Wauconda aims for 9-0 season, outright NLCC championship

Before we take a spin around Lake County one more time in the regular season, here's a quick check of the conference races and playoff situations heading into Week 9 Friday.

In the Northern Lake County Conference, Wauconda is unbeaten at 5-0 and is in search of its second crown in a row. The Bulldogs hold a game lead over Grayslake North and Antioch (4-1 each). Wauconda travels to Grayslake North Friday for a key game, while Antioch finishes up the regular season at 1-7 Round Lake.

A Wauconda win makes it easy - the Bulldogs take home the title. A Grayslake North win at home and an Antioch win on the road at Round Lake creates a three-way share of the title. All eyes will be on Grayslake North High School Friday.

Over in the North Suburban Conference, Lake Zurich is 5-0 and holds a 1-game lead over Warren (4-1). Lake Zurich hosts 0-8 Waukegan, while Warren faces 1-7 Zion-Benton.

With the playoffs, Carmel is eligible at 5-3 already and can stamp an automatic spot Friday with a win at 4-4 Marian Catholic.

In the North Suburban, Lake Zurich and Warren are in and almost assuredly will host a first-round game. Libertyville and Stevenson are eligible at 5-3 already. The two play Friday in Lincolnshire and the winner earns an automatic spot.

In the NLCC, Wauconda and Grayslake North are both in and look good to host a first round game. Antioch and Grayslake Central are eligible at 5-3, while Lakes is in a must-win situation at home against Grayslake Central. If the Eagles win, they would become playoff eligible at 5-4.

Stevenson update:

Stevenson has won four in a row and has given up a grand total of 6 points in those four contests. The Patriots have recorded 3 shutouts in a row after last week's blanking of Waukegan, coach Brent Becker noted.

In the Waukegan win, Carson Olomon had 3 tackles, while Patrick Reznick had 2 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Dan Yaurmchuck had 2 tackles.

Stevenson ran the ball 17 times for 273 yards with Matthew Maloney going for 115 yards on 2 carries and 2 touchdowns. Daniel Castro ran 4 times for 85 yards and scored 2 touchdowns, while Jake Youkhanna had 7 carries for 78 yards.

Warren update:

Charley Thompson had a big Week 8 against Lake Forest, rushing for 195 yards and a score on 28 carries.

"Charley was outstanding last week against Lake Forest," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said.

And Kole Weinberg continues to draw high praise on and off the field.

"Kole is the best athlete I have coached on the offensive line," McNulty said. "He's a great person as well."

Libertyville update:

Wildcats coach Mike Jones likes how junior wide receiver Luka Nikolich and senior defensive back Luke Williamson have been conducting business this season.

"Luka has been an excellent complement to Kristian Gavric and Luke has been our most consistent defensive back," Jones said.

Mundelein update:

Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco continues to be high on the play of two-way player Jayden Gomez.

"Jayden has been stellar all season at wide receiver and defensive back," he said.

Sophomore Jake Junia also has been a huge plus for Mundelein. "Jake has been great in his sophomore season," DeFrancesco said. "He has been a standout outside linebacker in his first varsity season."

Another constant positive presence has been Adam Bogenski, DeFrancesco said. "Adam has been consistent all season," the coach added.

Antioch update:

The Sequoits are on the doorstep of another automatic playoff appearance, and the reasons for that success again can be found in the numbers.

Junior running back Nick Day has a shot at a 1,000-yard rushing season. He's at 855 yards on 124 carries with 13 touchdowns. Sophomore Martin Cohen has caught 32 passes for 673 yards and also has run the ball 25 times for 198 yards and also has 13 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Quade Moll has completed 61 of 90 passes for 1,088 yards and has thrown 12 touchdowns against only 1 interception. Senior linebacker Caleb Nobiling has 85 tackles.

Grayslake North update:

Here's some key numbers from North's Week 8 win against Round Lake.

Quarterback Jake Donohue was 5-for-7 passing for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns. Running back Junior Munoz carried 5 times for 106 yards and had a score. Running back Dom Pulliam scored three different ways. He had a rushing touchdown, a punt-return touchdown and a kick-return touchdown. Defensive back Carter Barenbaum had 2 interceptions, a pass breakup and also scored a touchdown for the Knights.

Grayslake Central update:

Rams coach Mike Maloney didn't mince words when dissecting his team's Week 8 loss to Antioch. Maloney noted Central missed 14 tackles resulting in 421 yards after first contact - not a typo.

"That's 83% of Antioch's total output, including six of their touchdowns," said Maloney of the team's 56-28 loss. "That's just not sound, winning football."

Maloney, though, is hopeful last week's loss will end up being a positive in short order.

"I have always felt that having an opponent humble you can lead to next-level growth down the stretch," he said. "Antioch ran the ball for 400-plus yards on us. We also had 430 yards of total offense. Those types of contests often leads a staff to simplify and repackage schemes while adjusting to what their personnel can handle. I am confident our staff will make the appropriate decisions to put our best 11 in the correct spots moving forward. Our season comes down to this one game, and hopefully, one game after that and so on. That leaves very little margin for error. That's postseason football, something we expect to be part of for a long time."

Central, sitting at 5-3 and playoff eligible already, heads to Lake Villa Friday where an Eagles team will await that must win to become playoff eligible. Central has 33 playoff points already (sum of your opponents' wins) with more to come this week, and 34 was the cut off last year.

Lakes update:

Payton Rodriguez was the hero in last week's big win over Grant that kept the Eagles' playoff chances alive. He forced a fumble with 40 seconds left as Grant was driving into the Lakes' red zone.

Lakes coach Jason Ellerman also has been thrilled with the team's conduct away from the field.

"I am really happy with how the team has bought into our character-building program," he said. "Our talks about 'just be a good person' are becoming more thoughtful every week."

Lake Zurich update:

One massive reason the Bears are on the brink of a North Suburban title has been the play of Tyler Erkman.

On offense, Erkman has caught 25 passes for 378 yards and 5 touchdowns. He's also ran 6 times for 43 yards and a score.

On special teams, Erkman has returned 11 kicks for 281 yards and 7 punts for 92 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Erkman has 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 passes defended, while making 23 tackles.

"Tyler has been dominant in all three phases of the game," Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz said.

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