With two out of conference games in the books, it seems like the Lake Forest Scouts varsity football team has seen a great deal. In their first game against the Glenbard East Rams, Lake Forest dominated their opponent in the second half, eventually leading to a 38-23 victory. Their next game against St. Viator was a different story. It was a tight contest the whole game, demonstrated a playoff intensity, and took overtime for the Scouts to pull through. Lake Forest is now riding on an immense amount of confidence into tonight’s game against the (1-1) Stevenson Patriots. Thanks to their massive student body, the Patriots always seem to be one of the best teams in North Suburban Conference play, but the Scouts are fresh and ready to put Stevenson below the.500 mark early on in the season.
Historically speaking, the Stevenson Patriots have Lake Forest’s number. Over the past three years there has not been one close game between the two rival opponents. In 2016 Stevenson won at home 43-12; in 2015 it was 35-10 Patriots; in addition to that, Stevenson doubled the Scouts’ score in 2014 winning 34-17. Stevenson did not lose a single conference game last year. The Patriots–yet again–have the talent to dominate their opponents, but will it be enough to beat an improved Lake Forest Scouts team on the road? 1st year Stevenson head coach Josh Hjorth surely thinks so. Last season Hjorth was the Patriots defensive coordinator and was promoted to head coach last year after Bill McNamara stepped down after leading the Patriots to the 8A State Championship in 2015.
Despite being the head coach, he will still continue to call defensive plays on the sideline. In his third year on Stevenson’s varsity football team, middle linebacker Sam Mark (#10) is a player to keep your eye on. He provides the leadership that the defense needs and has the experience to serve as a captain. The senior has already received offers from the university of San Diego and the University of Dayton. Other Patriot players to watch for while the Scouts are on offense are Ryan Walsh (#46) and Liam O’Connell (#6). Both aforementioned players man the defensive line and could severely limit the time Jack Mislinski has in the pocket. Lake Forest will have to be at their best on offense to create scoring chances against Stevenson’s stout defense.
The center of the Stevenson Patriots offense this year will be 6’2’’ senior quarterback Grayson Kubow (#5) if he starts. After reportedly suffering an injury in his last start against Muskegon (MI), he is questionable for tonight’s game. Kubow only started one game last season and served mainly as a backup quarterback to Aidan O’Connell, who is now a first year QB at Purdue University. With two games under his belt, Kubow should be more comfortable manning the Pats offense, but if the Scouts can get up early and the Lake Forest faithful come alive, the lack of experience for the senior quarterback could affect his play. If he is unable to play tonight Stevenson will turn to Junior backup QB Cole Okmin (#1). Whoever gets the start tonight will have plenty of talent to throw and hand off to. One of those players is Senior running back Terrance Fisher (#29), a quick runner who has the capability to break tackles. Tight end Alex Capstick (#88) is the most experienced player on the Patriots offense and is one of the favorite targets of either quarterback. It’s tough to find a category that Stevenson’s varsity football team is weak in. They are stacked on both sides of the ball and will make for a tough match-up against the Scouts.
From 4th down touchdown conversions to game saving blocked field goals, the Lake Forest vs. St. Viator game had it all a week ago. Though the Scouts did not play their best, they persevered and won in what may be their tightest game of the season. Now they are 2-0 and riding high on confidence heading into a marquee match-up where they really have a chance to prove their worth among the NSC elite. The Scouts defense will get their biggest test all season. The linemen and linebackers will need to be at their sharpest so either Kubow or Okmin won’t have too much time in the pocket to create something downfield.
Captain Alex Moss and senior Chris Cavalaris have had stellar years in the secondary so far. In fact, Cavalaris has racked up three INT’s in only two games. The biggest key for Lake Forest’s defense is to limit the scoring early. If the Scouts want to keep this one close they can not let the game get away from them early and give the Patriots points on early drives. Given the strength of Stevenson’s defensive line, QB Jack Mislinski will likely not have as much time to find his targets as games prior. Watch for the Scouts to utilize their running game more and keep the passing game short rather than taking shots down the field. Offensively, the biggest key is for their talented offensive line to buy their quarterback as much time as possible and to limit turnovers such as fumbles, INT’s and 4 and outs. The Patriots will certainly key their secondary toward junior standout Ryan Cekay, so look for open throwing lanes in the flat, or drag routes over the middle to receivers like Clayton Burton and Luke Nolan to move the sticks for the blue and gold.
Despite having the better record, it is no secret that the Scouts are coming in as underdogs. Still, they have a better chance than in year’s past. This team has the skill to battle with Stevenson. By all means this will be no walk in the park for the Patriots. Just like last week’s game, it will be intense all the way until the end. The Scouts will need the energy from the home crowd, so instead of leaving early, stay the whole game. You may just witness a massive upset. Looking at every aspect of this game, I’d say that the mohawks will stay on for another week. Scouts will take the W and effectively shock the northern suburbs by taking down the mighty Patriots.
Brian Ooms (LB): The legend of Brian Ooms is growing by the week. The Scouts will need him at his best again to keep pace with the Patriots.
Matt Barigazzi/Eddie Scheidler (DB): Whomever gets the bulk of the reps will need to have their best game of the season Friday night at home. A blown coverage or missed tackle will spell 6 points quickly for the Patriots.
Jack Brush (K): This game might come down to the wire. The Scouts should rely on their trusty kicker for big PAT’s and field goals down the stretch.
About the Patriots (1-1)
Colors: Green and gold
Conference: North Suburban
Coach: Josh Hjorth (1st year)
Furthest IHSA Playoff Advancement: 1st (8A) in 2o15