Class 7A quarterfinal: Scouting Lake Zurich at St. Rita
No. 3 Lake Zurich Bears (11-0) at No. 11 St. Rita Mustangs (9-2)
When: 5 p.m., Saturday
Where: St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave., Chicago
Playoff run: Lake Zurich def. Schaumburg in the first round, 42-6, and Plainfield North in the second round, 27-9 ... St. Rita def. Simeon in the first round, 31-14, and St. Charles North in the second round, 26-16.
Head coaches: Luke Mertens, Lake Zurich; Todd Kuska, St. Rita
Playoff history: 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 ... St. Rita is making its 29th playoff appearance and its fourth in the last five years. The Mustangs have won two state championships, in 1978 and in 2006. Interestingly, in 2006, St. Rita defeated Lake Zurich in the Class 7A state championship game, 35-21. Last year, St. Rita lost in the first round to Rockford Auburn, 22-21.
Skinny: This is the third-ever playoff meeting between these two teams and so far, the stakes have always been high. Also, each team boasts a big win in the series. Lake Zurich got a win over St. Rita in the 2010 state semifinals while St. Rita won the 2006 Class 7A state championship by defeating Lake Zurich ... Lake Zurich, which is allowing just 8.5 points per game and has pitched 3 shutouts this season, is coming off another defensive gem. Against Plainfield North last week, the Bears gave up just 9 points (its eighth game this season allowing single-digit points), rolled up 4 interceptions and allowed just 50 rushing yards. They also kept Plainfield North out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. Junior cornerback Austin LePage was in a zone. He had 3 interceptions himself against Plainfield North, and now has 8 on the season. The Lake Zurich defense is led by linebacker Jack Sanborn, who has committed to Wisconsin ... Offensively last week, Lake Zurich, which is averaging a North Suburban Conference-best 34.2 points per game, got another big game out of senior Evan Lewandowski, who has been one of the best quarterbacks in Lake County all season. Lewandowski threw for 2 touchdowns, completing 9-of-17 passes for 206 yards along the way. Wide receivers Matthijs Enters and Payton Powell and running back Joey Stutzman are usually Lewandowski's favorite targets. Both Powell and Stutzman had touchdown catches last week ... St. Rita's two losses this season were to playoff teams from its tough conference, the Chicago Catholic Blue. The Mustangs, on a five-game winning streak, lost to Providence in Week 3, 28-21 and to Loyola Academy in Week 6, 34-14. St. Rita averages 32 points per game and is allowing 19.2 points per game ... Last week against St. Charles North, St. Rita flexed its muscles in the running game, rolling up 355 of its 427 total yards on the ground. Senior running back Chris Childers, who has committed to Indiana State, was the big gainer for the Mustangs. He finished with 269 yards on 31 carries. He also scored 3 touchdowns, including an 87-yard score. Childers also caught 4 passes for 41 yards from quarterback Hayden Ekern (9-of-17, 72 yards). Ekern earned the starting spot late last month when starter Jake Zylman went down with an injury ... Defensively against St. Charles North last week, St. Rita picked off 3 passes.
Winner gets: A berth in the state semifinals next weekend against the winner of No. 18 Mt. Carmel (8-3) vs. No. 7 East St. Louis (10-1).