Scouting Fox Valley area quarterfinal playoff games
No. 5 Willowbrook (11-0) at No. 4 Batavia (11-0)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium
Road to quarterfinal: Willowbrook defeated No. 28 Lincoln Park 35-0 and No. 12 Maine West 36-26; Batavia defeated No. 29 Granite City 49-0 and No. 13 Moline 59-32.
Outlook: Batavia makes its seventh quarterfinal appearance, its fifth under eighth-year coach Dennis Piron (84-11). The defending Class 7A champs seek the fifth semifinal berth in school history. The Batavia offense is humming at peak efficiency. Running backs Art Taylor (1,078 yards, 9 TD) and Quinn Urwiler (700 yards, 17 TD) have burst through open holes the last two weeks and the passing game has taken flight. In two playoff starts, quarterback Jack Myers has thrown for 301 yards and 6 touchdowns on 20-of-29 passing. "Our running attack has been solid all year," Piron said, "and I think our passing game has really started to click for us the last couple of weeks." Willowbrook seeks its first semifinal berth since the Ford administration in its third straight quarterfinal appearance. The offense is directed by quarterback Sam Tumilty. The junior has thrown for 2,125 yards and 26 touchdowns on 118-of-174 passing (67.8 percent) with only 3 interceptions. The quarterback is also Willowbrook's leading rusher with 1,241 yards and 16 touchdowns. His top targets are 6-foot-3 junior receiver Deandre Holliday (31 receptions, 669 yards, 10 TD), senior Scotty Tumilty (39-617-8) and senior C.J. Harris (22-440-6). Senior D'onte Gholston has carried 87 ties for 559 yards and 4 touchdowns. "They are a very tough team to defend," Piron said. "They have big-play potential all over the place on offense and defense. They can score on defense, they take picks back, they get after you and do some different things. They are a very well-balanced football team with a lot of really good athletes all over the field." The Batavia defense counters with 6-1 junior safety Sam Barus (team-high 87 tackles), North Dakota State recruit Luke Weerts (84 tackles, 5 sacks), Northwestern-bound linebacker Michael Jansey (62 tackles, 18 TFL, 6 sacks) and junior linebacker Quinn Urwiler (67 tackles, 7.5 sacks).
Advancement: The winner advances to a state semifinal against the winner of No. 1 Simeon (11-0) vs. No. 8 Nazareth Academy (10-1)
No. 22 St. Charles North (8-3) at No. 14 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-1)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday at Red Grange Field
Road to quarterfinal: St. Charles North defeated No. 11 Normal Community 44-29 and No. 6 Rolling Meadows 24-17; Wheaton Warrenville South defeated No. 19 Belleville West 20-12 and No. 3 Hononegah 20-14.
Outlook: The second-place and third-place finishers in the DuKane Conference meet again. Wheaton Warrenville South knocked off St. Charles North 13-11 in Week 9. Junior kicker Jack Olsen made a 41-yard field goal with 21.4 seconds left. Both kickers factored in the game. St. Charles North's Luke Barresi's 39-yard field goal staked the North Stars to their 3-0 halftime lead. Barresi narrowly missed 2 field goals in last Saturday's victory over Rolling Meadows, though both had plenty of leg. Olsen has connected on 21 field goals this season. Barresi has kicked 10 field goals. He also sent 28 of 56 kickoffs to the end zone for touchbacks. "That's a school record for us and I think he broke the record for field goals in a season, so we've got a weapon just the same as they do," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "Luke, in practice and in pregame, can hit from 60 with no problem. We just have to get him in a position where it's something he feels comfortable with." Last week, the Tigers rallied from a 14-3 third-quarter deficit to upset No. 3 Hononegah 20-14. Running back Jake Arthurs capped a long drive with a touchdown and quarterback Noah Henkel connected with Jason Haw for the 80-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass. Olsen's short field goal following a Hononegah fumble provided insurance. Arthurs has carried 159 times for 715 yards and 8 touchdowns. Henkel has completed 101 of 184 attempts for 1,442 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown 4 interceptions. Haw leads the Tigers with 28 receptions for 518 yards and 5 touchdowns. Junior defensive back Ryan Thiesse accounts for 3 of 8 interceptions by the St. Charles North defense. Senior lineman DJ Oshin leads the North Stars with 18 tackles for loss, followed by senior outside linebacker Billy Durocher (17) and junior outside linebacker Ben Furtney (17). Pomazak said his players know what needs to be corrected in the rematch. "Red-zone efficiency was kind of an issue for us the last time we played, and we didn't quite establish the run game quite like we would like to," he said.
Advancement: The winner advances to a state semifinal against the winner of No. 15 East St. Louis (9-2) at No. 7 Mt. Carmel (10-1)
No. 4 Phillips (9-2) at No. 1 Cary-Grove (11-0)
Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Al Bohrer Field
Road to quarterfinal: Phillips defeated No. 13 Lake Forest 30-24 and No. 5 Prairie Ridge 24-19; Cary-Grove defeated No. 16 Wauconda 49-7 and No. 8 Kaneland 38-6.
Outlook: It's a showdown between Class 6A title contenders. Phillips has developed into a perennial state power under ninth-year coach Troy McAllister (82-24). The Wildcats won the Class 4A state title in 2015, lost a Class 4A semifinal in 2016, and won the Class 5A state title in 2017. They asked to move up to Class 6A this year. Phillips lost its season opener 49-18 to defending Ohio state champion Pickerington Central. Its other loss was a 21-8 setback against undefeated Simeon, the No. 1 seed in Class 7A. The Wildcats have athletes all over the field, headed by Alabama recruit Jahleel Billingsley. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior is normally a tight end but regularly in the playoffs has taken direct snaps in wildcat formation. Senior cornerback Joseph Thompson (6-10, 160) is committed to Illinois. Secondary mate Fabian McCray (6-2, 180) decommitted from Illinois on Sunday to reopen his recruitment, he announced on Twitter. Eighth-year Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg (80-17) said Phillips is reminiscent of the Crete-Monee squad that defeated the Trojans in the 2012 Class 6A title game in Champaign. That team was led by Laquon Treadwell, now a receiver with the Minnesota Vikings. "They have a lot of similarities," Seaburg said. "Crete was just so loaded with Division-I talent, so fast. They had one impact player who really stood out, so I would say this team kind of has that look to them -- real physical up front, playmakers on the perimeter. Just a super-talented team." Cary-Grove seeks its sixth semifinal berth since 2004. A defense led by linebacker Jake Johnson limits opponents to 15.2 ppg. Conditions could be a factor. The forecast temperature for Cary at kickoff is 33 degrees with a west wind at 9 mph. It will be the first time Phillips has played on a grass field this season.
Advancement: The winner advances to a state semifinal against the winner of No. 2 Antioch (11-0) at No. 6 Niles Notre Dame (9-2).
No. 4 Lena-Winslow (10-1) at No. 9 Aurora Christian (8-3)
Game time: 3 p.m. Saturday
Road to quarterfinal: Lena-Winslow defeated No. 13 Lewistown 64-14 and No. 5 Orr 49-14; Aurora Christian defeated No. 8 Annawan-Wethersfield Coop 26-20 and No. 1 Princeville 41-0.
Outlook: Aurora Christian takes on the defending Class 1A champs. Lena-Winslow makes its eighth quarterfinal appearance in the last 10 years. The Panthers also won Class 1A titles in 2010 and 2013. They finished second in the Northwest Upstate Illini (Northwest) Conference this season behind the lone team to beat them: Lanark-Eastland, a Class 2A quarterfinalist. "They are what you expect out of a northwest small-school team," Aurora Christian coach David Beebe said. "They are interested in running it down your throat, they are interested in pushing you around and being physical. We are going to have to be up for the challenge because if we don't stop them from running the ball, it is going to be a long night." Everything came together for the Eagles in last week's win over No. 1 seed Princeville. Beebe said the performance of the defensive line -- seniors Payton Mustard (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) and Darrell Gregg (5-11, 240) and juniors Angel Jaimes (5-10, 225) and Jake Liesendahl (5-10, 255) -- was among the best he can remember. The Eagles held Princeville to 115 total yards and intercepted 2 passes. Freshman Josh Dornick returned a pick 20 yards for 6 points. Sophomore linebacker Jack Certa nabbed the other. Offensively, senior receiver Caleb Beebe made 9 receptions for 148 yards. Senior running back Kyrin Perry rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown in 20 attempts.
Advancement: The winner advances to a state semifinal against the winner of No. 10 Dakota (8-3) at No. 6 Forreston (9-2)