Scouting Week 9 football games in Lake County
Lake County Playoff Synopsis: The Final Night
In the playoffs: Wauconda (8-0), Warren (7-1), Grayslake Central (6-2), Vernon Hills (6-2)
5-3 teams (win and in): Libertyville, Antioch, Lakes
4 wins (win and wait): Lake Zurich
Lake Forest (7-1, 6-0) at Warren (7-1, 6-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Warren 35, Libertyville 0; Lake Forest 29, Mundelein 13
Outlook: The winner of this game is the undisputed and undefeated North Suburban Conference champion. "Lake Forest is as good, if not better, than every team we have played this season," Blue Devils coach Bryan McNulty said. "They have a very big offensive line and a dynamic quarterback and running back. They play stout defense like usual and are sound in the kicking game. In order to be successful against them, we have to understand that they will not beat themselves." Warren has allowed 13 points all season (1 touchdown) and has surrendered a field goal (3 points) in its last six games. The defense has many standouts on it, including junior linebacker Jaden Turner and junior strong safety Cassius Callahan. "Jaden has played as good of defense as we have had this year," McNulty said. "Cassius has gotten better every week and is probably the smartest safety I have coached." Cohen Pye has been another star on the offensive line for Warren. "Cohen is our most consistent offensive lineman," McNulty said. As good as Warren has played, McNulty feels the best is yet to come. "I believe we still have our best football ahead of us," he said. "This week will be an absolute test of that."
Antioch (5-3, 5-1) at Lakes (5-3, 4-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Antioch 54, Round Lake 6; Grayslake Central 34, Lakes 24
Outlook: The second of the Lake County blue-plate specials with Warren-Lake Forest. The winner is guaranteed a playoff spot, while the loser sits on pins and needles Saturday night and hopes it makes the playoffs with enough playoff points (Antioch would be a slam dunk on points; Lakes has 34 points coming into the week). "Well, this game will have the feel of a semifinal game," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "There will be a huge crowd and huge energy. We need to do what it takes to win playoff games. Win the turnover battle and limit penalties." Glashagel loves how Adam Pankau, Austin Vasquez and Briar Russell have played this season. "The kids are grinders and have really over-performed for us all season," he said. "They have really turned into good football players -- program kids. Role players in their underlevels, but starters as seniors." Antioch's three losses have come against teams who have not lost a game this season. "One will most likely be a Wisconsin state champion," Glashagel said. "Morris and Wauconda came down to the wire and both are undefeated." Lakes running back Mark Hunter has run for 1,099 yards this season. Hunter and backfield mate Amir Al Hindl average more than 7 yards per carry. Tyson Dewey has 550 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, plus is averaging more than 17 yards per catch. Lakes' defense has created 13 turnovers in eight games. "Antioch is a good football team," Lakes coach Jordan Eder said. "Their losses are to very good programs, and in games that they were competitive in. This will be a big test for us, and one we are excited about." JP Sullivan also has been a key cog for Lakes on the offensive and defensive lines.
Waukegan (1-7, 0-6) at Lake Zurich (4-4, 3-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Zion-Benton 62, Waukegan 20; Lake Zurich 21, Stevenson 9
Outlook: Lake Zurich needs a win to become playoff eligible. "We need to make sure we continue to get better in all three phases," Bears coach Ron Planz said. "It would be good to end the season with some positive momentum and hopefully we will have enough playoff points to qualify (Lake Zurich has 34 heading into Week 9, which will bear watching if the Bears are 5-4 after Friday). In the last three games, Lake Zurich's Tyler Erkman has 13 catches for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 2 interceptions on defense. Jarred Meyers is 22 of 36 for 383 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last three, plus has rushed 24 times for 175 yards and 6 touchdowns during that time frame. Lake Zurich's offensive line has paved the way for 506 rushing yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 456 yards passing (12 yards per attempt) over the last three games.
Grayslake Central (6-2, 4-2) at North Chicago (0-8, 0-6)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grayslake Central 34, Lakes 24; Grant 18, North Chicago 8
Outlook: Grayslake Central is in the playoffs and a win here would increase the chances of a home playoff game next week. Matty Jens has emerged at tailback as a key part of the Rams' offense. "He's a bruising throwback-type runner willing to grind out the tough yardage with little consideration for personal well-being," Central coach Mike Maloney said. Quarterback Darryl Overstreet is now the school's all-time leader in career touchdown passes, passing yards, single-season passing yards and single-season TD passes. Kurt Heerdegen caught 7 passes for 148 yards and 2 scores against Lakes last week. Central has passed for 1,674 yards and run for 1,602, and is 80 yards away from having the most potent offense in school history. The team's 40 TD total tied the school record that had stood since 2011.
Wauconda (8-0, 6-0) at Round Lake (2-6, 1-5)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Wauconda 62, Grayslake North 30; Antioch 54, Round Lake 6
Outlook: A Wauconda win gives it a perfect 9-0 regular season. The Bulldogs have won a conference title for the first time since 1991. "Our message to the team all year has been to be us," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We want to get better every week. The team we play creates learning opportunities for us to grow and Round Lake will create those opportunities for us." Recent standouts for the Bulldogs include junior Chase Groelle, Collin Cheshire and Colin Husko. Mills noted Groelle, a wide receiver-tight end, had a fantastic 8-yard catch that turned into a 46-yard touchdown. Cheshire missed Week 7 and came back to lead the team in tackles with 8 last week. Husko has been huge in all phases, including being a good wheelman on kickoffs. "His kickoff returns always put us in good field position," Mills said. Wauconda has 11 passing touchdowns, while surrendering 7; 32 rushing touchdowns and 3 allowed. The Bulldogs also have 2 kickoff return touchdowns. "I like those numbers," Mills said.
Grant (2-6, 2-4) at Grayslake North (2-6, 2-4)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grant 18, North Chicago 8; Wauconda 62, Grayslake North 30
Outlook: The battle for fifth place in the Northern Lake County Conference. "Grant has a great running game," North coach Corey Atwell said. "The option offense is going to make us play disciplined football. Our players are going to have to do their job on each play to stop them. Our offense will have to be ready for anything they play against us this week. They could drop eight or rush eight." DJ Neely had 2 catches for 124 yards last week for North. "DJ is starting to get healthy," Atwell said. "We have been able to start working him into the offense a little bit more." Jack Donohue completed 27 of 50 passes for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns against Wauconda. Nathan Atwell had 13 catches for 208 yards.
Zion-Benton (3-5, 1-5) at Mundelein (3-5, 2-4)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Lake Forest 29, Mundelein 13; Zion-Benton 62; Waukegan 20
Outlook: Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco pointed out the Mustangs' senior class won only 1 game as freshmen, 1 game as sophomores and 1 game as juniors. A win here would stamp a 4-5 regular season. "I think that speaks to their resiliency," he said. "I am proud of this group. It is one of the most competitive I have coached. They are unselfish and eager to continue moving our program in the right direction." Omari Rhinehart, Jake Prejna and Brock Plauch have been key drivers for Mundelein recently. Prejna starts at guard and inside linebacker, Rhinehart has been a standout in all three phases and Paluch has been a steady hand and leader at quarterback, DeFrancesco noted.
Vernon Hills (6-2, 3-1) at Maine East (0-8, 0-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Vernon Hills 28, Highland Park 6; Deerfield 1, Maine East 0 (forfeit)
Outlook: Vernon Hills has given up 13 points in its last three games. Eric Rimas is back healthy for the Cougars. He had 106 yards receiving and a touchdown last week against Highland Park. Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo noted Highland Park was putting eight or nine players in the box last week, yet the Cougars ran for nearly 300 yards. "It's a credit to our offensive line and our offensive line coach Ryan Feeney," he said. "They have done a great job preparing each week." A win increases the chances of a home playoff game for the Cougars. "I still think our best football is ahead of us," Bellecomo said. "We have a lot of kids who can play football well."
Other Friday Lake County GamesLibertyville (5-3, 3-3) at Stevenson (3-5, 3-3), 7:30 p.m.
Marian Catholic (3-5, 0-2) at Carmel (2-6, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.