Scouting: Fox football second-round playoff games
By Jerry Fitzpatrick and Dave Oberhelman
No. 8 South Elgin (9-1) at No. 24 Brother Rice (6-4)
Game time: 5 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: South Elgin 35, No. 25 Oswego East 8; Brother Rice 28, No. 9 Bartlett 8.
Outlook: Brother Rice denied a rematch of South Elgin's Week 8 Upstate Eight contest against Bartlett, the Storm's sole loss. South Elgin seeks UEC revenge using its triple-option offense against a CCL/ESCC team not used to defending the scheme, though it has the horses in safety Giacomo Iraci and linebacker Justin Jefferson. In his first playoff start last week, poised South Elgin sophomore quarterback Ben Karpowicz ran for a team-high 95 yards and threw 2 touchdown passes to Calin Gurau. Back from injury, Davion Cherwin ran for 51 yards and a touchdown. Oswego East mainly contained Marquis Gillespie and Corve King, but the overall talent the Storm presents is hard to handle. Tough as well is Brother Rice's Willie Shaw, a perimeter threat who ran for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns against Bartlett and was offensive player of the year in the CCL/ESCC Blue. On Bartlett's grass field Josh Bell and quarterback Jack Lausch followed counter and lead blocks inside, Lausch running for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. South Elgin linebackers Vince Clinite and Sam Robles counter with a respective 65 and 50 tackles. In its 14-year program history including five prior playoff trips, South Elgin has never advanced to a state quarterfinal, with its second of two second-round Class 8A appearances won by Brother Rice, 34-28, in 2015. The bottom line is a fast start on enemy turf, and turnovers. Bartlett committed 3 and lost; the Storm is plus-14 in turnover margin. "If we play a clean game and don't have a lot of turnovers we're going to be in it," said South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic. "But if we turn the ball over it's not going to be close."
Advancement: The winner advances to the Class 8A quarterfinals to play the winner between No. 16 Edwardsville (8-2) at No. 1 Minooka (10-0).
No. 7 Huntley (9-1) at No. 23 Marist (6-4)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Huntley 48, Taft 6; Marist 49, Glenbard East 7
Outlook: Marist reached a Class 8A semifinal last season before losing to neighborhood rival Brother Rice. The RedHawks' four losses came against teams with a combined 34-6 record: Notre Dame, Brother Rice, Mt. Carmel and Nazareth Academy. Senior quarterback Hayden Mikesell has completed 50 of 92 attempts for 560 yards and 7 touchdowns (3 interceptions). He has rushed for 417 yards and 5 scores on 57 carries. Mikesell has an able backup in sophomore Dontrell Jackson, who has thrown for 466 yards and 5 touchdowns on 50-of-100 passing and has been intercepted 5 times. Jackson has rushed for 229 yards and a touchdown in 60 attempts. Mikesell threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for another last week at Glenbard East. Top Marist receivers include senior AJ Markett (27 rec., 271 yards, 3 TD), 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior Brendan Barry (18-182-2) and 6-1 freshman Carnell Tate (17-274-4). A huge offensive line clears the way for senior running back Amari Watkins. He ho has rushed for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns in 141 totes (7.1 avg.). "I'm really proud of the patience that he's developed over the course of the season because he's been able to read where the holes are and he's quick enough to hit it," Marist coach Ron Dawczak said. "He's a load to bring down. He runs really, really hard." The Marist defense is led by senior outside linebacker Colin Bohanek. Committed to Eastern Illinois, the team captain has 102 tackles (33 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. Junior lineman Triston Schulz leads Marist with 5.5 sacks and 13 TFL. The Huntley offense counters with quarterback Bruno Bosman and running back Ryder Havens, both juniors. Bosman has rushed for 849 yards and 16 TDs. Havens enters with 1,026 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. They operate behind a line led by senior Trevor Masten (6-5, 300). A stout Huntley defense that holds opponents to 45 rushing yards per game is led by linemen Conor Rice, Matt Burba and Brad Walker. The second line of defense includes senior linebackers Darren Manning (65 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks) and Rukkus Hunkins (59-6-1.5). Junior defensive back Alex Janke has a team-high 5 interceptions. What do the Red Raiders have to do to make their first quarterfinal appearance since 2016? "We have to do everything right. That's the bottom line," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "We've been working toward that the entire year and now we have to be perfect in this game."
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner of No. 2 Glenbard West (10-0) at No. 18 Loyola Academy (7-3)
No. 10 Hononegah (8-2) at No. 7 Batavia (8-2)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Hononegah 43, Grant 17; Batavia 49, Thornwood 8
Outlook: Batavia seeks its fourth quarterfinal appearance in five seasons. Hononegah has made 13 straight playoff appearances but has not advanced to a quarterfinal since 1996. The Indians are directed by fifth-year coach Brian Zimmerman, a Hononegah graduate who has coached in the program for 27 years. He ditched the wing-T flexbone offense four seasons ago in favor of a less-predictable spread attack. Quarterback Payton Mather has thrown 28 touchdown passes, a new NIC-10 record. The 6-foot-3, 180 pound senior has completed 147 of 241 attempts (61%) for 1,901 yards. His top receivers are seniors Braden Sayles (44 rec., 609 yards, 6 TD) and Kendall Cross (28-372-8). Senior Christian Gomez is the leading rusher with 931 yards and 16 touchdowns in 121 attempts (7.7 avg.). "The quarterback is very nice and he has a lot of guys who can go get it," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "They have lots of skill and ability and opportunistic players. They have a really good football team." Batavia's defense limits opponents to 14.5 points and 240 total yards per game (80.3 rushing). "Batavia has a tough, hard-nosed, disciplined defense that is going to come after you," Zimmerman said. "They like to put seven in the box and they're very effective at it. If they do that, we'll throw the ball more and take advantage of what we can take advantage of." Outside linebacker Quinn Urwiler returned to form last week after missing two games due to injury. The senior recorded a team-high 9 tackles (3 for loss), a sack, 4 hurries and forced a fumble. Offensively, he carried the ball only twice but Piron said he could see more handles this week. Zimmerman said the size of the Bulldogs' offensive line and the speed of running back Art Taylor are concerns for a defense that allows 25.2 ppg. The Indians have yielded 26 points or more in 6 of 10 games. Batavia averages 35.2 points and 340 total yards per game, 215 via the rush. Taylor carried 18 times last week for 144 yards and 3 TDs, raising his season totals to 1,041 yards and 11 scores on 172 carries (6.1 avg.). The Hononegah defense is led by three linebackers: seniors Lucas Hale (78 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks) and Connor Ellis (73-3-1) and junior Joey Dingillo (76-2-2). "We have total respect for Batavia," Zimmerman said. "We're definitely the underdog coming in. We have to play probably the best game we've played yet on both sides of the ball, have some good fortune on special teams and, hopefully, get a couple of turnovers."
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 15 Thornton (8-2) at No. 2 Nazareth Academy (10-0)
No. 5 Antioch (8-2) at No. 4 Cary-Grove (8-2)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last week: Antioch 57, Mather 0; Cary-Grove 41, St. Ignatius 13
Outlook: Antioch seeks its second straight quarterfinal appearance. The Northern Lake County Conference champs bounced back from a 13-9 loss to North Chicago in Week 9 by trouncing Mather last Saturday. The Sequoits caught a tough break in Week 6, when Minnesota-committed quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis went down with a broken collarbone to his non-throwing shoulder. Junior backup AJ Kutcher has completed 10 of 27 attempts for 220 yards, a touchdown and thrown 3 interceptions. The offense still boasts playmaker Dino Kaliakmanis, also committed to Minnesota. He has 29 receptions for 535 yards and 2 touchdowns and has rushed for 2 scores. Antioch got a lift last week with the return of cornerback/wide receiver Tre Watson from a knee injury that kept him sidelined since Week 3. Watson (6-3, 190), who returned an interception for a touchdown against Lake Forest in the season opener, has offers from Wyoming, NIU and three other MAC schools. "They have difference makers on the perimeter and good speed from their slots," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "They do a lot of misdirection that really causes you to be disciplined on defense. Really, the key is keeping track of where they're most talented guys are." The Antioch ground game is paced by junior Gavin Calabrese (119 carries, 574 yards, 5 TD) and senior Brandon Reynolds (71-348-8). Cary-Grove seeks its 12th quarterfinal appearance since 2004. Three-year starter Blake Skol does it all for the reigning Class 6A champion Trojans. Playing linebacker last week, he nabbed his second interception of the season. Playing fullback, he rushed for touchdowns of 34 and 10 yards to increase his season total to 19. His 30-yard punt return set up one of 3 first-quarter touchdowns by triple-option quarterback Luke Eleftheriou, who rushed for 120 yards on 14 carries. The senior QB has rushed for 688 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 8 Simeon (7-1) at No. 1 Prairie Ridge (9-1)
No. 6 Kaneland (8-2) at No. 14 Lake Forest (6-4)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Kaneland 41, Crystal Lake Central 13; Lake Forest 21, Belvidere North 14
Outlook: Kaneland makes its third straight second-round appearance under third-year coach Pat Ryan. The Knights hope to break through to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011, when they reached a Class 5A semifinal. Standing in the way is Lake Forest, which makes its 10th straight playoff appearance and 13th in 14 seasons under 17th-year coach Chuck Spagnoli, who won his 100th game last week. A Kaneland offense that averages 40 points and 331 total yards per game faces a Lake Forest defense that limits opponents to 17 ppg. Kaneland quarterback Joe Smith, a three-year starter, has thrown for 1,569 yards and 19 touchdowns on 108-of-177 passing (61%). The 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior also has 8 rushing touchdowns. He rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown last week against Crystal Lake Central. Smith's top targets are seniors Max Gagne (33 rec., 635 yards, 9 TD) and Colton Doll (32-458-5). Power rusher Wilson Giffney, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior, last week carried 13 times for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns on muddy Peterson Field. Junior Evan Hogan carried 26 times for 99 yards and a touchdown. The Scouts counter defensively with two special talents: Notre Dame-bound Rylie Mills, a 6-5, 275-pound senior defensive end, and junior middle linebacker Mac Uihlein (6-1, 208), who has offers from Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Purdue, Louisville and Virginia, according to 24/7 Sports. "They are two really good players," Ryan said. "We need to be aware where they're at on the field at all times and we've got to block them. We can't just let them run free. They are so athletic they can disrupt things." The Knights own a +13 turnover differential (20-7). They have lost only 2 fumbles and thrown 5 interceptions in 190 passing attempts. The Lake Forest offense is directed by junior quarterback Richie Hoskins. He helped engineer a 21-14 comeback win last week after trailing Belvidere North 14-0 at halftime. Hoskins threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Kai Kroeger with just over three minutes to play for the go-ahead score. The Scouts likewise came from behind in Week 9 to beat Stevenson, a win that qualified them for the playoffs and ended the Patriots' 30-year playoff streak. Lake Forest rallied from a 20-point deficit with just over seven minutes left in that game and tied it on a Hoskins-to-Kroeger 59-yard scoring strike with 2:51 remaining. Kaneland understands Lake Forest's flair for late-game dramatics. "We can't take our foot off the gas if we get a lead," Ryan said. "We're going to have to play four quarters of football. That's our mentality."
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner of No. 7 Kenwood (8-1) at No. 2 Deerfield (8-2)
No. 2 Rockford Boylan Catholic (10-0) at No. 10 Marmion Academy (7-3)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last game: Boylan Catholic 49, Hyde Park 0; Marmion Academy 41; Amundsen 12
Outlook: The Titans entered the playoffs ranked No. 2 in Class 5A after running the table in the NIC-10 Conference. They average 40.7 points per game. Quarterback John Starck has completed 88 of 142 passes (62%) for 1,278 yards and 18 touchdowns and has been intercepted only three times, according to the Rockford Register-Star. Senior De'Treyvion Malone, one of Boylan's cadre of running backs, rushed for 104 yards and 4 touchdowns on 9 carries in last week's win over Hyde Park. It was the sixth time in 10 games Boylan has scored at least 42 points. "They have four running backs with over 400 yards," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "I don't think we have a running back with 400 yards. They're very explosive offensively. Unfortunately, they're big but they've also got speed." The Marmion defense holds opponents to 12.9 points and 194 total yards per game. Senior linebacker Major Haas leads the Cadets with 81 tackles, 14 for loss. The Marmion offense enjoyed a productive outing last week against Amundsen. The unit rushed for 208 yards and 4 touchdowns, highlighted by Haas scoring runs of 34 and 8 yards. Quarterback Padraig Fitzgerald completed 9 of 13 passes for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns to Dane Pardridge, including a 59-yarder to open the scoring. The degree of difficulty rises exponentially against the Titans, who have allowed just 74 points all season. Their 3-5-3 scheme stifled Hyde Park for -13 yards on 16 carries last week. Defensive leaders include Malone at middle linebacker, senior cornerback Chase Dixon, senior safety Dayvion Foreman and junior outside linebacker Xavier Bryant. "They come at you," Thorpe said of the Boylan defense. "On film we've seen them be able to defend both the spread and power football. Obviously, we have our hands full but having them at home is a definite advantage."
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner of No. 6 Montini (8-2) at No. 3 Sycamore (9-1)
No. 7 St. Edward (7-3) at No. 2 Fieldcrest (10-0)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Last game: St. Edward 24, Orr 18; Fieldcrest 20, West Carroll 8
Outlook: History awaits if St. Edward can pull the upset. Fresh off the third playoff win in school history, the Green Wave seek a second-round victory, a feat the program has never accomplished. It won't be easy. Fieldcrest entered the postseason ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A AP poll. This is the program's first 10-0 team since the 2014 squad won 12 straight before losing to Pearl City in a semifinal, the furthest advancement in school history. Champions of the large division of The Heart of Illinois Conference, the Knights have outscored their opponents 336-66. They have rushed for 2,047 yards. Senior Kenton Castrejon (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) accounts for 1,353 of those yards on 202 carries (6.7 avg.). He has 21 rushing touchdowns. Senior quarterback Matt Lorton has completed 95 of 169 passes for 1,226 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has thrown 5 interceptions. "They've got a huge line and a really big running back, a really nice power running game," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "That's probably what they're going to try to hit us with first. If we can't stop it, that's what we'll see the entire day." The St. Edward defense is led by Luke Breier. The senior has recorded 102 of the team's 606 tackles. Rolando said the Wave will be giving up 60-80 pounds per lineman on both sides of the ball. Fieldcrest coach Derek Schneeman said St. Edward makes up for that lack of size with speed. "The first thing that jumps out to me when I watch film is their team speed," Schneeman said. "Defensively, they're not blessed with a ton of size, but they come downhill fast and they're very aggressive. They present challenges for teams on both sides of the ball." The St. Edward offense has benefitted from the big play. Quarterback Anthony Holte has completed 63.5% of his passes (101 of 159) for 1,854 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 11 times. Holte spreads the ball between receivers Zeke Rolando (42 rec., 786 yards, 10 TD), Liam Pomeroy (19-421-3), Clem McCullough (16-248-3) and running back Joe Sacco (23-399-6). Sacco has rushed for 833 yards and 12 touchdowns on 120 carries (6.9 avg.). "They have a number of playmakers that we have to keep track of," Schneeman said.
Advancement: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 6 Mercer County (7-3) at No. 3 Clifton Central (10-0)