Game Preview: Lake Forest Scouts (5-4) vs Phillips Wildcats (7-2)


Bobby Winebrenner

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for football fans. Last Saturday, the Illinois High School Association announced the brackets for this year’s football playoffs. Lake Forest fans saw their Scouts earn a #13 seed and a matchup with the Phillips Wildcats who secured a #4 seed. The matchup kicks off on Saturday at Gately Stadium, 810 E 103rd St, in Chicago at 1:00 PM.

About the Wildcats: Phillips comes into the game at 7-2 with losses coming to Pickerington Central (OH) and Simeon. They went undefeated in the Chicago Public (Land of Lincoln) Conference with another win over St. Louis Chaminade (MO). The Wildcats possess the most talent the Scouts have seen this season with numerous high level recruits and Division One football players. The school is located on the south side of Chicago and is coming off a 2017 Class 5A State Championship. Phillips is led by Jahleel Billingsley and Fabian McCray on offense. Billingsley, a 6’4” tight end, is ranked the #4 player in the state in the class of 2019 by 247sports and is headed to Alabama next year. McCray is the #20 player in the state and is committed to Illinois as a wide receiver. On defense, Joseph Thompson and Dominic Bass are players to watch. Thompson is the #23 senior in Illinois and is also slated to play defensive back next year for the Fighting Illini. Bass is a defensive linemen who is ranked #24 in the nation among sophomores and will be a big threat to the Lake Forest defensive line. The Wildcats love to send countless blitzers, leaving the secondary vulnerable. Scouts’ quarterback Tommy Hanson will have his hands full and will need to get the ball out quickly before taking too many sacks against the increased pressure.

About the Scouts: Lake Forest comes into the game at 5-4 after earning the biggest win in recent memory over Stevenson to earn the playoff nod. Hoping to carry momentum from last week’s game, the Scouts have a tough task in front of them. Coach Spagnoli’s team played a complete game last week, forcing numerous turnovers and playing excellently on special teams. Against the weaker Phillips secondary, Hanson has to get the ball to Lake Forest’s talented receivers. Ryan Cekay and Breck Nowik both commanded extra attention from Stevenson and will likely do so again this week. On defense, it will be interesting to see how the Scouts defend Billingsley and McCray. Expect to see a different game plan against Phillips’ athletes. Senior defensive back Eddie Scheidler commented on the looming matchup, “We need to play fast and play physical. It’s obviously a big matchup.”

Key Storylines:

  • Lake Forest Secondary vs Phillips Receivers
    • Phillips has size that the Scouts haven’t seen this year. Lake Forest will have a tough time matching up against the athletes from Chicago and will need to gameplan a bit out of the ordinary this Saturday.
  • Phillips Rush vs Lake Forest O-Line
    • The Wildcats will continuously send seven to eight blitzers and rely on their athletes in the secondary to guard downfield. The Scouts offensive line will need to give Hanson a few seconds to get the ball out or Lake Forest will have a long game.
  • Playoff Atmosphere in Chicago
    • After a huge win, Lake Forest will need to forget about last week and focus on Phillips. The defending state champions will play close to home and can’t look past the Scouts as another weak #13 seed.

A win-or-go-home game will bring out the best in these two teams. Kickoff between the Wildcats and Scouts is at 1:00 PM at Gately Stadium in Chicago. The winner will advance to play Prairie Ridge or Hinsdale South next week.