Athlete of the Week
Baker scored six goals last week and was the key player for the Red Raiders during their 3-1 stretch. Baker pushed four goals past Crystal Lake Central in Huntley’s 7-0 win, and he scored two goals against Jacobs, including the decisive goal with three minutes to go.
Skyhawks hang with the best: Johnsburg has a track record of being successful and playing competitively in important games. The Skyhawks have won the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division the past two years, and if they win twice this week they will clinch a tie for the Fox Division title.
To do that however, Johnsburg will face a tough test in Grayslake Central on Thursday. The two squads are undefeated in conference play and will play for sole possession of first place. The Skyhawks welcome the challenge, as they have played tough in big games all season.
“We’re playing really well right now and unlucky not to win some of those big games,” Johnsburg coach Rob Eastland said. The Skyhawks tied against Dundee-Crown and Cary-Grove, the top two teams in the area. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting that ball in the net.”
Eastland credited his defense for keeping the team in so many important games.
“In all fairness our defense has been great,” Eastland said. “And when our guys take care of their job in back, we play an aggressive attack style and very up-tempo and our big front three are all over 10 goals.
“The thing with our conference is you have to take every game seriously, and one mistake you could be down. It gets intense at the end of the year,” Eastland said. “It will be a really good game with Grayslake Central, and I’ve always had a lot of respect with the way they play the game.”
Homecoming: Huntley has played on the road for most of the season, and with three games against division rivals and leaders to come, Red Raiders coach Kris Grabner knows how important it is to play those final three games at home, especially with hopes of playing deep into the playoffs.
“It’s actually pretty exciting to play some home games,” Grabner said. “We try to put a positive spin on the away games to get us ready for the playoffs since they will all be away, but to finish up with a few at home, there are less things to worry about such as getting food and buses.”
Huntley has been a team that no one has wanted to play of late. They have a dynamic center midfielder in Lucas Baker who can change the aspect of a game with his unreleting hustle.
The Red Raiders have put pressure on opposing defenses with the way he is able to stretch the field.
“He’s been amazing all year,” Grabner said. “We pretty much play him up by himself, and he’s brought a ton of offense for us aggressiveness to our team.”
Huntley will face McHenry, Prairie Ridge and Grayslake Central to finish up the season and is looking for a strong finish as Grabner and the Red Raiders eye a strong performance at regionals.
This week’s top meets
Dundee-Crown at Cary-Grove
6:30 p.m. today
D-C will travel into hostile territory as the Chargers will face an undefeated Trojans team on the road. Both the Chargers and Trojans are 3-0 in the FVC Valley Division and will face off for sole possession of first place.
Grayslake Central at Johnsburg
4:30 p.m. Thursday
Both teams should still be tied heading into Thursday’s FVC Fox Division matchup and the two squads are tied atop the division with one week of regular season play left. Look for this game to be hard fought from both sides as Johnsburg’s high-scoring offense will clash with the Ram’s tough, grinding style.
– Patrick Mason