After Lakes put up 69 points on his team last week, Wauconda coach Dave Mills proclaimed that the Eagles’ offense is the best he’s seen all season.
Grant coach Kurt Rous sounded like he was in full agreement with that notion on Friday night.
“They’re big, strong, fast. I want to know what’s in the water up in Lake Villa,” Rous said of the Eagles. “Lakes just took it to us. I have nothing but good things to say about them. They pounded us.”
In what was supposed to be a hotly-contested clash between the only two undefeated teams left in the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division, Lakes made a definitive move to put Grant in the rearview mirror.
The visiting Eagles scored early, often and at will, and they even enacted the 40-point slaughter rule running clock in their 42-14 drubbing of Grant in Fox Lake.
Lakes, which is averaging a North Suburban Conference-best 39.3 points, improves to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Prairie while Grant, which was down its top two playmakers on offense in Jonathan Wells and Kyle Whitman, and was also playing without three starting defenders, drops to 5-2 and 3-1.
“Our offensive line, Ty Summers, Troy Kincaid, Dillon Falotico, Ryan Mullen and Jon Gomulka, they all work so hard. It starts with them,” said Lakes quarterback T.J. Edwards, who had a hand in 5 of the team’s 6 touchdowns. “And my receivers make me look good.”
It didn’t take long for that to happen.
Six plays into the game, Edwards hooked up with speedy receiver Andrew Spencer for a 25-yard touchdown strike. It was the only score of the first quarter as Grant came away empty on a promising drive on its next possession. The Bulldogs advanced all the way to the Lakes 3-yard-line, but were kept out of the end zone in part because of multiple penalties.
“Penalties and turnovers just killed us,” Rous said. “We were moving the ball and to come away with nothing was not good.”
The scoreboard got much busier in the second quarter as Lakes pulled away with a nice mix of passing and running plays.
The Eagles scored 3 second-quarter touchdowns. Two came on runs by Edwards (17 and 24 yards) and the other was a pretty 47-yard pass from Edwards to Nick Battaglia with just 4.2 seconds remaining in the first half.
That gave Lakes a comfy 28-0 lead at the break.
“We’ve talked about the importance of our balance,” Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. “The fact that T.J. has that dual-threat capability and can run or pass is really big for us.
“When you have different guys involved, that’s important at any level. People just can’t look to stop (Direll Clark).”
Clark, the headliner of the offense, had a quiet night by Direll Clark standards. He had 115 yards on 8 carries and didn’t reach the end zone. But his mere presence kept the Grant defense off-balance, and that allowed Edwards to go to work both on the ground and through the air.
Edwards ran for 91 yards on 7 carries and completed 6-of-7 passes for 126 yards. His top targets were Spencer (4 catches for 58 yards) and Battaglia (2 catches for 48 yards).
Lakes scored two more touchdowns in the second half (a 19-yard run by Edwards and a 25-yard fumble return by AJ Goggin) and had a 42-0 lead before Grant finally got on the board.
Backup running back Andy Cacchione, who got a bulk of the carries in the absence Wells, ran in a 42-yard touchdown in the third quarter and a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth. He had 144 yards on 18 carries and was the Bulldogs’ top rusher.
Wells was dressed but didn’t play a down. The junior running back hurt his shoulder in the first quarter of last week’s win over North Chicago. He finished out the game, but the pain got worse in practices over the past week.
As if that wasn’t a big enough blow to the Grant offense, Whitman, the Bulldogs’ quarterback, went down in the second quarter with a knee injury. He sat for the rest of the game as the trainer checked his range of motion.
“That’s a major difference in a game right there,” Mertens said of Grant’s loss of Wells and Whitman. “Players like that are game-changers. That’s a big swing in a game, not just because of all the yards they get, but that’s an emotional swing, too.”
Both Wells and Whitman were scheduled to see the same doctor on Saturday. Their status for the rest of the season is uncertain at this time.
“I was jogging on the sideline and doing cuts, so I think it’s just a sprain,” Whitman said. “But they kept me out just so we could be sure and not risk (the rest of the season).
“Tomorrow is going to be a rough day in film, for sure. Hands down, Lakes is a good team and we hurt ourselves. It’s tough to see us go down like this, but I know we’re going to come back.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.