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How bright is Lakes’ football future?

Lakes players cheer with their coach Luke Mertens (left) after game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

Lakes players cheer with their coach Luke Mertens (left) after the game. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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The Eagles averaged an incredible 40.8 points per game this season (topped in Lake County only by Grayslake North’s 41.2 ppg), and outscored their six NSC Prairie division opponents 324-59.

The Eagles graduate a host of key defensive players, including DBs Drew Recker, Andrew Spencer, and Levi Haymaker, linebackers Troy Crow and Blake Parsons, and one of the best defensive ends in Lake County in A.J. Goggin. They will also have work to do on an offensive line that will be hit hard by graduation.

What they return is the most dynamic quarterback in Lake County and a supporting cast of quality skill players.

The sophomore team went 9-0 and outscored opponents 302-54.

Senior Direll Clark carried 202 times for 1,527 yards and 21 TDs. He also caught 11 passes for 227 yards and 2 TDs.

Clark finished his career with more than 3,500 yards and 44 touchdowns on the ground.

Junior Cameron Johnson (5-foot-7) carried 38 times for 316 yards (8.3 ypc) and scored three times.

Freshman running back Devyn Cedzidlo, Clark’s half-brother, was dominant running the ball at the sophomore level this year. Between he, Johnson, and quarterback T.J. Edwards, the Eagles should boast one of the strongest backfields in the league against next season.

T.J. Edwards was 76-of-117 passing for 1,795 yards and 19 TDs with 4 picks. He also carried 92 times for 473 yards and 11 TDs.

Edwards set game and season records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and total offense.

Senior receiver Justin Bergeron had 20 receptions for 443 yards 8 TDs.

Senior Andrew Spencer, had 28 receptions for 438 yards 6 TDs.

Junior linebacker Nick Battaglia was given a bigger offensive role midway through the season and proved himself to be a reliable target for Edwards, catching 18 passes for 294 yards and a score.

Battaglia and fellow junior linebacker Mike Brey will likely be two of the team’s leaders on the defensive side of the ball next year as well.

Updated: December 9, 2012 7:20PM

Unless you’re Stevenson High School, success in football at the prep level often is a cyclical thing.

When two classes that each have outstanding athletes, kids with football smarts and big guys to play the line enter a high school in back-to-back years, good things come from it.

Usually, that results in a great two-year run, capped off with league championships and/or playoff success.

So it has gone at Lakes High School in Lake Villa.

In 2011, the high-flying Eagles finished in a three-way tie for the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division title and had playoff success.

And in 2012, the Eagles were championship by themselves in the division and might still be playing playoff football and unbeaten on the season if Lake Forest hadn’t shown up on the schedule twice.

But that said, the great two-year run that has just ended at Lakes isn’t the end of the end.

It’s the end of the beginning.

On paper — and remember, no game has ever been won on paper — it would appear that the Eagles will soar again in 2013 ... perhaps even to heights unmatched by the 2011 and 2012 squads.

Coach Luke Mertens said this about the 2012 senior class, which produced back-to-back division titles and a total of three playoff wins.

“When the dust settles, there’s a lot to be proud of,” said the coach after a near-miss 23-21 playoff loss to Lake Forest. “This was a very successful senior class, really all four years, and they’ve set the bar high for the future teams at Lakes.”

And though several outstanding players are graduating and will be playing on Saturdays next fall instead of Friday nights — running back Direll Clark, defensive lineman A.J. Goggin, and receivers Andrew Spencer and Justin Bergeron among them — the cupboard is ready to be restocked, and the glass isn’t half-full or half-empty.

It’s about to be filled to the brim again.

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