LAKE ZURICH — When Lake Zurich’s football team travels to Stevenson Friday night, it won’t be just any regular season finale.
The NSC Lake title will be on the line in a contest involving two clubs that are both red-hot.
The Bears (8-0, 5-0) have yet to lose this season, and are averaging 34.8 points per game. They’ve scored at least 40 points in each of their past three contests. Depth is a key reason why.
“We’ve had some guys really step up while some other guys have been injured at different points throughout the year, and that’s been important,” Lake Zurich coach David Proffitt said.
Star middle linebacker and Syracuse recruit Colton Moskal has fully recovered from an ankle injury that kept him out for two weeks around mid-season, but the latest victim of the injury bug is sophomore running back Ben Klett, who was a speedy state track and field qualifier as a freshman.
Klett appeared to re-tweak a lingering ankle injury in his club’s 40-16 win at Libertyville Friday, and according to Proffitt, remains questionable for Week 9. Klett carried the ball twice before leaving the game, but his absence did little to slow the Bears’ rushing attack against the Wildcats. Lake Zurich still ran the ball 54 times for 222 yards.
Seniors Joey Holtz (13 carries, 61 yards), Dylan Schassler (13 carries, 58 yards) and Sean Lynch (6 carries, 38 yards, TD) combined to average almost five yards a carry and were among nine Lake Zurich players who ran the ball.
Lynch, who also plays safety, is part of a stellar defense that’s allowing just 6.7 points a game with shutouts against Fremd, Cary-Grove and Mundelein.
“I think the reason we have so many guys who are ready to step in on both sides of the ball when someone goes down has a lot to do with our coaching staff,” Lynch said. “That, and the fact we have so many guys who take pride in working hard. Everyone on our team knows that at any given moment, it could be their turn to be called upon. That’s happened a lot, and for the most part, we’ve answered the call.”
There is room for concern. After allowing just seven points in the first four weeks of the season, the Bears’ defense yielded its two highest point totals (16 points against Libertyville, 14 against Zion-Benton) in the past two contests.
“We cannot keep making some of the mistakes we’ve been making lately — on both sides of the ball,” Proffitt said. “We just can’t.”
Stevenson (6-2, 5-0) has won six straight games and is playing its best football of the season. The Patriots average 32.5 points per game thanks to standouts like seniors Willie Bourbon (QB) and Matt Morrissey (DB/WR), plus junior star receiver Cameron Green.
Though they’re known for their high-powered offense, the Patriots’ defense has been smothering of late. It’s allowing 11.6 points per game, yet Stevenson has given up more than 15 points in a game just once all season — a 28-21 Week 2 loss at Homewood-Flossmoor.
“I think we’re kind of clicking on all cylinders right now,” Green said. “This should be one heck of a matchup.”
The two teams met last year, with Lake Zurich winning at home, 21-14.
“Every team is different from one season to the next,” Moskal said. “That game has almost no bearing on this game.”
Any predictions for Friday night?
“Nah,” Moskal said with a chuckle. “Obviously, it would be a big deal for us, our fans and community if we win. We’re gonna give it our best. It’ll be fun.”