Week 1 playoffs, North Suburban: Warren to face Curie
CLASS 8ANo. 22 Warren Blue Devils (5-4) at No. 11 Chicago Curie Condors (8-1)When: 3:45 p.m., Saturday
Where: Lane Stadium
Last week: Warren lost to Lake Zurich, 27-7; Curie def. Chicago Brooks, 49-12.
Playoff history: Warren is making its 14th playoff appearance in the last 16 years, and its fourth straight. Last year, Warren lost to Loyola Academy in the first round, 37-20 … Curie is making its second straight playoff appearance. Last year, Curie lost to New Trier in the second round, 28-27.
Skinny: After starting the season 0-2, Warren got hot and won four straight games, including a 30-27 victory over Class 8A defending state champion Stevenson. But the Blue Devils have lost two of their last three games, including their regular-season finale last week. Quarterback Kyle Debevec does a good job of spreading the wealth among a handful of speedy receivers while running back Darrius Crump has had another big season. Crump has put together multiple 100 yard games, including a 170-yard effort two weeks ago in a double overtime win against Vernon Hills … Curie won its first four games and its last four. The Condors' only loss came in Week 5 to Chicago Simeon, which is 7-2. Curie can put points on the board, averaging 45.9 points per game. That's highest in the Chicago Public Illini Red Bird Conference. Meanwhile, the Condors are allowing just 12.9 points per game.
No. 17 Conant Cougars (6-3) at No. 16 Stevenson Patriots (6-3)When: 7:30 p.m., today
Last week: Conant lost to Palatine, 34-29; Stevenson def. Mundelein, 55-21.
Playoff history: This is Conant's fourth playoff appearance in five years. The Cougars missed the playoffs last season. Conant's best run through the playoffs was a semifinals appearance in 1989…Stevenson is making its 27th straight playoff appearance. The Patriots posted their best finish in school history last season by winning the Class 8A state championship, 35-21 over Homewood-Flossmoor.
Skinny: Don't mistake Stevenson's record. The Patriots will be a tough out. They are on a roll, having won their last three games. They've also got some key players who experienced last year's state title run. And two of their losses this season came to a couple of juggernauts. Homewood-Flossmoor and Libertyville are a combined 17-1. The Stevenson offense has been balanced this season. Quarterback Jack Sorenson, a receiver on the state championship team, settled in quickly and connects well with receivers Henry Marchese and Connor Crawley. Meanwhile, running back Tyler Vincent has been rolling up the yardage. He tore up Mundelein for 287 yards on 8 carries … Speaking of tearing it up on the ground, Conant has a superstar runner in Jake Jakubosky. He's rushed for 1,384 yards this season, best in the Mid-Suburban League. Jakubosky rolled up 343 yards and 4 touchdowns on 44 carries last week against Palatine. Conant still lost that game, as well as its Week 8 game to Hoffman Estates, which puts the Cougars on a two-game losing streak entering the playoffs. Conant, which has the second-highest scoring offense in the MSL West (34.3 ppg), won its first five games.
CLASS 7ANo. 30 Downers Grove North Trojans (5-4) at No. 3 Libertyville Wildcats (9-0)When: 7 p.m., today
Last week: Downers Grove North def. Proviso West, 34-14; Libertyville def. Lakes, 40-6.
Playoff history: Downers Grove North is back in the playoffs after missing last year. The Trojans celebrated their best finish in school history in 2004 with the Class 8A state championship … Libertyville is making its second straight playoff appearance and its fourth in five years. The Wildcats won the Class 7A title in 2004. Last year, Libertyville was eliminated in the Class 7A semifinals by Cary-Grove, 41-7.
Skinny: Libertyville has made a strong case as one of the best teams in the state. Quarterback Riley Lees, who directs an offense averaging 42.7 points per game, presents problems from every angle. He can scramble and run for big yardage, even on broken plays. In limited playing time last week due to a lopsided score and running clock, Lees still managed 143 rushing yards. Meanwhile, he can pick apart a secondary with his precision passing to speedy receivers such as Henry Schmidt, Cam Shafffer and Tim Calamari. Adding another worry is fullback Noah Moderwell, a physical senior who is tough to bring down. And yet perhaps Libertyville's best asset this season has been its defense, which is allowing just 10.8 points per game this season. The Wildcats have allowed 7 or fewer points in six of nine games…Downers Grove North won its first two games, then lost four straight. The Trojans had to win their last three games to have a chance of qualifying on points. Downers Grove North has used two quarterbacks this season, Brandon Bancoro and Quinn McNally. Both were injured this season, as was running back Connor Olson. But all three are healthy for a playoff run.
CLASS 6ANo. 16 Wauconda Bulldogs (5-4) at No. 1 Montini Broncos (9-0) When: 2 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Wauconda def. North Chicago, 47-0; Montini def. Marmion Academy, 35-0.
Playoff history: Wauconda is making its seventh playoff appearance in school history. The Bulldogs last made the field in 2012, losing the in the first round to Marian, 42-10. Their best finish was a quarterfinals appearance in 1992 … Montini is making its 23rd straight playoff appearance. The Broncos have won five state championships since 2004 and have placed second twice. Last year, Montini lost in the Class 5A state championship game to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, 29-14.
Skinny: Wauconda has become accustomed to playing with a sense of urgency this season. The Bulldogs lost four of their first five games but won their last four games to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs on points. Led by quarterback Kevin Malisheski, the offense is averaging 28.9 points per game and had its highest output last week with 47 points against North Chicago. The Bulldogs have nice balance with running backs Tyler Stankiewicz and Jacob Bicknase…Montini has been associated with football excellence for years, and this year is no exception. The Broncos have dominated their opponents, allowing just 5.9 points per game. They've recorded 4 shutouts and have given up 8 or fewer points in seven of nine games. Montini running back Prince Walker recently announced that he will be continuing his career at Northern Illinois. He's rolled up more than 700 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
No. 10 Lakes Eagles (6-3) at No. 7 Lake Forest Scouts (6-3) When: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Lakes lost to Libertyville, 40-6; Lake Forest def. Zion-Benton, 40-0.
Playoff history: Lakes is making its eighth playoff appearance in the 11-year history of the school. The Eagles had their best run in the playoffs in 2011, advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to Batavia, 42-0. Last year, Lakes lost in the second round to Wheaton St. Francis, 39-36 … Lake Forest is making its sixth straight playoff appearance. The Scouts' furthest playoff run in school history came in 2012, a semifinals loss to Cary-Grove, 42-21. Last year, Lake Forest lost to Nazareth in the quarterfinals, 54-24.
Skinny: A slow start didn't deter Lakes from achieving its usual results. The Eagles lost their first two games but won six straight games to once again qualify for the playoffs. They also won their fifth straight North Suburban Prairie Division title. The offense had a tough time putting together much against powerhouse Libertyville last week, but it has typically been efficient and balanced. Quarterback Jordan Mercure has quietly had one of the better seasons in the area at his position. He's a threat to run with the ball and also does a nice job of involving six to seven receivers almost every game. Meanwhile, running back Ethan Greenfield had a 102-yard rushing effort two weeks ago against North Chicago. Running back Cameron Ruiz is also tough to bring down … Lake Forest, which is averaging 32.9 points per game, is hot. The Scouts have won four of their last five games and are coming off a shutout of Zion-Benton. Much of Lake Forest's offense is generated by utility man Quinn Julian, who is a threat out of the backfield but is also the best receiver on the team. Against Lake Zurich two weeks ago, Julian rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also caught 2 touchdown passes from quarterback Daniel Carollo.