Scouting Week 6 Lake County football games
Lake Zurich (4-1, 3-0) at Libertyville (3-2, 2-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous matchup: Libertyville 28, Lake Zurich 19 (2021 at Libertyville)
About the Bears: After a huge win over Warren last week (Blue Devils' first NSC loss since 2017), another biggie for NSC first-place Lake Zurich. A win gets the Bears playoff eligible and keeps them alone atop the conference. "Libertyville is a big team," Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz said. "They are very active on defense and bring pressure with the linebackers. Offensively, they are very multiple in the formations they use and they use those formations to take advantage of the good skill players they have." Planz noted a couple of keys with the Warren win were Lake Zurich averaging 6.1 yards per play, while Warren was at 3.7. "We hit big plays and limited theirs," he said. "Also turnovers. They had one, we had none." Defensive leaders through five weeks include linebacker Tyler Buckley (31 tackles, 1 pick), free safety Spencer Kuehl (30 tackles) and linebacker Lincoln Adams (28 tackles, 1 sack). Chris Pirrone has 3 rushing touchdowns, while Tyler Erkman has caught 14 passes for 317 yards (22.6 yards per catch) and 5 touchdowns. "Tyler was all over the field against Warren," Planz said. Erkman caught 4 passes for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns and also had 9 tackles (5 solos) to go with 3 kick returns for 71 yards. Danny Vuckovic has been a difference-maker on special teams. He's averaging 58 yards per kickoff with 17 touchbacks and is at 41.2 yards per punt (no touchbacks, 3 fair catches) and has ripped off 6 field goals (6-for-9). Due to injuries, the Bears started three sophomores against Warren, including Ben Cillessen. "Ben ended up leading our team in tackles with 10," Planz noted. "Hats off to him for stepping up in a big-time pressure situation."
About the Wildcats: A Libertyville win would cause a logjam atop the NSC. "Lake Zurich is a quality opponent coming off a big win against Warren," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "To be successful against them, we will have to play well in all three phases, no turnovers and limit the explosive plays." Senior defensive lineman Cole Matulenko was praised for strong recent efforts. "Cole has played extremely well the last couple weeks," Jones said. "He has a great motor and will run down plays all over the field." The same can be said for junior linebacker Charlie Clark. "Charlie has made a position change to inside linebacker and has played extremely well," Jones said. "He recovered a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown last week."
Lake Forest (2-3, 2-1) at Stevenson (2-3, 1-2)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous matchup: Lake Forest 42, Stevenson 14 (2021 at Lake Forest)
About the Scouts: Lake Forest has won two of its last three games with wins over Waukegan and Zion-Benton bookended around a 22-7 loss to Libertyville. "Lake Forest is always a tough team in the North Suburban Conference," Stevenson coach Brent Becker said. "They are well coached and play very hard."
About the Patriots: Mike Maloney earned the team's offensive player of the week honor after rushing 15 times for 129 yards and 4 scores last week. "Mike had a breakout night with big runs at big times," Becker said. "He continues to do the hard work for our offense with his blocking and running between the tackles. Mike is running as hard as we have seen him run and is getting stronger as the season goes along. We were thrilled to see him get in the end zone four times." Kevin Jimenz was the Stevenson defensive player of the week after a 7-tackle, 1-sack, 1-interception, 1-quarterback hurry effort. "Kevin was a key cog in stopping Mundelein all night," Becker said. "He was active to the ball and put himself in situations to make key plays. Late in the game while dropping into coverage, he snagged a deflected ball to make a big interception, setting up a score for the offensive unit." Carson Olomon was named the practice-scout team player of the week.
Warren (4-1, 2-1) at Mundelein (3-2, 2-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous matchup: Warren 54, Mundelein 0 (2021 at Mundelein)
About the Blue Devils: Warren lost its first North Suburban game since 2017 last week against Lake Zurich and will get thrown right back into the fray against an improved Mundelein squad. "Mundelein is as improved of a program as we have seen in the NSC in awhile," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "They are big, physical and well-coached. We need to play much harder and more disciplined than we did last week. That is on me as a coach and it won't happen again." McNulty lauded the work senior defensive end Colby Kachurik is doing. "Colby is playing exceptionally well," he said. "He is really coming into his own as a player." McNulty said sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Soto has been a pleasant surprise. "Anthony is a brawler and has a bright future," he said.
About the Mustangs: Mundelein is staring at a situation where if it wins, it will further propel itself into the thick of the NSC race. "Warren has been a top team in the North Suburban Conference for several years now," Mustangs coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "They are well-coached and play with great effort. For us to be successful, we must match their physicality and stay disciplined in our scheme." Secondary play was a key driver for Mundelein last week against Stevenson. "Our entire defensive backfield played well and limited Stevenson's deep passing game," DeFrancesco noted. "The defensive backfield has continued to get better each week. I felt they played their best game of the season last week." Marcel Siepko has piled up nearly 700 rushing yards, while Jayden Gomez is the team leader in interceptions and receptions. "Marcel continues to be an impact player on both sides of the ball," the coach said. Other recent red and silver stalwarts have included Jairus White, Mason Schubert, Brandon Hanson and Julian Rivas. "Jarius has been doing a great job on the defensive line," DeFrancesco said. "Mason had a great game against Stevenson and continues to get better each week. Brandon has been our leader on the defensive line and Julian has been great on our defensive line and plays with a great motor."
Wauconda (5-0, 3-0) at Antioch (3-2, 3-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous matchup: Wauconda 24, Antioch 13 (2021 at Wauconda)
About the Bulldogs: Well, this is an interesting one. This is the big rematch from a year ago that saw Wauconda down Antioch at home on its way to becoming the first non-Antioch team to win the Northern Lake County title since the conference's inception. And here we go with two NLCC undefeateds both having stellar seasons. "Wauconda is undefeated and ranked in 6A," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "They are the last team to give us a conference loss and one of only two teams in conference to beat us (Antioch is 42-2 in NLCC play all-time). They play all three phases of the game really well. We need to do so as well in order to beat them."
About the Sequoits: Nick Day ran for 195 yards and 5 touchdowns in last week's win. Glashagel pointed out the Antioch defense has forced 12 turnovers in the last two games, including five against Grayslake North -- a fumble recovery, two interceptions by Marshall Gehrke, one by Ryan Emering and a pick-6 by Payton Holmes." Day is up to 619 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, while Martin Cohen has caught 18 balls for 290 yards and has run for 126 yards and 6 scores. Caleb Nobiling has 47 tackles. Glashagel said kicker Carter Webb has been a nice surprise this season. He also runs cross country. "Carter is our kicker and a very good one at that," he said. "The kid runs miles all week, competes in meets and kicks for us on Fridays and is a weapon for us. Teams' starting field position is way longer than a year ago. We've never had a cross country/kicker combination before." Defensive lineman Seth Gomez has been a powerhouse of late. "Seth has become almost unblockable," Glashagel noted. "He was our defensive player of the game the first three weeks of the season." Glashagel called South Dakota State-bound Joey Neuman "a road grader at tight end," he said. "He single-handedly handles anyone on that side of the field." Glashagel said the staff knew Gehrke would be an offensive threat at 6-5 with leap-out-of-gym ability, "but he is turning into a shutdown defensive back as well with the two interceptions last week," he said.
Grayslake North (4-1, 2-1) at Lakes (3-2, 2-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous meeting: Lakes 34, Grayslake North 28 (2021 at Lakes)
About the Knights: The winner will remain a game back in the NLCC standings at 3-1. "Lakes has one of the more athletic teams we have faced so far this year," Grayslake North coach Brian Johnson said. "They have a talented running back that we are going to need to slow down. We need to be able to control our emotions for this game. Lakes has always been a rivalry game because a lot of our players have grown up together, gone to the same elementary and middle schools together." Offensive stats that leap off the page for North include quarterback Jake Donohue at 1,173 passing yards with 13 touchdowns. Junior DJ Neely has caught 25 balls for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns. Charles Pritchard has 29 catches for 320 yards and 3 scores, while junior Michael Jefferson is at 12 catches for 119 yards and 4 scores. Cameron Bates has 16 catches for 273 yards and 1 touchdown -- plenty of target options for the talented Donohue. "Our young players have been playing well," Johnson said. "We have 6 sophomores starting on offense or defense with another 3 sophomores and a freshman getting playing time. Our top two leaders in tackles are sophomores." Johnson noted senior linebacker-tight end Zion Hodges is getting back to performing at a high level after returning from a preseason injury, while sophomore Mitchell Hughes "has been lights out at cornerback, Top 5 in tackles on the team and leading the team in solo tackles," Johnson said. Jefferson has a touchdown in three straight games.
About the Eagles: "North throws the ball a ton and the quarterback Donohue is an elusive athlete who can make all the throws of a high-level quarterback," Lakes coach Jason Ellerman said. "We need to be able to contain him in the pocket and stay in our pass rush lanes. When the ball is in space, we need to swarm to the ball and tackle. Offensively, we need to run the ball and need to hit on our splash plays." Amir Al Hindi has 472 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns, while Tyson Dewey has 35 catches for 311 yards and 3 touchdowns. Payton Rodriguez is the team's leading tackler with 30 total tackles. "I'm extremely happy with our scout teams," Ellerman mentioned. "They really give us a great effort in getting the other side of the ball ready for Fridays." Ellerman also is high on the Lakes defensive line. "Our D-line is undersized, but coach Brent Gandolfi is like a Jedi Master of the D-line. He gets Aidan Ferguson, Austin Gonzales and Brayden Thornton playing like they are 6-3 and 275 pounds."
Round Lake (0-5, 0-3) at North Chicago (1-4, 0-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous matchup: Round Lake 26, North Chicago 10 (2021 at North Chicago)
About the Panthers: Round Lake coach Scott Blecha is seeing progress from the offense, which went over the 200-yard marker in total offense for the first time last week. He noted 37% of the team's total yards gained this season came in that Week 5 loss to Grant. "The week prior against Lakes we put together a 10-play and an 11-play drive," he said. "We are moving in the right direction and need to take that next step of finishing the drives and putting points on the board. We have been moving players around a bunch and are starting to find the lineup that works best for us." Quarterback Easton Nixon threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Jackson last week and also is second on the team in rushing yards. Kevin Johnson leads the team in receptions, while Jackson is tops in receiving yards. Cesar Gutierrez and Levi Graham are tied for the team lead in tackles, while Saul Ugarte leads the team with 3 tackles for loss. "This team continues to battle," Blecha said. "The last two games we have dressed a total of 29 and 22 players due to various injuries and other reasons. The kids who continue to show up each week continue to give it their all. We had eight players starting both ways last week, as well as playing on all special teams. We don't have the luxury of separate groups or specialists on special teams. These players are putting in the work on both sides of the ball every day at practice." Blecha noted Matthew Pawluk has found his way onto the starting defensive line as a first-year football player. "Matthew continues to ask questions to learn the game and improve," Blecha said. The coach added that Raul Casco has moved around the offensive line to "to wherever we need him and even filled in at long-snapper this week on a moment's notice due to injury," Blecha explained. "He does what is asked of him and is a true example of a senior leader." Blecha also gave cap tip to Victor Salazar, who continues to learn the game at linebacker "and is consistently finding himself in the right spot to make a play," the coach said. "He is improving each week and is due for a big game soon."
About the Warhawks: North Chicago won its first game against winless Waukegan (14-0) and has since lost one game by forfeit and has had setbacks against Grayslake Central (51-14), Antioch (47-0) and Lakes (41-0).
Other Friday Lake County games
Chicago St. Patrick (3-2, 1-0) at Carmel (4-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m.
Grayslake Central (3-2, 1-2) at Grant (2-3, 1-2), 7 p.m.