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.