Crystal Lake South quarterback Austin Fowler looks to hand the ball off against Carmel last week. Fowler and the Gators host Rockford Boylan Saturday in the Class 7A quarterfinals.
George Leclaire | Staff Photographer
No. 2 Rockford Boylan (11-0) at No. 3 Crystal Lake South (10-1)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
How they got here: CL South defeated Streamwood 35-7 and won at Carmel 14-9; Boylan defeated Libertyville 40-0 and defeated Wheaton North 37-20.
Outlook: Two programs accustomed to winning clash in the postseason for the first time since 2008, when the Gators claimed a 28-0, second-round victory in Rockford. CL South is 2-1 against Boylan all-time in playoff games. The Titans enter this contest on a 24-game winning streak. They won the Class 6A state title last year and return several key components, including Northwestern-bound defensive end Dean Lowry (6-foot-5, 235 pounds). He has 31 solo tackles, 27 assists and 10 sacks. Lowry has forced 2 fumbles, recovered 2 others and has blocked 2 punts. He is flanked by run-plugging nose guard Theo Parthenios (6-1, 303), who has 21 solo tackles and 31 assists. They are supported by senior linebackers DJ Zimmerman (6-1, 191) and Austin Smith (5-6, 161). Zimmerman leads the team in tackles with 49 solo and 31 assists. Boylan lines up mainly in a 3-5-3 defense but will play 3-4 with Cover 2 and some 4-3. "They move their guys around," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "We're anticipating them putting eight in the box, nine even, to stop the run against us. We'll see what happens. They've got a 300-pound nose guard. We might have to trick them a little bit if we can." The Gators counter offensively with a stable of athletic running backs. Senior Reese Dziedzic, also a linebacker, has gotten the bulk of the carries in the postseason while Karl Mikulec continues to recover from illness. Dziedzic has rushed for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns on 50 carries (5.8 avg.) in two postseason games, upping his season total to 507 yards and 6 TDs. "We've given up trying to figure out who the fullback is and who the tailback is because there are a lot of interchangeable parts," said 10th-year Boylan coach Dan Appino (94-19). "They have a lot of 6-foot 200-pound kids who run well and strike. They have quality kids at all those spots and we know No. 21 is a scary kid, too." No. 21 would be senior Brad Walovitch, who leads the Gators in receiving yards (373), scoring (77 points), and interceptions (7). CL South quarterback Austin Fowler has completed 60 of 104 attempts for 1,057 yards and 13 TDs. Boylan is paced offensively by running back Tyreis Thomas (5-10, 190). He has rushed for 1,221 yards and 19 touchdowns and has 10 receptions for 186 yards and 2 scores. "He's not only fast and shifty, but he runs with some power," Ahsmann said. "He's gotten a lot stronger. We have to wrap him up and hit him and hang on. He must have busted 10 to 15 tackles against Wheaton North." Thomas riddled the Wheaton North defense last week for 288 yards rushing and a 42-yard touchdown catch. Boylan senior quarterback Lamont Toney has completed 76 of 127 passes for 1,277 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has thrown only 4 interceptions. Toney has also rushed for 469 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Gators are led defensively by senior linebackers Joe Coriaci (34 solo tackles, 28 assists) and Steve Forner (43-27) allow an average of 50 yards rushing per game, reminiscent of their 2008 defense. "Their team looks eerily similar in that they they're physical, they play great run defense and they run the ball at you," Appino said. "They play terrific special teams and never hurt themselves with that. They're the full package at this stage of the game."
Advancement: The winner will play the winner of Saturday's game between No. 4 Elk Grove Village (10-1) at No. 8 Lake Zurich (9-2) in the state semifinals.