Game Preview: Lake Forest Scouts (1-2) at Lake Zurich Bears (2-1)


Bobby Winebrenner

After dismantling an underwhelming Mundelein football team, Coach Spagnoli’s Scouts face their biggest test of the year: tenth ranked Lake Zurich Bears. Friday’s game will be held at Lake Zurich at 7:30 PM and will see Lake Forest travel on the road again after having two straight home games. The Bears stay at home after dominating a fellow North Suburban Conference opponent Zion Benton 23-0 last week.

About the Bears: Lake Zurich lost in the class 7A state championship to Batavia and would sure like to do one place better this year. They’ve already seen their fair share of competition this season as they lost to the number two team in the state, Nazareth Academy, 25-0 in week two. Coach Luke Mertens’ team opened the season up with a 20-7 win over a talented Fremd team as well. For a team which hopes to be at the top of the 7A standings come mid-October, these conference games are must-wins. With a loss already under their belt, Lake Zurich and their always raucous crowd will look to make things difficult on the Scouts. Coach Mertens is in his second season as Lake Zurich head coach after moving from Lakes High School into a scandal-ridden program. Almost everyone would say his first year was a resounding success and the Bears look to be just as competitive down the stretch this year. Their offense is led by senior Matt McGraw and junior do-it-all athlete Jack Moses. The duo connected for two passing touchdowns in last week’s win. On defense, eight starters return from an already stout defense. Anthony Mangano leads the secondary and Jack Fabbrini returns to lead the linebacking corps. Mangano returns after having seven interceptions in his 2017 campaign.

About the Scouts: Lake Forest is fresh off their first win of the season over Mundelein in which they looked very improved. They defeated the Mustangs 39-12 and played a much cleaner game than their previous losses. They’ll need to have another sound and disciplined game in the trenches if they want to knock off the highly-ranked Bears. Their offense saw huge games from their playmakers; Jacob Thomas, Ryan Cekay, and Breck Nowik all tallied touchdowns and Thomas led the group with three of them. Quarterback James Swartout looked much more composed and looked to have gained trust from his coaches as the Scouts offense delivered an exciting, balanced attack to the defenseless Mundelein team. Tight end Crawford Bolton knows this week will be a new challenge to the Scouts offense: “Zurich’s always had really talented nickel players and linebackers and this year’s no different. We’ll need to come out with intensity and give their defense a punch to get things going.” On defense, the Scouts are coming off a strong showing in which they forced three interceptions and limited Mundelein to negative two rushing yards. Sophomore inside linebacker Mac Uihlein had a near pick-six in the last contest and has had an impressive season while seniors Tommy Hanson, Eddie Scheidler, and Will Freeman have anchored the Scouts secondary. Junior defensive end Rylie Mills has been a force up front, constantly drawing excess attention from opposing teams. Linebackers Clayton Burton and Ethan Hunt have benefited from this as they’ve put together nice senior campaigns. Mills had this to say about the looming contest: “We’re super excited for Friday Night, it’s always a battle when we match up and this year should be no different.”

Key Storylines:

  • How improved will the Scouts look?
    • Lake Forest struggled early this season but got on track last week on Mundelein. Lake Zurich’s the best team they’ve seen this season and Coach Spagnoli’s bunch will need their best performance yet to knock off the Bears.
  • Which Lake Zurich team will we see
    • Coach Mertens’ team didn’t look to great against the Zee-Bees from the start last week as they only lead 3-0 after one quarter of play. Their offense was also unable to put any points on the board against Nazareth but the Bears are no team to underrate.
  • Lake Forest Offensive Attack
    • The Scouts were much more run-oriented through the first two losses but spread the ball out very well last Friday. They’ll need to establish a passing game once again this week if they want to upset the Bears.