By Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit
No. 20 Glenbard West (9-2) at No. 12 Edwardsville (10-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Glenbard West 28, No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor 21; Edwardsville 31, No. 5 Oswego 14.
Outlook: After beating two higher-seeded teams, Glenbard West can't be considered an underdog. Despite leading rusher Dionte Rodgers not playing last week, the Tigers topped Oswego behind quarterback Brenden Dickmann and running backs Cyress Ahart and Chris McCartney. Glenbard West's defense created three turnovers last week, including a pair of interceptions by Jack Campanella. It's obviously something the Hilltoppers would love to do again. The linebacker play of Chris Langan and Mark Mattson also stood out as a complement to quarterback pressure provided by Dionte Moorehead and others. Offensively, the Hilltoppers rely on running backs Ryan Diver and Dre Thomas in addition to Cole Brady's play-action passing. Last week's scoring got a boost from sophomore Tyquan Cox, whose explosiveness showed in an 86-yard kick return for a score. Edwardsville's defense is led by lineman A.J. Epenesa, an Iowa recruit regarded as one of the state's best seniors.
Next week: The winner advances to a Class 8A semifinal against the winner between No. 1 1 Loyola and No. 24 Huntley.
No. 2 East St. Louis (11-0) at No. 23 Willowbrook (8-3)
Game time: 2 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: East St. Louis 34, No. 15 Glenbard North 28; Willowbrook 49, No. 7 Glenbrook North 21.
Outlook: Willowbrook's already made history by winning its first playoff games since 1990. The Warriors seek their third semifinal berth, but they'd become the program's first team to win three games in a postseason. It'll be a massive challenge against seven-time state champion East St. Louis. Quarterback Reyondous Estes, a Missouri recruit, and Jeff Thomas, an uncommitted receiver with numerous college offers, combined for 7 catches, 190 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. Jarrell Anderson rushed for more than 100 yards and 2 scores. The Warriors' defense will have its hands full, but lineman Keion Coakley and defensive backs Jon Kelso and Khalif Copeland have stepped up all season. The offense still rolls behind running back Jack Jessen, who last week rushed for 220 yards and 3 scores. The Warriors, however, also need a big game from quarterback M.J. Ranieri and the passing attack -- especially if Willowbrook finds itself in a back-and-forth high-scoring game.
Next week: The winner advances to a Class 7A semifinal against the winner between No. 3 Rolling Meadows and No. 11 Benet.
No. 11 Benet (9-2) at No. 3 Rolling Meadows (11-0)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Benet 38, No. 6 Normal Community 14; Rolling Meadows 23, No. 19 Lincoln-Way Central 13.
Outlook: Two of 7A's top defenses go head-to-head in this one. Rolling Meadows allows only an average of 8 points a game, an even more impressive stat considering the Mustangs' defense has scored 50 points this season. Benet must take care of the ball. Not just because of the Mustangs' ability to score off turnovers, but because they don't give the ball away much. Benet quarterback Jack Sznajder has many targets in the passing game, including Nick Keyes and Michael Challenger. Running back Marty Dosen, who last week rushed for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns, continues to power the offense. Rolling Meadows' offense starts with quarterback Asher O'Hara, who threw for 140 yards and ran for 70. Running back Kevin Lacosse added 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. With defensive lineman John D'Angelo and linebackers Ryan Liszka and Dan Veselik, Benet's shown the ability to stymie opponents. The Redwings shut out Normal Community the entire second half.
Next week: The winner advances to a Class 7A semifinal against the winner between No. 2 East St. Louis and No. 23 Willowbrook.
No. 4 Wilmington (11-0) at No. 1 IC Catholic Prep (11-0)
Game time: 5 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Wilmington 38, No. 5 Byron 18; IC Catholic Prep 65, No. 8 Paxton-Buckley-Loda 0.
Outlook: Rated Nos. 1-2 atop Class 3A nearly all season, IC and Wilmington do things differently. Wilmington, which won its ninth straight Interstate Eight Small title, made the playoffs a 21st straight year and won the 2014 title, has operated a run-heavy double-wing offense forever. Quarterback Jeff Treadman has thrown only 19 passes, the headliner being probable all-state back Owen Weaver with 1,843 yards rushing, 37 touchdowns. Outside linebackers Weaver and Brett McWilliams head the 3-4 defense in tackles and impact plays. IC coach Bill Krefft said only Bishop McNamara rivals Wilmington's ground game on the Knights' schedule, while Wilmington coach Jeff Reents is impressed by IC's wealth of weapons. They start with running back Jordan Rowell's 1,515 yards rushing, 28 touchdowns, quarterback Luke Ricobene's 2,022 yards passing, 22 touchdowns, and continue with back Lazerick Eatman, receivers Matt Sutton and Khalil Saunders and others. Rhythm and pure will power are keys for both teams.
Next week: The winner advances to a Class 3A semifinal against the winner between No. 2 Farmington and No. 6 Monticello.