New additions help Wauconda roll past Grayslake Central

Chase Groelle and Logan Olsen are an interesting tandem for Wauconda.

Groelle, a 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver, is two years older and about a head taller than the 5-9 Olsen, a sophomore quarterback. But they were a great connection Friday, leading the visiting Bulldogs to a 40-7 victory at Grayslake Central in the Northern Lake County Conference.

Wauconda (5-0) increased its regular-season win streak to 16 in a row, going back to the spring season in 2021.

Olsen connected on 13 of 15 passes for 168 yards. Groelle was the top receiver with 6 catches for 73 yards. Before the start of practice, they barely knew each other.

"Not well," Groelle said. "Many of the sophomores we did not know. It was very different at the start of the year for sure. Over the summer camp, we bonded really well."

Olsen is not only new to varsity, but also to playing quarterback.

"This is only my third year of playing tackle." Olsen said. "My first year at quarterback was last year. Spots opened up, I did my best in summer camp and am here now."

Coming off a 10-1 record last year, Wauconda hasn't skipped a beat, despite having to blend four classes together. Leading rusher Connor Vanselow (10 carries, 119 yards) is a junior. The offensive line includes two sophomores Liam Carney and David Soroka, a junior in tackle Caleb Apodaca, along with seniors Billy Karabinis and Tyler Schmidt. Two freshmen, Jackson Rudolph and Nick Ori, are heavy contributors.

"We only have 13 seniors on the team," first-year Wauconda coach Chris Prostka said. "They're contributing, don't get me wrong, but we're pretty young across the board. They got to experience what we did last year. I don't think they want to let that go."

Prostka has been joined by longtime Stevenson and Jacobs head coach Bill Mitz, who started as a mentor and stuck around to help coach the offense.

It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to take control of this one. On the second snap, Vanselow broke loose down the visiting sideline for a 58-yard run, setting up a 2-yard TD. A good punt return set up a 47-yard drive, with junior Jacob Wurster scoring from 1-yard out.

Trailing 14-0, Grayslake Central forced a punt after a sack by Matthew Jens. The offense drove 69 yards, with the key play a 23-yard pass from junior QB Cole Gillette to Connor Anguilm to the 5-yard line. Jeremiah Almendarez-Poyser carried it in from the 1 to bring the Rams within 14-7.

But Wauconda went back to dominant mode. Vanselow broke four or five tackles on the way to a 28-yard touchdown run. Then Olsen hit six passes in a row, including a 7-yard touchdown to Groelle just before halftime to make it 27-7.

Grayslake Central lost a fumble on the first play of the third quarter, and Olsen found a wide-open Groelle for a 41-yard touchdown.

The Rams were without senior Kaiden Miller. Coach Mike Maloney said the team is hoping to have him back next week. Seven different receivers caught passes for Central.

"We have playmakers all over the field, we just have to play like playmakers," Maloney said. "We took a good examination of our offensive roles and responsibilities and just kind of reinvented, not the offense, but who gets how many touches and where the ball goes."

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