Preps Talk

IHSA Football Class 8A Playoffs Saturday on CSN

IHSA Football Class 8A Playoffs Saturday on CSN

Matchup: No. 6 St. Charles East (11-0) at No. 3 Palatine (11-0), Saturday, 5 p.m.

Where to watch: Live broadcast on CSN and a live stream available on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app

Overview: This Class 8A quarterfinal showdown on Saturday evening is shaping up to be a tight battle between two very strong teams. St. Charles East head coach William Farquhar has a team that took its lumps in 2015. But the Saints now have experience. Their biggest wins came in Weeks 4 and 5, beating rival St. Charles North, 28-21, then defending Upstate 8 River champion Batavia, 28-7. Palatine, led by head coach Rick Splitt, was expected to make a deep run this season after leading the Pirates to the Class 8A semifinal round in 2015, a 24-22 loss to eventual state champion Loyola Academy. The Pirates suffered a huge loss in their opening-round, 34-0 win over Niles Notre Dame, as senior quarterback Zach Oles was lost for the remainder of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. The Pirates have carried on behind a strong running game and defense. Junior backup quarterback D.J. Angelaccio played well in last week's 20-17 win over Lyons Township.

When St. Charles East has the football: The Saints want to run the football early and often with their power-option game. Senior quarterback Zach Mitchell has been a key for the Saints. He is a true threat with his reads in the option along with his running and passing ability. The Saints also have a nice group of skill position players including junior wide receiver Nick Garlisch, sophomore athlete Clayton Isbell and sophomore running back Justin Jett. East features a very good offensive line and senior offensive/defensive lineman Max Schumann is a name to watch on both sides of the football.

When Palatine has the football: The Pirates will also get it started with a shotgun run/pass read option offense. Palatine has a strong group of offensive skills that allow them to spread the wealth — and the football — with both the run and the pass. Angelaccio takes over for the injured Oles. The Pirates will also look towards senior running back Joshua Turner for yards. They also boast a big and physical group of receivers including juniors Jack Orlando and Johnny O'Shea along with senior Cornelius Cortland.

Key matchups to watch: The Palatine defense against the St. Charles East running game. The Saints won't try to fool anyone on offense. They want to establish their triple-option game and control time of possession. The Pirates defense has been a real strength all season long, and they have terrific overall team speed. The more possessions the Palatine defense can give back to the offense, the better.

Impact player for St. Charles East: Mitchell. Quite simply, he brings a lot to the table in the Saints offense. He has good patience, makes good reads in the option game, and he’s an overall strong runner and passer. East’s offense has several options and weapons — and it all starts with Mitchell on every play.

Impact player for Palatine: Angelaccio. It can't be easy being pushed into this position after serving as a backup to Oles, but that's exactly the position Angelaccio finds himself in this week. If Angelaccio can just relax and get the ball into the hands of the multiple threats surrounding him in the Pirates offense, his team should be fine.

So who wins? Palatine 17, St. Charles East 14 (OT). This should be a close, tight game that could come down to the last possession.

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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USA Today

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

In case you missed any of our previews, here is our rundown:

100. De La Salle

99. Crystal Lake South

98. Eisenhower

97. Back of the Yards

96. Jacobs

95. Waubonsie Valley

94. Kaneland

93. West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant coaches: Tony Melchiori, DC Bob Fowler, DL Patrick Stremel, LB Charlie Graves, DB Mike Runge, OL Joe Howell, RB Ron Murphy and QB Alex Shaw

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (4-1 Upstate Eight Valley Conference). West Aurora made the IHSA Class 8A playoff field last season. The Blackhawks lost to Naperville Central 35-14 in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Larkin

Aug. 31 @ West Chicago

Sept. 7 vs Streamwood

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard East

Sept. 21 vs Bartlett

Sept. 28 vs Glenbard South

Oct. 5 @ Elgin

Oct. 12 vs East Aurora

Oct. 19 vs South Elgin

[MORE: 94 Days to Kickoff - Kaneland]

Biggest storyline: Game 11. Can the Blackhawks get back to the IHSA state playoffs for the fourth straight season and then advance past the opening round?

Names to watch this season: QB Will Tammaru, RB/DB JaQuan Buchanan and DT Denver Warren

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks welcome back an impressive 17 starters (nine offense, eight defense) to the mix. However, the group will be a bit inexperienced in some spots on both the offensive and defensive line.  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blackhawks' turnaround under head coach Nate Eimer and staff has been a terrific story to follow. That said, the bar for West Aurora football has also been raised. No longer are they satisfied by just "getting" to state. The Blackhawks welcome back a deep group on both sides of the football led by a potentially high powered, balanced offense. On paper, this team has the makings of being one of the better Blackhawks teams in their history. They will challenge for the Upstate Eight conference title and get another shot at the Class 8A playoff field.