#30 Schaumburg (5-4) at #3 Lake Zurich (9-0)When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Previous meeting: 1st meeting
Outlook: The Saxons are back in the playoffs. They also welcomed back Deontae Arnold from an injury he suffered earlier this season. Arnold, who played quarterback, has moved to wide receiver, where he caught 7 passes, including one for a touchdown. That has opened up the Saxons offense for Jordan Salgado, who is coming off his best game of the season (he gained 138 yards) and Heze Trotter, who has been a huge weapon all year. Schaumburg, which is scoring about 24 points per game, will need all the offense it can garner against a Lake Zurich team that has allowed under 9 points per game. Lake Zurich has qualified for the playoffs for the second year in a row and is the top-ranked Class 7A team in the state.
Lake Zurich ripped through its schedule with an average margin of victory of 25.3 points per game. The Bears averaged 34.1 points per game and their traditionally tough defense yielded only 8.8 points per game. Lake Zurich gave up double-digits points to only three opponents this season while pitching 3 shutouts ... Against Mundelein last week, running back Joey Stutzman rushed for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries. He also hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Evan Lewandowski, who completed 12-of-16 passes for 292 yards. Stutzman caught 4 passes for 86 yards. Matthijs Enters caught 3 passes for 79 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass ... Schaumburg needed to win its regular season finale in order to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs on points with five wins. The Saxons, who won two of their final three games, did just that with last week's win over Fremd. ... Schaumburg averaged 23.8 points per game and allowed 24.6 points per game this season.
Winner gets: Winner of No. 19 Andrew (6-3) at No. 14 Plainfield North (7-2).
CLASS 7ANo. 26 Libertyville Wildcats (5-4) at No. 7 East St. Louis Flyers (8-1)When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Libertyville def. Zion-Benton, 43-20; East S. Louis def. Alton, 22-19.
Playoff history: Libertyville is making its 24th playoff appearance and its sixth in seven years. The Wildcats won the Class 7A state championship in 2004 and have placed second twice (2003, 2015). Last year, Libertyville lost in the Class 7A first round to Bradley Bourbonnais, 42-17. East St. Louis is making its 37th playoff appearance and its 17th in 18 years. Last year East St. Louis won the Class 7A state championship, defeating Plainfield North in the title game, 26-13. The Flyers have won eight state championship (1979, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2016) and have finished in second place three times (1974, 1987, 1988).
Skinny: East St. Louis, the defending Class 7A state champion, had some adversity to deal with this season. For starters, the Flyers with the state championship target on their backs, got every opponent's best game. And then injuries started piling up on some main players. Yet, East St. Louis still managed to get through its season nearly unscathed. The Flyers' only loss came in Week 2 to Louisiana power Evangel Christian Academy out of Shreveport (14-6) ... The Flyers went on to win their final seven games, as well as the Southwestern Conference title. East St. Louis averaged a league-best 42.9 points per game and allowed a league-low 14 points per game ... Libertyville had to win its final game of the season against Zion-Benton to qualify for the playoffs on points and did so emphatically with a 43-20 win in which its lead was 27-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Wildcats easily qualified on points with a tough schedule that yielded 45 playoff points, one of the highest marks in Class 7A ... Libertyville won two of its last three games but could not beat the top three teams in the North Suburban Conference this season (Lake Zurich, Warren, Stevenson). The Wildcats averaged 24.8 points per game and allowed 19.1 points per game ... Against Zion-Benton last week, running back Brendan Bazar went off, rolling up 346 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns on 36 carries.
Winner gets: Winner of No. 23 Belleville West (6-3) at No. 10 Buffalo Grove (8-1)
CLASS 8ANo. 21 Warren Blue Devils (6-3) at No. 12 Bolingbrook Raiders (7-2)When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Last week: Warren def. Stevenson, 21-14; Bolingbrook lost to Lincoln-Way East, 18-14.
Playoff history: Warren is making its 26th playoff appearance and its fifth in the last six years. In 2015, its last playoff appearance, Warren lost in the Class 8A second round to Naperville Central, 49-28. Bolingbrook is making its 29th playoff appearance and its 25th in the last 26 years. In 2011, Bolingbrook won the Class 8A state championship, defeating Loyola in the title game, 21-17. Last year, the Raiders had their streak of 24 straight playoff appearances broken. In 2015, its last playoff appearance, Bolingbrook lost in the Class 8A first round to Naperville Central, 14-7.
Skinny: Bolingbrook lost its regular season finale last week to Lincoln-Way East, but, for the most part, both Bolingbrook and Warren come into the playoffs trending upward. Bolingbrook won four straight games before that Week 9 loss while Warren won three of its last four games, including a tough one against perennial power Stevenson on the road in Week 9. The Blue Devils' only loss over that stretch was to Zion-Benton in Week 8 (21-14) ... Warren was the second-highest scoring team in the North Suburban Conference this season at 26.8 points per game. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils allowed 15.2 points per game ... Bolingbrook, which plays in the 13-member Southwest Suburban Conference, averaged 34 points per game while allowing 18 points per game ... Last week against Stevenson, Notre Dame-bound receiver Micah Jones caught 3 passes (all touchdowns) for 44 yards. His final touchdown catch, a 10-yarder from quarterback Ian Schilling, was the game-winner. Schilling completed 15-of-29 passes for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Winner gets: Winner of No. 28 Evanston (6-3) at No. 5 Maine South (8-1).
No. 22 Stevenson Patriots (6-3) at No. 11 Hinsdale Central Red Devils (7-2)When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Stevenson lost to Warren, 21-14; Hinsdale Central def. Hinsdale South, 42-7.
Playoff history: Stevenson is making its 30th playoff appearance and its 29th straight. In 2014, the Patriots won the Class 8A state championship, defeating Homewood-Flossmoor in the title game, 31-25. The Patriots also finished second in 2002. Last year, Stevenson lost in the Class 8A first round to Huntley, 21-20. Hinsdale Central is making its 22nd playoff appearance and its 16th in 17 years. In 2008, the Red Devils placed second. Last year, Hinsdale Central lost in the Class 8A first round to Waubonsie Valley, 33-23.
Skinny: Stevenson has had some tough losses lately. The Patriots dropped two of their final three games, to the top two teams in the North Suburban Conference (Lake Zurich, 28-0 and Warren, 21-14). Meanwhile, Hinsdale Central faced three winning teams over its final three games and won two of those games. Its one loss came in Week 7 (14-9) to the champion of the West Suburban Silver Conference, Glenbard West ... Stevenson's only other loss came in Week 2 to Michigan powerhouse Muskegon (28-7) ... The Patriots averaged 22.2 points per game this season and allowed 12 points per game. Meanwhile, Hinsdale Central averaged 27.4 points per game and was the stingiest team in the West Suburban Silver, allowing 14.2 points per game ... Against Warren last week, wide receiver Alex Capstick scored both of Stevenson's touchdowns, on a 25-yard run and on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Cole Okmin. Okmin completed 14-of-30 passes for 226 yards. But he did have 3 interceptions ... Hinsdale Central lost starting quarterback Matt Rush to injury earlier this season, but has gotten by better than expected with backup Connor Bauer. Running back Garrett Oakey has also been known to duck under center in the Wildcat offense. Oakey and fellow running back Luke Skokna give the Red Devils a tough ground game. Skokna passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week while linebacker Aidan Cruickshank notched his 100th tackle. Fellow linebacker Sean Kelly, who had 3 sacks last week, and lineman Caleb Lagestee power a unit that's allowed more than 21 points only once. Bauer has filled in admirably for Rush, but the offense has leaned on the run with Skokna and Oakey, who also plays behind center in the Wildcat. If the ball gets in the red zone, keep an eye on Indiana-bound tight end Matt Bjorson.
Winner gets: Winner of No. 27 New Trier (6-3) at No. 6 Loyola (8-1).