Scouting Round 2 of the playoffs in the Northwest suburbs
No. 14 Prospect (8-2) at No. 3 Rolling Meadows (10-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Prospect beat DeKalb 55-53; Rolling Meadows beat Lincoln Park 33-12
Last meeting: Rolling Meadows beat Prospect 35-14 in Week 7
Advancement: Winner advances to the quarterfinals to play the winner of Downers Grove North vs. Wheaton Warrenville South
Outlook: This will be the second meeting between the Mid-Suburban League East rivals in less than a month. In that game on October 11, Meadows scored the first three times it had the ball and never looked back.
"We are definitely looking forward to it and getting another shot," Prospect coach Dan DeBeouf said. "We kind of got away from having fun and letting it rip. We have refocused on that and got better."
Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler, whose Mustangs played and lost to Hersey twice in 2017, said he doesn't enjoy playing a conference foe in the state playoffs.
"I am not a huge fan of it," Mishler said. "Part of the fun in the playoffs is to play teams you don't see. But our guys are excited to play Prospect."
The Mustangs kept Prospect running back Luke Zardzin and quarterback Gary Moeller in check in their first meeting. Zardzin rushed for a season-low 75 yards while Moeller threw for 219 yards, with most of those yards coming in the second half.
Zardzin has been a force running the ball all season for the Knights. The junior has rushed for 1,488 yards this season.
Moeller has steadily improved throughout the season for Prospect. The junior has thrown for 2,069 yards and 26 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions. The M & M brothers, Noah Marx who has 38 catches for 629 yards and Matt Meyer who has 25 catches for 457 yards, have been favorite targets of Moeller.
The Meadows defensive line of Nate Pedraza, Mick Lawlor and Jose Aleman had 3 sacks the last time the teams met. Matt Walas also had a sack and an interception.
Offensively, the Mustangs have been off to the races behind the play of quarterback Carson Schiller, who also has come on strong in the last half of the season. Schiller, who threw a pair of touchdown passes last week to up his season total to 22, has thrown for 1,980 yards.
Daniel Sobkowicz leads the Mustangs with 46 receptions for 577 yards. Jordan Wiles, Nife Oseni and Jimmy Golaris are also on the receiving end for the Mustangs.
Rolling Meadows has won the last four meetings with Prospect and 7 of the last 8 games between the two.
"I think the game will be won up front," Mishler said. "Both teams have a lot of skill players. Whoever can control the line of scrimmage throughout the night should come out on top."
This Knights team has been the most prolific in its first 10 games in Prospect history, averaging 41.1 points.
"I think that speaks for itself," DeBeouf said. "It shows what we are capable on offense. We are hoping to continue to build on the energy from the last couple of weeks."
-- Dick Quagliano
No. 4 Hersey (9-1) at No. 20 Lake Zurich (7-3)When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Last week, first round: Hersey def. Rockford Auburn, 49-0; Lake Zurich def. Andrew, 14-7.
Winner plays: No. 5 Willowbrook (9-1) vs. No. 12 Yorkville (8-2) winner
Outlook: Former Lake Zurich sharpshooter Austin Scott coaches boys basketball at Hersey. Were he to attend this second-round football clash at his alma mater, would he wear LZ blue or Hersey orange? "Maybe he would wear a mixture of the colors -- lavender," LZ first-year coach Ron Planz cracked. "That way he wouldn't upset anybody." Basketball and football do have something in common: 3-point field goals.
But Hersey's Huskies will look to continue to do what they've been doing since the start of Week 1 -- score gobs of touchdowns. The Mid-Suburban League East runner-up club averages 48 points per game. Forty-eight, or 1 point shy of 7 TDs and 7 extra points. "That's a great football team, from a tough conference," Planz said. "It's a team with athletes all over the field. It's a team that's setting records, left and right."
LZ, meanwhile, is a team that's adept at protecting its end zone, having allowed only 13.5 points per game, including its 14-7 defeat of host Andrew in Round 1 last weekend. The Bears' relentless 'D' has surrendered only a combined 14 points in the last 3 games. Andrew's 13th-seeded Thunderbolts managed a quiet 155 yards, with more than half of that total (87) coming via three passing plays on their fourth-quarter scoring drive.
"Hail Mary passes got them most of their yards," Planz said. "We pretty much shut them down."
Junior linebacker Bryan Sanborn's late sack virtually sealed the triumph and gave Bears fans tingles in Tinley Park. Lake Zurich senior quarterback Jack Moses (6-of-12, 80 yards) tossed a pair of TD passes, one to senior wideout James Piggott (33 yards), the other to senior tight end Hunter Welcing (4).
"Offensively, we played composed football," Planz added. "After our first TD, we took a conservative approach. But our guys battled, stayed calm and picked up some big first downs."
Hersey's 49-0 defeat of Rockford Auburn in the first round last weekend secured the Huskies' third straight second-round appearance. The win came after Hersey lost an emotional battle of unbeatens in Week 9 to Rolling Meadows. That game decided the Mid-Suburban League East Division champion.
"It was such an intense Week 9," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "Two undefeated teams. A conference championship on the line. We had to make such a tough turnaround. We had to quickly take that pain and refocus. But I'm a firm believer that you can take pain and learn from it and get stronger and I think we played pretty well last week."
Hersey, a 6A school coached by Bruce Glover at the time, won its only state football title in 1987 -- 20 years before a Bryan Stortz-helmed Lake Zurich team (7A) would win its first state football championship.
In 13 playoff seasons since 2006, including this one, LZ failed to reach the second round only twice (2008, 2014). The Bears' postseason record in that span is a nifty 33-11 (. 750). They played each of their nine regular-season games under the lights. Their playoff game at Andrew started at 5 p.m., and the Hersey coaches were there scouting.
"Lake Zurich is a really physical football team," Pardun said. "They have size, they have speed, they fly to the football and they run their defense so well. We will have our hands full."
Lake Zurich, meanwhile, will have its hands full with Hersey quarterback Jordan Hansen, who committed to Northern Illinois earlier this season. Hansen is setting school scoring and yardage records left and right and is a threat both through the air and on the ground. Hansen was part of all 7 of Hersey's touchdowns Friday under the lights against Rockford Auburn. Now Hersey and Lake Zurich, schools (separated by 10.6 miles) that each stand a hop, skip and a prodigious punt from Illinois 12, will have to adjust to a daytime game.
"I'm accustomed to that," Planz, a former Elmhurst College football coach, said. "Saturday afternoon football was routine for me at the college level." Think Planz is pumped for a shot at advancing to a state quarterfinal? You'd be right.
"I'm excited. I'm looking forward to seeing our 'D' continue to roll. Hey, we get to prepare for another football game. A lot of playoff teams had to hand in their stuff last weekend."
Hersey is hungry too. The Huskies have gotten bounced from the playoffs in the second round the last two years.
"That has sat with us, that has pushed this group to want more," Pardun said. "We want to take that next step forward. We want to continue to grow and keep playing."
-- Patricia Babcock McGraw and Bill McLean
No. 13 Fremd (8-2) at No. 4 Warren (10-0)When: 6 p.m., Saturday
Last week, first round: Fremd def. Plainfield North, 19-0; Warren def. Plainfield East, 49-7.
Winner plays: No. 5 Oswego (9-1)/No. 21 Bolingbrook (7-3) winner
Outlook: Warren is seeking a return trip to the state quarterfinals and figures to have a much tougher test than it did last Saturday night in Gurnee. The Blue Devils not only got 2 rushing apiece from Derrick McLaughlin (2 5-yard runs) and Christian Phillips (2 and 44 yards) but also scored 2 touchdowns on blocked punts (Juan De La Cruz, Malachi McNeal). Warren led 49-0 at halftime, with Plainfield East accounting for the only second-half points thanks to a 1-yard TD run in the third quarter. The Blue Devils, who had shut out five of their last seven opponents, have given up just 28 points all season.
Fremd won the Mid-Suburban League West Division and has won seven in a row. The Vikings have allowed just 113 points -- and only 37 in their last 7 games (4 shutouts).
Although Fremd has never played Warren, the Vikings are very familiar with the Blue Devils' scheme. Up until this year, Fremd had summer camped with Warren at Illinois Wesleyan for five consecutive seasons. There the teams worked out together on the same fields. Fremd moved to a different location this summer, but the memories of Warren are still with Fremd coach Lou Sponsel and his staff. "They are big, physical and very talented," Sponsel said. "Their defensive line is the best I have seen in high school in some time. They are physical on film. They have players a lot of high school teams don't have. We have to look at what we can do and develop a good team strategy and put ourselves in a position to win." Fremd has done just that in the last seven weeks. The Vikings have won all seven of their games during that span, with a tremendous defense of their own.
Fremd's defense, led by Jack Walsh, Nate Stevens, Ryan Palmer, Jack Hipchen, Anthony Villano, Matthew Rodi, Jason Haas, Trey Castella, Joey Rattin and Will Kristo, has been tough. "The kids are playing with a ton of confidence," Sponsel said. "They love playing football together. It is fun to watch them in practice, focus on the details and take pride."
The Fremd offense isn't flashy, but gets the job done well. Ryan Saxe leads the attack, throwing for 1,251 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 587 yards. His brother Andrew has caught 33 passes for 422 yards while Hipchen has 45 receptions for 695 yards. Brian hardy has rushed for 621 yards. Walsh (6-4, 285) is a junior and two-year starter, anchors the offensive line. He has received interest from about a dozen D-1 schools.
"They are going to play very stingy defense and are creative on offense," Warren coach Bryan McNulty said of the Vikings. "They have an excellent QB and receivers who can flat out make plays on the ball. They are well-coached and believe in themselves. We are going to have to beat them, because they will not beat themselves. Everything we get will be earned. We are looking forward to a competitive, four-quarter game."
-- Joe Aguilar and Dick Quagliano