No. 5 Stevenson (8-2) at No. 4 Glenbard North (9-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Stevenson def. Warren, 26-13; Glenbard North def. Fremd, 31-24.
Stevenson playoff history: The Patriots are making their 24th straight playoff appearance, dating back to 1989. Their best finish came in 2002 when they lost in the Class 8A state title game to Lockport, 35-14. The last two years the Patriots have advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals. Last year, they were eliminated by Glenbard North, 28-0.
Glenbard North playoff history: The Panthers are making their 10th straight playoff appearance. Their furthest advancement has been to the semifinals in 1991, 2000 and 2007. Last year, they lost to Loyola in the Class 8A semifinals (28-13) after defeating Stevenson in the quarterfinals, 28-0.
Skinny: It's a familiar trip for Stevenson. The Patriots are just hoping the ride home is a bit more pleasant. Last year, Stevenson traveled to Glenbard North for a quarterfinal game, but came out on the losing side, 28-0. "Our kids are excited to get another chance at Glenbard North," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "Both teams are a little different and half our guys weren't on the varsity last year. But the guys who were remember that game and there has been a high intensity around our team this week. We know that there will be a great atmosphere around the game, just like there was last year. We're really looking forward to it."…Last year, Glenbard North shut out Stevenson, but that might be harder to do this time. The Patriots are averaging nearly 29 points per game and boast one of the most potent passing attacks in the area. Quarterback Willie Bourbon is coming off a first-round game in which he completed 23-of-32 passes for 244 yards. His top targets are Alan Velev, Antony Bozin, Matt Morrissey and Cameron Green. Green had 2 touchdown receptions last week and Bozin, a hybrid runner and receiver, rushed for 2 touchdowns and caught 10 passes. "Willie is like a point guard on a basketball team," McNamara said. "His job is to distribute the ball and get people involved and he does that so well. He's got a lot of options to go to on this team."…Glenbard North's top option is running back Justin Jackson, a junior who is already getting multiple major Division I looks. He is coming off a monster performance against Fremd in which he rolled up 186 yards and 3 touchdowns on 33 carries. In a Week 2 win (31-16) against Carmel in Mundelein, Jackson gained 166 yards on 27 carries. He also scored 3 touchdowns. "He is a heck of a runner," McNamara said of Jackson. "He's athletic and has good speed and vision. We're going to have to close holes quickly and gang tackle."
Advancement: Winner moves ahead to the quarterfinals and plays the winner of No. 6 Conant at No. 1 Maine South.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw
No. 6 Lake Zurich (8-2) at No. 3 Rockton Hononegah (9-1)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Lake Zurich def. Crystal Lake South, 49-0; Rockton Hononegah def. Willowbrook, 39-16.
Lake Zurich playoff history: The Bears are making their 11th straight playoff appearance. Their best finish came in 2007 when they won the Class 7A state title by defeating Wheaton Warrenville South, 7-3. Last year, the Bears lost in the Class 7A semifinals to Rockford Boylan, 16-10.
Rockton Hononegah playoff history: The Indians are making their sixth straight playoff appearance and their ninth in the last 11 years. Their best finish came in 1985 when they finished second in the Class 4A playoffs, losing to Washington in the title game, 28-12. Last year, they lost to Machesney Park Harlem in the first round, 41-31.
Skinny: The Lake Zurich defense is coming off its sixth shutout of the year and is allowing a meager 5.1 points per game. But the Bears won't be taking anything for granted when the Hononegah offense takes the field. "Any time you're facing a team that has so many players who can take it to the house on you at any given moment, it's always a concern. You can't just zero in on one or two guys," Lake Zurich coach David Proffitt said. "This is primarily a running offense, but it's also a big-play offense that is capable of going the distance on any play."…The Indians are led by running back Alex Martin, quarterback Joey Welsh and fullback Marrick Protz. Wingback Jake Wilson also gets in on the action and is a trusty receiver that Welsh goes to occasionally in order to keep defenses honest. "Last week, Willowbrook put eight or nine guys in the box to stop Hononegah's run," Proffitt said. "And Hononegah threw for some big gains and a touchdown. You must defend the run game first against this team, but not to the point where you are sacrificing the pass game because they can hurt you there, too."…Lake Zurich put the hurt on Crystal Lake South last week with its punishing running game. The Bears got a school-record-tying 5 touchdowns from running back Connor Schrader. "Sometimes you get in games where everything just gets rolling and everything is working," Proffitt said. "A lot was working for us and we were able to keep the pedal to the metal." The Bears also blocked a punt against South and held defensively when South had four chances to score inside the 10-yard line. Overall, South had just 5 first downs and only 141 yards of total offense. "The blocked punt and that (defensive) stand really helped us take control," Proffitt said. "Our offense also helped us defensively because they controlled the ball so well and kept South's offense off the field. We're going to need to be able to do that again this week."
Advancement: Winner moves ahead to the quarterfinals and plays the winner of No. 7 Fenwick at No. 2 Rockford Boylan.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw
No. 1 Glenbard West (10-0) at No. 9 Libertyville (8-2)
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Glenbard West def. Elk Grove, 49-21; Libertyville def. Machesney Park Harlem, 48-28.
Glenbard West playoff history: The Hilltoppers are making their sixth straight playoff appearance. Their best finish was in 1983 when they won the Class 5A state title. They've also finished second in 1976 and 2009. Last year, the Hilltopppers lost in the second round to Lake Zurich, 10-3.
Libertyville playoff history: The Wildcats are making their 16th playoff appearance in the last 20 years. Their best finish was in 2004 when they won the 2004 Class 7A state title by defeating Cary-Grove 13-3 in the title game. Last year, the Wildcats lost to Rockford Boylan in the first round, 40-0.
Skinny: Glenbard West has ranked among the top teams in the state all season, not that Libertyville has spent much time keeping track. "Honestly, we worry more at this point in the season about what we're doing and how we're playing," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "We just know that we're in for a big challenge because (Glenbard West) is solid on both sides. They've got really good offensive and defensive linemen and that can make a big difference in the way you play." One defensive lineman for Glenbard West, senior Ruben Dunbar (6-foot-3, 255 pounds), is being recruited by all kinds of major Division I colleges. Ditto for senior wide receiver Nathan Marcus, who has made a name for himself in spite of the fact that Glenbard West is more of a running team. Senior Joe Zito and junior Scott Andrews are the other leaders of the offense and get a lot of carries out of the back field. "They run the Wing-T like we do, but they don't pass it as much as we do," Jones said. "They are more of a power team. They can really run it down your throat. Some of their best athletes are big, strong kids."… Jones is looking for top-notch performances out of some of his biggest and strongest kids: his offensive linemen. The Wildcats have become a dangerous passing team thanks to quarterback Jack Deichl and receivers Austin Williams, Justin Guarnaccio and running backs like Conor Simpson who are also reliable receiving options. Deichl completed 12-of-25 passes for 226 yards last week. "When we are able to protect our quarterback, we are tough to cover," Jones said. "Our offensive line has played very well lately and I think that gives our entire offense a lot of confidence."
Advancement: Winner moves ahead to the quarterfinals and plays the winner of No. 5 Wheaton North at No. 13 Prospect.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw
No. 2 Lakes (9-1) at No. 10 Lake Forest (7-3)
Where: At Lake Forest's West Campus, corner of Route 60 and Route 43.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last week: Lakes def. St. Viator, 35-21; Lake Forest def. Rolling Meadows, 42-24.
Lakes playoff history: The Eagles are making their fourth straight playoff appearance and fifth overall in the eight-year history of the school. Last year, they lost in the Class 6A quarterfinals to Batavia, 42-0. It was their furthest advancement in the postseason.
Lake Forest playoff history: The Scouts are making their sixth playoff appearance in the last seven years. Their furthest advancement has been to the quarterfinals in 1978, 1987, 1989, 1992 and 1993. Last year, the Scouts lost in the second round to Batavia, 31-17.
Skinny: Moments after his team wrapped up its first-round victory over St. Viator last week, Lakes coach Luke Mertens talked to his team about second chances, and how it's not often in life that one gets them. He was talking about Lake Forest, the only team that has defeated Lakes this year. As they formed their post-game huddle, the Eagles were informed that Lake Forest would be their second-round opponent. "There's a lot of excitement in the air about this game," Mertens said. "Obviously, our kids were very upset after the first game we played (against Lake Forest), but I stressed to them at the time that that wasn't our season, and they responded really well and moved on. But, now that we have a second chance, I think they are pretty excited to beat Lake Forest this time."… The last game between these two teams was a nailbiter. The Scouts prevailed in the Week 3 North Suburban crossover by scoring in the final four minutes of the game. "They scored the last touchdown on a long touchdown pass," Mertens said. "They were able to make the big plays they needed and we weren't. There are definitely some things we've been trying to improve on since then." The Eagles missed converting on a crucial fourth-and-1 that would have extended a drive in the finals minutes and they also had some near misses on a couple of attempts at interceptions. "Their quarterback (Andrew Clifford) is a great player and he made some really good decisions against us," Mertens said. "He can get the ball out of his hands quickly. I thought he hurt us last time." Clifford's main target is Alexander Moore and the Scouts' top running back is Stephen Cirame. "Lake Forest passes more than most teams we play through the regular season, but they are still a very well-balanced offense," Mertens said…The Eagles will look to return to the offensive balance they maintained for much of the regular season with the passing of T.J. Edwards, the receiving of Andrew Spencer and the running of Direll Clark. Against St. Viator, though, Clark took over. He gained 242 yards on 35 carries as his number was called repeatedly. "We felt like that would be open against St. Viator," Mertens said. "But our run game won't be able to sneak up on Lake Forest. We're going to have to be much more balanced."
Advancement: Winner moves ahead to the quarterfinals and gets the winner of No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 11 Chicago Steinmetz.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw
No. 5 Grant (8-2) at No. 4 Crystal Lake Central (8-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last week: Grant def. Lake View, 59-0; Crystal Lake Central def. Hyde Park, 49-7.
Grant playoff history: The Bulldogs are making their seventh playoff appearance in the last eight years, with their furthest advancement coming in 2008 when they lost in the Class 6A quarterfinals to Lemont, 35-14. Last year, they lost in the second round to Lakes, 38-7.
Crystal Lake Central playoff history: The Tigers are making their fifth straight playoff appearance and their sixth in the last seven years. They have never advanced past the second round. Last year, the Tigers lost in the first round to Cary-Grove 17-7.
Skinny: The most current read that Grant and Crystal Lake Central have gotten on each other might not be all that revealing. After all, both teams won their first-round games in blowouts. "When a game is so one-sided like that, it's hard to tell much," Grant coach Kurt Rous said. "But the one thing we know is that it's going to be a much different game for both teams this week. We know that Crystal Lake Central is a very good team and runs the ball really well and uses that to set up their passing game." Central running back Matt MacAlpine got most of the carries last week despite being in the lineup for the first time in weeks. He missed a bulk of the season due to injury, but scored 3 touchdowns against Hyde Park. Quarterback Kyle Lavand is also a threat to tuck the ball and run. He ran for a touchdown and also passed for one. "They run a form of the triple option," Rous said of Central. "Their quarterback manages the game really well for them. He is very athletic and makes good decisions."…At Grant, the quarterback situation continues to be interesting. Because of a rash of injuries, the Bulldogs are starting their fourth-string quarterback, Jason Bach, who began the season behind starter Kyle Whitman, back-up Jake Bychowski and second back-up Jonathan Wells, normally the team's starting running back. All three of those players have been lost to injuries. The bright side is that Bach did pass for a 75-yard touchdown to Keion Miller and managed an efficient offensive attack last week that rolled up 384 yards between back-up running backs Kris Smith, Andy Cacchione, Jeremy Bredwood and Taylor Zielinski. "We just have to remember what we can do and what we can't do out there," Rous said. "Our strategy is to control the ball as much as we can, get some good blocking for our running backs and then rely heavily on our defense to make stops."
Advancement: Winner moves ahead to the quarterfinals and gets the winner of No. 8 St. Patrick at No. 1 Cary-Grove.
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw