Playoffs Week 2: Scouting the North Suburban
No. 5 Maine South Hawks (9-1) at No. 21 Warren Blue Devils (7-3)
When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Maine South def. Evanston, 58-7; Warren def. Bolingbrook, 28-14.
Playoff history: Maine South is making its 33rd playoff appearance and its 26th straight. The Hawks have won six state championships and are the defending Class 8A champions. Last year, Maine South defeated Loyola in the state title game, 27-17. Maine South has also won titles in 1995, 2000, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Hawks finished as state runner-up three times (2003, 2004, 2005) ... Warren is making its 26th playoff appearance and its fifth in the last six years. In 2015, its last playoff appearance, Warren lost in the Class 8A second round to Naperville Central, 49-28.
Skinny: This is a tough second-round assignment for Warren. Maine South is the defending Class 8A state champion and a program rich in tradition and success. Maine South's only loss this season was to Lincoln-Way East in Week 2, 28-26. Otherwise, the Hawks, under the direction of head coach David Inserra, have mostly cruised through their season. Their closest win was by 3 points over Palatine in Week 4, 17-14. Take that out of the equation and Maine South's average margin of victory on the season is 37.5 points per game. The Hawks' offense, behind running back Fotis Kokosioulis and quarterback John O'Sullivan, is explosive, averaging 44.8 points per game, tops in the Central Suburban League South. Over the last two weeks, Maine South has scored 56 points against Niles West (56-9) and 58 points against Evanston (58-7). The defense isn't too shabby either, allowing 14 points per game, also tops in the CSL South. Last week against Evanston, Kokosioulis, a Northern Illinois recruit, rushed for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries while O'Sullivan threw for 3 touchdowns ... Warren, under head coach Bryan McNulty, has won four of its last five games, with its only loss over that stretch a Week 8 upset loss to Zion-Benton (21-14). Warren's other two losses this season are to a pair of undefeated 10-0 teams (Barrington in Week 1, 34-20 and Lake Zurich in Week 5, 41-35). The Blue Devils are averaging 26.9 points per game, second most in the North Suburban Conference. The defense is allowing 15.1 points per game, third-fewest in the league. Last week at Bolingbrook, Warren got a big game out of quarterback Ian Schilling, who rushed for 2 touchdowns (1 yard, 4 yards) and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Micah Jones (3 catches, 65 yards). Schilling was 14-of-23 for 175 yards. He also threw 7 passes for 91 yards to Jaden Quartey. Martin Walker took care of the ground game for the Blue Devils, rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.
Winner gets: A berth in the state quarterfinals against the winner of No. 13 Naperville Central (8-2) at No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1)
No. 14 Plainfield North Tigers (8-2) at No. 3 Lake Zurich Bears (10-0)
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Last week: Plainfield North def. Andrew, 41-6; Lake Zurich def. Schaumburg, 42-6.
Playoff history: Plainfield North is making its seventh playoff appearance and its fourth straight. Last year, the Tigers finished as the state runner-up in Class 7A, losing to East St. Louis in the championship game, 26-13 ... Lake Zurich is making its 20th playoff appearance and its 15th in 16 years. The Bears won the Class 7A state championship in 2007, defeating Wheaton Warrenville South 7-3 in the title game. The Bears have also placed second three times (2006, 2010, 2013). Last year, Lake Zurich lost in the Class 7A second round to Fenwick, 20-14.
Skinny: Plainfield North may not have quantity when it comes to playoff tradition, but it has quality. In just its sixth playoff appearance last year, the Tigers advanced all the way to the Class 7A state championship game before falling to East St. Louis. Plainfield North followed that up this season with a strong showing in the tough Southwest Prairie Conference, finishing 7-2 in a league in which five of 10 teams made the playoffs, including champion Oswego. Plainfield North's only losses were close-shave losses to 8-2 Minooka in Week 4 (23-22) and to 9-1 Oswego in Week 5 (7-6). The Tigers, led by head coach Tim Kane, had the most prolific offense in their league, averaging 33.8 points per game. In the last five weeks, they've scored at least 31 points per game, and a high of 62 points. The defense was the second-stingiest in the league, allowing 9.4 points per game. Against Andrew last week, the defense was totally on point, allowing just 3 first downs and 70 total yards. The Plainfield North offense was led by running back Dillon McCarthy, who rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Joe Stiffend added 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He scored was on a 56-yard run. Quarterback Brady Miller, who completed 10-of-24 passes for 118 yards, directed the offense to 381 total yards ... Lake Zurich kept up its relentless approach to defense as it opened the playoffs. Over the last five weeks, the Bears have allowed a total of 34 points (6.8 points per game). Against Schaumburg last week, Lake Zurich, led by head coach Luke Mertens, gave up only 10 first downs and 168 yards of total offense. The Bears also forced 4 fumbles (and recovered 1) and got an interception. On the season, Lake Zurich has pitched 3 shutouts and has held opponents to under 10 points seven times. The Bears are allowing a North Suburban Conference-low 8.5 points per game. Offensively, Lake Zurich, averaging a NSC-best 34.9 points per game, had its way against Schaumburg. Quarterback Evan Lewandowski was sharp, completing 13-of-27 passes for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also ran for 2 touchdowns, and he barely played in the fourth quarter. Running back Joey Stutzman had a big game last week as well. He rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries and was Lewandowski's top target, catching 5 passes for 117 yards, including a 64-yarder. He also rushed for a touchdown.
Winner gets: A berth in the state quarterfinals against the winner of No. 11 St. Rita (8-2) at No. 6 St. Charles North (9-1).