NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football playoff games across Chicagoland on the IHSA semifinal edition of High School Lites, this Saturday night at 11:00. Can Coal City win their fourth straight home playoff game? Can St. Rita beat Boylan on the South Side of Chicago? Can Rolling Meadows find a way and beat Nazareth Academy? Will it finally strike Midnight for Cinderella story Marist? Or will the Redhawks beat Lincoln-Way East and take their show to DeKalb? Who wins the Defense Bowl between Brother Rice and Warren Township?
Richmond-Burton at Coal City, 2:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Something has to give in this rematch from last year's 4A quarterfinal showdown, where Richmond Burton (12-0) beat Coal City 17-14. Both teams play great defense and love to run the football; that said, both teams are more than capable of throwing the football when required. Coal City (12-0) is coached by Dan Hutchings. They feature senior RB Dan Jezik (2,196 yards rushing 25 touchdowns) and big, physical line play on both sides of the football. Richmond-Burton and veteran head coach Mike Noll will get the football into the hands of his one-two punch in the backfield: FB Dalton Wood and RB Nick Legnaioli. Can the Coalers slow down the Rockets' power running game? Can Coal City take advantage of hosting a fourth straight home playoff game and play well in the mud?
EDGY's Pick: Coal City 21 Richmond Burton 20
Boylan Catholic at St. Rita, 2:30 p.m. #SendEDGY
EDGY's Take: Boylan (12-0) was able to take full advantage of a handful of Sycamore turnovers for last Saturday's 19-16 win to advance. The Titans, coached by John Cacciatore, have balance on offense. Keep an eye on QB John Starck, RB Xavier Bryant and RB Dayvion Foreman. On defense, the Titans have allowed just 96 points on the season. St. Rita (9-3) has been getting an All-State caliber season from RB Kaleb Brown as the Mustangs running game has been a key in the playoffs. The young and talented defense, led by junior LB Michael Gaughan and senior DE Michael Milton, continue to make statements. Can Boylan slow down the St. Rita power running game and standout RB Kaleb Brown? Can Rita's defense slow down and contain the multiple Boylan weapons?
EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 27 Boylan 14
Prairie Ridge at Deerfield, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Deerfield (10-2) head coach Steve Winiecki has guided the Warriors into the IHSA state semifinal round for the first time since 1990. The Warriors have received a big season from QB Ryan Nagelbach and a core of two-way playmakers including sophomore RB/LB Luke Woodson and senior WR/DB Alex Cohan. The Deerfield defense has speed and has been a strength all season long. As for Prairie Ridge (11-1), they hung on last Saturday for a 14-13 win in the mud over rival Cary-Grove. The Wolves will look to establish its power running game, led by QB Connor Lydon, RB Brandon Brown and RB Taidhgin Trost. On defense, the Wolves are speedy. They can really fly to the football. Can the Deerfield defense find the football and slow down the Prairie Ridge power option game? Can the Prairie Ridge defense take away the multiple weapons from the Deerfield offense?
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 28 Deerfield 17
Nazareth at Rolling Meadows, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy (12-0) is back in the 7A semifinal round for the second straight season behind one of the state's top offenses, spearheaded by junior QB JJ McCarthy (MIchigan). Head coach Tim Racki's roster features several big names to watch including sophomore WR Tyler Morris, WR Tanner Koziol, DE/OT Ryan Keeler, LB Riley Theobald and LB Marcus Griffin. Rolling Meadows (12-0) and head coach Matt Mishler have relied on a balanced offense led by QB Carson Schiller and RB/LB Chris Divito. The offensive and defensive lines have been a strength all season long. Keep an eye out for Ball State commit senior Nate Pedraza. Can the Meadows defense contain Nazareth's spread offense and get a pass rush on J.J. McCarthy? Can the Nazareth defense limit the Mustangs' balanced offense?
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 30 Rolling Meadows 20
Mt. Carmel at Willowbrook, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Mt. Carmel (12-0) head coach Jordan Lynch will look to his younger brother --junior QB Justin Lynch-- to lead the Caravan's run-pass option attack. Junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga and senior WR Tony Livermore are key playmakers to watch as well. Willowbrook (11-1) head coach Nick Hildreth has the Warriors in the state semifinals for the first time since 1975. Senior QB Sam Tumilty is, once again, leading the way for the Warriors offense with his ability to both run and throw the football exceptionally well. Watch for WR Deandre Holliday and WR Everett Stubblefield to have their names called often. The offensive and defensive lines are a very hard-nosed and physical group. Is this Willowbrook's year? Can each defensive unit get the football back from the opposition? It will be a challenge. Expect a very quick, very tight game on Saturday in Villa Park.
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 21 Willowbrook 14
Lincoln-Way East at Marist, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Marist (8-4) head coach Ron Dawczak has the Redhawks on a serious roll in the postseason after needing to beat Loyola in Week 9 just to make the playoff field. Senior QB Hayden Mikesell has been a big key late this season with his arm and his legs. Also, keep an eye on senor WR A.J. Markett. Their athletic and speedy defense, led by senior LB Colin Bohanek (EIU), has made big plays all season. Lincoln-Way East (12-0) and head coach Rob Zvonar locked down rival H-F 26-7 win to advance. The Griffins look to run the football and behind a big and experienced offensive line and a deep backfield along with having plenty of big play potential. Senior ATH A.J. Griffin (Michigan), junior RB Jamal Johnson and senior K Dominic Dzioban (Miami Ohio) are serious weapons. Can Marist keep stunning higher seeded teams? Can the Redhawks offense dent a very strong LWE defense? Can the Griffins control tempo against the Redhawks?
EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Marist 20
Brother Rice at Warren Township, 4:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Both Brother Rice (8-4) and Warren Township (12-0) might be separated by 58 miles but both teams are extremely close in several other ways. Warren head coach Bryan McNulty features one of the state's top defenses, led by DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State), LB Juan Delacruz and junior LB Malachi McNeal. The Blue Devils just fly to the football. On offense, they look to establish the running game behind senior RB Derrick McLaughlin. He runs behind a big, experienced and big offensive line while senior K/P Adam Saul (Illinois State) is another key name to watch. Brother Rice head coach Brian Badke and staff have made some impressive late-season adjustments, including the addition of sophomore QB Jack Lausch. The Crusaders will also get the football into the hands of standout junior RB Willie Shaw. He been a key game breaker for Brother Rice this season. Rice's defense has speed and, like Warren Township, it's a real strength. Watch for senior DT Denver Warren, senior DE/OLB Justin Jefferson and senior S Giacomo Iraci. Last possession wins?
EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 14 Brother Rice 10