Playoffs Week 2: Scouting the West Suburban
No. 9 Oswego (9-1) at No. 8 Glenbard West (9-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday at Glenbard East.
Last week: Oswego 28, No. 24 Naperville North 14; Glenbard West 42, No. 25 Bloom 12.
Outlook: Panthers 6-foot-2, 200-pound running back Chris Coleman rushed for more than 300 yards on 29 carries as Oswego bulled past Naperville North. Glenbard West hasn't faced a power run game like this, and it'll be a test to stand up to it. The Hilltoppers hope a healthy rotation of defensive linemen, and a return from injury by Aidan O'Keefe, will help. Moving the game to Glenbard East helps Glenbard West's speed on offense. While Dre Thomas leads the team with 144 carries, 961 yards and 18 touchdowns, Tyquan Cox isn't far behind and is a speed demon on the edge. Avoiding Iowa-bound Oswego defensive lineman Noah Shannon is important, as is loosening up the defense with standout receiver Alec Pierce.
Advancement: The winner advances to the Class 8A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Lincoln-Way East and No. 17 St. Charles East.
No. 11 Hinsdale Central (8-2) at No. 6 Loyola (9-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Hinsdale Central 33, No. 22 Stevenson 21; Loyola 35, No. 27 New Trier 32.
Outlook: The Red Devils's first-round win was highlighted by the return from injury of quarterback Matt Rush. His role likely expands this week with Indiana-bound tight end Matt Bjorson and receiver J.T. Kolke. The offense still revolves around the running tandem of Luke Skokna and Garrett Oakey, however. Loyola is a dangerous team this time of year. First because the Ramblers, winners of nine straight, continue to get healthy. Second, Loyola boasts three title game appearances in the last four years and holds a 27-7 playoff record since 2009. A three-headed ground game is led by Hamid Bullie, Trevor Cabanban and quarterback Quinn Boyle. The Red Devils' defense, led by linebacker Aidan Cruickshank, is a definite team strength.
Advancement: The winner advances to the Class 8A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 3 Marist and No. 19 Curie.
No. 5 DeKalb (8-2) at No. 4 Willowbrook (9-1)
Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: DeKalb 38, No. 12 Montini 28; Willowbrook 44, No. 13 Deerfield 21.
Outlook: DeKalb's offense scored 24 unanswered points last week while rallying to an opening-round win. The Barbs rolled up 454 total yards, including 306 on the ground with quarterback Noah Valin and Jaylen Hobson each rushing for more than 100 yards. Willowbrook's starters got a full half of rest last week, so the Barbs will face a fresh defense. In just a half of work, lineman Kevon Dobbins notched 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Willowbrook's offense has explosive potential with running backs Jack Jessen, who's rushed for 1,729 yards, and Chris Diaz. Quarterback John Taylor has multiple targets in receivers Sikander Zafar, Jacob Entwistle, Martique Barksdale and others. The offensive line must limit Barbs lineman Ahmad Baker-McElroy.
Advancement: The winner advances to the Class 6A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Prairie Ridge and No. 9 Cary-Grove.
No. 8 St. Laurence (7-3) at No. 16 Hinsdale South (6-4)
Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: St. Laurence 48, No. 9 Quincy 28; Hinsdale South 28, No. 1 Crete-Monee 20.
Outlook: What more can be said about Hinsdale South's upset of the top seed in the southern bracket of 6A, other than the Hornets again appear capable of anything this postseason. After surviving one tough defensive challenge against Crete-Monee, Hinsdale South must slow down St. Laurence running back Tori Clinton. Last week he rushed for a program record 400 yards and 5 touchdowns while also becoming the program's all-time leading rusher. Hornets defensive linemen Oshikhai Ebikhumi and Chris Mosley have been tough all season. Hornets stellar receiver Destin Talbert showed his defensive skills by snaring 2 interceptions last week. He and running back Marquese Garrett will try to keep the offense rolling.
Advancement: The winner advances to the Class 6A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 13 Providence and No. 5 Normal Community West.