No. 2 Bolingbrook (11-1) at No. 9 Naperville Central (9-3)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Bolingbrook 47, No. 3 Downers Grove South 19; Naperville Central 42, No. 12 Homewood-Flossmoor 14.
Outlook: Another classic matchup between a potent offense and Naperville Central's rock-solid defense. This week the challenge is Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey. After rushing for 300 yards in an opening-round win over Neuqua Valley, Bailey exploded for 5 touchdowns last week against a pretty good Downers South defense. The Raiders rarely throw the ball, but they remain effective out of the option with Bailey running the show. The defensive effort for the Redhawks starts on the line with Zach Borta, who hounded Williams all game last week. With Bailey's speed, however, Naperville Central's entire front seven needs to keep him from breaking loose. The best defense against Bailey, though, is keeping him off the field. Redhawks running back Matt Randolph, who's rushed for 1,699 yards and 22 touchdowns, banged up his hip last week but should be fine. Quarterback Ian Lewandowski's play-action passing will be key in trying to loosen up Bolingbrook's defense led by Florida-bound linebacker Antonio Morrison.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 1 Loyola (12-0) and No. 11 Glenbard North (9-3) in the Class 8A championship.
No. 11 Glenbard North (9-3) at No. 1 Loyola (12-0) Class 8A
Game time: noon, Saturday.
Last week: Loyola 33, No. 13 Lyons Twp. 10; Glenbard North 28, No. 7 Stevenson 0.
Outlook: The matchup to watch here is Glenbard North's running game against Loyola's defense. Phil and Justin Jackson have provided the bulk of the Panthers' offense in the postseason, and they've combined for 2,155 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. Now that quarterback Brian Murphy is running on two much-improved ankles, he's become an explosive option running behind all-DuPage Valley Conference lineman Dan McHale. The Ramblers, however, are accustomed to defending strong running games from a season playing Chicago Catholic Blue Conference rivals St. Rita, Mt. Carmel and Brother Rice. With Loyola allowing only 8 points a game, the Panthers will be hard-pressed to reach the end zone. Glenbard North has thrived on turnovers in the playoffs, including three critical ones last week. Loyola quarterback Malcolm Weaver works out of the shotgun with a slew of quality receivers led by Marquese Martin-Hayes and Charlie Dowdle. Tremel Smith and Alex Mendez anchor the Panthers' secondary.
Advancement: Winner plays the winner between No. 9 Naperville Central (9-3) and No. 2 Bolingbrook (11-1) in the Class 8A championship.
No. 8 Wheaton Warrenville South (9-3) at No. 3 St. Rita (10-2)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: WW South 10, No. 5 East St. Louis 7; St. Rita 19, No. 2 O'Fallon 14.
Outlook: WW South's offense again needs to grind out enough points to keep the Tigers on track for a third straight 7A title. Starting quarterback Thaddeus Armstrong missed last week and remains questionable with a concussion. Sophomore Ryan Graham is out with a knee injury. Fellow sophomore Jordan Davis may end up behind center, which means even more focus on running back Dan Vitale, who has rushed for 1,105 yards and 13 touchdowns. Perhaps the most underrated part of WW South's team, though, is the offensive line led by center Rich Metzger and tackles Frank Garcia and Kyle Joyce. Power football is the name of the game for St. Rita, especially running behind 6-foot-8, 305-pound tackle Nick Dachota with running back Tim Lombard. Lefty quarterback Scott Thomas, however, threw the ball 20 times last week, including a pair of touchdowns to Kenny Golladay. Five-foot-11, 205-pound Tigers defensive lineman Evan Welsh is at the heart of a smaller but lightning-quick unit that has thrived against big, physical teams like St. Rita.
Next week: Winner plays the winner between No. 8 Lake Zurich (10-2) and No. 2 Rockford Boylan (12-0) in the Class 7A championship.
No. 6 Montini (10-2) at No. 1 Kaneland (12-0)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Montini 52, No. 2 Marian Central 27; Kaneland 20, No. 13 Rochelle 14.
Outlook: A rematch of last season's Class 5A semifinal also in Maple Park. Montini won 27-14 to deliver Kaneland its only loss. The teams' schemes stand pat two spread offenses, Kaneland's 3-5 defense and Montini's 4-3 set. If there's a change in Kaneland, Broncos coach Chris Andriano said, it's quarterback Drew David is less prone to run than 2010 quarterback Joe Camiliere. David did sprint 18 yards to score on Rochelle during one of his least effective passing games. The sophomore has completed 176 of 292 passes for 3,141 yards, 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. His top target is wily Quinn Buschbacher with 57 catches for 1,057 yards, 15 touchdowns, also third on the team in rushing behind David and leader Jesse Balluff's 952 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns. Montini cornerback Joe Cione, who intercepted Marian Central 3 times, is matched by Kaneland's Jacob Razo, with 9 picks. The Knights must somehow slow Montini's awesome passing game; last week quarterback John Rhode threw for 451 yards, 6 TDs and 4 alone to superstar Jordan Westerkamp.
Next week: The winner plays the winner between No. 4 Joliet Catholic (10-2) and No. 1 Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0) in the Class 5A championship.