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Neuqua Valley's Tim Fields runs onto the field before a game at against Naperville North. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
NO. 4 WAUBONSIE VALLEY (10-1) at NO. 1 NEUQUA VALLEY (11-0), Saturday, 6 p.m.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday. on HighSchoolCube.com.
Outlook: It’s Round 2 for these district rivals, who met before an overflow crowd at North Central College in Week 7 with Neuqua winning 35-34 in double OT when Waubonsie’s two-point conversion try came up short. Both teams have clock-eating ground games led by Joey Rhattigan (234 carries, 1,855 yards, 30 touchdowns) of No. 6 Neuqua (11-0) and Austin Guido (292 carries, 2,236 yards, 30 TDs) of No. 9 Waubonsie (10-1). Don’t overlook the QBs, either; Neuqua’s Dylan Andrew and Waubonsie’s Dylan Warden are capable of burning defenses too focused on the run.
NO. 4 GLENBARD NORTH (10-1) at NO. 1 MAINE SOUTH (11-0)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: No. 3 Maine South (11-0) has stayed on course this season thanks to the playmaking ability of QB Matt Alviti. The Northwestern recruit has accounted for 31 touchdowns passing and rushing and has not been intercepted all year. No. 8 Glenbard North (10-1) has won 10 straight since a 42-41 loss to Batavia in Week 1. Two-way standout Justin Jackson has run for more than 400 yards and six touchdowns in the playoffs, including a Class 7A-record 47 carries for 206 yards and three scores vs. Stevenson last week.
NO. 3 MOUNT CARMEL (10-1) at NO. 15 LYONS (7-4)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: With two-way star Matt Harris and QB Zach Mahoney healthy, No. 15 Lyons (7-4) has won five in a row, including road playoff wins over Marist and O’Fallon. Up next is No. 2 Mount Carmel (10-1), which ousted Lyons in this round two years ago. The Caravan is coming off a 41-6 win over Simeon and has given up 15 points in five games since losing to Loyola in double OT. Junior DL Enoch Smith (18 tackles for loss) has offers from Notre Dame among others, while Vince Speller (164 receiving yards, two TDs; seven tackles for loss) is a playmaker on both sides of the ball.
NO. 5 WHEATON NORTH (10-1) at NO. 1 GLENBARD WEST (11-0)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Outlook: This west suburban showdown will be missing one of its marquee players after Wheaton North QB Clayton Thorson suffered a broken collarbone in last week’s 14-7 win over Prospect. The No. 12 Falcons still have QB John Peltz, a capable RB in Patrick Sharp and a stout defense. No. 1 Glenbard West has been dominant behind a potent offense that features multiple playmakers (RBs Scott Andrews and Joe Zito, TE Nathan Marcus) and a takeaway-minded defense featuring DE Ruben Dunbar.
NO. 2 EDWARDSVILLE (10-1) at NO. 1 LINCOLN-WAY EAST (11-0)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Edwardsville 21, East St. Louis 18; Lincoln-Way East 24, Providence 14
Next week: Lincoln-Way East would travel to Benet or to Downers Grove North.
The breakdown: Edwardsville finished 6-1 in the Southwestern Conference, losing only to East St. Louis 14-7 in Week 3. The Tigers gained their revenge last week. RB Bennett Gray rushed for 90 yards on 19 carries and has totaled 1,006 yards. Before this season, he had not played football for a few years. He’s a track star, finishing third in the 100 in the Class 3A state meet last spring. QB Will Collins is 87-of-162 passing for 1,380 yards. East counters with QB Tom Fuessel, who has rushed for 1,126 yards and passed for 895, and RB Nick Colangelo (110, 793), who gained 164 vs. Providence. East opened the 2010 and ’11 seasons with wins over Edwardsville of 37-14 and 45-14, respectively, but this is a better Tigers team.
NO. 3 LEMONT (10-1) at NO. 1 OAK FOREST (10-1)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Lemont 23, Richards 19; Oak Forest 69, Shepard 29
Next week: Lemont would host Ottawa or Crete-Monee.
The breakdown: The two South Suburban Blue adversaries joined T.F. South in a three-way tie for the conference championship. Lemont beat Oak Forest 17-14 in Week 5 on Joe Hehir’s last-second 27-yard field goal, his third field goal of the night. Indians RB Chris Giatras, the area rushing leader, gained 149 yards on 27 carries. For the season, he has 1,345 yards on 190 carries. The Indians are in the quarterfinals for a sixth straight year. To get there, they had to rally from a 13-0 first-quarter deficit to overcome Richards last week. Oak Forest piled up 362 rushing yards in the first 24 minutes against Shepard and finished with 602 total yards.
NO. 2 OTTAWA (11-0) at NO. 1 CRETE-MONEE (11-0)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Ottawa 21, Rock Island 20; Crete-Monee 35, Richwoods 32
Up next: Crete-Monee would travel to Lemont or host Oak Forest.
The breakdown: The Warriors are facing an Ottawa team likely still on Cloud Nine after rallying from a 20-0 halftime deficit to beat Rock Island. Crete-Monee must keep an eye on RB Michael Hermosillo, a major threat to run and catch the ball out of the backfield. J.D. Bryant is a two-way force for the Pirates, in the backfield and secondary. QB Will Hoffman can throw the ball effectively, though the Pirates prefer to run. Crete-Monee overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit in the second round. QB Marcus Terrell (181-of-265, 2,672, 34) likely will come out slinging, focusing on WRs Laquon Treadwell (62, 1,147, 13) and Lance Lenoir (48, 877, 13). The Warriors can’t afford another sloppy effort.
NO. 12 JOLIET CATHOLIC (7-4) at NO. 9 LINCOLN-WAY WEST (8-3)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Joliet Catholic 42, Tinley Park 21; Lincoln-Way West 31, Kaneland 15
Next week: Joliet Catholic would host Montini or Marian Central. Lincoln-Way West would host Marian Central or travel to Montini.
The breakdown: Joliet Catholic’s balanced, potent offense will present the most difficult challenge yet for a West defense that has not allowed any opponent to score as many as 20 points. The oft-injured Hilltoppers, healthy during the playoffs, feature RBs Ty Isaac (122, 1,043), Mike Ivlow (123, 808) and Tyler Reitz (120, 805), QB Craig Slowik (73-of-150 passing, area-leading 1,403 yards), and two of the area receiving leaders in Chris Tschida (27, 522) and Jordan Jones (23, 449). West QB Justin Keuch (89-of-180, 1,079 yards) and WR Adam Slattery (35-466) are an effective combination, and RB Javier Montalvo has rushed for 901 yards, a majority during the Warriors’ five-game winning streak. West is in the quarterfinals for the first time.
NO. 2 MORRIS (10-1) at NO. 5 WASHINGTON (9-3)
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Morris 65, Urbana 20; Washington 30, Normal University 6
Next week: Morris would host Sacred Heart-Griffin or travel to Chatham Glenwood.
The breakdown: Morris RB Reese Sobol gained 321 yards on 22 carries and scored four TDs against Urbana. The Redskins rushed for 419 yards, and Indiana-bound DE Danny Friend keyed the defensive effort, returning an interception 37 yards for a score and recording one of Morris’ seven sacks. Washington is led by LB/FB Chris Friend and QB/S Luke Ludolph. Chris Friend is the tackle leader and Ludolph is a threat throwing and running. WR Brent Brown moved to running back in midseason and has been productive. The Panthers lost to Pekin 20-14 in Week 5 and to Metamora 40-0 in a mistake-filled Week 8 match-up, when they were without five starters. Washington beat Metamora 19-14 in Round 1.
NO. 5 BROOKS (8-2) at NO. 7 EVERGREEN PARK (8-3)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Brooks 49, VOISE Academy 12; Evergreen Park 34, Richmond-Burton 27
Up next: Evergreen Park would travel to either Alleman or Coal City.
The breakdown: Evergreen Park will have to contend with a Brooks team loaded with speed. RBs Joshua Smith and Cleveland Clark and QB Ahmad Bradshaw are dangerous on the edge. The Mustangs would be wise to bottle that trio up in the middle, or better yet, make Brooks have to go to the air. Evergreen Park QB Brandon White (1,406 yards passing; 791 rushing) is playing his best ball of the season, contributing with his legs and arm. If the Mustangs can remain balanced on offense and get WRs Jacquet McClendon (23, 521, 6) and Mike Reuter (34, 471, 9) involved, a first-ever trip to the semifinals should be in the making.
NO. 1 ALLEMAN (10-1) at NO. 2 COAL CITY (10-1)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Alleman 42, Stillman Valley 7; Coal City 12, Geneseo 10
Next week: Coal City would travel to Brooks or to Evergreen Park.
The breakdown: All signs point to a defensive struggle. Alleman, which lost only to Rock Island 10-7 in Week 6 and is accustomed to playing larger schools as a member of the Western Big 6, allows 8.7 points per game. Coal City yields 9.1. Coalers special teams did the trick against Geneseo as Ryland Tondini returned one punt 46 yards for a touchdown and another 41 yards to set up Lane Cowherd’s second field goal, the game-winner. Alleman RB Adam Hoogerwerf rushed 20 times for 132 yards and led the way defensively with six tackles, two for loss, and an interception vs. Stillman Valley. The Pioneers led 14-7 at halftime and dominated the second half. Alleman beat Manteno 49-26 in Round 1 and Coal City edged Manteno 9-6 in Week 3.
No. 9 WINNEBAGO (9-2) at No. 4 AURORA CHRISTIAN (10-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.
Last week: Winnebago 56, Elmwood-Brimfield 20; Aurora Christian 28, Immaculate Conception 21.
Advancement: Winner plays Wilmington-Sterling Newman winner in semifinal.
Outlook: This is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal the Eagles won 48-13 on their way to capturing the state title. Aurora Christian has a high-powered offense that features good balance with the passing of QB Ryan McQuade and a running game powered by Joel Bouagnon (1,052 yards) and Brandon Mayes (639), who are all seniors. McQuade has thrown for 2,543 yards and 37 TDs while the Eagles have run for 2,168 yards. Winnebago easily handled an undefeated No. 1 seed last week and relies heavily on its ground game which has accounted for more than twice as many yards as its passing game. Five capable backs will carry the ball. Junior QB Ryan Swigart has thrown for 1,044 yards with 14 TDs and just three interceptions.
Band on the run: Fred Mosby leads the Indians with 691 yards rushing, but Jake Hickey has 542, Michael Pate 423, Tay Shanklin 328 and Sean Ward 293.
Air force: Chad Beebe leads the Eagles with 49 catches for 825 yards, Cory Windle has 40 (715 yards) and Ryan Suttle (334 yards) and Brandon Mayes (365 yards) each have 25.
The quote: “I’ve always believed in rotating the ball and don’t pound it with just one kid. … At this time of year, that pays off because your (backs) aren’t likely to be beat up. (First-year QB starter) Ryan Swigart has played real well. His completion percentage is up there and his TD-interception ratio is remarkable. We don’t throw a lot, but when we do, we’ve been effective.”
— Mark Helm, Winnebago coach
Quote II: “This is probably the best defense we’ve had. It’s a combination of things, probably the best defensive line as well as our best linebacker and backfield groups. There’s a combination with speed, aggressiveness and strength. They’re just good and they expect to make plays. We’ve been able to open up the playbook, too.”
— Dave Beebe, Aurora Christian defensive coordinator
NO. 2 STERLING NEWMAN (11-0) at NO. 11 WILMINGTON (9-2)
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Newman 26, Monmouth-Roseville 14; Wilmington 48, St. Joseph-Ogden 8
Next week: Wilmington would travel to Aurora Christian or to Winnebago.
The breakdown: Newman was champion of the Big Rivers Conference and has been highly regarded all season. But the Comets generally have not faced the size of competition Wilmington has. In addition, the Wildcats are coming off a thrashing of visiting St. Joseph-Ogden in which they led 41-0 at halftime, prompting coach Jeff Reents to comment, “That’s as good of a half of playoff football as I’ve seen.” RBs Mike Wolfe and Chris Tworek combined for 259 yards and six TDs, and the defense allowed 13 yards in the first half. Newman’s Nick Rude rushed for 179 yards on 29 carries and Brian Bahrs contributed some tough yardage as the Comets ground out a physical victory over Monmouth-Roseville.