Here comes a little more Thanksgiving weekend turkey in case you didn't get enough on Thursday.
Yes, it's that time of year again to fill up on the predictions of what will happen today and Saturday in the eight state championship football games. Hopefully they won't leave you with an upset stomach.
But there is one guarantee this weekend. It will be the best football anyone has seen played in the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium in Champaign this fall.
So, let's get on with it, starting first with the big boys.
Glenbard North (12-1) vs. Mt. Carmel (12-1), 7 p.m. Saturday
Get ready to see a lot of Glenbard North junior Justin Jackson carrying the ball (392 carries, 2,539 yards, 35 TDs), playing defense and doing anything else that's necessary to win. It's something the Panthers have done 12 straight times since losing their opener 42-41 to Batavia.
Mt. Carmel's only loss was in overtime to the same Loyola team Glenbard North just beat in the semis. The Caravan brings its vaunted option offense with running back Matt Domer (1,290 yards, 20 TDs), but a big question mark is the health of quarterback Don Butkus, who sprained an ankle late in the semifinal win over Neuqua Valley.
Mt. Carmel has also won 10 state titles although it is in the midst of a 10-year "drought" since the last one under the legendary Frank Lenti, who owns a state-record 325 wins. But Glenbard North has become one of the Chicago area's premier programs under Ryan Wilkens and after three runnerup finishes, it will finally bring the big prize back to Carol Stream with Jackson leading a 28-21 victory.
Glenbard West (13-0) vs. Lincoln-Way East (13-0), 4 p.m. Saturday
You don't always get the matchups you want in Champaign. That's not the case here in a clash of unbeatens who were knocked out of the playoffs earlier than expected in the second round a year ago.
Glenbard West has been driving toward its first state title since 1983. Standout running back Scott Andrews had only 66 yards on 6 carries last week after injuring an ankle in the quarterfinals, but the Hilltoppers have plenty of threats in quarterback Henry Haeffner, Vanderbilt-bound receiver Nathan Marcus and standout lineman Ruben Dunbar.
But the only team to get within single digits of Lincoln-Way East this year was Montini in Week 2 (20-14). Tommy Fuessel has been a dangerous dual threat at quarterback and Nick Colangelo has also rushed for more than 1,000 yards.
However, my call is Glenbard West got some of the mistakes it can't afford out of its system last week and will survive a battle of rugged defenses 14-10.
Cary-Grove (13-0) vs. Crete-Monee (13-0), 1 p.m. Saturday
Back-to-back unbeaten battles is a pretty nice holiday gift for the high school football fan. So is a matchup of two teams with vastly different styles.
The group of freshmen who watched Cary win its first title in 2009 are now leading the way back to Champaign with its vaunted option attack. Quarterback Quinn Baker runs it, as he overcame a hand injury to rush for 998 yards and 15 TDs, and powerful Kyle Norberg has rushed for 2,213 yards and 25 TDs.
It's no wonder Crete-Monee wants Marcus Terrell to throw the ball to targets such as 6-foot-4 LaQuon Treadwell (75 catches, 1,339 yards, 15 TDs) and 6-1 Lance Lenoir (64 catches, 1,042 yards, 14 TDs). Treadwell, one of the country's top recruits, also brings his size and skill on defense at safety.
It will be one of the biggest challenges for linebacker Zach Marszal and Cary's 3-3-5 defense. But the Trojans have been up to these tests for years now and they will answer this one with a 35-27 victory.
Montini (11-2) vs. Morris (12-1), 10 a.m. Saturday
After watching Marian Central dismantle Montini 49-24 in Week 7, I thought the title run would end at three for the Broncos. Naturally, they proved a lot of people wrong with a convincing quarterfinal victory in the rematch with some tremendous adjustments by head coach Chris Andriano, one of the best and classiest in the business.
Montini has proved that three quarterbacks can be as good or better than one by using the arm of Alex Wills, the legs of Mark Gorogianis and the wildcat threat of receiving standout Joe Borsellino. Dmitri Taylor is another dangerous threat at running back, Dylan Thompson and Fred Beaugard can wreak havoc up front defensively and Andrew Harte gives the Broncos a powerful leg up on most of their opponents.
Morris is no slouch with running back Reese Sobol, but Montini has been tested by the best so many times the last few years there's no chance I'm picking against the Broncos now. They make it four straight 5A crowns with a 42-20 victory.
Rochester (12-1) vs. Rock Island Alleman (12-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Call it a Rochester title three-peat as dual-threat QB Austin Green and RB Garrett Dooley lead a 28-14 win over the Western Big Six champions.
Aurora Christian (12-1) vs. Tolono Unity (12-1), 4 p.m. Friday
Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe brings another high-powered offense to Champaign as QB Ryan McQuade and receivers Chad Beebe and Cory Windle lead the way for the defending champs. Senior RB-LB Joel Bouagnon has been a great addition to team whose only loss was 31-27 to Montini in Week 8.
Tolono makes its fourth trip to Champaign since 2000 but for the fourth time will leave with the runnerup trophy as Aurora Christian's schedule has prepared it for a repeat, 49-28.
Belleville Althoff (10-3) vs. Aledo Mercer County (13-0), 1 p.m. Friday
Althoff was an extremely deceiving 15th seed as it played bigger-school competition all year with losses to Belleville East, Centralia and Marion. Althoff, led by Illinois-bound lineman Merrick Johnson, gets its fourth title and first since 1990 with a 27-13 victory.
Stockton (13-0) vs. Maroa-Forsyth (12-1), 10 a.m. Friday
How would you like to have three 1,000-yard rushers with T.J. Knutson (2,337), Logan Staver and Colton Broshous? It's a good reason the closest anyone has come to beating Stockton is Lena-Winslow, 22-15 in Week 8 and 48-14 in the quarterfinals. That's not going to change here as Stockton gets state finals weekend rolling with a 56-14 victory.
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