Scouting football quarterfinals in the Northwest Suburbs
No. 19 Jacobs (8-3) at No. 11 Prospect (9-2)When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Last Week: Jacobs beat Normal 17-7; Prospect beat Buffalo Grove 13-8
Advancement: Winner plays at the winner of No. 2 Rockton Hononegah vs. No. 10 St. Rita
Outlook: This could be an epic defensive battle. Prospect came into the playoffs allowing just over 15 points per game. The Knights' defense, led by Owen Walter, Jacob Parisi, Ben Sahakian, Gino Paredes, Peyton Burgh, Jack Olson, Richard Sepulveda, Christopher Rodriguez, Nicholas Grassano and Ethan Rossi, has allowed only 15 points in both playoff games combined.
Jacobs's defensive unit has also stepped up its performance. The Golden Eagles came into the payoffs allowing 28 points per game but have allowed only 27 points in both of their playoff victories. Prospect's quarterback situation is still unsettled. Starter Frank Covey got hurt in the last regular season game against Rolling Meadows. His status for Saturday is unknown. Backup Bradley Vierneisel got hurt last week against Buffalo Grove and is out. Prospect turned to sophomores Matthew Guza and Griffin Limbers. Both struggled last Saturday due to the lack of reps in practice at the varsity level. The Knights also ran the Wildcat with Walter last week and had some success. "I think game-planning is always tough," DeBeouf said. "But I think it is even tougher with the injuries we have. At the quarterback position, we are going to piece it together. The thing that makes it fun and exciting is that our team is playing with a lot of belief and a lot of grit right now. They are believing in each other and whatever comes out with on the field, I think that most important part is that they believe. The kids are pulling for each other and have each other's backs and that can go a long way. The Eagles don't have a highflying air attack. Jacobs will run the football and then run it again. They will lean heavily on a trio of backs that include Nazir Canty, Ben Ludlum and Mike Almeda. If it is a field-position game, Sahakian has been terrific with his punting for Prospect. He had three kicks over 50 yards last week against Buffalo Grove.
Class 8ANo. 6 Maine South (9-1) at No. 3 Neuqua ValleyWhen: Saturday, 5 p.m.
Last Week: Maine South beat Plainfield North 21-18; Neuqua Valley beat Palatine 31-8
Advancement: Winner plays winner of No. 10 Glenbrook South vs. No. 18 Marist
Outlook: Playoffs and Maine South are synonymous. It has been the Hawks' time to fly and they are doing it again this season. "The team is playing steady," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. "But we have yet to play our best football. We have to be accountable to our goals for each game and execute on each play." Maine South's running game has been on fire all season, especially in the playoffs. Mike Sajenko has rushed for 9 touchdowns and 455 yards in the playoffs. For the season he has 20 touchdowns and 1,153 yards. Quarterback Rowan Keefe has also been solid. The senior has thrown for 1,798 yards and 18 touchdowns with Will Guzaldo, Chris Petrucci, Tommy Locascio, Sajenko and Frank Bartell being the main targets. "We like to throw the ball, but we need the ball in Mike Sajenko's hands," Inserra said. "It is not a mystery; he is our best player and we ask a lot of him. We have to be more opportunistic with our passing game if Sajenko is a little off." Defensively, Maine South has been solid all season. Teddy Giannaris, Cole Cichowski, Charlie Leach, Jimmy Brander, Emmett Wolf, Petrucci, Brady Marques and Bartell, who has 5 interceptions, key the defense. Maine South has allowed just over 15 points per game. "The defense has been steady, but we need to create more turnovers," Inserra said. "Neuqua Valley is a very solid team both on the ground and through the air. If they are two-dimensional, they will be hard to stop. We must play as a total unit and limit big plays." Neuqua comes into the game with an offense that is operating at a high gear. The Wildcats are led by quarterback Mark Mennecke, running back Jaden McGee and wide receivers Carter Sessa, Grant Larkin and Andre Cobb. They averaged 28 points per game during the regular season and have scored 91 in two playoff games. Defensively Aidan Wiltshire, who was the Du Page Valley Conference defensive lineman of the year, and Cole Dutkovich lead a unit that has allowed only 15 points in the playoffs. "Neuqua Valley is very athletic and they run well to the ball both on offense and defense," Inserra said. "They have a great kicking game. Big plays have helped them in the playoffs."