Streamwood quarterback Dalton Lundeen looks for running room against Elgin earlier this season. Streamwood plays at Crystal Lake South tonight in a first-round Class 7A playoff game.
Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer
No. 14 Streamwood (6-3) at No. 3 Crystal Lake South (8-1)
When: Today at 7:30 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Streamwood playoff history: This is the sixth playoff appearance for the Sabres and their first since 2002. They are 1-5 all-time in postseason play, 0-5 in playoff road games.
CL South playoff history: This is the 17th playoff appearance for the Gators and their 11th straight. CL South is 21-16 all-time in postseason play and 14-6 in home playoff games. The Gators advanced to a Class 7A semifinal in 2008 and a Class 6A semifinal in 2005; They also reached quarterfinals in 1993, 2002 and 2004.
Outlook: A determining factor will be the effectiveness of Streamwood's diverse offense against CL South's stingy defense. The Sabres have gained 3,115 total yards, led by senior running back Alex Morrow and left-handed quarterback Dalton Lundeen. Morrow is the area leader in rushing yards (1,252) and ha 15 rushing touchdowns. Lundeen has thrown 13 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound senior has completed 73 of 144 attempts for 1,304 yards. His top receivers are junior Blake Holder, a sprinter who qualified for the state track meet last spring, and Deji Giwa, an athletic receiver who returns to the lineup this week after missing most of the last three weeks with various injuries. Holder (6-2, 189) has 20 receptions for 529 yards and 5 touchdowns. Giwa (6-0, 170) has 15 receptions for 245 yards and 5 touchdowns. "We're real impressed with (Morrow)," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "And (Holder) looks like a skilled guy. They certainly try to hit him deep at least once a game. You have to have your corners run with him, but then you have the danger of them running with him while their running back is running down the field as well. It poses some problems for your defense. And their quarterback can throw. I'm real impressed with them offensively." Running the ball isn't easy against the Gators' 3-3-5 defense. CL South has allowed only 472 rushing yards this season and the Gators have limited opponents to 136 total yards per game, far below the Streamwood offense's average output of 346 yards. The Gators are led defensively by senior linebackers Steve Forner (6-1, 235), Joe Coriaci (5-9, 170) and Reese Dziedzic (6-0, 210) and nose guard Josh Beveridge (6-0, 210). Brad Walovitch is the area leader with 7 interceptions. "We're going to have to find some seams, spread the ball around the field and try to make them run a little bit," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "Hopefully then we can hit some creases on them." Austin Fowler will start at quarterback for CL South. Junior Brendan Chrystal started last week after Fowler experienced exchange problems with his backup center the previous week. But Fowler came off the bench at halftime of a 7-7 game last week against Grayslake Central and sparked the Gators by completing 5 of 6 passes for 79 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown to Walovitch that put CL South ahead to stay. "He's our better thrower," Ahsmann said. "As long as we can hang on to the football, he gives us a better shot to win." The Gators average 282 yards 29.3 points per game. They have gained 63 percent of their yards via the rush, led by junior Zevin Clark and senior Karl Mikulec. The Sabres counter with a junior-heavy defense that allows 274 yards and 23.2 points per game, led by junior linebacker Kustrim Berisha. "They've won their fair share of ballgames against what look like some pretty tough opponents," Cummins said of the Gators. "This'll be another challenge for us. We'll have to be at the top of our game and really get after them."
Advancement: The winner will face the winner of No. 11 Carmel (6-3) at No. 6 Addison Trail (8-1).
No. 10 Jacobs (7-2) at No. 7 Wheaton North (7-2)
When: Today at 7:30 p.m. at Jim Rexilius Field
Jacobs playoff history: This is the seventh playoff appearance for the Golden Eagles and their second straight, matching the longest streak in school history. Jacobs has reached the second round twice (1999, 2006).
Wheaton North playoff history: This is the 19th playoff appearance for the Falcons and their fifth straight. Wheaton North won state titles in 1979, 1981 and 1986.
Outlook: Jacobs aims to take the next step as a program under the direction of hall-of-fame coach Bill Mitz, who has guided the Golden Eagles to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. It marks only the second time in program history Jacobs has made consecutive playoff appearances (also 1998, 1999). After a first-round loss to Lake Zurich last year, Jacobs seeks its fourth playoff victory in school history and its first since an 8-6 victory over Belvidere in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. The Falcons settled for a share of the title in the DuPage Valley Conference last week when they lost to rival Wheaton Warrenville South. Wheaton North is led offensively by quarterback John Peltz (1,436 yards, 13 TD) and running back Patrick Sharp (821 yards, 6 TD). "Their running back does a nice job when he gets open," Mitz said of Sharp. "He made an unbelievable run against Naperville Central. He reminds me a little bit of some of the kids we played against at Joliet West and the receivers remind me of (Sean) Valentine from Prairie Ridge." Those receivers include Johnny Daniels, Micah Penn, Brett Kohler and Coleton Hrgich, each of whom have 20 or more receptions. The Golden Eagles are unpredictable offensively. They have rushed for 1996 yards behind the efforts of tailback Caz Zyks (1,165 yards, 14 TD) and fullback Kyle Wright (531 yards, 8 TD). Third-year quarterback Jason Judson has thrown for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns on 94-of-169 passing. Judson has been intercepted only 3 times. His top receivers have been productive. Junior Jake Gierlak has 27 receptions for 646 yards and 6 touchdowns, and senior Antonio Dunner has 19 catches for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacobs has never played Wheaton North, which makes it an old-school state tournament matchup. "I'm excited about it because, to me, this is more like what the state tournament should be," Mitz said. "We're going to play someone that the kids really don't know very much about and vice versa, as opposed to playing someone in your backyard. I'm intrigued by our matchup." Jacobs gets a lift this week from the return of two starters from injury: senior tight end Henry Gigeous and sophomore defensive back Hunter Williams. Each has missed the last two games.
Advancement: The winner will play the winner of Saturday's 1 p.m. game: No. 15 Libertyville (5-4) at defending Class 7A state champion Rockford Boylan (9-0). Jacobs would host against either team.
No. 11 Crystal Lake Central (6-3) at Cary-Grove (7-2)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
Cary-Grove playoff history: This is the 18th playoff appearance overall and eighth straight for the Trojans. They are 29-16 in postseason play and have reached at least a quarterfinal three years in a row and six of the last seven. The Trojans won the Class 6A state title in 2009 and finished second in Class 7A in 2004.
CL Central playoff history: This is the 12th playoff appearance for the Tigers and their fourth straight. They are 3-11 in postseason play. CL Central has advanced to the second round on three occasions: 1978, 2009, 2010.
Outlook: This is a rematch of the 2010 season opener, which CL Central won 27-14. The Trojans threw their hat into the ring as a state title contender last week when they knocked off previously undefeated District 155 rival Prairie Ridge in overtime, 22-21. The big win lifted Cary-Grove to No. 5 in The Associated Press poll of Class 6A schools. The victory also improved C-G's seed and landed the Trojans a first-round home game. Cary-Grove has won a first-round playoff game six straight years. The refocused Trojans don't intend to allow that streak to end. "These kids have been around long enough to have an appreciation of our program's history," said first-year head coach Brad Seaburg. "There's a definite finality to the playoffs. Our guys are well aware it can end at any moment and they don't want that to happen." The Trojans are led offensively by junior quarterback Quinn Baker. He has rushed for 953 yards and 16 touchdowns on 135 carries (avg. 7.1 yards). Baker directs an option backfield that includes fullback Patrick O'Malley (500 yards, 4 TD), tailback Ryan Mahoney (364 yards, TD) and Connor Carlson (364 yards, 4 TD). Mahoney is the team's leading receiver with 5 catches for 126 yards and a score. Cary-Grove's defense was tremendous last week, led by the strong play of middle linebacker Sam Babick (7 solo tackles, 10 total). The defense also got a lift from Matt Gerebizza, an offensive lineman who went both ways to fortify the run defense. Gerebizza will play both ways again this week, Seaburg said. Center Sam Mago is expected to play. He also played defense last week but sustained an injury early in the game. Matt MacAlpine leads the Tigers with 928 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns. Running back Darwin Stone did most of the damage in last week's win vs. Hampshire. He rushed for 85 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught a 40-yard touchdown from quarterback Steve Lawless, who has thrown for 593 yards and 4 TDs.
Advancement: The winner will play the winner of No. 14 Deerfield (6-3) at No. 3 Nazareth (8-1).