No. 7 Hoffman Estates (9-2) at No. 14 Belvidere North (7-4)When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
How they got here: Hoffman Estates beat De La Salle 34-0, beat Lake Forest 48-28. Belvidere North beat Rockford Auburn 20-7, beat Grayslake North 14-7.
Advancement: winner plays the winner of Prairie Ridge-Willowbrook
Outlook: Hoffman Estates is in completely uncharted waters. But the high-flying Hawks figure they can soar right over it and land in the semifinals. Hoffman Estates has never played 3 playoff games in one season, and in their previous 7 playoff appearances, the Hawks had won just 2 playoff games and never more than one in a season.
"It has been a typical week of practice for us," Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said. "The kids aren't satisfied. The last four weeks, the leadership of this team has grown tremendously. The kids who used to lead by example are talking and everyone is accountable. It makes my job easier."
Hoffman Estates has dismantled its first two playoff foes by a combined score of 72-28.
"The last two weeks we felt were the two best games of the year for us," Heyse said. "Those teams weren't slouches."
Hoffman Estates will continue to rely on the play of its highly skilled players on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Austin Coalson and wide receivers Jaylan Alexander, Jayvon Blissett and Will Nune along with running back Jaylin Johnson have played exceptionally well all season.
The key will be how the Hawks can stop Belvidere North's triple-option, something Hoffman has not seen all season. Alexander and Jimmy Burks will need to make big plays on defense while Hoffman has to avoid bad penalties and turnovers.
"We got to be disciplined," Heyse said. "We have to stop the dive back and the quarterback. We need to score early and get some three-and-outs. If we can keep them off the board and from controlling the ball we will be in good shape."