Tougher test coming for Huntley in second round
The Huntley football team passed its first Class 8A playoff test.
Now, the going gets much tougher.
No. 7 Huntley (9-1) dispatched No. 26 Taft 48-6 last Saturday. The Red Raiders limited Taft to 12 rushing yards on 19 carries.
Meanwhile, Huntley junior running back Ryder Havens followed a big, physical offensive line for 205 yards and 6 touchdowns in 18 attempts.
Next comes a road trip to Chicago's southwest side to face No. 23 Marist (6-4), a 2018 state semifinalist.
The RedHawks are no ordinary 23 seed. Marist's four losses came against state contenders Notre Dame (8-2), Brother Rice (6-4), Mt. Carmel (10-0) and Nazareth Academy (10-0) by a combined 27 points.
Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said the Fox Valley Conference co-champions welcome the challenge of competing against an elite Catholic League team.
"We're excited about the chance," said the fourth-year coach, who owns a 31-11 record. "In order to advance any further into the playoffs and reach our goal, we need to beat at least one of these Catholic school teams. It's a hurdle in our way."
A fascinating matchup pits Huntley's defensive line of Conor Rice (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), Matt Burba (6-0, 260) and Brad Walker (6-1, 260) -- who have combined for 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks -- against the Marist offensive line of senior left tackle Sean Quarterman (6-2, 240), junior left guard Pat Coogan (6-5, 287), senior center Ryan Meehan (6-1, 240), senior right guard Tom Kapa (6-1, 295) and sophomore right tackle Deuce McGuire (6-5, 260).
Last week the Marist line paved the way for 491 rushing yards in a 49-7 win at No. 10 Glenbard East (8-2). The RedHawks face a stiffer assignment against a Huntley defense that holds opponents to 9.8 points and 45 rushing yards per game.
"We need to continue to play physical football and get off the ball fast because their defensive line is very talented," said third-year Marist coach Ron Dawczak (28-7). "We just need to continue to play the way that we've played. We've been successful, but we tell the kids they have to have a short memory."
Geneva helps rival: Kaneland's grass football field is in rough shape following the sixth-seeded Knights' 41-13 Class 6A win against No. 11 Crystal Lake Central last Friday.
Needing to practice under lights on dry footing this week, Kaneland got an assist from Geneva, a team it defeated in Week 2. Geneva offered the use of Burgess Field. The Knights practiced on the synthetic surface Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of Friday's game at No. 14 Lake Forest (6-4).
Kaneland graduate Boone Thorgesen, Geneva's sophomore head coach, helped facilitate the arrangement. Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said practicing on Burgess Field has been good preparation for the top-notch surface they will play on at Lake Forest.
"Considering the state of our facility, I told our boys I think we're playing on the other side of the tracks this week," Ryan said.
And now for something completely different: No. 10 Hononegah (8-2) will present No. 7 Batavia (8-2) with challenges the Bulldogs have not faced on either side of the ball when the teams clash in Saturday's Class 7A playoff game in Batavia.
The Indians, who allow 25.2 points per game, play a 3-5-3 defense. No team in the DuKane Conference uses that scheme.
Offensively, the Indians have scored 37.3 ppg by rushing for 1,469 yards and passing for 1,910. They have done so by using the pass to set up the run.
"It's a throw-first offense," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We don't see many teams like that in our league. We see a lot of run-first and power teams that complement with the passing game. They huck it all over the field and they do a lot of creative stuff. It's going to be a challenge."
Hononegah senior quarterback Payton Mather has completed 147 of 241 attempts (61%) for 1,901 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has thrown 7 interceptions. Batavia's defense limits opponents to 14.7 ppg.
Chasing history: After slipping past No. 10 Orr 24-18 on muddy Greg True Field in Elgin last Saturday, No. 7 St. Edward (7-3) makes the two-hour drive to face No. 2 Fieldcrest (10-0) in Round 2.
The Green Wave seek the first quarterfinal appearance in school history.
"We've got our work cut out for us, but the kids are excited," coach Mike Rolando said. "We're kind of on borrowed money here. The kids are just playing loose and having fun. They want to go down and take a shot at the No. 2 team in the state."