ESPNChicago.com previews all of the top-20 games.
The story: The last time Glenbard West and Wheaton Warrenville South met it was the Class 7A state championship game. Last season, Wheaton Warrenville South defeated the Hilltoppers 31-24 in two overtimes in Champaign. Ever since, Glenbard West has been talking about revenge. Both teams have been ranked in the top 10 for most of the season. Wheaton Warrenville South has been the state’s most dominant team. No opponent has scored more than 14 points on the Tigers, and they’ve put up 38 or more points in 10 of their games. Glenbard West has been strong on both sides of the ball as well. It’s coming off a 42-28 win over Lincoln-Way East. Wide receiver Mark Hiben had a state-record 319 receiving yards in the victory. The Hilltoppers are a run-first team, though. The winner will either play Minooka or Belleville East.
Glenbard West player to watch: Junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt is considered one of the best in the country. He needs to put pressure on Reilly O’Toole for the Hilltoppers to have a chance.
Wheaton Warrenville South: Quarterback Reilly O’Toole was hyped from the start of the season and has lived up to every ounce of it.
Quote: Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet – “We are fast on defense again and maybe more explosive on offense. Wheaton Warrenville South is a lot stronger on offense this year. Their defense is great again with great team speed. Last year is absolutely motivation for us.”
iPrediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 35, Glenbard West 28
The story: Simeon’s offense has been unstoppable all season. The Wolverines haven’t scored less than 42 points all year. Last week, they put up 55 in a win over Schaumburg. On the other hand, Lake Zurich’s defense has been among the state’s best this season. The Bears have allowed 8.5 points a game this season. Only two teams have scored more than 14 points against them. The winner will play either Carmel or St. Rita.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Linebacker J.J. Raffelson has been one of keys to Lake Zurich’s defense this season. He’ll need another big game to slow down Simeon.
Simeon player to watch: Quarterback Robert Gregory may be the state’s best dual-threat quarterback. In last week’s win, he threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more.
Prediction: Simeon 38, Lake Zurich 28
The story: Both these teams spent almost the entire year ranked in the area’s top 10. Carmel relies on its defense and multi-back running game. The Corsairs haven’t allowed their last five in-state opponents to score more than seven points. St. Rita has also been tough to score on and is led offensively by all-state running back Jahwon Akui, who scored five times last week. The Mustangs put up less than 21 points only once this season. The winner will play either Lake Zurich or Simeon.
Prediction: Carmel 31, St. Rita 28
The story: Joliet Catholic hasn’t been tested yet through two rounds of the playoffs. The Hilltoppers won both of their previous games by 42 points. Richwoods should present more of a challenge, especially at home. The Knights are undefeated this season and are coming off a 49-13 win over Lincoln-Way West. They haven’t seen a team like Joliet Catholic this season. The winner will either play Glenwood or Springfield.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Richwoods 17
The story: Palatine has been the surprise of the playoffs. The No. 14-seeed Pirates upset Glenbard North in the opening round and took down Glenbrook South last week. Their defense has been strong the past three weeks, holding their opponents to 14 points or less. Loyola is riding a seven-game winning streak into Saturday. The Ramblers held off Fremd last week for a 14-7 win. Their defense has been stepping up in recent weeks. The defense scored a touchdown again last week. The winner will play either Maine South or Stevenson.
Prediction: Loyola 31, Palatine 17
The story: These two teams met up in Week 4, and Crystal Lake South pulled out a 24-20 victory. The Gators’ Brad Walovitch was the hero in the win, catching two touchdown passes, kicking a field goal and gaining a first down on a key fourth-down conversion. The two teams combined for 27 fourth-quarter points. Prairie Ridge has taken care of business ever since. It’s coming off an impressive 20-6 win over Morgan Park. The winner will play either Boylan or Cary-Grove.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 29, Prairie Ridge 28
The story: Maine South is still the king of Class 8A. The Hawks are two-time defending 8A champs and have won their last 12 playoff games. Maine South has won its last nine games this season by 21 or more points. Stevenson has gotten to where it is by relying on its offense and defense. The Patriots are coming off a close one. They defeated South Elgin 10-7 last week. The winner will play either Loyola or Palatine.
Maine South player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti has improved week after week. He’s been poised throughout the playoffs so far.
Stevenson player to watch: Junior kicker Matthew Micucci has come through in the clutch this season. He had a field goal in last week’s narrow win and in the Patriots’ 24-23 win over Lake Zurich earlier in the season.
Prediction: Stevenson 31, Maine South 28
The story: Both teams are coming off dramatic wins. Lyons pulled out a 21-20 victory over Sandburg last week, and Mount Carmel defeated Neuqua Valley 21-14 in overtime. The Lions have held nine of their opponents to 20 points or less this season. Mount Carmel’s offense has carried it. The Caravan have scored 35 or more points in eight of their games.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Lyons 24
The story: This could be one of the week’s best games. Lemont has put it together on both sides of the ball this season. The Indians’ defense has especially been good, allowing only three opponents more than 20 points this season. Marmion’s only loss came to Montini in its final regular season game. The Cades have held eight opponents to eight points or less this season.
Prediction: Lemont 17, Marmion 14
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor is one of the year’s greatest success stories. A year after going 1-8, the Vikings are in the Class 8A quarterfinals. The Vikings’ offense can put up points. They’ve scored 30-plus points seven times this year. Naperville North’s defense has been among the area’s best. Led by all-state linebacker Nick Lifka, the Huskies haven’t allowed an opponent more than 14 points in the last four weeks. The winner will play either Lyons or Mount Carmel.
Prediction: Naperville North 24, Homewood-Flossmoor 14
The story: Montini defeated Marian 35-6 when they met during the regular season. Marian’s defense will need to contain the Broncos’ offense this time around to have a chance. Montini quarterback Matt Westerkamp and his cousin wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp have been on a tear. They hooked up for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns last week. The winner will play either Kaneland or Vernon Hills.
Prediction: Montini 35, Marian 14
The story: Minooka avenged its only loss of the season last week with a 41-38 win over Plainfield South. The Indians’ running game stepped up again. Belleville East benefitted from East St. Louis being kicked out of the playoffs. Instead of facing nationally-ranked East St. Louis, Belleville East defeated Belleville West 21-13 last week. The winner will play either Glenbard West or Wheaton Warrenville South.
Prediction: Minooka 38, Belleville East 21
The story: Kaneland and Vernon Hills have been two of the premier Class 5A teams all season. Led by quarterback Joe Camiliere, Kaneland hasn’t scored less than 30 points in a game this season. It also hasn’t allowed an opponent to come within 14 points this season. Vernon Hills has been just as high-powered offensively. With Ohio State recruit Evan Spencer and Notre Dame recruit DaVaris Daniels leading the way, the Cougars have scored more than 40 points seven times this year. Their defense also shut out their first seven opponents this season. The winner will play either Marian or Montini.
Quote: Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken – “Their quarterback is outstanding, and they have a nice athletic group of receivers that give you a lot to cover and think about. Defensively, they’re quick and well coached. Both of us have scored over 40 a game and given up less than 10 a game, so it should be a good one. The keys are pretty simple. We need to minimize mistakes and communicate on defense.”
Prediction: Vernon Hills 34, Kaneland 31