NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' quarterfinal edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can we expect a shootout when Naperville Central travels to Maine South? Can Loyola win on the South Side when they take on Marist? Can Lake Zurich win on the road at St. Rita? Also, can Lemont take down 5A top seed Phillips at Gately Stadium?
All games Saturday. Rankings shown reflect class seeds.
#13 Naperville Central (9-2) at #5 Maine South (10-1), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Naperville Central was able to hold off H-F last Friday 31-28 as the Redhawks stopped the Vikings in the red zone with under a minute to play. Central has plenty to offer including junior QB Payton Thorne, senior RB AJ Deinhart and senior WR Jayden Reed (Western Michigan). Maine South and head coach Dave Inserra canmatch score-for-score. Their offense features senior RB Fotis Kokosioulis (NIU), senior QB John O'Sullivan and a deep group of receivers led by senior WR/S Cam Stacy. Can either team's defense slow down and contain each other's offense on Saturday? I fully except a tight, back and forth game here.
EDGY's Pick: Maine South 41 Naperville Central 35
#6 Loyola (10-1) at #3 Marist (11-0), 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Loyola just seems to be getting stronger and better as the season progresses. The Ramblers features senior QB Quinn Boyle. He, along with the always-tough Loyola defensive unit represent the biggest threats. First year head coach Ron Dawczak of Marist has a ton of talent on both sides of the football. Junior QB Mike Markett has several weapons, including RB Delonte Harrell, TE TJ Ivy (Indiana) and a deep group of receivers. The Redhawks defense also has talent with the likes of DE Gavin McCabe (Indiana) and DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota). Can Marist go toe-to-toe with the CCL Blue's finest? The battle in the trenches alone will be well worth the price of admission.
EDGY's Pick: Marist 27 Loyola 21
#17 Benet (8-3) at #9 Lincoln-Way Central (10-1), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Benet Academy, under head coach Pat New, has relied on a tough defense all season long. The Redwings have also needed to reload on offense because of various injuries, but they're hitting their stride in the postseason. Keep an eye on senior LB Devin Petersen, junior RB Ben Hickey and sophomore QB Colin Gillespie. Lincoln-Way Central is back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000. Head coach Jeremy Cordell will rely on a senior-heavy squad, paced by a strong running game which features FB Mike Morgan and RB Matt Pollack. Senior SS Peyton Nigro is a leader on the defensive side of the ball. Can Lincoln-Way Central run the football consistently against the Benet defense? Can the Redwings offense keep the Knights defense off balance?
EDGY's Pick: Lincoln Way Central 21 Benet Academy 20
#4 Batavia (10-1) at #12 Lincoln-Way West (9-2), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron have won two straight nail biters to make the 7A quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs defense has been the team's strength all season. Keep an eye on senior SS Michael Niemiec, junior D-1 level LB Michael Jansey and LB Luke Weerts. The Batavia offense has also been solid, led by QB Riley Cooper (1,718 yards 21 touchdowns). Lincoln-Way West plays hard-nosed, no-nonsense football under head coach Dave Ernst. The Warriors are led by a strong running game with sophomore RB Caleb Marconi. Their speedy defense is led by senior S Matt Murphy and senior OLB Jake Price. Can West run the football against the Batavia defense?
EDGY's Pick: Batavia 21 Lincoln-Way West 13
#3 Lake Zurich (11-0) at #11 St. Rita (9-2), 5:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Lake Zurich and first year head coach Luke Mertens (who once coached at St. Rita) will travel to the South Side on Saturday. The Bears will bring a balanced offense, led by QB Evan Lewandowski and RB/LB Joey Stutzman along. The are quick and tough-as-nails on defense. Linebacker Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin) leads the unit. St. Rita and had coach Todd Kuska has played lineup roulette all season long because of injuries; however, they keep finding ways to win. The Mustangs will run the football with RB Chris Childers (Indiana State) and a big, very physical offensive line. On defense, the Mustangs plays very fast and physical. Can St. Rita run the football consistently against the Lake Zurich defense?
EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 24 St. Rita 17
#4 Willowbrook (10-1) at #1 Prairie Ridge (11-0), Nov. 11, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Willowbrook is making its second straight quarterfinal appearance. They remain the lone West Suburban Conference team in the state playoff field. Coach Nick Hildreth's Warriors will have dominant senior RB/LB Jack Jessen (Northwestern wrestling) in their arsenal. Their defense held a very strong DeKalb running game to just 87 yards in a 29-10 win last week. Prairie Ridge got a last minute, come from behind, miraculous game winning touchdown to beat rival Cary-Grove 17-13. Samson Evans, who scored the game-winning 66-yard TD last week, leads the punishing option attack, They also feature OL/DL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) and a very quick defense led by LB Joe Perhats and LB Jacob Ommen. Can Willowbrook find the football and contain Samson Evans? Can Prairie Ridge contain Jack Jessen?
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 24 Willowbrook 14
#7 Hoffman Estates (9-2) at #14 Belvidere North (7-4), 4:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: The Hoffman Estates Hawks, with head coach Tim Heyse, are soaring so far in the postseason. They will rely on their passing game, behind QB Austin Coalson and a deep group of receivers including WR/LB Jaylan Alexander, senior WR Jayvon Blissett and senior WR/DB Trevon Hall. Belvidere North and head coach Jeff Beck will want to run the football-- it will be their first, second and third option. Keep an eye on QB Callahan Diericks and FB Cruz Garza. Can Hoffman Estates get the football back from the Belvidere North offense? Can the Blue Thunder defense match up against the speedy and athletic Hawks' offensive skills department?
EDGY's Pick: Hoffman Estates 27 Belvidere North 20
#13 Providence Catholic (7-4) at #8 St. Laurence (8-3), 2:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Providence Catholic had little issue beating Normal West last week 33-7. The running game, led by RB De'Shon Gavin, QB Caden Kalinowski and a big offensive line took control in the win. St. Laurence, once again, got a huge playoff performance from RB Tori Clinton. The Vikings defense limited a strong Hinsdale South passing attack en route to a 32-16 win. Can the Providence defense limit Tori Clinton's explosive plays? Can the Celtics depth (especially on the offensive and defensive line) be a difference maker on Saturday?
EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 28 St. Laurence 21
#1 Phillips (11-0) vs. #4 Lemont (10-1) at Chicago's Gately Stadium, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Phillips, featuring head coach Troy McAllister, rolled over Solorio 55-14 as RB/LB Craig Elmore continues to make a serious case as Chicagoland Player of the Year. The Wildcats have a roster loaded with college level talent including QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State), DL Queneil Morrison (NIU) and DE Terrance Taylor (Toledo). They also have an underclassmen group that features another five or six D-1 level prospects. Lemont and head coach Bret Kooi will rely on a balanced offense led by QB Marcus Mathias, RB Anthony Martin and WR Austin Nagel. They also have a defense that has been a strength all season. Can Lemont win time of possession against the Wildcats defense? Can Phillips consistently move the football against the Indians defense?
EDGY's Pick: Phillips 28 Lemont 17
#2 Raby (10-1) vs. #3 Dixon (10-1) at Chicago's Hanson Stadium, 6:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Raby and head coach Deangelo Dereef trailed Richmond-Burton 18-14 at the half last week before QB Tyler Turnipseed and the Raiders offense kicked things into high gear. They ran away in the second half, rolling to a 38-18 win. Dixon will look to hit the road this week and play Raby on the artificial surface at Hanson Stadium. The Dukes feature RB Arthur Cox and good overall team speed. Can Dixon play well in the big city on Saturday?
EDGY's Pick: Raby 35 Dixon 29
#8 Wilmington (10-1) at #5 IC Catholic (10-1), 5:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Wilmington and veteran head coach Jeff Reents will rely heavily on the power-running option offense led by QB Conner Dempsay along with RB Matteo Lombardi. Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Kreft will look towards his big-play offense with QB CJ West and RB Lazerick Eatman. The Knights also feature two talented twins in junior WR/LB Khali and WR/DB Khalil Saunders, both of whom are drawing recruiting looks this fall. Can Wilmington play ball control and run the football against the IC defense? Can the Wildcats defense slow down the Knights multiple weapon offense?
EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 34 Wilmington 20