NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoff/second round edition of High School Lites, now on Saturday nights at 11:00 for the remainder of the football season. Last week, Kenwood picked up their first IHSA playoff win since 1986. Can they beat Deerfield on the road this week? Can Crete-Monee step up and beat Providence Catholic at the Emerald Isle? Can Thornton --or anyone else in 7A-- slow down the Roadrunners of Nazareth Academy? And does it get any better in Class 8A than Glenbard West at Loyola? Or Neuqua Valley at Homewood-Flossmoor?
**All games Saturday**
#1 Mt. Zion (10-0) at #9 Joliet Catholic (7-3), 2:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Mt. Zion will make the nearly-300 mile round trip drive from the Deactur area to Joliet. The Braves, who won the 4A-sized Apollo conference features an explosive offense led by RB/LB Sage Davis and QB Ashton Summers. Joliet Catholic has been rolling behind the always-tough double-wing running attack, led by senior RB Kenyetta Williams and an impressive group of underclassmen in the backfield, namely sophomore Jordan Anderson and junior Ja'Aire Mack. Can the Braves defense find the football and slow down the powerful JCA double wing?
EDGY's Pick: Joliet Catholic 42 Mt. Zion 21
#7 Kenwood (8-1) at #2 Deerfield (8-2), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Kenwood head coach Sinque Turner has a very young but talented team this season. Junior QB Kaleb Garner is a name to watch along with RB Lewis Bond and WR Dante Reynolds. Don't sleep on their defense-- a unit that has only given up 48 points through nine games. The talented unit includes senior S Donald Dillon and junior S Myles Mooyoung. Deerfield has been a great story so far this season. Head coach Steve Winiecki's Warriors are riding the arm of senior QB Ryan Nagelbach. Their defense has been a strength all season long, capped off by an impressive 34-0 shutout win over Crystal Lake South last week. Can Kenwood win a suburban road postseason game? Can the Deerfield defense contain Kenwood's speedy backs and receivers?
EDGY's Pick: Deerfield 21 Kenwood 14
#3 Crete-Monee (10-0) at #11 Providence Catholic (7-3), 2:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Crete-Monee head coach John Konecki is more than familiar with Providence Catholic. The Warriors boast All-State candidate senior QB Travyvon Rudolph (3,003 yards of total offense and 39 touchdowns) along with a stable full of speedy backs and receivers. Providence is coming off a 19-14 win over Normal West. Head coach Mark Coglianese's Celtics feature a balanced offense led by junior QB Kevin Conway, sophomore RB Aaron Vaughn Jr. and a group of big, experienced offensive linemen anchored by senior Jake Renfro (Cincinnati). Can the Crete defensive front match up against the bigger Celtics' offensive line? Can Providence run and keep up Crete's team speed for four quarters?
EDGY's Pick: Crete-Monee 34 Providence Catholic 28
#15 Thornton (8-2) at #2 Nazareth Academy (10-0), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Thornton Township might be peaking at the right time. Coach Dontrell Jackson and company have won six straight. Watch for QB Derrick Williams, a multi-sport three year varsity starting quarterback, to lead the way for the Wildcats. Nazareth Academy has one of the top signal callers in the Midwest with junior QB JJ McCarthy (Michigan). Sophomore ATH Tyler Morris is as explosive as anyone in the state this season. Coach Tim Racki's Roadrunners defense is also talented. Keep and eye on junior OL/DL Ryan Keeler, senior FB/LB Riley Theobald, senior LB Marcus Griffin (Grand Valley State) and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can Thornton's defense slow down J.J. McCarthy? Can the 'Nazz defense contain and limit Derrick Williams' big play potential?
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 41 Thornton 14
#27 Downers Grove North (6-4) at #22 Wheaton-Warrenville South (7-3), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Downers North always seems to be a 5-4 team entering the postseason. But don't overlook head coach Joe Horeni's Trojans. They always seem to find a way of winning big games and upsetting higher seeded teams. DGN has a run-first offense led by senior QB Drew Cassens. RB Josh Lumpkin is also having a big season. As for Wheaton South and Hall of Fame head coach Ron Muhitch, they walloped Harlem 50-23 in opening round action. The Tigers are more balanced on offense with junior QB Parker Brown, senior RB Jake Arthurs and RB Prince Lankah. Senior WR/K Jack Olsen (Michigan State) is a threat to hit a field goal any time the Tigers cross midfield. Can the Wheaton South defense stuff DGN's power running offense? Can North's defense continue to force turnovers in the postseason?
EDGY's Pick: Wheaton South 21 Downers Grove North 14
#8 Phillips (8-1) vs. #9 Normal Community (8-2) at Gately Stadium, 3:00 pm.
EDGY's Take: Phillips was still buzzing this week after a thrilling, last-second win over Lincoln-Way west. The Wildcats got a big performance from QB Antonio Brown and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger (Western Michigan), who teamed up for the walk-off TD last week. Phillips' offensive and defensive lines are big and physical. Normal Community head coach Jason Drengwitz was able to get his offense in gear in last week's 36-14 win over Reavis. The Ironmen got a big game from QB Aiden Oliver and RB Cam Jackson. Can the Phillips defense slow down the NCHS running game? Can the Ironmen defense limit Phillips' big play capabilities?
EDGY's Pick: Phillips 27 Normal Community 21
#14 Niles Notre Dame (8-2) at #3 Lincoln-Way East (10-0), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Notre Dame has relied on a lights-out defense and a balanced offense this season. Hall of Fame coach Mike Hennessey's Dons have a junior signal caller in QB Anthony Sayles. Junior RB Julian Schurr and senior LB Anthony Ranallo are also key leaders. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar's offense is led by do-it-all senior ATH A.J. Henning (Michigan). QB Kyle Quinn is back in the starting lineup after suffering a mid-season injury. LWE is star-studded on defense as well. They have two D-1 defensive ends in Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern) and senior Adrian Wilson (Bowling Green). The remainder of the East defense has speed and brings a blue collar approach and mentality week in and week out. Will Notre Dame's ball control offense keep the East offense on the sidelines? Can the LWE offense strike quicky against the Dons?
EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Notre Dame 14
#2 Glenbard West (10-0) at #18 Loyola Academy (7-3), 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: This will be a good one. Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet, once again, has his team playing exceptional football into November. The Hilltoppers have a run-heavy offense led by a stable of top running backs including Nic Seifert, Joey Richmond and Jalen Moore. But West's calling card has always been the defense and this year is no different. They're led by senior OLB Greyson Metz and the remainder of the Hilltopper 'D has speed to burn. Loyola head coach John Holocek also relies heavily on defense. The offense has been a work in progress from week to week. When Loyola has the football, keep an eye on QB J.T. Thomas, RB Tyler Flores and RB Trevor Cabanban. The remainder of the offensive skills department is solid, including sophomore WR James Kyle and senior WR Matt Mangan. Can West's offense throw the football effectively, if needed? Can the Loyola offense get its running game in gear?
EDGY's Pick: Glenbard West 21 Loyola 20
#13 Fremd (8-2) at #4 Warren Township (10-0), 6:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Both Fremd and Warren Township have more than a few things in common. This game could be one of the fastest games all weekend. Fremd head coach Lou Sponsel has playmakers in QB Ryan Saxe and several more on defense-- a group that has been suffocating opposing offenses all season long. Warren Township head coach Bryan McNulty leads a run game that is anchored by RB Derrick McLaughlin. But the Blue Devils' calling card is their defense. It is simply one of the best overall units in Chicagoland. Look for senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State) and senior LB Juan Delacruz to make plays. The big storyline: Will anyone score points on Saturday? It'll be tough to do on either side.
EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 14 Fremd 7
#11 Neuqua Valley (9-1) at #6 Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1), Sat., 6:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Neuqua Valley has a Player of the Year candidate in senior QB Mark Gronowski (South Dakota State). Coach Bill Ellinghaus' Wildcats have plenty of weapons including senior WR Patrich Hoffman and senior WR Sean Larkin (SIU)-- the latter is expected back this week from injury. The linebackers are critical to Neuqua's success. They're led by senior Jack Belskis. H-F head coach Craig Buzea has plenty of firepower on hand as well. On offense, looks for the running game to get established with junior RB Sean Allen (1,654 yards, 20 TDs) running behind big and physical offensive line anchored by senior Marcus Harper II (Oregon). Senior QB Dominic Jones (1,468 yards passing, 17 TDs) is a very capable dual-threat threat. Can the H-F defense corral Mark Gronowski and the Wildcats receivers? Can the Neuqua's defense slow down the Vikings run game?
EDGY's Pick: Neuqua Valley 27 H-F 21