Trevor Bermingham of Addison fires one during the Downers Grove South at Addison Trail football game Friday.
PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer
No. 16 Belleville East (5-4) at No. 1 Waubonsie Valley (8-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Lancers fast fact: Lost 41-7 to Wheaton Warrenville South in the 2010 Class 7A semifinals, their deepest playoff run.
Warriors fast fact: Their 30.1-point average margin of victory trails only Maine South (31.0) among 8A playoff teams.
Outlook: Belleville East enters the playoffs on three straight losses, prompting coach Tim Funk to tell BND.com that 5-4 teams "shouldn't be in the playoffs anyway." Still, I-back ReShawn Bean has more than 1,400 yards rushing with 17 touchdowns. Funk has mixed it up at quarterback, using running back-linebacker Chase Allen in the Wildcat in part of last week's 27-20 loss to O'Fallon. Waubonsie, a 32-8 winner over South Elgin last week, would benefit by defensive linemen Zac Steele, Trevor Hardin and Zack McCabe and linebackers Austin Lacke, Hugh Griffin and Tommy Wooten forcing the pass. Waubonsie's Austin Guido has run for 1,108 yards and 16 touchdowns, quarterback Dylan Warden running for 347 yards, 11 touchdowns. Offensive linemen Ryan Kallas, Tony Dilg, Chris Weaver, Steve Mann and Adam Szott will battle several 300-pounders, but on either side of the line, coach Paul Murphy said, "It's about having focus, having the right mindset."
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 9 Naperville Central (6-3) and No. 8 Minooka (6-3).
No. 9 Naperville Central (6-3) at No. 8 Minooka (6-3)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Redhawks fast fact: Missed playoffs last year for second time since 1991.
Indians fast fact: First time competing in Class 8A playoffs.
Outlook: Two powerful running games collide in this first meeting between the football programs. Naperville Central enters the postseason on a tremendous high after consecutive victories. The offense continues to lean on workhorse running back Matt Randolph, who has rushed for 1,151 yards and 17 touchdowns, while adding just enough passing from Ian Lewandowski to keep defenses honest. It's a similar approach as Minooka, although in a differing offensive set that focuses on the double wing. Running back Kalvin Hill, a wrestling state champion last season at 160 pounds, boasts more than 1,300 yards this season. Fortunately for the Redhawks, Minooka's strength feeds into their strength. With lineman Zach Borta leading the way up front, and with support from talented linebackers like John Dulleck in support, Naperville Central's done a nice job stopping the run all season. The Redhawks also need to be wary of quarterback Joey Carnagio's running ability.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 16 Belleville East (5-4) and No. 1 Waubonsie Valley (8-1).
No. 15 Neuqua Valley (5-4) at No. 2 Bolingbrook (8-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Wildcats fast fact: A No. 2 seed in 8A during the 2005 playoffs, they hosted No. 3 Bolingbrook, the Wildcats losing 21-14.
Raiders fast fact: Inside linebacker Antonio Morrison, EdgyTim/Rivals.com's No. 7 senior in Illinois, selected Florida out of 21 offers.
Outlook: Last week's 33-30 double-overtime loss to Lake Park marks the first time Neuqua Valley (3-7 in eight playoffs) enters the postseason off a loss. That just means Wildcats defensive linemen Mike Casas, Michael Ippolito and Jake Spinell, safeties Dennis Thurow, Josh Prescher and Spencer Donohue, linebackers Austin Schlosser, Sam Norgaard and J.D. Blaydes will be more focused. Bolingbrook (25-23), which lost only to unbeaten South Suburban Blue winner Lincoln-Way East, offers quarterback Aaron Bailey, fullback Jaden Huff and Division I line recruit Robbie Bain. Coach John Ivlow's Raiders run veer and middle option, which Neuqua has fared decently against including last year's playoff loss to Mt. Carmel. Junior back Joey Rhattigan didn't face Lake Park but will Friday; he's run for 1,203 yards, 19 touchdowns. Bolingbrook's favored, but so what: "Anything can happen in these games, and we plan on making anything happen," said coach Bryan Wells.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 10 Hinsdale Central (6-3) and No. 7 Mt. Carmel (6-3).
No. 10 Hinsdale Central (6-3) at No. 7 Mt. Carmel (6-3)
Game time: 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Gately Stadium in Chicago.
Red Devils fast fact: Beat Mt. Carmel 24-21 in 2008 Class 8A semifinals.
Caravan fast fact: Coach Frank Lenti is state's winningest coach.
Outlook: After consecutive losses to Proviso West and Glenbard West tested Hinsdale Central, Red Devils coach Rich Tarka believes a decisive 33-10 Week 5 win over Lyons Twp. was the team's turning point that sparked a four-game winning streak. The decision to hand the offense over to junior quarterback Brian Owens, who has thrown for 1,843 yards and 12 touchdowns, made a huge difference, but Owens is questionable after leaving last week's game with a concussion. The passing game also gets strength from receivers Brad Anlauf, who has 51 catches for 893 yards, Ryan Kelleher and Tom Garvin. Mt. Carmel's riding a rare two-game losing streak and has lost three of four games. While running back Brandon Greer has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, Caravan quarterback Don Butkus also has flashed the ability to move the chains with the pass. Hinsdale Central's defense must rebound from allowing 40 points last week for the second time this season.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 15 Neuqua Valley (5-4) and No. 2 Bolingbrook (8-1).
No. 14 Naperville North (5-4) at No. 3 Downers Grove South (8-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Huskies fast fact: First-round 4-2 record against Downers South.
Mustangs fast fact: Won last two first-round meetings against Huskies.
Outlook: Both sides are making their 15th straight playoff appearance, so it seems only natural that they're meeting for the seventh time in the first round. Two straight losses dropped Naperville North to a 14th seed, and injuries are partially to blame. Quarterback Tyler Gehr missed last week with a shoulder injury, and while junior Johnny Brown did a nice job against Glenbard North, the Huskies need to have all hands on deck. The Huskies also need to pass it a bit to take the pressure off running back Dan Puknaitis, who has rushed for 988 yards and 14 touchdowns. Defensively, the secondary may get a boost from the return of Kevin Walsh from injury after a four-week absence. The defense has a no-brainer focus in Mustangs running back Josh Williams, who boasts 1,950 yards and 29 scores. Likewise, a strong game from quarterback A.J. Simoncelli would be huge. Downers South's defense is one of the area's best led by Danny Leach in the secondary.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 11 Sandburg (6-3) and No. 6 Brother Rice (6-3).
No. 10 York (6-3) at No. 7 Stevenson (7-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Dukes fast fact: Beat Stevenson in second round of 1995 playoffs.
Patriots fast fact: Twenty-third straight playoff appearance.
Outlook: York's offense exploded for its fourth 40-point performance last week. Senior quarterback Joe Lucca, after splitting time early in the season, has seized the position and threw for 306 yards and 5 touchdowns last week. David Byerley, at 6-foot-3, is a major threat to Stevenson's secondary. His 37 catches for 910 yards lead the Dukes. Jake Rzeszutko is a strong competitor on defense, but his kick returns have been lethal. With a 93-yard touchdown return last week he now has over 900 return yards for the season. The bad news for the defense is four-year varsity member Nick Skuteris may miss another game due to injury. The key on that side of the ball is slowing Stevenson's run game. Quarterback Matt Micucci is a unit leader who has thrown for 1,119 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Patriots' defense, which hasn't allowed more than 24 points in a game, will get its biggest test of the season against York's potent spread pass attack.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 15 Curie (5-4) and No. 2 Maine South (9-0).
No. 11 Glenbard North (6-3) at No. 6 Barrington (7-2)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Panthers fast fact: 6A runner-up in 1991, 2000. 8A runner-up in 2007.
Broncos fast fact: 6A runner-up in 1998.
Outlook: Three straight losses had Glenbard North teetering on the edge of reaching the playoffs for a ninth straight time, but last week's win over Naperville North re-energized the team for the postseason. Quarterback Brian Murphy still is dealing with ankle issues, but he'll be ready to play. The Jackson brothers, meanwhile, are carrying the load. Phil Jackson, who has 969 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, and sophomore Justin Jackson combined for 40 carries and 253 yards last week. While the Panthers hope to mix it up a bit more, the Jacksons still hold the key. Chase Murdock is Barrington's main offensive threat with 1,417 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, but he's also an excellent linebacker. The Broncos' offense is similar to Glenbard North's in its power running game, and it's no wonder with Wisconsin-bound tackle Dan Voltz. Panthers lineman Chris Dewing and linebackers Hunter Week, Mario Rodriguez and Dan Fierro will help slow down the Broncos.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 14 Proviso West (5-4) and No. 3 Palatine (8-1).
No. 9 Providence (6-3) at No. 8 Wheaton Warrenville South (6-3)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Celtics fast fact: Nine-time state champion.
Tigers fast fact: Seven-time state champion.
Outlook: This is a powerhouse matchup between two of the state's winningest programs. Providence's brutal schedule paid dividends with last week's win over Mt. Carmel. WW South's brutal schedule, meanwhile, paid off with its third straight DuPage Valley Conference title. The Tigers have leaned on their defense all season, and this week will be no different against a giant Celtics offensive line one that averages 300 pounds a player plowing holes for a ground game that last week received a nice effort from 5-foot-6 Brandon Price, who rushed for more than 100 yards and returned a kick for a touchdown. WW South counters with a small but quick unit led by Adam Dansdill, who notched 9 solo tackles and 6 assists in last week's win over Wheaton North. Tigers quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong sat with injured ribs, and his status is up in the air. Sophomore Ryan Graham managed the offense while running back Dan Vitale took over with 36 carries for 149 yards and 2 scores.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 16 Plainfield South (5-4) and No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (9-0).
No. 16 Prospect (5-4) at No. 1 Glenbard West (9-0)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Knights fast fact: State champs in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
Hilltoppers fast fact: Eyeing fourth straight 10-win season.
Outlook: While the Hilltoppers rolled through the regular season, the Knights had to overcome a 1-3 start. Their main offensive set is out of the shotgun, but they only throw occasionally. Quarterback Sam Frasco is the main threat, having rushed for 966 yards and 12 touchdowns, including a 166-yard, 3-score effort last week. Sophomore running back Sam Mazukelli adds 785 yards to an offense that has rushed for 2,192 yards this season. Glenbard West's defense, allowing little more than 5 points per game, has met every challenge this season. Although linebacker and leading tackler Andrew Larkin is questionable with a knee injury, linemen Tommy Schutt and Ruben Dunbar and the entire defense show tremendous depth. Glenbard West's offense, averaging 274 rushing yards per game, presents numerous challenges with Avery Balogh, Joey Zito and Kendall Johnson. Quarterback Justice Odom's return last week from injury adds another big-play threat to the offense.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 9 Geneva (7-2) and No. 8 Lake Zurich (7-2).
No. 10 Jacobs (7-2) at No. 7 Wheaton North (7-2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Golden Eagles fast fact: Consecutive appearances for first time since 1998-99.
Falcons fast fact: State champs in 1979, 1981, 1986.
Outlook: Considering these teams combine for over 750 yards per game, there could be a lot of points scored. Offensive diversity is a main reason for the success, and for Jacobs it starts with running back Caz Zyks and quarterback Jason Judson. Zyks leads the ground game with 1,165 yards and 14 touchdowns while Judson has thrown for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Golden Eagles' ability to run and pass presents a challenge for the Falcons defense led by linebacker Mike Swider and safety Jaylen Howze. If the game does turn into a shootout, though, Wheaton North's offense has the ability to keep up. The Falcons have their own 1-2 punch with quarterback John Peltz, who has thrown for 1,436 yards and 13 touchdowns, and running back Patrick Sharp, who has 821 yards and 6 scores. Johnny Daniels, Brett Kohler, Coleton Hrgich and Micah Penn each have caught at least 20 passes. Which defense will rise to the occasion?
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 15 Libertyville (5-4) and No. 2 Rockford Boylan (9-0).
No. 11 Carmel (6-3) at No. 6 Addison Trail (8-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Corsairs fast fact: Three losses by eight total points.
Blazers fast fact: Fewest points allowed in 7A field.
Outlook: After perhaps their most impressive defensive effort of the season last week against Downers Grove South, the Blazers face a Carmel team that may have a best ground game they've seen. Jordan Kos, who leads the team with 1,329 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, Mike Panico and quarterback Brian Brennan have combined for 2,676 rushing yards and 36 scores. Against an option offense that doesn't throw much, the Blazers' defense and linebackers Mike Imperiale and Kevin Kent need to play at its most disciplined. And because the Blazers have struggled getting the ball in the end zone recently, they can't afford to get in a shootout with the Corsairs, who have scored at least 40 points the last five weeks. While the Blazers are more balanced than Carmel, with 1,400 rushing yards and 1,000 passing from Trevor Bermingham, they still lean on the run. Anthony Messina, Anthony Catanese and Vince Beltrano have combined for over 1,000 yards and 21 scores.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 14 Streamwood (6-3) and No. 3 Crystal Lake South (8-1).
No. 9 Fenton (7-2) at No. 8 Lake Forest (7-2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Forest West Campus.
Bison fast fact: First-round record of 1-9.
Scouts fast fact: Three regular-season foes in 7A and 8A playoffs.
Outlook: Fenton fell short in its goal of a third straight Metro Suburban Conference championship, but the Bison still enter the playoffs with seven wins for the first time since 2006. Their spread offense executes differently than Lake Forest's, relying on the pass with quarterback Sean Havlovic. Joe Butz, however, also has gotten some snaps behind center. Regardless of the quarterback, Alan Geneva remains the Bison's No. 1 receiving target. The Scouts also need to be wary of Fenton's power running set with Roman Castellanos. Lake Forest running back Owen Williams has been dominant, evidenced by last week's 200-yard, 3-touchdown performance in a win over Libertyville. Backup quarterback Andrew Clifford played that game, but starter Jordan Beck is expected back from an elbow injury this week. If Beck tries to establish a passing game to take the pressure off Williams, Fenton has shown the ability to defend in the secondary with Geneva and Gervonta Walls.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 16 Notre Dame (5-4) and No. 1 Batavia (9-0).
No. 10 Glenbard South (6-3) at No. 7 Foreman (7-2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lane Stadium in Chicago.
Raiders fast fact: Last playoff appearance in 5A in 2008.
Hornets fast fact: First playoff appearance since 1995.
Outlook: Glenbard South may have fallen into a 1-3 hole at the start of the season, but the Raiders are clearly a better team after playing Prairie Ridge and Crete-Monee, who have a combined 17-1 record. Offensively, quarterback Tyler Padera and running back Wes Sanders, who has 976 rushing yards, 361 receiving and 21 total touchdowns, lead a potent unit that hasn't scored fewer than 30 points since Week 4. Foreman's offense also flashes signs of explosiveness out of its spread pistol set headed by quarterback Sergio Serrano. While the Hornets have shown some balance with 1,000 yards rushing and passing, Serrano is the key with 1,249 passing yards. Brandon Johnson is Serrano's main target with 50 catches for 686 yards and 9 scores. John Miller has rushed for 609 yards and 10 touchdowns. Whatever Foreman decides to do, Glenbard South will be ready. Elven Walker is the Raiders' top defensive back, and Zach Bava has been strong all season at linebacker.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 15 Marmion (5-4) and No. 2 Prairie Ridge (8-1).
No. 9 Burlington Central (7-2) at No. 8 St. Francis (7-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Saturday, College of DuPage
Rockets fast fact: 7-4 all-time in home playoff games but 3-10 on the road.
Spartans fast fact: Their fourth straight playoff appearance is the longest in program history.
Outlook: Burlington Central was a whisker away from unbeaten in Rich Crabel's first season as Rockets head coach. Sycamore beat them in overtime and Richmond-Burton won 9-7 in the game that decided the Big Northern Conference East Division. St. Francis coach Greg Purnell is expecting smashmouth football in a game featuring juniors who each have eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing: Burlington's Joel Bouagnon and St. Francis' Jack Petrando. While the host Spartans' ground game is more diverse with Dan Beck and Jeff Rutkowski both topping 300 yards rushing, Burlington quarterback Ryan Ritchie has passed for 1,094 yards, nearly twice St. Francis' total. Defensively the Rockets have allowed an average of 8.3 points, second-lowest in 5A, while St. Francis' swarming 3-5 set offers defensive end Steven Flaherty, linebackers James Ferguson and Hunter Bolin and defensive back Michael Hansen among a multitude of tacklers. "We expect this to be a very close game," Purnell said.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 16 Belvidere (5-4) and No. 1 Kaneland (9-0).
No. 11 Woodstock North (7-2) at No. 6 Montini (7-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Thunder fast fact: First playoff appearance in third year as a program.
Broncos fast fact: Two-time defending 5A champion with three overall titles (2004).
Outlook: Thus starts the true test for Montini quarterback John Rhode and why he transferred from Marian Catholic. In essentially nine quarters of football since returning from a broken thumb the senior has completed 59 of 78 passes for 1,166 yards, 22 touchdowns, 1 interception. Except for solid St. Francis those stats came against St. Edward, Walther Lutheran and Wheaton Academy, which Montini beat by a combined 188-20. Woodstock North, the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division tri-champ, rolls into its initial postseason on five straight wins after going 2-7 in 2010, 0-9 in 2009. The Thunder's 3-5 defense is geared to stop the pass, so Dimitri Taylor may add to his 636 yards rushing and 6 TDs. Montini faces an option attack led by quarterback Brian Loftin, backs Ryan Wade and Adam Haimbaugh. "This would be a huge feather in their cap, so there's plenty of motivation for them," said Montini coach Chris Andriano.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 14 Julian (6-3) and No. 3 Sterling (8-1).
No. 6 Immaculate Conception (6-3) at No. 3 Winnebago (7-2)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Knights fast fact: 2008 squad is one of two teams (Montini 2009) to win a title with 4 losses.
Indians fast fact: 3-9 playoff record in nine playoff appearances.
Outlook: Winnebago senior quarterback Dylan Daub, whose team placed behind only Stillman Valley in the Big Northern Conference West Division, would rather direct a ground game than pass, IC coach Chris VanDyke said. Fullback-middle linebacker Kolton Kuczynski, 6-3 and 210, will pound the ball right at Knights defensive tackles Kevin Lamborn and Diego Herrera and middle linebacker James Peachey, who leads IC with 52 tackles. But then Winnebago will try to toss it outside at linebackers Joe Iavarone and Mike Lestina. "They don't do a lot, but what they do, they do well," VanDyke said. Winnebago must deal with the inside running of tailback Dan Vatch and fullback Matt Mesnard as well as the outside speed of quarterback Demetrius Carr, who leads the Knights with 643 yards rushing and also deep receiving threats Tim Hipskins and Cody Baker. To advance, IC must limit unwise penalties and make no mistake on its scoring chances when opportunities arise.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 7 Wilmington (6-3) and No. 2 Rockridge (8-1).