No. 3 Montini (9-2) at No. 2 Marian Central (11-0)
Game time: 5 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Montini 24, No. 6 Sycamore 22; Marian Central 41, No. 7 Woodstock North 20.
Outlook: Montini coach Chris Andriano has heard Marian's motto: "Beat Montini twice." The Broncos have eliminated Marian each of the last three seasons, the last two in the quarterfinals. It'll be extremely difficult to extend the streak because Hurricanes quarterback Chris Streveler is playing at another level -- 24 touchdown passes to 3 interceptions, 67 completion percentage, 1,012 yards rushing and 21 TDs. The Minnesota recruit, who paced Marian's 49-24 win in Week 7, would really have to falter. Still, that happened in last year's 52-27 Broncos playoff win, intercepting Streveler 3 times in the last four minutes of the first half. Montini has that mojo, as Sycamore found on Andrew Harte's game-winning field goal with 1.1 seconds left. One week after being yanked, quarterback Alex Wills was another hero; he, QB-wideout Mark Gorogianis, running back Dimitri Taylor and Montini's offensive line must set the tempo, control the ball and clock and keep Streveler off the field. If you can't catch the game in person, it will be streamed live.
Next week: The winner advances to the semifinals against the winner between No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (8-3) and No. 12 Joliet Catholic (7-4).
No. 5 Wheaton North (10-1) at No. 1 Glenbard West (11-0) Class 7A
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Glenbard West 38, No. 9 Libertyville 10; Wheaton North 14, No. 13 Prospect 7.
Outlook: After a tremendous season splitting time between quarterback and receiver, Falcons junior Clayton Thorson is out with a broken collarbone. Two-time all-DVC pick Johnny Peltz is now full time behind center while Matt Biegalski, who has 735 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, and others must make up for Thorson's loss. Running back Patrick Sharp is overcoming a foot injury as he faces a fierce Glenbard West run defense with folks like Tyler Dayton. Quarterback pressure on Peltz from linemen Ruben Dunbar and Jack Wheeler will dictate the Falcons' success. Wheaton North also suffered an injury on its defensive line when Jonathan Chapman suffered a concussion, but earlier this week coach Joe Wardynski expected him to play. Linebacker Luke Sahly and safety Jaylen Howze need to slow Scott Andrews and Glenbard West's ground game that's churned 2,500 yards. Keeping Henry Haeffner's passes away from 6-foot-5 Nathan Marcus is a chore.
Next week: The winner advances to the semifinals against the winner between No. 2 Rockford Boylan (11-0) and No. 6 Lake Zurich (9-2).
No. 2 Benet (10-1) at No. 8 Downers Grove North (7-4)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Downers Grove North 29, No. 5 Thornton 13; Benet 28, No. 3 Oswego 13.
Outlook: You couldn't find two more contrasting styles. Benet's offense will try to spread the field and have 6-6 quarterback Jack Beneventi get the ball to receivers Jack Euritt and Jack Toner. Last week, however, Porter Ontko proved to be the hero with 200 big-play rushing yards. The Redwings must do a better job protecting Beneventi, especially against a Trojans defense that had five players, including standout Vontae Diggs, notch sacks last week. Offensively, the Trojans are even more physical. Three players have rushed for at least 700 of the team's 2,588 total yards on the ground. Six-six quarterback Dave Edwards is the heart of everything even though he attempted only 3 passes last week. Charles Melka, Jack Crain and Benet's defense must slow the powerful quarterback who carried the ball 23 times. Downers North's split-back veer offense is designed to keep opposing offenses off the field. The team dictating the style will be the team heading to the semifinals. The game will be streamed live online.
Next week: The winner advances to the semifinals against the winner between No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (11-0) and No. 2 Edwardsville (10-1).
No. 4 Glenbard North (10-1) at No. 1 Maine South (11-0)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Maine South 27, No. 8 Conant 13; Glenbard North 23, No. 5 Stevenson 14.
Outlook: It's 12 years old but these teams have significant playoff history. Maine South beat Glenbard North in the Class 6A title game in 2000. The Hawks' base offensive set is similar to past years with the spread, but they run it a little differently this season. Northwestern-bound quarterback Matt Alviti has thrown for 2,600 yards but he's rushed for nearly 800. The Panthers' Nick Maxwell filled in admirably for injured Mario Rodriguez, the DVC's defensive player of the year, and he'll likely see more playing time in this one. Andrew Mulshine created tremendous quarterback pressure last week, and the defensive line again needs to pressure Alviti. Expect to see running back Justin Jackson, quarterback Brian Murphy and receiver Ryan Storto in the secondary chasing receivers. What can you say about Jackson after he carried the ball 47 times last week while going over 2,000 rushing yards for the season? Like last week, the Panthers will try to extend drives to keep Alviti off the field.
Next week: The winner advances to the semifinals against the winner between No. 2 Loyola (10-1) and No. 3 Palatine (10-1).
No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (10-1) at No. 1 Neuqua Valley (11-0)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Neuqua Valley 44, No. 9 Bolingbrook 33; Waubonsie Valley 28, No. 12 Oak Park 7.
Outlook: Sky-high anticipation and expectation await the first playoff game between the Indian Prairie District 204 rivals, who in Week 7 were separated only by a failed conversion run in Neuqua's 35-34 double-overtime win. This is Neuqua's first quarterfinal, while Waubonsie seeks its first semifinal since 1992. Ground games lead both teams with Neuqua's Joey Rhattigan coming off a 344-yard game with 1,855 yards on the year and 30 touchdowns; Waubonsie's option counters with Austin Guido's 2,236 yards, 30 touchdowns and 234 yards last week. Rhattigan's Wildcats are more balanced with precise quarterback Dylan Andrew at the helm, but Warriors two-year starter Dylan Warden is dangerous on the ground and through the air. Both defenses bring loads of impact players, and the offensive lines are clicking at a high rate. Turnovers and mental mistakes should decide the outcome as they did Week 7 when the Warriors made 3 turnovers and lost coverage on Ryan Kuhl's late, game-tying TD catch.
Next week: The winner advances to the semifinals against the winner between No. 15 Lyons Twp. (7-4) and No. 3 Mt. Carmel (10-1).