Scouting Week 4 Lake County football games

  • Vernon Hills' Ben Choi makes a cut against Rolling Neadows in last week's loss at Rolling Meadows. Vernon Hills is one of the area teams in action Thursday this week when it hosts 3-0 Conant.

      Vernon Hills' Ben Choi makes a cut against Rolling Neadows in last week's loss at Rolling Meadows. Vernon Hills is one of the area teams in action Thursday this week when it hosts 3-0 Conant. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/15/2022 12:55 PM

Grayslake Central (3-0, 1-0) at Grayslake North (3-0, 1-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

 

Previous matchup: Central 28, North 25 (2021 at Central)

About the Rams: Our blue-plate special of the week with the battle of Grayslake featuring a pair of unbeaten teams who both would like to put this win in their pocket and get to within a game of playoff eligibility. "They are our crosstown rival and it's their homecoming," Central coach Mike Maloney said. "They have the best quarterback in the league and potentially the county. The entire offense runs through him. If we can contain him and limit the big plays, we'll have a chance to hold on to the crosstown classic trophy. If we let him put his talents on display, it will be a happy homecoming at 1925 Illinois Route 83." Kaiden Miller continues to excel for the Rams. He had his best showing of the season in last week's win with 4 touchdowns (3 receiving, 1 rushing). His second TD catch last week broke the school record for career touchdown receptions. "Kaiden will finish his career as the most decorated receiver in Grayslake Central history," Maloney noted. He finished with 197 yards receiving last week against North Chicago and also returned a kick 52 yards that set up another score. Maloney mentioned a big change on defense under new coordinator Dave Aklinski. Last season, the Rams allowed just over 1,600 yards after missed tackles in 11 games. "Dave recognized that and has put a higher emphasis on team tackling and the early results show great improvement in that area," he said. Through three weeks, the Rams have allowed 84 yards after first contact. Grayslake Central quarterbacks Cole Gillette and Dom Pavell combined have thrown for 8 touchdowns (5 for Gillette and 3 for Pavell). Both are averaging more than 14.5 yards per passing attempt. "A lot of that has to do with the offensive weapons on the perimeter in Kaiden Miller, Garrett Guenther, Alex Carter and Jeremiah Almendarez-Poyser."

About the Knights: North coach Brian Johnson sees an improved crosstown rival appearing Friday. "Coach M has done a really good job with their program," he said. "Coming off a playoff win last year, they are 3-0 and are probably better than they were last year. They have some really good playmakers and are scoring a ton of points. They run a lot of formations and personnel groups. We need to limit their big plays, and our defense needs to recognize when their playmakers are in each formation. It is homecoming and we are playing our district rival. There is a lot of hoopla surrounding this game. Our players can't be distracted about things we can't control and just go out and play the game." North had 3 interceptions and allowed only 1 touchdown in last week's win against Grant. "Our defense played really well last week," Johnson said. "The players are starting to understand what team defense is." The Knights have 9 takeaways on defense, and Johnson noted improved special teams play over the previous two contests. "And offensively we have more balance between the run and pass," Johnson said. Safety Carter Barenbaum has 3 interceptions, while standout quarterback Jake Donohue is 49-for-88 for 737 yards so far with 9 touchdown passes against 1 interception. Michael Jefferson had a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown, a touchdown reception and a pick against Grant, as well as 4 tackles. DJ Neely caught 7 passes for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns (one of those TDs went for 58 yards). Linebacker Jeff Ventura had 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks against Grant, while Johnson also tipped the cap to Gavin Mercier for his work on the defensive line.

Warren (3-0, 1-0) at Stevenson (1-2, 0-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Warren 41, Stevenson 3 (2021, at Warren)

About the Blue Devils: Warren have given up 32 points in its first 3 games and looks to keep its momentum rolling against an improved Patriots squad. "Stevenson is always a tough opponent and I believe they are better this year than they have been in the past," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "Their quarterback is as good as we have seen to date and their defensive line is very disruptive. To be successful, we will need to stop beating ourselves with penalties." McNulty liked how his team came ready to compete on the road at Libertyville last week. "What stood out the most was our ability to overcome adversity in a somewhat hostile environment at Libertyville," he said. But the Blue Devils coach knows his team can still be even better. "Right now our team is far from polished," he said. "We have a lot of things we need to clean up on both sides of the ball." Of statistical note, Warren has turned the ball over once "in three very competitive games," McNulty noted. High praise was given to senior defensive back-wideout Cassius Callahan, senior defensive back Jaden Turner, senior linebacker-running back Justin Kretz and senior Jailen Duffie. "Cassius has been all over the field on defense, offense and special teams," McNulty said. "Jaden has been disruptive in both the run and throw game this entire season. Justin has been extremely versatile for us on both sides of the ball and Jailen has made multiple big plays for us."

About the Patriots: Stevenson coach Brent Becker was short and to the point about his team's Week 4 contest against Warren. "Warren has been the top team in the conference and is very strong again this season," he said. "We need to put together a four-quarter football game. After a tough loss last Friday (13-10 at Lake Zurich), our kids have responded well and are excited for Friday."

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Zion-Benton (0-3, 0-1) at Lake Zurich (2-1, 1-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Lake Zurich 56, Zion-Benton 7 (2021 at Zion)

About the Zee-Bees: "Zion plays a very aggressive defense and looks to take away the run game with their size up front," Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz observed. "Offensively, they have very good athletes. We have to be able to limit their ability to run the ball and the big play. On offense, we need a balanced attack and have to be physical."

About the Bears: Planz was thrilled with how his team performed in a win against Stevenson last week. "We really looked like a Lake Zurich football team against Stevenson," he said. "We fought for four quarters, believed in each other, played great defense and ran the ball when we needed to. The energy of the sideline and the true belief that we were going to win the game was awesome to experience." Through the first three games, Planz said Lake Zurich is simply a team that is improving with each week, "not just in scheme, but also getting better at being teammates, excelling at our roles and representing Lake Zurich the right way," he said. "Our goal is to get better every week and so far we have done that." Danny Vuckovic has been a special teams stalwart, averaging 43.4 yards per punt, is perfect on extra-point attempts and has booted field goals of 26, 43 and a game-winning 52-yarder against Stevenson. "Danny is an absolute weapon on special teams," Planz said. Planz added junior Chris Pirrone has been a nice change of pace at running back. "He has good vision and runs very hard," he said. "He scored a touchdown to tie up the game in the fourth quarter against Stevenson." Junior Lincoln Adams has 17 tackles on the season out of his linebacking spot. "Lincoln is playing at a very high level," Planz said. "He's our most consistent linebacker right now."

Libertyville (1-2, 0-1) at Lake Forest (1-2, 1-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Lake Forest 56, Libertyville 19 (2021 at Libertyville)

About the Wildcats: Libertyville coach Mike Jones grades his team at a C-plus right now through the first three games, "but we are improving in a lot of areas, but we haven't put it all together yet," he said. "We need to play downhill on defense and tackle better. Offensively, we need to minimize our mistakes." Wildcats quarterback Quin Schambow has completed almost 70 percent of his passes this season and has thrown 6 touchdown passes.

Abot the Scouts: Lake Forest, 16-2 over the last two seasons heading into this year, lost to St. Francis (17-6) and Carmel (17-7) before opening North Suburban play last week with a sizable win over Waukegan. "Lake Forest is a well-coached team," Jones said. "They will not beat themselves. They play the run well and tackle well. Offensively, they run the ball well."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mundelein (2-1, 1-0) at Waukegan (0-3, 0-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Mundelein 48, Waukegan 27 (2021 at Waukegan)

About the Mustangs: Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco saw big improvement on the defensive side of the ball against Zion-Benton last week. "I thought our defense played its best game against Zion," he said. "We improved in our execution and played with much better discipline. We sit at 2-1 going into the Waukegan matchup. As we assess our performance, I see a lot of areas of growth. Offensively, we need to finish drives and play with more physicality." Marcel Siepko has rushed for 481 yards and is averaging 7 yards per carry. Jayden Gomez had 2 interceptions against Zion. "Jayden has been outstanding on both sides of the ball," DeFrancesco said. "He's a leader in our secondary and has been playing at a high level." The Mustangs' offensive line is helping the offense run at a 6.1-yard-per-carry clip and nearly 1,000 yards through three games. "Our offensive line continues to improve," DeFrancesco said. Julian Rivas had a key sack against Zion, "and plays with great speed and technique," DeFrancesco noted. "He continues to do a great job defensively."

About the Bulldogs: Waukegan has scored a total of 8 points in its two on-field games against North Chicago and Lake Forest. The Bulldogs forfeited their Week 2 game. "We need to execute to the best of our ability and finish drives in the red zone," DeFrancesco said. "We need to be great at the fundamentals this week." DeFrancesco added Chris Callas is a player that doesn't "wow you with his stat line, but he impacts the game when he is on the field," he said. Adam Bogenski has been stellar on offense and special teams. "Adam is an impact player who does a lot of the dirty work," the coach said.

Antioch (1-2, 1-0) at North Chicago (1-2, 0-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Antioch 42, North Chicago 0 (2021 at Antioch)

About the Sequoits: After losses to Carmel and Morris (combined 6-0 so far), Antioch got in the win column last week with a NLCC win against district rival Lakes. "Scheduling quality playoff-caliber teams weeks 1 and 2 looks like it has paid off to prepare us for our conference schedule," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "We are 1-2 and 1-0 in conference right now. Coulda, woulda, shoulda beat Carmel in Week 1. We let that one get away. Morris will be a semifinal team or better and we played them tough. And we beat our crosstown rival in Week 3." Nick Day ran for 199 yards on 18 carries and 4 touchdowns and is averaging more than 100 rushing yards per game. Antioch has no turnovers in its last two games. Martin Cohen is Antioch's leading scorer, "and his a homerun threat every time he touches the ball," Glashagel said. Quarterback Quade Moll is getting it done on and off the field. "Quade is a leader and is playing quarterback really well right now." Kicker Carter Webb has not missed a point-after try this season. "He is a weapon for us we didn't have a year ago," Glashagel said.

About the Warhawks: North Chicago beat Waukegan in Week 1, forfeited its Week 2 game and lost to Grayslake Central last week. "North Chicago has athletes," Glashagel said. "We need them to take multiple snaps on offense and not let them score on the big play. We have to make them play all three phases of the game sound."

Grant (1-2, 0-1) at Wauconda (3-0, 1-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Wauconda 42, Grant 0 (2021 at Grant)

About the Grant Bulldogs: Grant lost its conference opener to Grayslake North last week . "We need to be ready for a physical game," Wauconda coach Chris Prostka said. "Grant has shown they are going to compete for four quarters. On defense, we can't let their playmakers get going. They have speed and can make people miss. We need to get into a rhythm early on offense. We have made errors and committed too many penalties."

About the Wauconda Bulldogs: Prostka, whose squad is 13-1 over the last two years, said the Bulldogs "have shown flashes of the team we can be," he said. "Now, we need to be more consistent, particularly on offense. Two weeks ago, we struggled taking care of the ball. This past week, it was an emphasis and we improved. Defensively, we have put up two shutouts so far, but guys want to do a better job of taking the ball away." Connor Vanselow has 7 touchdowns in three games, while Nick Smith has 4 touchdowns and leads the team in tackles. Prostka also likes how Tyler Schmidt has played. "Tyler has been a force on the offensive and defensive line," he said. Caleb Apodaca was cited for his strong work ethic. "Caleb has been a good player so far," the coach said. "He did a lot of work in the weight room and has earned time starting on offense and defense." Prostka added sophomore linebacker Connor Coty also has been solid and is one of the team leaders in tackles.

Round Lake (0-3, 0-1) at Lakes (1-2, 0-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Lakes 36, Round Lake 6 (2021 at Round Lake)

About the Panthers: Round Lake coach Scott Blecha said because of injuries and other circumstances, his players have been asked to do things they have never done before, "and they have all jumped at the opportunity," he said. "Each week, this team is learning more about the game and improving their football IQ. We are constantly shifting players to different positions to fill our needs and it has been an all-hands-on-deck philosophy this season. Whatever needs to be done, our team is prepared to do We are still learning and growing and looking for the best positions to put our players in. We need to continue to make adjustments until we find the solution that works. Each player on the roster is willing to do whatever the job is that will benefit the team the most. Defensively, we need to stop giving up big plays and force teams into longer drives. We have had way too many one- and two-play TD drives that we have given up. We have to make teams work for points. Offensively, we need to minimize negative plays. Too many drives have been stalled by a big loss. We need to start focusing more on winning one play at a time and then bigger goals later." Round Lake has had a different leading tackler in each of the first three games in Anthony Bishop, William Cole and Cesar Gutierrez. Round Lake also has used 4 quarterbacks in the first three weeks due to injuries. Blecha liked how Bishop and Kevin Johnson both stepped in admirably after an injury to the Panthers' starting quarterback in the first quarter against Wauconda. "Both were put in positions that they have never experienced on a Friday night under the lights and showed their perseverance and athleticism by taking over the quarterback role on a moment's notice," he said. Cesar Gutierrez lead the team in tackles against Wauconda with eight. Allison Dittmer has seen time on both sides of the ball at wide receiver and cornerback as a first-year football player, "and is improving and learning the game each week," Blecha said. "She recorded her first tackle of the season with many more to come."

About the Eagles: "Round Lake has some athletes on offense that we will need to contain," Lakes coach Jason Ellerman said. "If they get into the open field, it can cause problems for us." Ellerman has been pleased with how the Eagles offense has been able to move the ball, "but we need to finish drives for scores," he said. Ellerman noted the Lakes defense has been hard at work on tackling improvement. "We are way too high," he said. "We also need better effort on special teams." Ellerman grades out the Eagles at a C-plus through the first third of the season. "Our energy is positive, we're averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but we have too many mental and fundamental errors on game play." Ellerman said the likes of Tyson Dewey, Amir Al Hindi, Drew Schmidt, Jacob Perry and Max Bausch, "provide the team with leadership on and off the field," he noted.

Other Lake County Games

Conant (3-0) at Vernon Hills (0-3), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Carmel (3-0) at St. Viator (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m., at Forest View Stadium, Arlington Heights

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