Daily Herald
Lake County all-area football team
By Joe Aguilar and Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 12/3/2009 4:30 PM
All Area Team 2009
John Androus Lakes

In basketball, the senior is so athletic that even at 6 feet 5 he plays point guard and earned all-area honors last winter. In football, his athleticism allows him to man middle linebacker, even at his height. "John is the smartest person on the field for us," coach Luke Mertens said of his two-time all-conference pick. "His knowledge of the game, vision and instincts were second to none. A focus for us defensively this year was to improve on stopping the run, and John was a huge reason why we did improve in that area. Playing middle linebacker at 6-5 is very difficult because he was a big target, but due to his aforementioned skills, he ended up being our leading tackler for the second straight year." Androus posted 64 solo tackles and assisted on 25 others for the playoff-qualifying Eagles. He had 11 tackles for loss.

All Area Team 2009
Mickey Baucus Carmel Catholic

He's the "little" brother of former Carmel tight end Jack Baucus and, likewise, he made a verbal commitment to the University of Arizona entering his senior year. In truth, there's little that's "little" about Mickey Baucus. The 6-foot-8, 265-pound offensive tackle was a huge force for the Corsairs during a season in which they earned a share of the East Suburban Catholic Conference title. "He's 6-8 but his wingspan is 7 feet," coach Andy Bitto said. Baucus, a former basketball player, is exceptionally athletic. "He can almost do the splits," Bitto said. Besides pass- and run-blocking, Baucus has another useful skill on the football field. "He's a great long snapper," Bitto said. "He'll start at long snapper before he starts on the offensive line at Arizona."

All Area Team 2009
Andy Blechschmidt Lake Zurich

Blechschmidt isn't just tough. "He's all-day tough," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. "He's the kind of defensive player you want to build around. He's just very physical every moment he's on the field and he makes an impact." Blechschmidt had some of his biggest moment in some of Lake Zurich's biggest games, such as an interception in a playoff game against Rolling Meadows and a batted pass in a playoff game against Wheaton North. From his free safety position, Blechschmidt, a senior captain and two-year starter, led the Bears with 113 tackles. He also recovered a team-high 4 fumbles.

All Area Team 2009
Jacob Brinlee Lake Zurich

Although he'd like to, Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz can't take much credit for the success of Brinlee, his top running back. "Jacob does so many things that you just can't teach," Stortz said. "He's got such great vision and can see the field so well. And he's got this great ability to start and stop very quickly. He can be running at top speed and then just decelerate to quickly make a cut. The other thing is that he's one of the most competitive kids we've ever had around. He's always trying to get better and I think that makes him really great, too." Brinlee put up great numbers this season. Just a junior and an all-state honoree in Class 7A, he rushed for 1,683 yards and scored a total of 26 touchdowns. No one in Lake Zurich history in the last decade has more rushing yards or touchdowns in a single season than Brinlee.

All Area Team 2009
Justin Cokefair Grant

Unfortunately for Cokefair, an otherwise sweet season ended on a bitter note. In the Bulldogs' second to last game, he tore up his knee and had to watch the rest of the game from the sidelines on crutches. Up to that point, Cokefair was the heart and soul of Grant's offense. He rushed for 822 yards on 156 carries and also passed for 372 yards on 25 of 57 attempts. Cokefair scored a total of 12 touchdowns. A big chunk of that came in a game against Lake Forest in which Cokefair scored 3 touchdowns and ran for 195 yards. He also completed 5-of-8 passes for 47 yards. "Justin got quicker (from last year)," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "And he took on that leadership role pretty well."

All Area Team 2009
DaVaris Daniels Vernon Hills

"Double D" was a triple threat on "D." A varsity player since his freshman year and repeat all-area pick, the electrifying, 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior played three different positions on defense, including safety and outside linebacker. He hadn't played linebacker before this season. He had 2 interceptions. Offensively, the Cougars lined him up at wide receiver, running back and even quarterback. He was, in fact, the Cougars' starting QB in their Week-8 showdown against Grant, a game Vernon Hills won to clinch the North Suburban Prairie championship. Daniels rushed for 344 yards (6.4 per carry) and 5 touchdowns, caught 20 passes, including 3 for scores, and threw for 323 yards and 2 TDs. He even returned kicks, turning one punt into a touchdown. "His presence on kick return and punt return repeatedly set us up with good field position," coach Tony Monken said, "because no one would kick to him."

All Area Team 2009
Matt Felicelli Carmel Catholic

Much to the Corsairs' delight, opponents routinely gave single cover to the senior wide receiver. "We figured, 'Someone is going to be able to cover him,' " coach Andy Bitto said. "It never happened. He was open all the time." The option-oriented Corsairs didn't throw the ball often, but when they did, they targeted the 5-foot-9, 145-pound Felicelli, and he made the opposition pay. His 18 receptions included nine for touchdowns, as he averaged 33 yards per catch. The All-East Suburban Catholic Conference selection had 14 TD receptions in two varsity seasons. "He's such a good blocker, too," Bitto said. "The combination of being a real good blocker and really quick enabled him to make a lot of big plays for us the last two years."

All Area Team 2009
Jason Freeck Warren

A three-year starter, Freeck certainly knew his way around the offensive line. "He was our most consistent player on the offensive line," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "And he's very intelligent. He's on the honor roll and he wants to be a mechanical engineer. So we knew we could count on Jason to make calls for us at the line." Mohapp says that his statisticians track knockdowns per game by the offensive linemen and Freeck finished in first seven of the nine weeks during the regular season. "Jason is lean and mean and he's really strong," Mohapp said. "And it's always nice to have someone so experienced on the line. We rushed for more than 3,000 yards this season and Jason Freeck was responsible for a big chunk of that."

All Area Team 2009
Brandon Hauck Wauconda

His last name is pronounced "Hawk." And, yes, the linebacker flew and soared. Ballcarriers were his prey. The only two-way starter for a team that came up one win shy of being playoff-eligible, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior rang up 81 tackles (46 solo), including four for loss, and intercepted a pair of passes. He also blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown. "He understood the game of football," coach Dave Mills said. "His leadership was tremendous both on and off the field." Voted team MVP, Hauck also was a key member of an offense that scored 102 points over its final three games. "His numbers at running back (423 yards and 4 touchdowns on 52 carries) are not huge," Mills said, "but the influence he had as a blocker and leader made our offense work." Hauck also caught 18 passes for 260 yards.

All Area Team 2009
Matt Harris Stevenson

You'd never know that football wasn't Harris's primary sport. This fall, Harris signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Syracuse. In the meantime, he certainly bid his secondary sport a fond farewell. Harris rolled up 740 rushing yards on 105 carries. He also scored 15 touchdowns. "Matt did a lot of different things for us," Stevenson coach Bill Mitz said. "He could be a big-play guy, but he also was great at making the lead block for Mark Weisman. He was a really good blocker and I think it got to the point where he enjoyed blocking just as much as our offensive linemen. We brought him up as a sophomore for a reason. He's a great athlete."

All Area Team 2009
Nate Johnson Stevenson

Because he was first discovered by the coaches when they were walking the halls of school to pass the time during a lightning storm that interrupted practice, Johnson was nicknamed 'lightning.' But as it turned out, his nicknamed also applied to his speedy feet and his big-play capability. "Two years ago, Nate didn't know much about football. He was focused on basketball," Stevenson coach Bill Mitz said. "But we got him to come out for football and he went from that to making all kinds of fantastic catches and big plays for us." Johnson rolled up 941 receiving yards on 38 catches. He also scored 9 touchdowns. Mitz says that Johnson's quick development over the last two years has piqued the interest of Division I college coaches. "I think Nate will be a great player at the next level," Mitz said.

All Area Team 2009
Nick Keller Carmel Catholic

Keller had a killer season. And who would have imagined that a year ago from the linebacker? "He didn't play much as a junior," coach Andy Bitto said. "He worked his tail off in the off-season. He used a combination of hard work, enthusiasm and athleticism to turn himself into an all-conference player." Keller earned another impressive honor. His teammates voted him team MVP. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Keller, who scored a 31 on his ACT, used both brains and brawn to seek out ballcarriers and knock them down. He was the Corsairs' leading tackler with 93, including 3 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. "He was our energy ball," Bitto said. "After the Marian Catholic game (a Week-5 loss that was followed with four straight wins), he put it upon himself to be the emotional leader of our team."

All Area Team 2009
Greg Kennedy Warren

After a sensational sophomore season two years ago, Kennedy missed all of last season due to an off-field incident. He was determined to make up for the lost time this fall and did just that. The speedy, shifty senior running back led Warren with 1,861 yards in 11 games for an average of 169.2 yards per game. He also rolled up a total of 23 touchdowns. "Greg is just an exciting player to coach because there's so many things he can do," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "He's a great running back, he can return kickoffs and punts, he can catch the ball. He's got great speed and vision. He's so well-rounded." In just two years, Kennedy racked up more than 3,000 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns. "He picked up right where he left off after sophomore year," Mohapp said. "He's a worker and he worked so hard to play again. I think he wanted to show everyone that he was the same Greg Kennedy, only better."

All Area Team 2009
Erick King Stevenson

Injuries plagued King last year as a junior and he wound up missing the last moments of this year's season finale at Mt. Carmel with a concussion. But in between, King was the one putting the hurt on. He led Stevenson this season with 98 tackles. He also had 2 interceptions. "This kid had such a rough junior year, and you know if was so tough on him because he wasn't really able to perform the way he wanted to or the way you knew he could," Stevenson coach Bill Mitz said of King, who is the son of former Chicago Bulls forward Stacey King. "But he came back and did a great job this year. He was such a leader for us in the secondary and we needed that from him."

All Area Team 2009
E.J. Lannan Vernon Hills

You should see him tackle. School books, that is. The senior carries a 4.1 GPA and cranked out a 33 on his ACT. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder tackles pretty well on the football field, too. In 30 varsity starts at inside linebacker over three varsity seasons, the repeat all-area player piled up a school-record 325 tackles. His numbers this season included 106 stops (75 solos), 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. He returned one of his picks for a touchdown. "E.J. was one of those rare players that had the ability to take over the game from the defensive side of the field, from big interceptions at crucial times to stretches in games where it seemed like he was making every tackle," coach Tony Monken said. "As a three-year starter, he was our coach on the field and his ability to read and react made him almost unblockable." Lannan also played offensive line and long-snapped. He was selected all-state (Class 5A) by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association.

All Area Team 2009
Collin Lennon Lake Zurich

Lennon doesn't play basketball anymore, but the fact that he did probably helped his football career, of all things. "Collin is a big kid, like 6-foot-3, 270 pounds," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said of his lineman. "But he's able to move so well. He's got great feet, probably from basketball. I think that's what separates him from other linemen. When you combine his size with the fact that he can move, that's a great combination." The Bears were most dangerous running the ball and often ran behind Lennon. But not always. "Collin moved so well that sometimes we'd just pull him and do it that way," Stortz said. "It was nice to have that flexibility with him."

All Area Team 2009
Steven Lester Carmel Catholic

Less Lester in the middle of their defensive line, the less effective the Corsairs were. So about midway through the season, Carmel's coaches slid Lester from defensive end to nose tackle. And what a difference it made. "Once we moved him to the nose, our team played 10 times better," said coach Andy Bitto, whose Corsairs ran off four straight wins after the starting-lineup tweak. "The move probably cost him more tackles, but it really solidified our defense." How dominant a season did Lester have? The 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior was named most valuable defensive lineman in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and was also selected all-state (Class 7A) by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. A three-year varsity player, he earned all-ESCC honors for the second straight season. He's being recruited by, among others, Navy and Air Force.

All Area Team 2009
Tom Lindal Warren

As far as offenses go, Warren's might not be the most trendy. "We run the "I" and not many people run that anymore," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "We're kind of a dinosaur." But thanks to players like Lindal, the Blue Devils are far from going extinct. Lindal, a junior who has started at fullback for the last two years, made the offense hum by making big blocks and also racking up significant yardage of his own. Lindal finished this season with 832 yards on and 15 touchdowns. "To run the offense we run, you really need a good fullback and we've had that in Tom for two years now," Mohapp said. "He's everything you'd want. He can run, he's tough and can block people. He's a great leader. He's just real well-rounded. He's also one of the most competitive people I know. He wants to win at everything, all the (sprints) in practice, everything. He's like that on the field. Having success is really important to him and I think we saw that in him this year.

All Area Team 2009
Steve Lorenzini Antioch

The fullback felt the pain, then dished it out on opponents. As a junior, he tore his labrum while bench-pressing, then went out and rushed for more than 1,000 yards and helped the Sequoits reach the Class 6A state semifinals. This year, he broke his left hand in the team's preseason scrimmage, then went and banged out 1,059 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 188-pounder wore a cast for all but Antioch's final two games, playing in all nine and never missing a practice. "He's really a throwback," coach Brian Glashagel said. Named Class 5A all-state honorable mention, Lorenzini piled up a school-record 3,035 yards in three varsity seasons. "He's a freak," Glashagel said. "In all my years, I haven't coached any kid like him."

All Area Team 2009
Zak Lowe Warren

Sometimes not even two guys were enough to stop Zak Lowe. At 6-foot-1, 270 pounds, the Warren defensive lineman was a tough load to handle. "Zak is big, thick and strong," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "When you play nose guard like Zak did, you're going to get a lot of attention. There's never a play where you're not blocked, and sometimes you have two players on you. When you're able to still be a disruption, you can really throw off an offense and its timing and you can cause a lot of problems. Zak is so strong that he was able to do that all the time. Just a junior, Lowe, finished with 22 tackles and 2 sacks.

All Area Team 2009
Chris Morgan Vernon Hills

He's been hitting jumpers on varsity basketball courts since his sophomore year. This fall, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior hit opposing ballcarriers. And he showed good form. A two-way starter, Morgan rang up 76 tackles, including 49 solos, for the playoff-qualifying and division-champ Cougars. He also caused 3 fumbles and recovered a pair. "Chris was not only a force at inside linebacker this year, he was also our best offensive lineman," coach Tony Monken said. A two-year starter at both positions, Morgan collected all-North Suburban Conference honors this season. Monken called him "one of the hardest hitters in the Prairie Division."

All Area Team 2009
Evan Spencer Vernon Hills

He played on varsity last season as a sophomore, but not like this. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder was one of the North Suburban Conference's top playmakers, a threat to score every time he touched the ball. "Talk about a breakout year," coach Tony Monken said. "Evan started the season with two touchdowns in Week 1 and looked faster and stronger each week." Spencer wound up with 12 TDs, including six rushing and five receiving. He scored on a punt return in the Cougars' first-round playoff game. In the Cougars' division-clinching win over Grant, he rushed for 183 yards on just 10 carries. He led the team in receptions with 28. "Once Evan turned the corner on you, he was gone," Monken said. "Evan never left the field, starting at corner as well, and playing on special teams." Defensively, the all-conference performer had a team-best 6 passes defended and 2 interceptions and was fifth on the team in tackles playing corner.

All Area Team 2009
Andrew Tubek Lakes

YouTube Tubek. You'll find nothing, but it would be appropriate if you found football game video of a kid rushing for lots and lots of yards, even though he might be considered too small to be a big-time player. Yet, at just 5 feet 7, Tubek was huge. The running back rushed for 1,321 yards and 15 touchdowns, as the Eagles secured a playoff berth. The all-conference selection scored a total of 18 TDs, including two on catches and one on a kickoff. "Tubek is one of the toughest players I have ever coached," coach Luke Mertens said. "Although he is not an intimidating presence, he proved to be very dangerous this year. He also proved that you can't measure a football player by his size alone. He is a fierce competitor, a tireless worker, and an even better person."

All Area Team 2009
Mark Weisman Stevenson

Weisman was the workhorse for Stevenson. The Class 8A all-state selection carried the ball dozens of time in games - sometimes more than 30 - and seemed as fresh on his last attempt as he was on his first. "He's just a very durable, physical player," Stevenson coach Bill Mitz said of his fullback. "And he's got this great desire. Every time he gets the ball in his hands, he wants to take it to the house. And that's the way he runs on each carry." Weisman rolled up 1,657 yards this season on 253 carries. He also scored 22 touchdowns and caught 12 passes for 107 yards. And he did all that while also playing linebacker on defense. Weisman finished with 47 tackles. But perhaps Weisman's best number was a big, fat zero. That's how many times he fumbled the ball. Over the last two years. "As a junior and a senior, Mark didn't fumble the ball once, not one time," Mitz said. "That's an amazing stat to me." Weisman will continue to amaze in college; he'll be playing at Air Force next season.

All Area Team 2009
Robby Wilson Lake Zurich

Call Wilson a quick study. "We had him playing strong safety all last season," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. "And this year we moved him to inside linebacker and he did great. In fact, he was an all-conference player there. He just showed us how versatile he is." Wilson also showed off his speed on almost every play. "Robby is deceptively fast," Stortz said. "He's a big kid with really long strides. But he's long and tall and he's able to use that range to cover a lot of field all at once. In a 100-yard sprint, he might be the fastest kid on the team. Robby was also very reliable. From our first game to our last, he was a consistent player. He would show up every night and play well.

All Area Team 2009
James Zotto Libertyville

Offenses facing Libertyville's defense could be sure of seeing one thing: A lot of Zotto. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior defensive back led the Wildcats in tackles with 66, including 39 solos, while also coming up with a team-best 3 interceptions. Offensively, the running back rushed for 371 yards (5.3 per carry) and 4 touchdowns. He also caught 9 passes, including one for a TD, averaging 19.3 yards per reception. A three-year varsity player, he rarely left the field. He's a repeat all-area player and team MVP, and this season he was named a Class 7A all-stater by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. "James was one the most coachable, hardest-working and most-respected players that we have ever had in our program," coach Randy Kuceyeski said. "He was respected not only for his fearless play on the field, but also for his leadership off the field. James was an outstanding role model for both our school and community during his three years on the varsity. It was an honor for me to have coached him in our program over the last three years."

Honorable mention

Eric Andrews (Libertyville Sr. WR), Mike Beckman (Lakes Jr. K/WR), Dan Chutich (Libertyville Sr. DL), Mike Crowley (Stevenson Jr. OT/DE), John Devito (Mundelein Jr. DL), Kevin Earl (Stevenson Jr. QB), David Gahgan (Grant Jr. DL), Brandon Ginter (Antioch Sr. OL), Josh Guadarrama (Antioch Jr. RB), Matt Goad (Warren So. LB), Jack Hartnett (Carmel Sr. OL), Nolan Hebein (Grant Sr. DB), Kevin Hein (Grayslake Central Jr. S/LB), Jon Hoffing (Libertyville Sr. OT), Dan Hourihan (Grant Sr. FB), Brian Kent (Wauconda Jr. QB), Jordan Kos (Carmel So. FB), Kevin Looff (Lake Zurich Sr. P/K), Wills Massie (Lakes Sr. LB), Evan Masters (Stevenson Sr. DB), Tom McGovern (Stevenson Sr. OG/DE), Max Methling (Lake Zurich Sr. K), Leo Minne (Grant Jr. RB/QB), Glenn Mizowek (Grayslake North Sr. RB), Matt Novak (Round Lake Sr. LB), Mike O'Donoghue (Mundelein Sr. DB/FB), Dan Pranczke (Grant Sr. LB), Matt Robinson (Grayslake North Sr. WR), Ross Sauer (Grayslake North Sr. DB), A.J. Schurr (Libertyville Jr. QB/P), Jim Sinclair (Grayslake Central Sr. LB), Taylor Stahl (Warren Sr. DB), Zach Till (Lake Zurich So. DB), Tom Tyrrell (Wauconda Sr. DB), Joey Valdivia (Grayslake Central So. RB/P), Luke Venegoni (Carmel Jr. LB), Zach Kisley (Vernon Hills Sr. WR/K/P)