Scouting Fox playoff second-round games
Cary-Grove (10-0) at Grayslake Lake Central (8-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Grayslake Central High School
Last week: Cary-Grove 42, Rockford East 8; Grayslake Central 27, Belvidere North 22
Seeds: Cary-Grove No. 1; Grayslake Central No. 9 in upper half of Class 6A bracket
Wins against playoff teams: Cary-Grove 6; Grayslake Central 2
Winner gets: Deerfield (No. 4, 8-2) or Crystal Lake Central (No. 12, 7-3) in quarterfinals
Outlook: Try these rushing numbers on for size: The Trojans have run the ball 355 times for 3,469 yards in 10 games (9.8 yards per carry) and have passed the ball all of 71 times this season. Nick Hissong (1,163 yards, 18 TDs), Drew Magel (706 yards, 10 TDs), Jameson Sheehan (598 yards, 12 TDs) and Wade Abrams (595 yards, 8 TDs) lead the bulldozing rushing attack north into Grayslake. "Coach Maloney has done a great job up there," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said, referring to Grayslake Central coach Mike Maloney. "They have talent and guys who can make plays. They have done a real nice job this year." In regards to his team's annual rushing success, Seaburg said the Trojans have benefitted from consistent offensive line play from a unit that returned one starter from the spring team. "Our offensive line is doing a good job," he said. "We have five seniors up front who are very consistent. We don't have any Division I guys up there, but they have great pad level and great strength up there. We will need that because Grayslake has a ton of size up front." While that offensive line has 5 seniors on it (Zach Petko, Max Cotesenos, Nolan Skrhey, Aaron Gaspari and Nico Nagopolis), four are in their first year as varsity starters -- with Cotsenos the only returning starter from the spring team. "Coming into the offseason we have a pretty good idea of what we had with players filling spots, but we had a lot of players new to starting roles on the team. We have a mixture of guys competing at high levels from Hissong, who was all-state last year, to guys getting their first opportunity. We've done really well with that on offense, and then defensively we have replaced a lot of guys from last spring's team and had a brief summer in terms of getting guys in right spots." Seaburg cited the progress of Liam Wanko (outside backer and strong safety), Colin Desmond (linebacker) and Connor Anderson (linebacker), along with Ryan Gustaffson on defense. Wanko, Desmond and Anderson comprised the JV starting backfield last year. "They all are playing at a very high level on the defensive side of the ball," Seaburg said. Gustaffson was an offensive tackle last year and is now a starting defensive end. "These guys have stepped right in and their play has gotten better throughout the season," Seaburg said. "Our defense has improved since earlier in the year. As we get into the playoffs and start playing teams that are threats to throw it and run it, like Grayslake, which is equally balanced, we will rely on our defense to make plays." Grayslake Central, whose losses are to unbeaten Northern Lake County Conference champion Wauconda and league runner-up Antioch, has passed for 1,906 yards and run for 1,887 more. Quarterback Darryl Overstreet is 134 of 215 for 1,889 yards with 19 touchdowns against only 5 picks. He's been taken down only 4 times in 10 games. He passed for 402 yards in a Week 2 triumph over Mundelein. Junior Kaiden Miller has scored 10 rushing touchdowns and caught nine more (768 receiving yards), while Kurt Heerdgen has 7 TD grabs and 706 receiving yards. "The Trojan machine is well-oiled and firing on all cylinders at the moment," Maloney said. "What impresses me most is the overall program coach (Brad) Seaburg has facilitated. I have witnessed the multiple-sport athletes he brings in from the junior high and the physical, mental and skill development that occurs over the course of their four-year high school career. It is impressive. Cary-Grove's program is infused with community support and it's a place where all student-athletes feel internal and external pressure to carry forward the torch of tradition and success. His current squad is disciplined, physical and tough. We admire their effort in all three phases of the game. They play with a great deal of intensity and attention to detail." For the Rams, Maloney said when playing an opponent of Cary-Grove's caliber, execution to the highest potential is a must. "We believe there are some matchups that have an opportunity to be an advantage for us," he said. "It is critical that we come into this contest with confidence and poise understanding our own investment and accomplishment to reach the second round. Everything for us starts with perpetual belief. We don't flinch. I know our young men will empty the tank for each other Friday. When we execute to the level we are capable of, we may surprise some people outside our locker room."
Normal Community (10-0) at Jacobs (7-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: H.D. Jacobs School, Algonquin
Last week: Normal 33, Eisenhower 6; Jacobs 48, Hersey 20
Seeds: Normal No. 3; Jacobs No. 19 in the Class 7A bracket.
Wins against playoff teams: Normal 5; Jacobs 3
Winner gets: Mt. Prospect (No. 11, 8-2) or Buffalo Grove (No. 6, 9-1)
Outlook: Jacobs went on the road last week and notched a big playoff win against Mid-Suburban League resident Hersey. Next up for coach Brian Zimmerman's Golden Eagles squad is a Normal Community team that is the No. 3 seed overall in the 32-team Class 7A bracket. The Ironmen won the Big Twelve title and have scored 439 points in 10 contests while surrendering 121. "They are big and physical on the offensive front and their quarterback, running back and tight end/wide receiver are very impressive," Zimmerman said. "Their defense flies to the ball. We know they are well-coached and will be ready to play. They are very impressive on film." Zimmerman likes where his team has landed on defense. "Overall, we continue to improve on defense," he said. "Our offense has been consistent, but in this stage of the season everything is about execution and we need to make sure we are executing on both sides of the ball and avoiding penalties." Antonio Brown stepped in at fullback last week for Jacobs "and did an outstanding job," Zimmerman said. "He also starts at outside linebacker. He's a team player and will do whatever is asked of him to help the team." Nasir Canty has run for 1,164 yards and 16 touchdowns and Ben Ludlum has run for 100 yards in 14 games in a row. He's over 1,400 yards and has 23 touchdowns. Max Benner has 13 passing touchdowns. "Max has been impressive, limiting turnovers and also controlling the offense," Zimmerman said. "He's an outstanding young man." Joe Volenec, Will Seibert, Luke Shanno, Matt Shannon and Kyle Koziel drive the offensive line along with tight ends Nick True and Grant Stec. "Our offensive line and two tight ends have been the anchor of our offense," Zimmerman said. Paulie Rudolph, Eli Vasquez, Dylann Martinez, Antonio Brown and Joey Scrivani have improved on defense, Zimmerman noted.
South Elgin (10-0) at Chicago Marist (7-3)When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Marist High School (Chicago)
Last week: South Elgin 24, Edwardsville 13; Marist 42, Glenbard East 0
Seeds: South Elgin No. 2; Marist No. 18 in the Class 8A bracket
Wins against playoff teams: South Elgin 5; Marist 4
Winner gets: Glenbrook South (No. 10, 8-2) or Hinsdale Central (No. 7, 9-1) in quarterfinals
Outlook: South Elgin's 11-point win in the playoff opener against Edwardsville was its smallest margin of victory, besting a 28-point win over Glenbard South and a 34-point win over Glenbard East. As a point of comparison, Marist defeated Glenbard East, which finished third in the Upstate Eight behind South Elgin and Glenbard South, 42-0. "Marist is impressive in most areas on film," Storm coach Dragan Teonic said. "They have several high-level recruits and play hard. The challenge is to finish drives and keep their offense off the field. We have been able to neutralize our opponents' best players while establishing the run game for ourselves. Obviously, this is even more important against a team of Marist's caliber." Teonic has been impressed with QB Jacob Sullivan since his return from injury. "Jacob has been steady since his return," he said. "He has made great decisions with the ball and led us on multiple scoring drives." Also impressive lately has been Michael Tringali, who returned after being injured during the spring season. "Michael has played really well this year," Teonic said. "He is a high-level player who plays with explosive violence." Marist plays in the Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference Blue Division with the likes of Loyola, Brother Rice and Mt. Carmel -- three teams that account for all the RedHawks' losses. Marist has played 7 playoff teams this year and is 4-3. "South Elgin's record speaks for itself," Marist coach Ron Dawczak said. "They are undefeated at 10-0 and have dominated most of their opponents. We know South Elgin is a very talented team. In order for us to have success, we have to play extremely disciplined football in all facets. South Elgin's option attack is very potent and can score points in a hurry if our defensive players lose focus. Our offense has to play with a sense of urgency for the entire game." Quarterback Dontrell Jackson has passed for 1,490 yards and 18 touchdowns, while running for 460 yards and 3 scores. Linebacker Jimmy Rolder has 30 solo tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 picks and has scored 2 defensive touchdowns. "We have been able to get to this point due to the hard work we have put in before the season," Dawczak said. "They know they put in the work, and they believe they have the ability to compete with and beat any team in the state."
Chicago St. Rita (8-2) at Geneva (6-4)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Geneva High School
Last week: St. Rita 42, Rolling Meadows 7; Geneva 28, Collinsville 21
Seeds: St. Rita No. 10; Geneva No. 26 in the Class 8A bracket.
Wins against playoff teams: St. Rita 3; Geneva 3
Winner gets: Pekin (No. 15, 8-2) or Hononegah (No. 2, 10-0)
Outlook: A real nice win on the road last week for the Vikings and coach Boone Thorgesen against 8-1 at the time Collinsville. "St. Rita is an extremely talented team in all three phases," Thorgesen said. "Their defense is nasty and the offense can score in bunches. We need to play our style of football, limit our turnovers like we've done the last two weeks and match the physicality." Geneva's running game has taken the next step forward, Thorgesen noted. "We have been much better at establishing the running game," he said, "which has allowed us to get some big plays in the pass game." Two defensive stalwarts lately have been corner Dylan Pratt and defensive lineman Colton Dannewitz. "Dylan has played very well of late," Thorgesen said. "He was slowed down in the middle of the season with an injury, but has been a kid who can play anywhere in the secondary for us. Colton is such a team player. He takes on double teams constantly at nose guard to allow our backers to make plays." Carter Powelson has run for 843 yards and 6 TDs for Geneva, while quarterback Alex Porter has thrown for 1,131 yards and 8 scores. Blake Stempkowski has 8 sacks and 7 tackles for loss, while Mason Pawelko has 4 interceptions. St. Rita started 1-2 and has won seven in a row now. "Geneva is a well-coached, physical football team," Mustangs coach Todd Kuska said. "We have to control the line of scrimmage and keep their quarterback from making big plays." St. Rita quarterback Tommy Ulatowski has been a starter since his sophomore year and has been able to navigate the offense with multiple starters at running back and wide receiver. Djabril McNabb has been the team's defensive leader. "He has been very active at times, making plays and freeing up blocks so our linebackers can make plays," Kuska said. "We have been able to get to this point by running the football and stopping the run. It is a cliché in football, but whoever wins the line of scrimmage usually wins the game."
Batavia (10-0) at Chicago Mt. Carmel (7-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Mt. Carmel High School, Chicago
Last week: Batavia 37, Lake Zurich 0; Mt. Carmel 20, Thornwood 0
Seeds: Batavia No. 1; Mt. Carmel No. 17 in the Class 7A bracket.
Wins against playoff teams: Batavia 7; Mt. Carmel 4
Winner gets: Brother Rice (No. 9, 8-2) or Yorkville (No. 25, 6-4) in the quarterfinals
Outlook: Batavia is likely looking at an extended stroll through the Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference in order to reach the 7A semifinals. Up first, tradition-rich Mt. Carmel, which is 3-3 in its last six games with losses to playoff teams St. Ignatius, Brother Rice and Loyola Academy. Batavia is a bona fide 10-0 with seven of those wins against playoff qualifiers. In last week's win against Lake Zurich, senior running back Josh Dornink ran 22 times for 110 yards and a touchdown, while senior A.J. Sanders had 8 carries for 96 yards and a score, helping Batavia pile up 275 rushing yards. Junior linebacker Michael Jansey had 10 tackles. Batavia's defense limited Lake Zurich to 87 total yards, including only 25 on the ground and 5 first downs.
Nazareth Academy (6-4) at Marmion (7-3)When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Where: Marmion Academy, Aurora
Last week: Nazareth Academy 54, Chicago Goode 6; Marmion 53, Chicago Noble/Comer 8
Seeds: Nazareth No. 14; Marmion No. 11 in the upper bracket in Class 5A
Wins against playoff teams: Nazareth 1; Marmion 2
Winner gets: Fenwick (No. 2, 8-2) or Rockford Boylan (No. 10, 7-3) in quarterfinals
Outlook: A couple of Chicago Catholic/East Suburban Catholic squads locking horns in Aurora for a Saturday matinee. Marmion has won four games in a row since staring at 3-3. "Naz has great team speed on offense/defense and special teams," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. "Their kickoff and punt return games are ridiculous good and fast. We can't kick to them. Let's not punt would be nice. Their tradition of success is key." Thorpe likes that Marmion is passing the ball better and not turning the ball over. "We are getting turnovers on defense," he said. Quarterback Danny Chung has been notable. "Danny has been improving with throws, decisions and executing the offense," Thorpe said. Defensive tackle/end Sean Scheck has moved into the Marmion backfield the last four games, "and has been super with defending both the run and pass," Thorpe said. Nazareth, under the direction of former Addison Driscoll (long-since defunct) head coach Tim Racki, is led by the likes of seniors Quentrell Harris (WR, 47 catches, 793 yards, 9 TDs) and Peter Roll (defensive back) and junior Justin Taylor (WR-RB, 36 catches, 578 yards, 4 TDs; 3 rushing TDs). "Marmion has always been a very tough and disciplined team and this season is no exception," Racki said. "They have an excellent run game with a big, strong offensive line, great speed at skilled positions and a smart and athletic quarterback. Their defense is well-coached and disciplined. They do not make many mistakes assignment-wise. They are a very smart unit. We must attempt to slow down their running attack and prevent the big play defensively. Offensively, we must be patient and attempt to grind out some drives. Field position will be a big key for both sides, I believe." Nazareth is averaging 311 yards of total offense, while giving up an average of 248 per game.