Scouting Week 8 football games in Lake County
Lake County Playoff SynapseIn the playoffs: Wauconda (7-0), Warren (6-1)
Playoff eligible: Vernon Hills (5-2), Libertyville (5-2), Grayslake Central (5-2), Lakes (5-2)
Needs 1 win to become eligible: Antioch (4-3)
Needs to win out to become eligible: Lake Zurich (3-4), Stevenson (3-4), Mundelein (3-4)
Warren (6-1, 5-0) at Libertyville (5-2, 3-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Warren 54, Mundelein 0; Libertyville 30, Zion-Benton 20
Outlook: Warren already is in the playoffs, but has plenty to play for including getting a home playoff game and winning the North Suburban Conference title. The Blue Devils are tied with Lake Forest atop the conference at 5-0, which means, with Warren playing Libertyville this week and both the Blue Devils and Scouts 5-0, a potential battle of 6-0 NSC teams could occur in Week 9. Libertyville needs a win to guarantee a playoff spot. Warren has been impressive. Since losing to 6-1 Maine South 10-2 in Week 2, the Blue Devils have outscored opponents, and this is not a typo, 268-3. Libertyville started 4-0, lost two to Lake Forest and Mundelein, then stopped the skid last week with a 10-point win over Zion. Warren has shut out five of its seven opponents this year.
Lakes (5-2, 4-1) at Grayslake Central (5-2, 3-2)When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Last week: Lakes 42, Grant 0; Antioch 28, Grayslake Central 14
Outlook: The winner here is in the playoffs guaranteed, while the loser will move to Week 9 with another chance at getting that golden sixth victory. "Grayslake Central is a tough opponent," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "They have an explosive offense, and a lot of returners from last year's team. We need to limit their big plays on defense and will need to get our run game going and extend drives." JP Sullivan, Kurt Kunde and Mark Hunter continue to power the Eagles forward. Sullivan has been a stalwart on both offensive lines. "He has been outstanding," Eder said. "He continues to open up holes for our running backs, as well as make big plays for us on defense. Kunde starts at linebacker and wing on offense. "Kurt continues to make big plays on both sides," Eder said. "He has been a large piece to our success this year." Hunter has 942 rushing yards and has scored 9 touchdowns. "Mark continues to be a dominant running back," Eder said. "What he has done this season has been very impressive. He is just under 1,000 yards through seven games." Tyson Dewey has 470 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns for Lakes. "Our last two games will both be good tests against Grayslake Central and Antioch," Eder said. "Both teams have been very good and are playoff teams. We are excited to test ourselves in both matchups."
Grayslake North (2-5, 2-3) at Wauconda (7-0, 5-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Wauconda High School
Last week: Grayslake North 41, Round Lake 0; Wauconda 51, North Chicago 0
Outlook: Grayslake North continues to improve and is on a two-game winning streak after starting 0-5. "This week's opponent Wauconda is really good," North coach Corey Atwell said. "There is a reason they are undefeated. They don't have a weak spot anywhere. We are going to be challenged on both offense and defense. Their defense swarms the ball and their offense controls the ball with a great running game." North's Travis Standerski has 17 tackles for loss this season and holds the school all-time record in that category with 28. Wauconda will likely play at home in Week 10 and a win here would all but cement that plus a higher seed. "We want to finish strong," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "Goal one is winning conference and we control our path. The second goal is to continue to grow as a football team as we head into the playoffs. We are working towards both goals. Grayslake North is playing good football. They have won a couple games and seem to be very healthy. They like to spread people out and use their athletes to make plays. On defense they have speed and react well to the football. We have to be able to keep their offense out of the end zone with great defense and control the ball with our run game." Nick Smith is Wauconda's second-leading tackler, but leads the way in tackles for loss. "It seems like every time we need a big play on defense, Nick is tackling a running back or quarterback for a loss," Mills said. "His tackles have created some long yardage downs for offensive teams." Bulldogs quarterback Vince Bennett completed 3 of his 4 passes for touchdowns in last week's game. "Vince had a great day throwing the football," Mills said. "He was able to find open receivers and make the throw. His vision of the field continues to grow." Center Brett Kazimour also has been solid gold this season. "Stats are hard to come by for offensive linemen," Mills noted. "Brett makes all our plays work. It starts with him making the line calls, snapping the football and then having to block the man right in front of him. Last week, Brett was taking on a player who was 140 pounds bigger than him, and Brett won the battle with technique and footwork." Wauconda is allowing only 74 yards per game on the ground. "That stat jumps out," Mills said. "When you can limit an offensive team's ability to run to 74 yards a game with an average carry of 2.9, our defense is making plays." Wauconda is plus-14 on turnovers. "We have turned the ball over five times, but created 19 turnovers," Mills pointed out. "That is 14 extra drives we get or two extra drives a game in seven games. Taking care of the football and taking it away has helped us win games."
Highland Park (3-4, 1-2) at Vernon Hills (5-2, 2-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Vernon Hills 28, Niles North 7; Highland Park 48, Maine East 6
Outlook: A win at home here and Vernon Hills is guaranteed a playoff spot. The Cougars are also tied with Niles North for second in the Central Suburban North, one game back of Deerfield with two to play. "In the past, Highland Park has been a physical team," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "I don't see this year's team any different. They want to run the ball and play attacking, physical defense. We will have to play good defense and win the turnover battle." Bellecomo said quality offensive line play was key in the Niles North win. "Our offensive line did a nice job," he said. "We created some holes for our backs to run through. Games are typically won in the trenches. I feel our five guys upfront are giving us a chance each week to compete. That's all I can ask." Bellecomo said improvement must continue to occur these final two weeks of the regular season. "The final two weeks we really need to focus on ourselves," he said. "We can stand to get better in a few areas. Becoming complacent is something we need to avoid. I think we are motivated to ensure an automatic bid and to continue working to put ourselves in a position to get one more home game. This is the most important two weeks of the season."
Lake Zurich (3-4, 2-3) at Stevenson (3-4, 3-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Lake Forest 24, Lake Zurich 21; Stevenson 41, Waukegan 0
Outlook: One team will keep its playoff hopes alive, while the loser is cooked with five losses and shuts it down after last week. Lake Zurich took conference co-leader Lake Forest to the limit last week. Stevenson coach Brent Becker's slogan is simple this week: "Win and advance. It's a great conference matchup," he said. "Both teams are 3-4. We love playing meaningful games at the end of the season."
Mundelein (3-4, 2-3) at Lake Forest (6-1, 5-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Warren 54, Mundelein 0; Lake Forest 24, Lake Zurich 21
Outlook: Mundelein has to win out to become playoff eligible at 5-4. "It's an exciting time for Mustang football," Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "Having an opportunity for postseason play at this point in the season is what we all wanted. Now that it's here, it is a great opportunity for our program." The Mustangs' first challenge is to upend NSC co-leader Lake Forest on the road. Remember, Mundelein recorded a quality NSC win earlier in the season against Libertyville. Lake Forest barely survived Lake Zurich last week. Lake Zurich beat Mundelein 31-7 earlier this season. "Lake Forest is a good football team," DeFrancesco said. "They haven't lost a conference game in two years. They are a team that is well-coached and disciplined in their scheme. For us to be successful, we must execute our game plan. We need all 11 players on the field playing through the whistle on every snap." Omari Rhinehart continues to tear it up for Mundelein. "He continues to have a breakout senior season," DeFrancesco said. "As a captain of our team, he has led by example. He is all over the field for us and lays it out there every week. He's a big part of what we do both offensively and defensively." Monte Alemu has been a contributor on both sides of the ball. "Monte always seems to be in the right place at the right time," DeFrancesco said. "Whether it's making a key tackle, intercepting a pass or forcing/recovering a fumble, Monte has been playing great for us down the stretch." DeFrancesco said in his opinion Raytheon Hamblin is one of the top offensive linemen in the NSC. "Raytheon has been excellent for us upfront all season," he said. "He's extremely unselfish and lays it all out every week. He's been a great leader for some of our younger guys."
Round Lake (2-5, 1-4) at Antioch (4-3, 4-1)When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Last week: Antioch 28, Grayslake Central 14; Grayslake North 41, Round Lake 0
Outlook: Antioch is 4-1 in its last five games after starting 0-2. The Sequoits need a win here to become playoff eligible ahead of a Week 9 battle with Lakes. "We need to go 2-0," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. A major plus for Antioch has been 6-2, 240-pound junior nose guard Logan Angus. "Logan has been a force inside and a huge key to our defensive success lately." Antioch quarterback Quade Moll is "silently" on his way to a 1,000-yard passing season, Glashagel pointed out, which was unexpected but going to be big for us in big games." Round Lake has been led of late by Julian Milan, who had 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble against Grayslake North, and Anthony Bishop, who had a pick and ran the ball 3 times for 68 yards. Marco Jimenez has 118 tackles this season for the Panthers. Round Lake also has 10 players recording at least one turnover on defense. "We end the season with two tough games against Antioch and Wauconda so we will have to continue to improve to compete in the last few weeks," Round Lake coach Scott Blecha said. "We have 26 seniors on the roster and this is a special group that has not had a normal season of football since their freshmen year. As sophomores, the Round Lake field was being completed and we practiced off-site and had home games at Grayslake Central for most of the year. COVID last year caused an abnormal spring season. This is a group that has stuck together and battled through countless obstacles to get to where they are." Blecha said Antioch has size across the board. "Antioch is a tough team," he said. "They want to line up and play smashmouth football, so we have to raise our intensity this week. We will have to manage the clock and take everything one series at a time to slow down the game."
Other Friday Lake County GamesMarist (5-2) at Carmel (2-5), 7:30 p.m.
North Chicago (0-7, 0-5) at Grant (1-6, 1-4), 7:15 p.m.