. "Wauconda is having a great season," Sequoits coach Brian Glashagel said. "Coach (Dave) Mills has it rolling. This will be a playoff-type caliber game. In these games big plays, penalties and special teams usually make the difference. We need to win those playoff factors." Glashagel loved his defense's effort in the North win last week. "We played lights out on Friday against a very good offensive team in Grayslake North," he said. Glashagel said wideout/outside linebacker Joey Neumann is one of the top tight ends/wide receivers in the state, "but really is starting to excel at outside linebacker and becoming a dominant two-way player," he said. Running back-outside linebacker Andy Bowles also received high marks. "Andy doesn't leave the field, and like Joey, gets a lot of offensive accolades, but now is really turning into a dominate defensive player." Mills agrees with Glashagel's assessment on having all cylinders firing in this type of environment. "When you play a champion, you have to bring your best in all three phases of the game: defense, offense and special teams," he said. "To have success against them we need to win all three phases. They might have the most experienced coaching staff in the state, so not only are you going to have to play a conference champion, but a conference champion whose leadership is very experienced." We'll circle back to the Bulldogs' defense in a second, but offensive line play also has been huge for Mills' club. That group includes Luke Hansen, Brett Kazimour, John Trelstad, Ryan Stephan, Tyler Schmidt, Matthew Merevick and TJ Witkus. "That offensive line has been blocking great, and our running backs have really benefitted from their play," Mills said. Some quick defensive stats: Wauconda has surrendered 2 touchdowns in four games. Mills said last week 4 interceptions were dropped, but the Bulldogs' defense still has created 12 turnovers in those four games. "That is good defensive football," he said. "We will work on making those plays. Turnovers make a big difference in games."
Stevenson (1-3, 1-1) at Warren (3-1, 2-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Warren 42, Lake Zurich 0; Stevenson 27, Mundelein 0
Outlook: Both teams are coming off shutout wins in Week 4. In fact, three of Warren's four wins have come via whitewashings. "Stevenson is a great opponent with a great history," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "I don't think their record indicates how good of a team they really are. When playing them you have to be sound in all three phases of the game or they will hurt you." Blue Devils senior defensive end Jeremy Watson has been a difference-maker of late. "Jeremy has been playing great football lately," McNulty said. "He somewhat anchors our defensive line." Junior linebacker Jaden Turner is in that same category. "Jaden has been our leader in take-aways," said McNulty, who added Turner is second on the team in tackles." McNulty said the Blue Devils, while making progress, have not crossed the finish line. "We still haven't quite turned the corner yet in any phase," he said. "We are still under construction, but we will get there." Stevenson coach Brent Becker likes where his crew is headed. "Our team continues to show up and work hard to get better every day," he said. "Warren has been the team to beat in our league the last couple years. We will need to take care of the ball, score in the red zone and improve our third-down efficiency."
Libertyville (4-0, 2-0) at Mundelein (2-2, 1-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Libertyville 76, Waukegan 6; Stevenson 27, Mundelein 0
Outlook: The Wildcats, tied atop the North Suburban with Warren and Lake Forest at 2-0, set a new program single-game record with their 76-point output last week. Now, the page turns to a road game at Mundelein. "Mundelein is a physical team that plays extremely hard," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "We must be consistent in the run game on offense, and defensively be stout against the run. This is their homecoming so we must match their energy." Jones loves the play of his offensive line thus far that includes the likes of Trenton Van Boening, Lucas Bruckner, David Freedman, Brady Schweiger and Josh Sears. "They have been very consistent and physical," Jones said. Here is Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco on Libertyville: "Libertyville is a very talented team. They play an aggressive style of defense and are disciplined in their assignments. For us to be successful we must sustain our blocks, finish tackles and capitalize on our opportunities. Winning the turnover margin is important and a point of emphasis for us this week." DeFrancesco cited recent high-quality play from Zach Frenzel, Julien Rivas, Brandon Hansen and Nate Miller. Frenzel had 6 tackles and a forced fumble against Stevenson. "Zach has been a bright spot for our defense," the coach said. "We are starting to see him gain confidence and experience success." Rivas is only a sophomore and "has been one our most consistent players on the defensive side. He plays with great quickness and burst," DeFrancesco said. Hansen is another sophomore starter. "Brandon physically has always been a special talent, but it's his mental approach that has really improved. He's beginning to really mature and gain confidence." DeFrancesco thought Miller played his best game against Stevenson. "Nate was sound in our pass coverage and really tackled well," he said.
Grant (1-3, 1-1) at Grayslake Central (3-1, 1-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grant 34, Round Lake 0; Wauconda 49, Grayslake Central 14
Outlook: Coach Chris Robinson's Grant squad continues to take steps forward as it heads over to Grayslake Friday. "One of our mantras as a program is focusing on the 'next play' mentality, and I believe we have embraced that," he said. "We preach whatever happens on the last play, win the next one. Against Round Lake we made some mistakes like turning the ball over on our first offensive drive. Instead of focusing on that, our defense came out and responded by winning the next play and that entire defensive series. It was great to see them understand how important keeping momentum can be." Quarterback Rylan Art and fullback Armani Snow are part of the Bulldogs' growth equation recently. "Rylan is a sophomore who has dealt with growing pains in stride and has turned a corner with understanding how to run our offense," Robinson said. "Over the last few weeks, Armani dedicated himself to learning our offense and really proved himself against Round Lake, leading us in rushing yards."
Lakes (3-1, 2-0) at Grayslake North (0-4, 0-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Lakes 46, North Chicago 6; Antioch 24, Grayslake North 10
Outlook: "Lakes is playing really well right now," Grayslake North coach Corey Atwell said. "Their offense is scoring a lot of points and their defense is tough to score on. We are going to have to control the ball this week and keep their offense off the field." Through four weeks, Jake Donohue has completed 72 of 125 passes for 898 yards and 7 touchdowns for North, while Nathan Atwell has racked up 411 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ethan Case leads the team in tackles with 30. Lakes sits tied atop the Northern Lake County Conference with Antioch and Wauconda (those two square off in Wauconda Friday).
North Chicago (0-4, 0-2) at Round Lake (1-3, 0-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Lakes 46, North Chicago 6; Grant 34, Round Lake 0
Outlook: Round Lake will look to log its first NLCC win of the season at home against North Chicago. "North Chicago has struggled this year and we need to get up on them early to try to keep them out of the game," Panthers coach Scott Blecha said. "They are a team that can finish if the game is close at the end. We need to grind out long possessions and keep their defense on the field. Their offense has the ability for a big play at any time. We need to minimize the big, explosive plays." Anthony Bishop has been a factor on defense for Round Lake. "Anthony has been coming on strong of late playing safety and making some touchdown-saving tackles," Blecha said. "He fills hard from the safety spot and does a great job of covering the pass and minimizing big runs. He is not the biggest player, but he is not afraid to hit." Marco Jimenez leads Round Lake in tackles. "Marco continues to lead the defense at linebacker," Blecha said. "He is always around the ball and pushing others to improve." Saul Ugarte has been a jack-of-all-trades on the offensive line and at the kicking position. "He is also a threat as our kicker on kickoffs and gives us the ability to kick field goals as needed," Blecha said. "He also came up with a big fumble recovery on defense last week and has been playing more on the defensive line, earning him weekly captain status this week." Friday is homecoming at Round Lake. "We have taken a few steps backward over the last few weeks and are looking to right the ship this week with a more energized week of practice, culminating in our homecoming game, which should give the team the motivation to come out ready to play on Friday," Blecha said.
Vernon Hills (3-1) at Deerfield (3-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Deerfield 24, Schaumburg 13; Hoffman Estates 34, Vernon Hills 28
Outlook: This is the Central Suburban North opener for both teams. "Games against Deerfield typically are close and decided by just a couple of plays," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "Deerfield is a well-coached team. They make very few mistakes and their kids play hard. I expect nothing less come Friday." Bellecomo likes the progress Jake Pieper continues to make for the Cougars. "Jake has done a lot for us this year," he explained. "We can line him up anywhere on the field. He understands the game, which allows us to move him all over the field. He really is a coach on the field." Bellecomo said offensive line play in the trenches was strong against Hoffman last week. "Our offensive line did a nice job last week considering the size discrepancy," he said. "I really liked the fight they had."
Carmel (2-2) at Nazareth Academy (1-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: St. Viator 37, Carmel 20; Naz 24, Notre Dame 21
Outlook: Another Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference crossover game. Naz plays in the CCL/ESCC Green and lost to Oak Lawn Richards, Lemont and Marist in a meat-grinder of a first-third of the season (those three teams were 10-2 heading into Week 4) before beating Niles Notre Dame in a Green game. "Nazareth Academy is solid in all three phases," Corsairs coach Jason McKie said. "They are well-coached and have a lot of playmakers. Their record does not indicate how good they are and how they play. We have to execute and play good, fundamental football." Trent Zimay has been a special teams standout for Carmel. "He really has embraced and flourished in this role," McKie said. Ashton Gondeck has come up with big catches of late. "Ashton will continue to make big plays," McKie added. "He is such a versatile player and one of our leaders." Luke Nalewajk has excelled on both sides of the ball. "Luke makes big plays at crucial moments in our games," McKie said. "Our team has really come out of the gates strong this season. It's a testament to all the hard work our players and coaches have put in."
Friday's Other GameLake Zurich (1-3, 0-2) at Zion-Benton (2-2, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.