South Elgin, West Aurora ready for rematch
They meet again.
Eight days after West Aurora tamed South Elgin 48-10 in the regular-season finale, the Upstate Eight Conference rivals rematch in a Class 8A first-round playoff game.
No. 7 West Aurora (8-1) hosts No. 26 South Elgin (6-3) at Ken Zimmerman Field on Saturday at 7 p.m.
What do the coaches think of game planning for the same opponent two weeks in a row?
"I think it's awesome. What a cool thing," South Elgin's Dragan Teonic said of preparing for his first playoff game since he directed Hersey to the Class 7A playoffs in 2013. "How often do you get a chance to do something like this?
"No opponent in 8A is going to be easy, so you might as well play someone you know so you have a chance to fix some of your mistakes. Hopefully, we can play a little better in the red zone. We have to do a better job."
Finishing drives was an issue for the Storm last week. In four red-zone trips, they scored one touchdown and fumbled twice.
"We moved the ball all night and they certainly moved the ball all night against us, but we lost our composure at times," Teonic said, "We had guys playing out of position and trying to do too much. Meanwhile, they have 17 starters back from a team that was good last year. We obviously don't, but our kids are better than they showed last Friday. The focus has been getting ourselves right and giving ourselves a chance here."
The Blackhawks make a school-record fourth straight playoff appearance under coach Nate Eimer, a 2001 West Aurora graduate.
"It never gets old, especially around here," Eimer said of playoff inclusion. "I'm extremely proud of our players and coaches and proud for our community."
As for facing the same opponent back to back?
"I don't think playing anybody in Week 10 is bad," Eimer said, "but I think it's scary because, obviously, they've got great film on us and they probably have a good idea of what they want to do differently this time. You could spend the whole week thinking of what to do differently here or there. I'm sure both teams will come out with different wrinkles."
Several Blackhawks stood out on offense last week. Hezzy Salter rushed for 95 yards and 3 touchdowns, fullback Trevon Tittle ran for 93 yards and a score and wide receiver Moshe Rogers made 4 catches for 113 yards, highlighted by a 63-yard touchdown catch and run.
Staying over: St. Charles North players won't need to shake their legs out after a long bus ride when they play at Normal Community in a Class 7A first-round playoff game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Instead, the North Stars will travel to Normal on Friday night and stay in a hotel.
"We decided it would be better to invest a little and make it like a collegiate experience for our guys," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "We felt this was the best way to get them focused. We'll wake up, get ready and do our thing."
From North Star to Golden Domer: St. Charles North sophomore running back Nick DeMarco has been an important offensive component since big brother Sam DeMarco was sidelined by injury three weeks ago.
Nick, who had been in the cornerback rotation and contributed on special teams, has rushed for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns on 42 carries (7.3 avg).
The younger DeMarco will become an important component of the Notre Dame baseball program beginning in 2021-22. The shortstop and pitcher announced his commitment to play for the Fighting Irish via Twitter on Tuesday.
"He hasn't even played his sophomore season of baseball and he's committed to Notre Dame. He's a special athlete," St. Charles North football coach Rob Pomazak said. "He's been doing a great job for us."
Bracket buster? Huntley would turn some heads with a road upset of perennial Class 8A state power Maine South on Friday.
No. 6 Maine South (8-1) is two years removed from a fifth state title since 2000. The Hawks reached the semifinals last season before bowing out in a 24-14 loss to eventual state champion Lincoln-Way East.
"Maine South has a legacy of being in the playoffs for many years. I love playing those types of teams and so do our kids," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "If you want to be thought of the same as the Prairie Ridges, Cary-Groves, Maine Souths and Naperville Centrals, you have to beat those teams."
Huntley (6-3), the No. 27 seed, has recent experience in the Class 8A upset department. In 2016, the Red Raiders were the 24th seed when they surprised No. 9 Stevenson 21-20 in Lincolnshire. Huntley won the following week against Fremd before dropping a 24-0 quarterfinal decision to Loyola Academy.
"We had a similar opportunity a couple of years ago and we won," Zimolzak said of the Stevenson game. "This is another great opportunity for our program. If we play like we did last week, I think we'll have a good chance."
Huntley defeated Dundee-Crown 55-12 in the regular-season finale last Friday to clinch the program's fifth straight playoff berth.
Breakfast with the Green Wave: No. 13 St. Edward (6-3) gets an early wake-up call Saturday.
The Green Wave open the Class 4A playoffs with a 10 a.m. kickoff against No. 4 Urban Prep/Bronzeville (8-1) at Chicago's Gately Stadium. The bus departs Elgin at 7:30 a.m.
"Playing at 10 a.m. on a Saturday is a challenge for both teams," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "On the other hand, I'm glad to have a long week to prepare.
"This team has played loose all season. We just want them to play loose and have some fun. Hopefully, we can pull off the victory and get a home playoff game next week."
A win advances St. Edward to the second round against the winner of No. 12 Chicago Sullivan (6-3) at No. 5 Marengo (7-2).