Illinois High School Football: Defense Leads Lake Forest Scouts Into Class 6A Semifinal

By Andy Schmidt
Andy Schmidt

Friday night’s Illinois Class 6A quarterfinal was the only game on the schedule in the whole state as the Lake Forest Scouts traveled to Niles to face the Niles Notre Dame Dons.

The tenth-seeded Scouts got a dominating defensive effort including six sacks by Trent Williams and a late touchdown run to move into the state semifinals for the first time in school history with a 31-19 victory. Lake Forest will host the semifinal next weekend against the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 4 seed Crystal Lake Central and top-seeded Cary-Grove. It was a game where both teams started slowly before Lake Forest (9-3) got a one-yard touchdown run by Stephen Cirame to take a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play. The Dons (7-5) responded early in the second quarter when Chris James, who finished with 165 yards rushing on 39 carries, scored from two yards out but the extra point was no good and Lake Forest kept a 7-6 lead.

It wasn’t even a minute later when Andrew Clifford found a wide open Nicholas Girodano down the right sideline to put the Scouts ahead 14-6. Girodano scored again four minutes later on a six-yard pass from Clifford and Lake Forest had a 21-6 advantage. Niles Notre Dame wouldn’t be slowed down however and scored on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Dan Nagode to Billy Hirsch to pull the Dons within 21-13 at the half.

After neither team scored in the third quarter, Lake Forest kicker Baylor Broughton hit a 27-yard field goal just 43 seconds into the fourth quarter to put Lake Forest up 11. Niles Notre Dame would march down the field late in the game and got a James two-yard touchdown run but the two-point conversion was no good and the Dons were still down 24-19. Cirame would put the exclamation point on the game though with a 56-yard run down the left sideline with 1:36 to play to give Lake Forest a 31-19 lead. Nagode couldn’t move Niles down the field again with Williams all over him all night and the Scouts were moving on. Cirame finished with 95 yards rushing on 15 carries but the Scouts were outgained by Niles 466-298 for the night including 144 yards receiving on nine catches for Hirsch.

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