IHSA semifinal preview capsules
November, 17, 2011
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com
Here's a look at this week’s area playoff action.
No. 12 Glenbard North (9-3) at No. 1 Loyola (12-0)When: Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: It’s Loyola’s Class 8A state championship to lose at this point. The Ramblers have proven throughout this season that they’re the state’s top team. Their offense and defense have clicked in unison throughout the playoffs and haven’t been tested yet. Glenbard North has upset team after team in the playoffs. The Panthers have knocked off higher seeds behind the play of their two consistent running backs, Justin and Phillip Jackson. Scoring against Loyola won’t be easy. The Ramblers haven’t allowed more than 13 points since Week 2.
Glenbard North player to watch: Alex Mendez had one of the Panthers’ three interceptions last week.
Loyola player to watch: Defensive end Eric Hauser has been among the area’s best this season.
Prediction: Loyola 28, Glenbard North 17
No. 2 Bolingbrook (11-1) at No. 12 Naperville Central (9-3)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Naperville Central didn’t draw a lot of attention to itself during the regular season, but it wasn’t far off from being one of the area’s top teams if you go back and look at its results. It lost by 14 points to Waubonsie Valley to start the season and had narrow losses to Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South. The Redhawks’ offense has been remarkable throughout the last three weeks. They have scored 40 or more points in every game. Bolingbrook has continued to be impressive on both sides of the ball. The Raiders have been jumping on opponents early and not giving them a chance.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Austin Van Meter compliments Florida recruit Antonio Morrison in Bolingbrook’s linebacker group.
Naperville Central player to watch: Defensive lineman Zach Borta was the defensive player of the year in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 27, Naperville Central 21
No. 4 Wheaton Warrenville South (9-3) at No. 3 St. Rita (10-2)
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
The story: This is a rematch of a 2009 Class 7A quarterfinal game. Wheaton Warrenville South pulled out on a 23-14 win at St. Rita in that contest. This is expected to be another defensive slugfest with even maybe less scoring. Both teams have relied heavily on their defenses to get them here. Wheaton Warrenville South has out-scored their last two opponents 17-7. St. Rita hasn’t given up more than 14 points in the playoffs.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Defensive back and kick returner Mike Shelton has been making an impact all over the field.
St. Rita player to watch: Linebacker Will McNamara is one of the team’s defensive leaders.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 13, St. Rita 10
No. 5 Lake Zurich (10-2) at Rockford Boylan (12-0)When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Both these teams played in a state title game last season. Lake Zurich lost to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 7A. Rockford Boylan defeated Marmion in Class 6A. Lake Zurich’s defense has been the key to its success the past few weeks. It allowed a total of 17 points to Glenbard West and Elk Grove. Rockford Boylan’s offense hasn’t been contained all season. The Titans put up 30 points on Crystal Lake South last week and haven’t scored less than 28 points this season.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Running back Mike Shield came through again in last week’s win.
Rockford Boylan player to watch: Peter Cimino had three interceptions and a fumble recovery in last week’s win.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 17, Rockford Boylan 14
No. 6 Lemont (12-0) at Peoria Richwoods (9-3)When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
The story: Peoria Richwoods started off its season 0-3 and has rallied to win its last nine games. The Knights squeaked out a 20-19 win over Danville last week. Lemont will be favored, but it will have to win on the road. The Indians notched their sixth shutout of the season with last week’s win. No one has come within 18 points of them through 12 games.
Lemont player to watch: Defensive lineman Sebastian Koziel recorded 1.5 sacks in last week’s win.
Peoria Richwoods player to watch: Running back Kendrick Foster rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Lemont 35, Peoria Richwoods 17
No. 9 Prairie Ridge (11-1) at No. 7 Batavia (12-0)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: This is a game everyone has been waiting for in Class 6A. Batavia and Prairie Ridge have been two of the most dominant teams in the class throughout the season. Batavia has out-scored it opponents 506-124. Prairie Ridge has out-scored teams 520-101. Batavia hasn’t scored less than 31 points this season. Prairie Ridge hasn’t given up more than 22 points in a game. This could be a good one.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Guard Tom Evans has been opening holes for the Wolves’ running backs all season.
Batavia player to watch: Defensive lineman Alex Lyons has had a memorable year.
Prediction: Batavia 28, Prairie Ridge 27
No. 8 Montini (10-2) at No. 13 Kaneland (12-0)When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
The story: These two teams met in the Class 5A semifinals last season, and Montini won 27-14 at Kaneland. Montini will have to win on the road again if it’s going to get a shot at its third consecutive state championship. Montini was dominant on both sides of the ball in last week’s 52-27 win over Marian Central. Quarterback John Rhode has been unstoppable throughout the playoffs and threw five more touchdowns last week. Kaneland has been finding a way to win over the last month. The Knights’ last four games have been decided by six points or less.
Montini player to watch: Defensive back Joe Cione intercepted three passes in last week’s win.
Kaneland player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Drew David will likely need to have a big day for the Knights to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Montini 42, Kaneland 21
Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0) at No. 10 Joliet Catholic (10-2)When: Saturday at 2 p.m.
The story: This should be a battle of a great offensive team vs. a great defensive one. Sacred Heart-Griffin has allowed a total of 24 points in the playoffs. The Cyclones haven’t given up more than 15 points in a game since Week 1. On the other hand, Joliet Catholic has scored 145 points in the playoffs. The Hilltoppers have been held to less than 32 points just once this year. Something will have to give in this one.
Sacred Heart-Griffin player to watch: Chris Harris rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Kicker Isaac Grashoff could help decide a close game. He’s been accurate all season.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 34, Sacred Heart-Griffin 28
Tolono Unity (11-1) at Aurora Christian (11-1)When: Saturday at 5 p.m.
The story: Aurora Christian appears to be the front-runner in Class 3A. The Eagles have been getting it done offensively throughout the season. They’ve scored less than 34 points just once this season. Quarterback Anthony Maddie, a Western Michigan recruit, and wide receiver Chad Beebe are one of the best combos in the state. They’re good for 100 yards and a few touchdowns almost every week. Tolono Unity has put up its share of points this season as well. The Rockets have scored 40 or more points in eight games.
Tolono Unity player to watch: Michael Lafenhagen ran for 191 yards in last week’s win.
Aurora Christian player to watch: Julian Sosa is one of the team’s leaders on defense.
Prediction: Aurora Christian 42, Tolono Unity 28
Simeon (9-3) vs. Harper (10-2)When: Saturday at 12 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Harper and Simeon face off for the Public League championship and the right to represent the Public League in the Prep Bowl. Simeon had a disappointing run in the playoffs, but is making up for it now. The Wolverines did get by Fenger earlier in the week without quarterback Robert Gregory, who was serving a one-game suspension. Harper avenged an early-season loss to Dunbar in the Public League semifinals with a 40-14 win. The Cardinals have seven shutouts this year.
Harper player to watch: Kewane Pipkins threw for two touchdowns and ran for one against Dunbar.
Simeon player to watch: Paris Ratliff scored touchdowns on a fake punt and kickoff return in the Wolverines’ win over Fenger.
Prediction: Simeon 34, Harper 21
Brother Rice (8-4) vs. Mount Carmel (8-4)
When: Friday at 6 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Brother Rice and Mount Carmel meet for the second time this season with this game deciding which team represents the Catholic League in the Prep Bowl. Mount Carmel won the first matchup 35-24 at home. Both teams like to keep on the ground and have two of the area’s top running backs.
Brother Rice player to watch: Running back Martez Walker has been among the area’s best this season.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer makes plays at running back and defensive back.
Prediction: Brother Rice 24, Mount Carmel 20