Wauconda (4-0, 2-0) at Grayslake Central (3-1, 1-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Wauconda 49, Grayslake Central 14 (2021 at Wauconda)
About Wauconda: The Bulldogs remain unbeaten after last week’s 17-9 win at home against Grant. Wauconda becomes playoff-eligible with a win and also would hold onto at least a share of first place in the NLCC (tied with Grayslake North right now). “Wauconda is a tough and physical ballclub,” Central coach Mike Maloney said. “They pride themselves on a swarming-style defense and establishing a potent run game offensively. On tape they appear well-coached, disciplined and passionate. We will have to match their energy and play with relentless effort. We are a tough group to defend and our defense continues to stop our opponents’ run game. We’ll play to our strengths because I know Coach (Chris) Prostka and his club will do as well. We’re looking forward to a good, old-fashioned backyard brawl in this one.”
About Grayslake Central: Maloney said he’s been impressed with his team’s misdirection plays, which “have been successful for chunk yardage productivity,” he said. “I’d like to see our offensive line execute at a higher level and play with more violent hands in our base run schemes. Overall, our guys up front are more cohesive now than we have ever been, despite having to shuffle a couple players around. We still need to limit pre-snap penalties in critical moments.” Maloney said Central’s young defense is doing quite well through four games. “We’ve had a youth movement on defense,” he said. “It’s fun to see our young guys flying around and locking horns with our opponents. With youth comes some nerves and overexuberance on the field. We have steadily calmed down and have been effectively executing the game plan. I am really looking forward to seeing the continued growth from those players.” Maloney added Matty Jens’ productivity against opposition running attacks “sets the pace for his teammates,” he said. Kaiden Miller had over 100 returns yards last week against Grayslake North, and also ran for 127 yards and had 50 receiving yards to go with 2 touchdowns. Jens had 4 tackles, an assist, 2 tackles for loss and a sack. Sean Mullen led all tacklers last week with seven.
Lake Zurich (3-1, 2-0) at Warren (4-0, 2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Warren 42, Lake Zurich 0 (2021 at Lake Zurich)
About Lake Zurich: “Warren is a fast and physical team,” Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz said. “In order to be successful, we need to stay ahead of the sticks on offense. We cannot end up in long yardage situations. On defense, we have to eliminate the big play and make them earn their points.” Planz loves where his team is headed, to the point it is playing for no worse than a share of the conference lead this week (Mundelein is also 2-0). “We just keep getting better every week,” he said. “We are not where we want to be yet, but our guys are working to get better.” And Planz pointed to improved physicality as a key observation on defense through four weeks. “I like how we have been able to keep our physicality as the season has gone on,” he said. “That is important for our defense to play with a physical presence.” Planz thought David Penaherrera played well on the defensive line last week, while Nate Breeman, Tyler Erkman and Tyler Burkley all had interceptions.
About Warren: Warren coach Bryan McNulty knows his team will be in for a battle against an improved Lake Zurich unit. “Lake Zurich is as good as any team, including us, in the area,” he said. “We will have to take care of the football and play smart.” McNulty is stressing ball security. “A big stride we had made up until last week is taking care of the football,” he said. “Our biggest strides beyond that have been in establishing depth.” McNulty likes the Blue Devils’ defensive motor. “We have continued to play harder each week,” he said. “We will really have to play hard this week to be successful.” Tight end Zach Pyles was lauded for his recent strong play after not playing early, while McNulty noted sophomore defensive lineman David O’Connell continues to get better each week.”
North Chicago (1-3, 0-2) at Lakes (2-2, 1-1)
When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Lakes 46, North Chicago 6 (at North Chicago)
About North Chicago: The Warhawks opened the season with a win over Waukegan, but are on a 3-game slide with losses by forfeit in Week 2, to Grayslake Central in Week 3 (51-14) and to Antioch last week (47-0).
About Lakes: Lakes coach Jason Ellerman said his team must be prepared for North Chicago’s offense. “North Chicago has some athletes who have some big play capability,” he said. “The quarterback (Lon) Mclendon is a dual-threat kid who can really stress a defense. We are really going to need to continue to improve our tackling to be successful on defense.”
Grayslake North (4-0, 2-0) at Antioch (2-2, 2-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Previous Matchup: Antioch 24, Grayslake North 10 (2021 at Grayslake North)
About Grayslake North: After defeating town rival Grayslake Central last week, the Knights face another heavyweight battle on the road against longtime conference power Antioch. The winner commandeers no worse than a share of the conference lead (Wauconda also is 2-0) and the loser has some work to do the final four weeks. “Until you take the ‘-och’ out of Antioch they are still Antioch,” Knights coach Brian Johnson complimented. “They always have a big offensive line and can run the ball and they play sound defense. Their record is deceiving, playing two of the best teams around and having chances to win both. They are going to try to control the ball and want to hit some big plays through play-action and counters. We need to be able to slow them down a bit and try to get them out of their comfort zone.” Johnson said the North offensive line has been huge this season, allowing only 5 sacks in 4 games with an offense that is throwing the ball more than 30 times a game. “Our offensive line has done a really good job limiting sacks,” he said. Johnson admitted the Knights’ defensive line was the biggest question mark heading into the season. “We had no one coming back from last year,” he said. “They have performed admirably.” Improved tackling has been another plus. “We are getting multiple people to the ball and tackling,” Johnson said. “Both of these have led to a number of turnovers.” DJ Nelly caught 10 passes last week for 165 yards and a score. Cam Bates also went over the 100-receiving-yard barrier, while quarterback Jake Donohue threw for 319 yards and ran for 53 more. Johnson also praised the play of Jeffery Ventura, who switched to the defensive line after an injury, “and has done a good job filling in,” he said.
About Antioch: “Grayslake North is 4-0,” Sequoits coach Brian Glashagel said. “They have a very good quarterback we need to tame and a fast defense that we need to move the ball on.” Glashagel said offensive line play has improved in recent weeks. “The offensive line has started to gel, communicate and take control of the trenches.” Multiple improvements have been noticed on defense, the coach added. “Alignment, assignment and pre-snap recognition has improved, which has allowed them to play faster,” Glashagel said. Senior running back Aiden Lennon had 3 touchdowns last week, 2 rushing and 1 receiving, while senior quarterback Quade Moll had that same touchdown total with 2 passing scores and he ran one in.
Other Lake County Friday games
Grant (1-3, 0-2) at Round Lake (0-4, 0-4), 7 p.m.
Waukegan (0-4, 0-2) at Libertyville (2-2, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Stevenson (1-3, 0-2) at Mundelein (3-1, 2-0), 7 p.m.
Deerfield (1-3) at Vernon Hills (0-4), 7 p.m.
Nazareth Academy (1-3) at Carmel (4-0), 7:30 p.m.