5 high school football semifinals to watch Saturday
Of the IHSA's 16 semifinal football games in eight classes Saturday, two of them match a pair of 12-0 teams.
One of them pits Greenfield-Northwestern Co-op at Camp Point Central in a Class 1A tilt about five hours away down near Quincy.
The other one is much closer to home, with Barrington putting its perfect season on the line at Lincoln-Way East.
It's been a wild ride for the Broncos. A year after missing the playoffs, they are one game from playing for the Class 8A championship for the first time since 1998.
They've gotten to this point in dramatic fashion, beating Maine South 42-40 last week after rallying to edge Naperville Central the week before. They'll have their hands full against the Griffins, who have yet to allow a point in their three playoff wins.
Barrington quarterback Nick Peipert and running back Dillon Fitzpatrick have had huge seasons statistically; Peipert throwing for 2,783 yards and 35 touchdowns, Fitzpatrick rushing for 1,525 yards and 23 TDs.
York (11-1) at Loyola (12-0)
Only the Dukes' loss to Glenbard West keeps both Class 8A games from being matchups of unbeatens. York has recovered from that setback to reach the semifinals for the second straight season.
The Dukes will run into the same Loyola team they met last year in a 30-3 loss. York will try to reverse that result behind the likes of seniorwide receiver Luke Mailander, an Illinois State recruit who had 10 catches for 204 yards in last week's comeback win over Edwardsville, and senior QB Sean Winton, who threw for 248 yards. Jack Trautmann led the defense with 4 sacks, a unit that also features two-time all-state linebacker Cole Ostendorf and defensive lineman Joe Reiff, a Notre Dame recruit.
Eleven of Loyola's 12 wins have come by double digits, the lone exception a 23-21 Week 9 win over Class 7A semifinalist Mt. Carmel. The Ramblers are trying for their eighth state appearance since 2011.
This game will be televised on the Marquee Sports Network.
Batavia (11-1) at Mt. Carmel (11-1)
This Class 7A semifinal also will be on TV -- airing on WCIU -- and it also is a rematch. Mt. Carmel has beat the Bulldogs the last two postseasons, last year in the 7A title game.
Batavia's only loss this year is by 1 point to Lincoln-Way East, and the Bulldogs feature a well-rounded team that can win games in a multiple of ways. It helps to have experience, which Batavia does at several key spots including quarterback with senior Ryan Boe, an all-state selection.
Batavia's defense will have its eyes on running back Darrion Dupree, headed to Wisconsin.
Cary-Grove (10-2) at Lake Zurich (11-1)
In Class 6A, these former Fox Valley Conference rivals square off. Lake Zurich's only loss is by 4 points to Class 8A Warren, while the Trojans' losses were both by 1 point to Prairie Ridge and Huntley.
Like Barrington, Cary-Grove has righted the ship in a big way after a rare missed playoff season. The Trojans, with state titles in 2021, 2018 and 2009, like to run the ball led by Andrew Prio (930 yards rushing, 14.8 yards a carry) and sophomore Logan Abrams (1,144 yards, 15 TDs). Bears linebacker Lincoln Adams made 19 tackles last week and figures to be busy again.
St. Francis (10-2) at Nazareth (7-5)
In Class 5A, the Spartans will try to do what they did in Week 9 when they beat Nazareth 35-17, dropping the defending 5A champs to 4-5.
Nazareth sneaked into the playoffs anyway, and three wins later has a chance to return to state. Spartans QB Alessio Milivojevic, a Ball State recruit, has been red hot, as have the Spartans with 8 straight wins. Milivojevic has completed 74.4% of his passes for 3,102 yards with 36 TDs and just 4 interceptions.