Scouting Week 8 Lake County football games
Vernon Hills (1-6, 1-2) at Highland Park (4-3, 2-1)
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Vernon Hills 28, Highland Park 6 (2021 at Vernon Hills)
About the Cougars: Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo noted health came into play for his squad last week. "We were able to get most of our offensive line healthy," he said. "It was good to have some of those guys back. We are hoping to get a little healthier this week." Bellecomo also liked the progress the Cougars' defense made. "We need to continue to get better on defense," he said. "We ran to the ball on Friday with a purpose and we're hoping to continue getting better these final two weeks." Bellecomo also saw a balanced offensive attack in Week 7 against Niles North (a 42-0 win). "The offense was balanced and we did not turn the ball over, which early on was a big issue for us," he explained. "We had some guys step up and make plays when given the opportunity." Anthony Matorano was forced into action at running back for the injured Ben Choi and ended up with 152 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on 15 carries. He also added a pick-6 on defense.
About the Giants: Highland Park needs a win here to become playoff eligible with five wins. "Highland Park is a nice football team," Bellecomo said. "They have a nice, quick passing game. They have a quarterback that gets the ball out quickly. No. 11 is a good receiver. He runs routes well and gets those hard yards after the catch."
Warren (6-1, 4-1) at Lake Forest (2-5, 2-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Warren 18, Lake Forest 14 (2021 at Warren)
About the Blue Devils: Warren already has a playoff ticket punched and can work toward two more goals: securing a first-round home game and higher seed and also keeping up with North Suburban leader Lake Zurich (Warren trails by one in the loss column). "The mood in the locker room has been good," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. "Our kids are working hard at practice and really coming together." McNulty continues to throw high praise toward offensive lineman Kole Weinberg. "Kole continues to be a great player for us. He is tough, smart and physical." Defensively, Warren has been bolstered of late by junior defensive lineman Aidan Porrecca and sophomore defensive lineman Anthony Soto. "Aidan and Anthony have gotten better each week this season," McNulty noted. "They both have a very bright future." Two more names to keep an eye on out of the Blue Devils camp: offensive lineman Cohen Pye and junior linebacker Liam Wiley. "Cohen has been the most consistent performer on our team all season," McNulty said. "He is a three-year starter and consistently grades out the highest on our offensive line. Liam has gotten better every week. He also has a very bright future in the program."
About the Scouts: "Lake Forest is always a tough team that plays disciplined and sound football," McNulty said. "To be successful we will have to eliminate turnovers, minimize penalties and flip the field."
Waukegan (0-7, 0-5) at Stevenson (4-3, 3-2)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Stevenson 14, Waukegan 0 (2021 at Waukegan)
About the Bulldogs: Opponents have scored more than 40 points against Waukegan in each of the last five contests, including last week's 47-0 loss to Warren.
About the Patriots: Stevenson has come on like a house of fire of late, winners of three in a row against Mundelein, Lake Forest and Zion-Benton. A win here makes the Patriots playoff eligible with five victories with a Week 9 matchup at home against Libertyville for a guaranteed playoff spot. "Our defense has been the story recently, letting up 6 points in the last three weeks," Stevenson coach Brent Becker said. "We are 4-3 after a 1-3 start and are excited to finish strong the last two weeks of the season." Blake Duvall earned the team's offensive player of the week honor with his Week 7 efforts against Zion. "The characteristics of the player of the week ring true for many in the current senior class and Blake's performance this week had a significant impact on our offensive production and the outcome of the game," Becker noted. "Like his senior teammates, Blake committed himself fully to maximizing his offseason to enter the summer and fall fully ready to be a leader on the offensive line. His commitment has gone far beyond the offseason, and has been evident in his attitude and effort on a daily basis, his investment in his teammates, especially the underclassmen and his willingness to move positions based on need. Moreover, the way in which Blake has put the team first and to continue to serve as the anchor on the offensive line has included fighting through injury and discomfort throughout the season." Ethan Aghahkan was named the team's defensive player of the week. "Coming into the game battling sickness all week, nobody was sure how much Ethan had in the tank," Becker noted. "It didn't take long to figure out that he still had a lot. Virtually taking over the game in the second half, Ethan dominated Zion-Benton upfront, making key fourth-down stops." Aghahkan forced 2 fumbles, both recovered by Stevenson. He had 8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 sacks and 1 quarterback pressure. Ben Fawcett earned practice/scout team player of the week accolades. Matt Projansky scored 2 rushing touchdowns against Zion, while Michael Maloney ran 81 yards and a score. Ben Fawcett and Zachary Goldman also had rushing touchdowns. Tamur Dalloul had 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 quarterback pressures, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery, while Colin Schultz had 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 quarterback pressure against Zion.
Other Friday Lake County games
Mundelein (3-4, 2-3) at Lake Zurich (6-1, 5-0), 7 p.m.
Zion-Benton (1-6, 1-4) at Libertyville (4-3, 3-2), 7 p.m.
Carmel (5-2) at Chicago Marist (4-3), 6:30 p.m.
Playoff notes: Mundelein needs to win both its remaining games to become playoff eligible at 5 wins, while a Libertyville win at home Friday against Zion would make it playoff eligible with 5 wins. Carmel can secure an automatic playoff berth with its sixth win at Marist Friday.