Playoffs Week 1: Scouting the West Suburban
No. 25 Bloom (6-3) at No. 8 Glenbard West (8-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Bloom 44, Rock Island Alleman 7; Glenbard West 56, Proviso West 14.
Outlook: In 8A for a second straight year, the Hilltoppers ride an eight-game winning streak after claiming the outright West Suburban Silver title. Bloom finished third in the Southland Conference, averaging 38 points in its six wins. Quarterback Juan Green has accounted for 1,300 passing yards and is the team's leading rusher with nearly 500 yards. Glenbard West's defense is still trying to stabilize itself from a season filled with injury. Ben Norgaard, who can play the line or at linebacker, has been crucial. The running trio of Ryan Diver, Dre Thomas and Tyquan Cox -- a return threat -- has combined for 1,969 yards and 29 touchdowns. Expect Tommy Bleker to get more snaps at quarterback.
Advancement: The winner advances to the second round against the winner between No. 24 Naperville North at No. 9 Oswego.
No. 22 Stevenson Patriots (6-3) at No. 11 Hinsdale Central Red Devils (7-2)When: 3 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Stevenson lost to Warren, 21-14; Hinsdale Central def. Hinsdale South, 42-7.
Playoff history: Stevenson is making its 30th playoff appearance and its 29th straight. In 2014, the Patriots won the Class 8A state championship, defeating Homewood-Flossmoor in the title game, 31-25. The Patriots also finished second in 2002. Last year, Stevenson lost in the Class 8A first round to Huntley, 21-20. Hinsdale Central is making its 22nd playoff appearance and its 16th in 17 years. In 2008, the Red Devils placed second. Last year, Hinsdale Central lost in the Class 8A first round to Waubonsie Valley, 33-23.
Skinny: Stevenson has had some tough losses lately. The Patriots dropped two of their final three games, to the top two teams in the North Suburban Conference (Lake Zurich, 28-0 and Warren, 21-14). Meanwhile, Hinsdale Central faced three winning teams over its final three games and won two of those games. Its one loss came in Week 7 (14-9) to the champion of the West Suburban Silver Conference, Glenbard West ... Stevenson's only other loss came in Week 2 to Michigan powerhouse Muskegon (28-7) ... The Patriots averaged 22.2 points per game this season and allowed 12 points per game. Meanwhile, Hinsdale Central averaged 27.4 points per game and was the stingiest team in the West Suburban Silver, allowing 14.2 points per game ... Against Warren last week, wide receiver Alex Capstick scored both of Stevenson's touchdowns, on a 25-yard run and on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Cole Okmin. Okmin completed 14-of-30 passes for 226 yards. But he did have 3 interceptions ... Hinsdale Central lost starting quarterback Matt Rush to injury earlier this season, but has gotten by better than expected with backup Connor Bauer. Running back Garrett Oakey has also been known to duck under center in the Wildcat offense. Oakey and fellow running back Luke Skokna give the Red Devils a tough ground game. Skokna passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week while linebacker Aidan Cruickshank notched his 100th tackle. Fellow linebacker Sean Kelly, who had 3 sacks last week, and lineman Caleb Lagestee power a unit that's allowed more than 21 points only once. Bauer has filled in admirably for Rush, but the offense has leaned on the run with Skokna and Oakey, who also plays behind center in the Wildcat. If the ball gets in the red zone, keep an eye on Indiana-bound tight end Matt Bjorson.
Winner gets: Winner of No. 27 New Trier (6-3) at No. 6 Loyola (8-1).
No. 31 Downers Grove North (5-4) at No. 2 Normal Community (9-0)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Downers North 24, York 6; Normal Community 50, Champaign Central 21.
Outlook: Downers North must slow an offense that hasn't been held under 42 points. Last week, thanks to an offensive line averaging 270 pounds, the Ironmen rolled behind running back Nick Hesse's 4 touchdown runs and touchdown reception. He and Varshaun Dixon combined for nearly 300 rushing yards for an offense that only threw the ball a handful of times. Between outside linebacker Blake Davis and defensive lineman Ethan Roesch, the Trojans' defense will lean on the experience of surviving a tough West Suburban Silver schedule. Downers North's offense is no secret. The Trojans bring a run-heavy attack led by Drew Shelly, who's rushed for 827 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Advancement: The winner advances to the second round against the winner between No. 18 Mt. Carmel at No. 15 Moline.
No. 13 Deerfield (5-4) at No. 4 Willowbrook (8-1)
Game time: 4 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Deerfield 31, Maine West 30; Willowbrook 40, Downers Grove South 6.
Outlook: While Willowbrook pretty much clinched a playoff berth weeks ago, Deerfield needed a Week 9 overtime win over Maine West to qualify. The Warriors actually needed two straight wins to qualify, but here they are. They rolled up 350 yards of offense last week, mostly with running back Kenny Kerstein and quarterback Jonah Silverglade. Willowbrook's won seven straight games with a diverse offense and a big-play defense. Jack Jessen's been tremendous on both sides of the ball, rushing for 1,603 yards and 19 touchdowns while leading the team in tackles with 70 at linebacker. The Warriors get strong two-way play from many others including Nick Sabatino, a playmaker at safety and wide receiver.
Advancement: The winner advances to the second round against the winner between No. 12 Montini at No. 5 DeKalb.
No. 16 Hinsdale South (5-4) at No. 1 Crete-Monee (8-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Hinsdale Central 42, Hinsdale South 7; Crete-Monee 52, Cahokia 8.
Outlook: Last week's loss put Hinsdale South in a precarious spot, but the Hornets made it to the playoffs as the last team to qualify. Now they hope to repeat their last two appearances when they reached the 6A semifinals and quarterfinals. Crete-Monee, the team that beat Hinsdale South in the 2015 semifinals, is an offensive juggernaut with 6-foot-6, 220-pound third-year quarterback Isaiah Rucker. The Warriors average 46 points and have beaten opponents by an average of five touchdowns. The Hornets may have the offensive firepower to keep up with quarterback Justin Kolzow and receiver Destin Talbert. They'd love to control the ball with sophomore running back Marquese Garrett.
Advancement: The winner advances to the second round against the winner between No. 9 Quincy at No. 8 St. Laurence.