Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 11/4/2016 11:49 PM

Scouting this weekend's playoff football games involving teams from the Fox Valley area.

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Class 8A

No. 6 St. Charles East (10-0) at No. 22 New Trier (8-2)When: 7 p.m. Friday at New Trier's Northfield campus, 7 Happ Rd.

Last week: St. Charles East 45, No. 27 Lockport 0; New Trier 31, No. 11 Marist 24

Outlook: St. Charles East can match the school record for single-season wins. The 1996 and 1998 Saints, coached by Buck Drach, each finished 11-1. In order to advance, the Upstate Eight River champs must solve the champions of the Central Suburban League's South Division. New Trier quarterback Clay Czyzynski engineered last week's upset at Marist by rushing for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns and completing 10 of 11 passes for 183 yards, according to the Chicago Tribune. "They want the ball in the quarterback's hands," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said. "He makes it happen for them. He's the key to the game. He makes them tick. They're a run-first team with a big, physical offensive line." St. Charles East counters with a run-first quarterback of its own in Zach Mitchell, who has rushed for 616 yards and 15 touchdowns. Sophomore fullback Justin Jett leads the triple-option offense with 952 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defensively, the Trevians are fast and physical, similar to what the Saints faced against St. Charles North. "There are no excuses here," Farquhar said. "They are a well-disciplined team that played a lot of quality football this year and has beaten a lot of quality opponents. We have to take our best against them and see what they've got."

Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 3 Palatine (10-0) at No. 19 Lyons (8-2)

No. 25 Fremd (7-3) at No. 24 Huntley (7-3)When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Fremd 45, No. 8 Brother Rice 42; Huntley 21, No. 9 Lincolnshire 20

Outlook: This is no ordinary matchup for Huntley first-year coach Matt Zimolzak, an AP Physics teacher at Fremd, where he has taught for 23 years. He spent 17 seasons as a Fremd assistant under former coach Mike Donatucci. Five years ago Zimolzak joined John Hart's staff at Huntley, the town where he and his family live. The Fremd connection still runs deep. "I've seen that program grow," Zimolzak said. "None of the coaches I coached with still remain there, but I still see quite a few players in class." The Fremd offense was nearly unstoppable last week against highly regarded Brother Rice. The Vikings amassed 568 total yards in a 45-42 win as senior quarterback Tom Josten (6-0, 184) threw for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns and ran for another. Overall, Josten has completed 132 of 215 passes for 1,775 yards and 17 touchdowns and has been intercepted just twice. His top receiver is senior Nick Cechin (48 rec., 516 yards), who had 2 touchdown catches last week. Fremd runs the ball with Alex Honickel (162 carries, 868 yards) and Joe Schneider (87-465). The Fremd offense faces a Huntley defense that allowed 414 yards last week against Stevenson (329 passing) but only 20 points. Seniors Nick Dennis and Hunter Kowalski led the Red Raiders with 8 tackles apiece and junior linebacker Charlie Zornow added 6. "It's a more-balanced offense than what we saw last week," Zimolzak said of the Vikings. "They have a really good passing attack with good receivers and a really good quarterback but they can run the ball really well, too. They have a really big offensive line and we have a very fast defensive line. We have to use our talents, not outmuscle them but out-quick them." Huntley quarterback Eric Mooney last week rushed for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns on 25 carries and threw for 119 yards and a score. The Huntley offense will be without senior receiver Alec Coss, who broke his collarbone last week. Jake Haas and Patryk Ryczek have 3 interceptions apiece to lead the Fremd defense.

Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 1 Loyola (10-0) vs. No. 16 Oswego East (9-1)

Class 7A

No. 8 St. Charles North (9-1) at No. 8 Rockford Auburn (9-1)When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: St. Charles North 31, No. 24 Carmel 24, 2OT; Rockford Auburn 22, No. 25 St. Rita 21

Outlook: This matchup pits two teams ranked in the AP Top 10 at the end of the regular season: St. Charles North is No. 4; Auburn is No. 8. Unlike in 2015, when the North Stars lost in the first round to Benet, they found a way last week to survive and advance to the second round. A win would shoot the stars into a state quarterfinal for the second time in program history. "It was a sigh of relief," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said of advancing past Carmel. "The kids feel it was a tough week of preparation and that was a good football team they beat. They're happy and proud. Confidence isn't an issue for our guys. It was a confidence-building win, a program-building win. They feel battle tested after a couple of tough weeks and ready to face Auburn." The Knights made a miraculous comeback last week against St. Rita to advance. Trailing 21-0, they scored 22 unanswered points, including the game-winning touchdown and 2-point conversion with five seconds left after a touchdown on the previous play was negated by a holding penalty. Quarterback Nathan Jarrett threw a 21-yard scoring strike to DreQuan Friar, his 11th touchdown throw this season despite missing 4 games due to injury. Daqwuan Bell ran for the go-ahead conversion. Bell has rushed for 1,100 yards and Friar for 1,012, according to the Rockford Register-Star. "They run the ball quite a bit so we have to work on shoring up against the run defensively," Pomazak said. "We have to be able to contain their speed and limit the big play." The Auburn defense caused 5 turnovers last week, including 3 interceptions and an 83-yard fumble return. St. Charles North quarterback Zach Mettetal has been intercepted only 7 times in 198 pass attempts. He has thrown for 1,777 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 1 Bradley-Bourbonnais (10-0) vs. No. 16 Plainfield North (8-2)

No. 12 Batavia (8-2) at No. 28 Jacobs (6-4)When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Batavia 42, No. 21 McHenry 12; Jacobs 51, Lincoln Park 8

Outlook: Batavia seeks its second straight quarterfinal berth and fourth in coach Dennis Piron's six seasons. Jacobs has never reached a state quarterfinal. To advance that far the Golden Eagles will have to find a way to deal with the sheer size of Batavia's offensive front, which rivals some college programs. The earthmovers include center Jackson Darby (5-foot-11, 235 pounds), senior guards Ross Berggren (6-2, 300) and Colin Holden (6-1, 280) senior tackle Evan Day (6-6, 295) and junior tackle Nolan Elke (6-6, 260). The front gets even bigger in double-tight formations when seniors Glenn Albanese (6-6, 235) and Jake Robinson are added to the mix. That front is responsible for 3,936 total yards in 10 games, including 2,724 rushing yards. Junior Reggie Phillips is Batavia's leading rusher with 168 carries for 1,031 yards and 9 touchdowns. "They have some big offensive linemen that do a nice job and (Phillips) does a nice job running the ball," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "We're hoping to move around a bit and give those big guys fits because there's no doubt we're not going to stand toe-to-toe with them." The Jacobs offense enjoyed its most productive outing of the season last week in a 51-8 blowout of Lincoln Park. Like Batavia, Jacobs will line up in a full-house backfield with double tight ends, a power formation it started using midway through the season to great effect. However, the Golden Eagles "can still huck it pretty good," Mitz said. Jacobs began the year in the spread formation and can go to it at any time. Bowling Green-bound third-year quarterback Chris Katrenick has completed 133 of 261 passes for 2,037 yards. "It's a challenge when they can basically run two totally different styles of offense," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "It's hard to duplicate something like that in practice. They have a great coaching staff and a head coach who knows his stuff so we have to be prepared for all sorts of things in-game."

Next: Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 13 Lake Zurich at No. 4 Fenwick (9-1)

Clas 6A

No. 6 Grayslake North (8-2) at No. 3 Cary-Grove (9-1)When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Al Bohrer Field

Last week: Grayslake North 42, No. 11 Lakes 28; Cary-Grove 34, No. 14 Wheeling 8

Outlook: Cary-Grove has advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the 13th straight season. Grayslake North won't be as mystified by the Trojans' triple-option offense as other playoff opponents seem to be. The Knights were members of the Fox Valley Conference until this year, so they faced Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge last year. Knowing a scheme is one thing. Whether or not they can stop the triple option better than in 2015, when the Trojans pummeled them 68-12, is debatable. "They are physical and they try to control the line of scrimmage," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said of Grayslake North. "Our guys will have to play with a low pad level, execute and finish blocks to break off a couple of big plays." The Knights outscore their opponents 33.1 ppg to 16.3. The Grayslake North offense is propelled by two strong running backs. Dami Oladunmoye, the team's first-string ball carrier when healthy, last week rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries to improve his season totals to 825 yards and 10 scores. Senior Griffin Gawenda last week rushed for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns in 11 attempts, giving him 1,068 yards and 13 touchdowns. "Their running backs are both real good and they seem to get a pretty good push with a very big offensive line," Seaburg said. "They like to spread you out and give you the illusion of a passing formation but they really run the ball pretty efficiently. We have to stop the run first and foremost and force them to pass."

Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 7 DeKalb (8-2) at No. 2 Antioch (10-0)

Class 4A

No. 5 Aurora Central Catholic (9-1) at No. 4 Phillips (9-1)When: 4 p.m. Saturday at Gately Stadium

Last week: Aurora Central Catholic 20, No. 12 Wheaton Academy 13; Phillips 46, No. 13 Kewanee 7

Outlook: Fresh off the program's first playoff win since 1996, Aurora Central Catholic aims to keep a once-in-a-generation season going against the reigning Class 4A champion. Phillips was also state runner-up in 2014. "It would be a great opportunity for our players and this program," ACC coach John Belskis said last week of the possibility of facing the defending state champion before the Chargers edged Wheaton Academy by a touchdown. ACC struggled on offense last week, managing only 80 total yards, yet the Chargers prevailed thanks to interception returns for touchdowns by Patrick Flanagan and Griffin Zajac. Phillips is still a powerful team. Coach Troy McAllister's Wildcats won the Chicago Public League's Land of Lincoln Division (5-0), but its most telling result came in Week 1, a 34-26 loss to Fenwick (9-1), which went on to earn the No. 4 seed in Class 7A. After the Wildcats dusted Kewanee 46-7 in the first round, Kewanee coach Tyler Nichols told the Kewanee Star-Courier: "We just played the best high school football team I've ever seen. They are fantastic. We played Aurora Christian in 2011 when they were state champs and this team put those guys to shame." Phillips running back Kamari Mosby carried 13 times for 263 yards and 5 touchdowns against Kewanee, thus, the ACC defense will have its hands full and the offense can't afford to turn the ball over. "We've got to play with a little more resolve," Belskis said after beating Wheaton Academy.

Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal against the winner of No. 1 Herscher (10-0) at No. 9 Dixon (8-2)

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