NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' opening round edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the battle between Notre Dame and Minooka on the Reservation? Can Warren Township find a way to upset Bolingbrook on the road? Who wins the battle of spectacular defenses when Glenbard North takes on Batavia? And finally, can Providence Catholic stun Richards in Oak Lawn? Or will the Bulldogs take a bite out of the Celtics?
Numbers in parentheses reflect class seeding.
(18) Notre Dame @ (15) Minooka, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Head coaches Mike Hennessey (Notre Dame) and Terry McCombs (Minooka) will bring a combined 70-plus years of coaching experience to the field on Friday night. Notre Dame (7-2) wants to run the football early and often with junior RB Ty Gavin. Minooka (7-2) will utilize its running game with RB Owen Kapple. QB Zach Gassner is more than capable with the play-action passing game. Can Minooka's speedy defense contain Notre Dame's RB Ty Gavin?
EDGY's Pick: Minooka 21 Notre Dame 17
(21) Warren Township @ (12) Bolingbrook, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Warren Township (6-3), coached by Bryan McNulty, features a strong passing attack and a strong defense. Keep an eye on QB Ian Schilling, WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame) and RB Martin Walker Jr. Bolingbrook (7-2) and head coach John Ivlow also boasts a strong offense, but will senior QB Anthony Vespo be available after a Week 9 injury? The Raiders still feature a strong running game with junior RB Quentin Pringle and Anthony Williams Jr. The Raiders also feature an athlete-filled defense which includes DT Deshaun Mallory. What's the matchup to watch? Warren's receivers against Bolingbrook secondary: a classic strength-versus-strength showdown.
EDGY's Pick: Bolingbrook 26 Warren Township 21
(29) Glenbard North @ (4) Batavia, 6:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Glenbard North (5-4) needed a Week 9 win over Neuqua Valley to make the state playoff field. The Panthers' calling card has been their defense. Their offense will look to run the football with senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick. QB Lee Rady also played well in the win over Neuqua Valley. As for Batavia (8-1), they're looking to bounce back after a Week 9 loss to rival St. Charles North. The Bulldogs are balanced on offense, featuring QB Riley Cooper. They also have a tough-as-nails defense which includes junior LB Michael Jansey and LB/DL Luke Weerts. Whose defense blinks first?
EDGY's Pick: Batavia 14 Glenbard North 13
(28) Alton @ (5) Lincoln Park, 6:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Alton (5-4) makes the over-300 mile one-way trek to Lane Stadium on Friday to take on Chicago Big Shoulders conference champion Lincoln Park (8-1). Alton will be paced on offense by RB Darrell Smith and QB Kevin Caldwell. The Cardinals defense has also played well all season. Lincoln Park will counter with a strong offense led by senior QB Jacob Dowell and senior RB Tavares Bean. Can Alton avoid "bus lag" and get out of the gates strong? Has Lincoln Park been as battle-tested as Alton?
EDGY's Pick: Alton 27 Lincoln Park 20
(17) Benet @ (16) Maine West, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Benet Academy (6-3) has been dealing with a rash of injuries this season, but coach Pat New and company have won three out of its last four games. Their players to watch include sophomore QB Colin Gillespie and senior LB Devin Petersen. Coach Jason Kradman's Maine West Warriors (7-2) are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2002. West will rely on RB/LB Jake Bellizi and senior TE/DE Matt Hentgen. Keep an eye on the offensive/defensive line play. Can the Warriors win in the trenches against Benet?
EDGY's Pick: Benet Academy 28 Maine West 17
(19) Andrew @ (14) Plainfield North, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Andrew (6-3) is in the state playoffs after last season's 1-8 campaign. Head coach Adam Lewandowski's T-Bolt offense will be guided by QB Jack Condon and RB Tai Gannaban. Plainfield North (7-2) is looking to make another deep playoff run after losing in the 7A state final game to East St. Louis. The Tigers will rely on senior QB Brady Miller and a defense that's loaded with speed. Can the Plainfield North defense contain the T-Bolts' running game? Can the Andrew defense deflate the Plainfield North passing game?
EDGY's Pick: Plainfield North 27 Andrew 21
(13) Providence @ (4) Richards, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: This playoff matchup reminds many of the days when Hall of Fame head coaches Gary Korhonen (Richards) and Matt Senffner (Providence Catholic) roamed the sidelines. The Celtics and Bulldogs locked horns in several memorable playoff games. This year, Mark Coglianese's Providence crew relies on a strong running game featuring RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU). The team comes in with a 5-4 record, but they're battle-tested. Richards (7-2) is coached by Tony Sheehan. They'll want to run the football with RB Derek Flowers. Junior QB/S Sebastian Castro is a two-way starter and a big key for the Bulldogs this season. Can either team gain control the line of scrimmage?
EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 31 Richards 28
(10) Kaneland @ (7) Lindblom, 4:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Coach Patrick Ryan of Kaneland (6-3) has a battle-tested team, hailing from the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Their offense is led by QB Jack Douglas and RB Jonathon Alstott. Lindblom (8-1) has a ton of speed on both sides of the football including senior WR CJ Rutherford and senior WR/DB Joshua Bufkin. How well can coach Justin Pressley's Eagles fare outside of the Chicago Public League? Can the Kaneland defense stay with the speedy Eagles offense?
EDGY's Pick: Kaneland 28 Lindblom 21
(13) Peoria @ (4) Hillcrest, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Peoria (6-3), the defending Class 5A state champs, has one of the top offenses in the state. They are led by senior QB Coran Taylor (Illinois) and senior RB Geno Hess (SEMO). Keep an eye on senior OL Marques Cox. Hillcrest (7-2) and head coach Maurice Weaver can also move the football on offense behind QB Rocky Griffin and WR/DB Corey Crooms. The Hawks defense has been very solid all season. Can the Hillcrest defense slow down the Lions "basketball-on-grass" offense?
EDGY's Pick: Hillcrest 40 Peoria 28