By Kevin Schmit and David Oberhelman
No. 4 Aurora Christian (9-1) at No. 12 Immaculate Conception (7-3)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Aurora Christian 49, No. 13 Raby 12; Immaculate Conception 59, No. 5 North Boone 34.
Outlook: Neither IC coach Bill Krefft nor Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe expects a repeat of AC's Week 7 47-20 win. One difference is the game is on IC's grass field rather than the Eagles' turf. Both teams also returned impact receivers last week -- AC's Northern Illinois-bound Chad Beebe (Don's son) and IC's Tim Hipskind, whose 3 catches against North Boone all went for touchdowns. Knights linebacker Joe Iavarone also missed most of Week 7. The oft-injured senior will "even up the odds" in the box, Krefft said, when the spread-offense Eagles hand off to Brandon Mayes or 224-pound Joel Bouagnon. Iavarone solidifies a 4-3 defense whose chemistry has improved, and it'll really have to jell against the defending 3A champions who use the entire field. Whether Aurora Christian sticks with its 3-5 defense or fills the box will decide if IC goes with a heavy diet of option runs to Danny D'Angelo and Sam Antes or quarterback Demetrius Carr unleashes his big arm.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Elmwood-Brimfield (10-0) and No. 9 Winnebago (8-2).
No. 6 Sycamore (7-3) at No. 3 Montini (8-2)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Sycamore 35, No. 11 King 13; Montini 54, No. 14 Bremen 13.
Outlook: There will be few surprises for either team since they've met in the postseason three times since 2007, Montini winning each time. The three-time defending 5A champs will target Sycamore's offensive trio of running back Austin Culton, receiver Ben Niemann and quarterback Devin Mottet. Out of multiple sets Culton ran for a reported 183 yards and 4 touchdowns against King, but his output against Kaneland -- 76 yards, 1 TD -- seems more realistic against a flying, physical Broncos defense. Last week linebacker Mike Maduko and the 4-3 set held 1,100-yard rusher Devonta Wilson to 7 yards on 10 carries. Two early interceptions against Bremen, one returned for a score, led Montini to stress the run with Joey Borsellino, Mark Gorogianis and Dimitri Taylor. Kaneland sent two players over 100 yards rushing against Sycamore. But Montini coach Chris Andriano noted his Broncos will need Alex Wills' passing arm as well. "Our motto now is whatever it takes," he said.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 2 Marian Central (10-0) and No. 7 Woodstock North (7-3).
No. 1 Glenbard West (10-0) at No. 9 Libertyville (8-2) Class 7A
Game time: 3 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Glenbard West 49, No. 16 Elk Grove 21; Libertyville 48, No. 8 Machesney Park Harlem 28.
Outlook: This is the first playoff meeting between two programs steeped in 7A success. Glenbard West overcame 4 turnovers and 80 yards in penalties to pull away from Elk Grove, but don't expect similar miscues against Libertyville. The Hilltoppers again will throw running backs Joe Zito, Scott Andrews and Devante Toney at Libertyville's defense that allowed nearly 300 rushing yards to Harlem. Quarterback Henry Haeffner will mix it up with passes to Nathan Marcus and Luke Domask. Although Libertyville rushed for nearly 200 yards last week, the Wildcats prefer to throw it with 6-foot-5, 225-pound quarterback Jack Deichl being a prototypical pocket passer. Libertyville's line does a nice job protecting Deichl, but Glenbard West defensive lineman Ruben Dunbar and offensive starters Marcus and Nick Garland will bring a ton of pressure. Deichl also needs to be wary of ball hawks like Hilltoppers defensive backs Joe Marconi and Hayden Carlson.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 13 Prospect (7-3) and No. 5 Wheaton North (9-1).
No. 5 Wheaton North (9-1) at No. 13 Prospect (7-3)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Wheaton North 41, No. 12 St. Charles East 13; Prospect 35, No. 4 Glenbrook North 14.
Outlook: A rematch of Wheaton North's 2009 second-round victory over the Knights, the Falcons are coming off perhaps their best effort of the season. Quarterback Johnny Peltz, who threw for 222 yards in a half of action last week, continues to take the majority of snaps while fellow quarterback Clayton Thorson remains a prominent receiver with Matt Biegalski and others. Among Prospect's two-way starters are a pair of defensive linemen. Andrew Hajek, a defensive leader, is also a top target for quarterback Devin O'Hara, who is always a threat to burst out of the backfield on a keeper. The Knights remain run first with running back Jack Tuttle, who rushed for 160 yards last week. The spread, no-huddle gun offense features several different looks. Wheaton North's defensive front headed by Jonathan Chapman has been a strength all season. Linebacker Luke Sahly is another strong run blocker for a unit that allowed only 3 first downs and minus-3 rushing yards to St. Charles East.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Glenbard West (10-0) and No. 9 Libertyville (8-2).
No. 8 Downers Grove North (6-4) at No. 5 Thornton (8-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Downers Grove North 38, No. 1 Batavia 26; Thornton 23, No. 4 Thornton Fractional South 21.
Outlook: Mission accomplished last week for Downers North, which utilized its tough West Suburban Silver pedigree to upset top-seeded Batavia by plowing for more than 300 rushing yards. Brandon Salter led the way with 230 yards on 20 carries. Thornton has been prone to surrendering ground yardage, evidenced by Naperville North's 400-yard rushing effort against the Wildcats in Week 2. Downers North sophomore quarterback David Edwards only attempts a few passes a game, but he made them count against Batavia with receiver Richard Olekanma. Thornton's standout secondary, featuring Vanderbilt recruit Jalen Banks, probably won't be tested much, however. Offensively, the Wildcats are led by quarterback JoWahn Brown, who last week threw his 27th touchdown of the season and has nearly 2,000 passing yards. The Trojans answer with defensive back Stephen Kanis, who last week intercepted 2 passes against an offense that attempted 29 passes.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 2 Benet (9-1) and No. 3 Oswego (9-1).
No. 3 Oswego (9-1) at No. 2 Benet (9-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Last week: Benet 24, No. 7 Andrew 10; Oswego 28, No. 6 Plainfield North 21.
Outlook: Fresh of its first playoff win since 2006, Benet seeks its first quarterfinal berth since 2003. The Redwings overcame multiple mistakes to beat Andrew, including turnovers they can't afford to commit again. Oswego's power running game will attempt to foil Benet's big-play offense. Look for the Panthers to attempt to extend drives, eat clock and shorten the game with running backs Mickeel Stewart, who has rushed for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns, Bryce Holm and Jordan Noel. Even with 2,400 rushing yards this season, Oswego also boasts a strong receiver in Jack Kwiatkowski. Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi has thrown for 1,923 yards and is closing in on the program record for passing yards in a season. Receiver Jack Euritt's 43 catches have him close to the mark for season receptions. Porter Ontko and Nick McTarnaghan have helped add 1,300 rushing yards on the season. Oswego's quarterback pressure is a concern for the Redwings.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 8 Downers Grove North (6-4) and No. 5 Thornton (8-2).
No. 5 Stevenson (8-2) at No. 4 Glenbard North (9-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Stevenson 26, No. 12 Warren 13; Glenbard North 31, No. 13 Fremd 24.
Outlook: Glenbard North blanked Stevenson in last year's quarterfinals, setting up an interesting rematch in Carol Stream. The Pats lean on sophomore quarterback Willie Bourbon, and he's got plenty of targets in a vertical passing attack. Twenty-two hundred passing yards are spread among receivers Anthony Bozin, Matt Morrissey, Alan Velev and Cameron Green. Morrissey, Velev and Green each stand at least 6-foot-3, so Glenbard North will lean on running back Justin Jackson and quarterback Matt Murphy in the secondary. Another key for the Panthers is the health of DuPage Valley Conference defensive player of the year Mario Rodriguez. Big plays last week from Jackson, who rushed for 185 yards, included a 56-yard scoring run, a 61-yard touchdown catch and a long kick return. Combined with a long punt return from Rodriguez and a 37-yard field goal by Hector Ortiz, it was a great night for special teams. A win puts the Panthers in the quarters for the fourth time in six years.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Maine South (10-0) and No. 8 Conant (7-3).
No. 1 Neuqua Valley (10-0) at No. 9 Bolingbrook (8-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
Last week: Neuqua Valley 56, No. 16 Naperville North 20; Bolingbrook 39, No. 8 Sandburg 7.
Outlook: The buzz mainly concerns whether all-state and Illinois-bound Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey will return from knee injury to head the defending 8A champions' triple-option offense. Opinions ranged from a Twitterverse comment of "95 percent" go to Raiders coach John Ivlow's reported "wouldn't expect" it to Neuqua coach Bill Ellinghaus' "all indications are that he's going to be back." Regardless, with sophomore Quincy Woods scoring 3 touchdowns and the Raiders' aggressive 4-3 defense scoring twice itself against Sandburg, Bolingbrook is an extremely dangerous No. 9 seed. Neuqua Valley, bounced by Bolingbrook 33-14 in the first round last year and in the second round in 2005, will seek balance and take what a defense allows, as Ellinghaus said. Against Naperville North it was Joey Rhattigan running for 228 yards and 4 TDs and quarterback Dylan Andrew throwing 3 touchdowns on 10 of 13 passing, including Reggie Ervin's first TD catch of the year.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (9-1) and No. 12 Oak Park (7-3).
No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (9-1) at No. 12 Oak Park (7-3)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Waubonsie Valley 38, No. 13 Proviso West 6; Oak Park 28, No. 5 Hinsdale Central 24.
Outlook: Downers Grove's Class 7A win over No. 1 Batavia indicates the strength of Oak Park's West Suburban Silver. Slippery back Jakari Cammon, with more than 1,500 rushing yards on stretch plays and option handoffs, is the two-time Silver offensive MVP, said Huskies second-year coach John Hoerster -- son of the late Hall of Fame Loyola coach. Oak Park and Waubonsie run similar stuff, a 3-5 defense (though Warriors coach Paul Murphy said Oak Park's shown varied defenses) and an option offense. Warriors quarterback Dylan Warden owns nearly the same physical dimensions as Oak Park's 6-foot-1, 185-pound Llloyd Yates. Both teams favor the run but are capable passing. Waubonsie ran the ball 50 times against Proviso West to wear the Panthers down, eventually controlling the line which remains the goal. Against a team that allows 27.6 points on average, Waubonsie looks for its first quarterfinal berth since 1994, and double-digit wins for the first time since 1992.
Next week: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Neuqua Valley (10-0) and No. 9 Bolingbrook (8-2).