Scouting this weekend's DuPage County playoff football games

  • Glenbard West will host Downers Grove South in a Class 8A first-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday in Glen Ellyn.

      Glenbard West will host Downers Grove South in a Class 8A first-round playoff game at 1 p.m. Saturday in Glen Ellyn. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/1/2019 12:30 PM

Class 8A (bracket order)

No. 21 Bolingbrook (6-3) at No. 12 Hinsdale Central (8-1)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Andrew 24, Bolingbrook 17; Hinsdale Central 24, Lyons Twp. 6.

Outlook: The Red Devils haven't complained about it, but they've been hassled by injuries all season. They're finally getting healthy, especially in their secondary where Guy Goss and Drew Novatney should be good to go. They'll need to slow a Bolingbrook offense that shows a bunch of different looks with Devyn Suggs behind center. While Raiders linebacker Tyler McLaurin holds offers from Illinois and Iowa State, defensive back Justin Walters has been offered by more than a dozen schools. Hinsdale Central quarterback Michael Brescia has thrown for 1,199 yards and rushed for 427. Four receivers have double-digit catches, a list that doesn't include running back Mark Skokna, who's rushed for 541 yards.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 28 Elgin at No. 5 Oswego.

No. 31 Downers Grove South (5-4) at No. 2 Glenbard West (9-0)

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Downers Grove North 14, Downers Grove South 7; Glenbard West 42, Oak Park 0.

Outlook: Glenbard West's relentless ground game of Jalen Moore, Nic Seifert, Joey Richmond and Samson Zander has piled up 2,700 rushing yards and quarterback Braden Spiech last week threw for 217 yards. It's a mammoth challenge for Downers South, which will lean on Shawn Lee up front and linebackers Anthony Becht and Alex Rapinchuk. Mustangs running back Rahshon Murff has been hobbled by injuries, which could force Richie Pecenka to drive the ground game. Quarterback Cole Warehime needs to connect early and often with receivers Jayden Lambert and Eli Reed. It won't be easy facing a fierce pass rush with Hilltoppers safety Sean Michel prowling the secondary.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 28 Elgin at No. 5 Oswego.

No. 23 Marist (5-4) at No. 10 Glenbard East (8-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Marist 14, Loyola 6; Glenbard East 35, Larkin 10.

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Outlook: The 56-24 record of Marist's opponents tops all 256 playoff teams. Glenbard East coach John Walters sees this as Rams finesse against Marist physicality. As defensive end Gabe Jamieson stands his ground and linebackers Doug Pham and Dan Quirk track down Marist back Amari Watkins and running quarterback Hayden Mikesell, Walters also would like to see Glenbard East's own ground game step up. Linemen Marc Koumoundouros, Ben Wightkin, Josh Sandoval, Anthony Coco and Carlos Carbajal do bring decent size. Still, the Rams won't shy away from targeting their most electric performer, receiver Deon Cook, who has caught 56 passes for 939 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 26 Taft at No. 7 Huntley.

No. 22 Conant (6-3) at No. 11 Neuqua Valley (8-1)

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Palatine 20, Conant 13; Neuqua Valley 41, Metea Valley 20.

Outlook: Who can slow the Wildcats offense that's averaged 350 yards a game? Conant's defense has been solid, even during its current three-game losing streak. Neuqua Valley quarterback Mark Gronowski is a true dual threat who's thrown for 1,361 yards and rushed for 501. Armani Moreno's rushed for an additional 890 yards. The good news on offense is the return from injury of leading receiver Sean Larkin. Defensively, Wildcats lineman J.J. Robertson is extremely disruptive. Linebackers Jack Belskis, Trey Borske and Nate Williamson must slow a double-wing offense that's thrown it only 30 times. Conant quarterback Guiseppe Dugo is out with injury as safety Matt Botello takes over behind center.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 27 Curie at No. 6 Homewood-Flossmoor.

Class 7A (bracket order)

No. 17 Benet (6-3) at No. 16 Glenbard North (6-3)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Nazareth 27, Benet 8; Glenbard North 45, Geneva 0.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Outlook: Benet's lost three straight, but two losses came to the defending 8A and 7A champs. Third-year starting quarterback Colin Gillespie, who's thrown for 1,042 yards and rushed for 266, should return from injury. That'll help keep the Redwings balanced with running back Sean Torres and a bevy of receivers. Winner of five straight, Glenbard North has successfully used quarterback Mike Vazquez's play-action passes to receivers Kobie Jamison, Rory Hills and Angelo Cusumano. That keeps foes from focusing entirely on the run game led by Jordan McQuarter. Tackles Ben Voigts and Miguel Galvez are key to protecting Vazquez from Benet defensive lineman Jacob Snell, a Miami of Ohio commit.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 32 Eisenhower at No. 1 Mt. Carmel.

No. 28 Moline (5-4) at No. 5 Willowbrook (8-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Moline 48, Quincy 21; Willowbrook 44, Proviso East 6.

Outlook: Moline, which lost to Benet in Week 2 and had to forfeit a victory, qualified with last week's win. Big plays made the difference, including four fourth-down stops in Maroons territory and a pair of long touchdown runs by Kaeden Dreifurst. He and Aboubacar Barry have combined for nearly 1,900 rushing yards. Willowbrook begins what it hopes will be another deep playoff run after winning eight straight games by at least two touchdowns. It's no wonder with quarterback Sam Tumilty leading the way. He's been dominant while throwing for 1,904 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 924 yards and 12 scores. Ta'Vion Geanes has developed into a steady threat at running back.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 21 TF South at No. 12 Yorkville.

No. 27 Downers Grove North (5-4) at No. 6 Maine West (8-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Downers Grove North 14, Downers Grove South 7; Maine West 49, Highland Park 13.

Outlook: The Trojans' defensive strategy is no secret. They must slow Maine West quarterback Danny Kentgen, who last week threw for 6 touchdowns and has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season. Downers North has been stingy since a Week 6 loss to Glenbard West, thanks in much part to stinging linebacker Drew Bielawski and quarterback Drew Cassens in the secondary. Cassens is a wrecking ball at quarterback. He's led DuPage County in rushing pretty much all season and enters this game with 1,311 yards. But focus too much on him and running back Josh Lumpkin will hit you with a big run. A little play-action with receivers Sam Barbato and Adam Criter would help.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 22 Wheaton Warrenville South at No. 11 Harlem.

No. 22 Wheaton Warrenville South (6-3) at No. 11 Harlem (7-2)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: WW South 28, St. Charles North 7; Harlem 55, Rockford Auburn 12.

Outlook: Keep an eye on WW South's secondary. They'll be tested by Harlem quarterback James Cooper Jr., who's thrown for 2,096 yards on an average of 33 passes a game. Jalon Benson and Brandt Hixson have combined for 110 catches and 1,396 receiving yards. Tigers cornerbacks Danny Healy and Max Wilson will be busy, as will safeties Jimmy Muff and Ryan Frank. Look for running back Jake Arthurs to also see time back there. WW South can win this one with its diverse offense headed by quarterback Parker Brown. In addition to go-to receiver Kaleb Clousing, the Tigers can pound the ball on the ground with running backs Prince Lankah and Arthurs, who have combined for 1,031 rushing yards.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 28 Elgin at No. 5 Oswego.

Class 5A (bracket order)

No. 9 Glenbard South (6-3) at No. 8 St. Rita (6-3)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Glenbard South 48, West Chicago 7; St. Rita 7, Notre Dame 0.

Outlook: The seeding formula did Glenbard South no favors. Eight of St. Rita's opponents made the playoffs and its nine foes were a combined 55-26. The Raiders will "try to create a track meet atmosphere," according to coach Ryan Crissey. They've got athletes who do well in space. Quarterback Nick Plaso has accounted for 1,835 yards, 23 touchdowns; Trevor Burnett is the team's leading rusher and receiver with 1,001 yards combined; running back Kylen Henderson and receivers Cade Hardtke and Yazan Blan all are now healthy. On the other side of this equation is St. Rita speedster Kaleb Brown, who behind bruisers such as 6-foot-2, 305-pound Trevor Tovey has run for 1,210 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 16 Marian Catholic at No. 1 Sterling.

No. 11 Elmwood Park (6-3) at No. 6 Montini (7-2)

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Bishop McNamara 41, Elmwood Park 14; Montini 41, Providence 21.

Outlook: A favorable opener for Montini given Elmwood Park lost 20-15 to Lisle in Week 2 and lost 41-14 to Bishop McNamara in Week 9. But there is a reason Elmwood Park quarterback Mike Stranski is a three-year starter. He'll lead a predominantly passing spread offense and throw to receivers Jamin Escarpita, Keon Grimes and small but quick David Neira. Then again, if Stranski escapes the pass rush of Montini's Patrick Peters, Cam Richardson, Demond Butcher and Vinicio McPhee he'll throw into another Broncos' strength, its secondary. Cornerback Devin Hoovel has made 2 of the Broncos' 8 interceptions. Quarterback Deontay Bell was just named CCL/ESCC Green offensive player of the year.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 14 Evergreen Park at No. 3 Sycamore.

Class 4A (bracket order)

No. 13 Clark (5-3) at No. 4 St. Francis (8-1)

Game time: 11 a.m. Saturday at Wheaton College.

Last week: Clark did not play due to Chicago Public Schools teachers strike; St. Francis 45, Aurora Central Catholic 0.

Outlook: St. Francis coach Bob McMillen had film on Clark by Saturday and the Spartans practiced against the Eagles' wishbone and offset I throughout the week. Yet due to the Chicago Public Schools teachers strike that had football players off fields since Oct. 17, he didn't hear from Clark coach Kevin Simmons until 2 p.m. Wednesday when it was realized that under a specific IHSA bylaw teams could practice. Huge linemen such as 6-foot-6, 320-pound Avion Ellis will test the Spartans' line technique as they locate quarterback Trevon Sanders. St. Francis' Michael Baffa and Jackson Gerard took reps at quarterback, and though Tommy Rittenhouse did throw, he will rest his broken left arm this week.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 12 North Chicago at No. 5 Genoa-Kingston.

No. 14 Sullivan (5-3) at No. 3 IC Catholic (8-1)

Game time: 6 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Sullivan did not play due to Chicago Public Schools teachers strike; IC Catholic 28, Riverside-Brookfield 13.

Outlook: Like his Metro Suburban Blue counterpart, Bob McMillen, IC Catholic coach Bill Krefft had been preparing all week against Sullivan after a Sunday film exchange -- but hadn't heard again from Tigers coach Calvin Clark until about 2 p.m. Wednesday. With the strike settled Thursday, it's now game on. Sullivan quarterback Marcus Granderson is the Eagles' leading rusher and will attempt to hit the big play with receivers like Randy Young. At 0-13 all-time in the playoffs, Sullivan has a tough task against the five-time state champions, but with their speed the Eagles will try to get behind Knights defensive backs Deontae Oatman, Chauncey Lee, Max Cook and Tommy Ryan.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 11 Dixon at No. 6 Stillman Valley.

Class 3A

No. 14 Lisle (5-4) at N0. 3 Wilmington (8-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Lisle 55, Streator 14; Wilmington 24, Peotone 0.

Outlook: Wilmington is a traditional power that beat Lisle 27-6 in Week 5. But due to Interstate Eight and now Illinois Central Eight familiarity, plus LIsle's 2018 win over the Wildcats, it's an opener Lisle is good with. Each team favors a run-first approach, more so Wilmington as quarterback Keaton Hopwood has passed 32 times all season. But Trey Shaw and Jake Rodawold, who has run for 1,345 yards and 20 touchdowns, are hard to handle up the gut or bouncing outside. The Lions will ply the perimeter with variety -- quarterback Aidan Lombardo, backs Dylan Laue, Connor Nigro and Demetrius King, a three-phase weapon with 2 kick-return touchdowns and 2 defensive scores the last two weeks.

Advancement: The winner advances to face the winner between No. 11 Dunbar at No. 6 Eureka.

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