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Lake Forest's Baylor Broughton (left) celebrates with Regis Durbin after he kicked what turned out to be the winning field goal late in the fourth quarter. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
At this point in the game — the semifinal round of the playoffs — there are no easy victories for any of the 32 high school football teams that will be in action this weekend in the state tournament.
But that said, there is a type of opponent that gives a team a better or worse chance of semifinal-round success — with success being defined as a victory and a berth in the state finals at the University of Illinois on Thanksgiving weekend.
For Lake Forest, that type of team — a preferred opponent, if you will — closely resembles what Scout fans saw last week in the quarterfinals, when Lake Forest shut down a run-oriented Notre Dame team and posted a convincing 31-19 victory.
The No. 1 thing on the list of things Lake Forest’s football team does very well is stopping the run.
Nobody runs on the Scouts. Last week, Notre Dame star Chris James took his best shot and was stymied, and a Scout victory was the result.
Cary-Grove’s offense is a primarily ground-based attack as well. Granted, Cary-Grove (12-0) doesn’t run the same offense as Notre Dame — the Trojans run option and the quarterback gets carries.
Still, the bottom line is this:
Nobody runs on Lake Forest’s defense.
That defense obviously will be tested by a Cary-Grove team that is averaging 35 points per game.
The runner doing most of the work for the Trojans is fullback Kyle Norberg. The senior has gained 1,907 yards in 12 games this fall and scored 23 touchdowns.
He had 132 yards on 32 carries last week in a 7-0 playoff win over a Crystal Lake Central team that Lake Forest likely would beat by 20 points.
Also last week, halfback Ryan Mahoney carried 10 times for 81 yards and quarterback Quinn Baker carried 17 times for 47 yards.
That adds up to 59 running plays in the game, which is pretty much all of the Trojans’ offense.
In the win over CL Central, the Trojans fumbled the ball away three times in the fourth quarter, but their defense rose to the occasion to preserve the shutout.
It won’t be easy for Lake Forest to score.
But the reality is this: Lake Forest has enough offensive firepower to score enough points on the ground and through the air to earn a first-ever trip to the state finals.