Scouting Cook County semifinal playoff football games
No. 3 Barrington (12-0) at No. 2 Lincoln-Way East (12-0)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Last week: Barrington 42, Maine South 40; Lincoln-Way East 24, Warren 0
Last meeting: first meeting
Advancement: Winner plays for 8A state title against winner of No. 1 Loyola (12-0) vs. No. 4 York (11-1)
Outlook: Barrington's ability to win the second half has moved the Broncos into the state semifinals for the first time since 1998 when they finished second in the state. Barrington is built for resiliency and that has been demonstrated in the past two weeks. In games against Naperville Central and Maine South, Barrington used an exceptional second half to overcome two-touchdown deficits. Barrington's offensive versatility was on display last week. This season, the Broncos have accumulated 5,245 yards on the season with 2,446 yards on the ground and 2,799 yards in the air. That output has resulted in the Broncos averaging 37.3 points per game. In the first two playoff games, the Broncos relied heavily on their running game. Dillon Fitzpatrick rushed for nearly 200 yards in each game and has 1,525 yards this season and 23 touchdowns. When Maine South stacked the box last week in an attempt to contain Fitzpatrick, Barrington was successfully able to go the air. Nick Peipert had a career day, throwing for 482 yards and five touchdowns. Peipert now has thrown for 2,783 yards and 35 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Will Nazha also had a career day last Saturday as well with 284 receiving yards and two touchdowns along with a key interception. Nazha has 954 yards and 8 touchdowns this season while Matt Marusich has 824 yards and 15 touchdowns and Conor Fitzpatrick 284 yards and five touchdowns. The Broncos' defense has been stout as well. Devan Van Ness, who has a mind-popping 16 sacks, leads a group that has accounted for 37 sacks on the season. Cole Slater, Brooks Howard, Clarence Jackson, Soren Leahy, Josh Peipert, Jack Burzinski and Ian Maderosian along with two-way players Nazha and Marusich have forced 19 turnovers and allowed 21.8 points per game.
About Lincoln-Way East: "The Beast" as some observers call Lincoln-Way East, has qualified every year since the school opened in 2001. In that time the Griffins (their real nickname) have gone 231-43 with three state titles and a pair of second-place finishes. They have gone 4-2 in state semifinal appearances. The Griffins have a potent defense and have not allowed a point in four consecutive games while posting five shutouts on the season. They have allowed just 62 points all season and no opponent has scored more than 14 points against them. They are led by junior defensive end Caden O'Rourke, who is a D-1 prospect and, like Van Ness, can rush the passer quite well. On the other end, David Wuske is also a threat. Connor Durkin is at linebacker and is the school's all-time leading tackler. JaShawn Echols and Brayden Mortell are in the secondary and each had an interception last week. Their up-tempo offense is led by quarterback Braden Tischer, who tossed a touchdown pass last week. They also have a pair of running back in 5-foot-5 Nuri Muhammad, who had 121 yards and a touchdown last week and Zion Gist. They all operate behind a massive offensive line of Iowa commit Josh Janowski, Anthony Arrivo, Mike Lombardo, Max Cioffi and Colton Eggert.