Scouting Week 7 Lake County football games

Lakes (3-3, 2-2) at Wauconda (6-0, 4-0)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Wauconda 29, Lakes 13 (2021 at Lakes)

About the Eagles: "We need to be able to slow down Wauconda's run game," Lakes coach Jason Ellerman said. "Defending them is like preparing for two offenses. They have their spread series and their double tight end/wing series. We need to have positive energy, great blocking and great tackling to be successful." Ellerman said running the ball effectively and stopping the run were challenges in last week's game against Grayslake North. "Wauconda is going to be a great test for us to see if we can improve in those areas," he said. Ellerman said Eric Goode is starting to settle in nicely at safety, while Tyson Dewey "is always a big-play guy for us on offense and defense," he said. Ellerman also gave high marks to Payton Rodriguez whose "leadership and energy is the glue of our defense," he noted.

About the Bulldogs: Wauconda, sitting atop the Northern Lake County Conference, will encounter a Lakes squad that still is firmly in the hunt for a playoff berth of its own. "Lakes is a solid team with a strong tradition," Bulldogs coach Chris Prostka said. "We will need to tackle well and gang tackle because they have athletes who can make big plays. Offensively, we need to stick to our plan to be balanced and use multiple formations to spread the ball around." Jacob Norris caught 4 passes for 116 yards last week against Antioch. "Jacob had a monster game for us at receiver," Prostka said. "He has stepped in and played a variety of positions for us offensively and defensively. He is always read to go and made a huge contribution against Antioch." Jake Wurster has been a special teams hawk for Wauconda this season. "Jake plays with great energy and has made a good number of tackles for us on kickoff and punt," Prostka noted. Prostka added right tackle David Soroka continues to improve each week, while Shane Svoboda has solidified his spot at defensive back with an interception and a number of pass breakups.

Waukegan (0-6, 0-4) at Warren (5-1, 3-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Warren 75, Waukegan 0 (2021 at Warren)

About the Bulldogs: Waukegan has been shut out three times this year and has scored 28 points combined in the first six games.

About the Blue Devils: "We need to continue to get better this week in all areas of football, including blocking, tackling and protecting the ball," said Warren coach Bryan McNulty, whose team can clinch an automatic playoff berth with a win Friday. Junior linebacker Donovan McNeal was cited for increased physicality by McNulty, while senior linebacker-tight end Justin Kretz "is, in a lot of ways, the heartbeat of our team," McNulty said. "He does so much at a high level. His is almost irreplaceable." Senior wide receiver-defensive back Taylen Curry "has really developed as a leader within our team," McNulty said.

Lake Zurich (5-1, 4-0) at Lake Forest (2-4, 2-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Lake Forest 24, Lake Zurich 21 (2021 at Lake Zurich)

About the Bears: A win here and Lake Zurich clinches a playoff spot. "We continue to have guys step up when they are needed," said Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz, whose squad sits alone atop the North Suburban standings at 4-0. "We have been battling the injury and sickness bug the last three weeks, but our team stuck together and persevered." On special teams, Planz pointed out the team has used three different short snappers with senior Nick Quiroz stepping in last week due to the normal short snapper being injured in the Warren game. "Nick did an awesome job," Planz said. Lake Zurich held Libertyville to 2-for-11 on third downs last week. Tyler Erkman has stepped into the free safety role after an injury to a starter. Planz noted that in the two games Erkman has played there he has 14 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 1 pass breakup. "He's done this while still producing offensively," the coach said. In those two games, Erkman also has 14 catches for 174 yards and 2 scores.

About the Scouts: "Lake Forest is a team that is very sound in the schemes and attention to detail," Planz said. "They are rarely out of position and play with a physical edge. We need to make sure we can match their attention to detail and physical play to be successful."

Libertyville (3-3, 2-2) at Mundelein (3-3, 2-2)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Mundelein 14, Libertyville 6 (2021 at Mundelein)

About the Wildcats: A big game for both teams in terms of the playoffs. Five is the magic number to become eligible and a loss puts either team's back up against the wall the rest of the way. "Mundelein is a physical team that plays extremely hard," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "They do a good job of not beating themselves. Offensively, they run the ball well and defensively they are very aggressive. We need to create turnovers, run the ball well and not turn the ball over to be successful. We must be consistent on both sides of the ball for four quarters." Senior defensive lineman Caleb Christensen has been a standout up front for the Cats. "Caleb has been the anchor in the middle of our defensive line," Jones said. "He has done a great job of demanding double teams."

About the Mustangs: "Libertyville is always a talented team," Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "They have great athletes on the perimeter and are big up front. They are well-coached and play an aggressive style of defense. For us to be successful, we must play our style of football. We need to limit the big plays and force a few turnovers." In terms of last week's setback to Warren: "In my opinion, Warren is a Class 8A state title contender," DeFrancesco said. "They definitely have their program rolling right now. Our players battled hard and had an opportunity to make a few more plays than we did. I thought we showed some positives both on offense and defense. Although we lost the game, we learned that we can hang in their physically with one of the top 8A programs in the state." DeFrancesco likes how Braelon Grant has been progressing. "Braelon continues to improve on our offensive line," he said. "He plays with great toughness and does everything the right way."

Grant (2-4, 1-2) at Antioch (3-3, 3-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Antioch 44, Grant 0 (2021 at Grant)

About the Bulldogs: "Antioch is a big and physical team," Grant coach Tim Norwood said. "They have been the powerhouse in the conference over the years, so we will have to bring our best. Our offense scored 34 points last week, which is a big step for us. We need to play better team defense and play with better technique." Norwood gave high marks to junior quarterback Rylan Art, junior tailback Pryde Mendoza and sophomore wide receiver Cameron Houghton for their recent strong play.

About the Sequoits: Both teams are still in the hunt for a playoff berth with Antioch sitting a game out of first place in the Northern Lake County standings. "Grant is much improved from previous years," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "Different schemes in all phases. Playoffs have started for us and in the playoffs we need to create turnovers and win special teams." Glashagel said a big lesson was learned after last week's loss to Wauconda. "If you don't come out to play every Friday night, anyone can beat you," he said. On the positive side, Glashagel liked the balance Antioch showed on offense in the Wauconda game. Special teams-wise, long snapper Ryan Swanson has been a big key. "Ryan has been money all season," Glashagel said. Senior defensive lineman Seth Gomez also is getting it done in the trenches. "Seth has turned out to be a really good defensive lineman, statistically and physically," Glashagel said. Junior two-way lineman Ryan Hanrahan also is making big strides. "Ryan was a role player to start off the season and has now been impactful on both sides of the ball on the offensive and defensive lines," Glashagel said. In terms of senior quarterback Quade Moll, "Quade is secretly having a very good season at quarterback making plays with his arm and feet," Glashagel said.

Grayslake Central (4-2, 2-2) at Round Lake (1-5, 1-3)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Grayslake Central 59, Round Lake 28 (2021 at Central)

About the Rams: "Round Lake is coming off a well-earned victory at North Chicago," Central coach Mike Maloney said. "They have had success running the ball a bit. Several of their playmakers on the outside have shown potency on film. They play team defense and hustle well to the football. Every game from here on out is a playoff game for us. We need to prepare mentally and physically to execute at a high level each Friday. It started last week in Fox Lake and we carry that approach on the road again to Round Lake Friday." Matty Jens had 14 tackles last week. "Matty is proving why excellent wrestlers always make outstanding linebackers and leaders in the courage and toughness department," Maloney said. Maloney loved how the special teams unit played against Grant. Danny Whittington blocked a punt that allowed Jake DeLeon to fall on it for a score. Devin White recovered a fumbled kick return, while Ethan Espineli set the school record for most successful extra points in a game with seven. Central scored 6 offensive touchdowns in 8 possessions and racked up 360 yards rushing and 92 more passing. "It was our most productive offensive game," Maloney said. Kaiden Miller ran 27 times for 307 yards and 4 touchdowns. "Kaiden is producing at the level that a primetime playmaker needs to be at this stage in the season," Maloney said. Defensively for the season, Jens has 45 total tackles, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 sacks, while Sean Mullen has 30 total tackles and a half a sack, while Jeremiah Poyser has 29 total tackles and 2 picks. Back to Espineli for a moment: "Even more so covering kickoffs when Jayden Kante kicks," Maloney said of his excellence. "Ethan is a tremendous tackler as well as an exceptional PAT placekicker." Maloney noted Whittington, "is becoming a dominant blocker and the physical pulling guard we needed up front," he said.

About the Panthers: Plenty of highlights from Round Lake's win over North Chicago last week. Kevin Johnson had 2 rushing touchdowns and a receiving score as well. After an injury to Round Lake's quarterback, Johnson stepped in at running back when Anthony Bishop slide over to quarterback. Johnson was the team's leading rusher with 70 yards on 8 carries. He also caught a 2-point conversion pass. "Kevin did it all," Round Lake coach Scott Blecha said. Easton Nixon threw 2 touchdown passes and recovered a fumble before leaving in the third quarter with an injury. Brian Garcia recovered a fumble, while Cesar Gutierrez led the defense in tackles for a third game this season. He finished with 9 total tackles. Blecha noted Anthony Bishop sealed the win with a late-game interception and stepped in at quarterback. He added a pair of 2-point conversion runs that were big for the Panthers, Blecha added. Round Lake had no turnovers on offense and 3 takeaways on defense. "Our offense had an error-free game and our defense had 3 takeaways that changed the game," Blecha said. One special teams note: Bishop kicked off for the first time in his high school career and opened the game by recovering his own onside kick, "which let us steal a series and jump out to the early lead," Blecha explained.

North Chicago (1-5, 0-4) at Grayslake North (5-1, 3-1)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Grayslake Central 44, North Chicago 20 (2021 at North Chicago)

About the Warhawks: "North Chicago runs some option and that is going to be a challenge for us," Grayslake North coach Brian Johnson said. "We are really going to need to bring some pressure and find the football."

About the Knights: Michael Jefferson ran 20 times for 191 yards and 2 scores last week as North ramped up its running game, Johnson noted. Quarterback Jake Donohue has completed 96 of 170 passes for 1,339 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. Sophomore Dom Pulliman was cited for his strengths in returning kicks and punts and making big tackles. Johnson called senior offensive tackle Evan McMahon a stalwart on the North offensive line. Sophomore linebacker Tyler McBride has 37 tackles, while sophomore corner Mitchell Hughes has 36 tackles. They are one and two in tackles for the Knights as 10th graders on the varsity. "Both have really come along since the beginning of the season," Johnson said. "They are really starting to understand their positions and the game is slowing down for them."

Other Friday Lake County Games

Marmion (2-4) at Carmel (4-2), 7:30 p.m.

Stevenson (3-3, 2-2) at Zion-Benton (1-5, 1-3), 7 p.m.

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