Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games: Playoffs Round 2
The IHSA State Football Round 2 Playoff games across Chicagoland will be huge and here are my Top 5 Games to watch this weekend.
#2 Elmhurst (York) (10-0) at #18 Chicago (Marist) (7-3)
Sat., Nov. 5, 1:00 pm
York head coach Mike Fitzgerald has continued to build up the Dukes football program and this week could be another big step towards becoming a Class 8A power program taking on Marist in Chicago on Saturday. The Dukes will rely on senior QB Matt Vezza, who has been one of Chicagoland’s top overall quarterbacks this season. Vezza is a threat with his arm as well as using his legs to extend plays along with keeping opposing defenses honest. York also has an impressive stable of backs and receivers including RB Jack Melion and WR Luke Mailander as the Dukes offense is balanced between run and pass this season.
Marist and head coach Ron Dawczak always has a talented and potent offensive attack that is balanced while also having big play ability. Marist senior QB Dermot Smyth is a name to watch along with RB Chris Loftgren, WR Ryan Sims (Miami of Ohio) and the Redhawks once again have a big and physical offensive line anchored by senior Ben Meehan. The Redhawks defense also has star power in S John Nestor (Iowa) along with DT Jamel Howard III (Wisconsin).
Can the York defense limit the Marist offensive touches and also limit its big play capabilities? Can the Marist defense get pressure upfront on York QB Matt Vezza and limit his touches on Saturday?
#12 Chicago (St. Rita) (8-2) at #5 Mt. Prospect (Prospect) (9-1)
Fri., Nov. 4, 7:00 pm
Veteran head coach Todd Kuska is trying to get the most out of his final season as the St. Rita head coach this season as he has already announced that he’s stepping down from the head coaching position after this season. The Mustangs offense is a run-first attack and is supported by a big and experienced offensive line led by Charlie Armbruster, Collin Gerger and Nick Strelczyk. The St. Rita backfield is also a key and keep an eye on senior RB DJ Stewart along with sophomore RB Ethan Middleton, while the Mustangs defense has been strong all season long and is led by ILB Matt Kingsbury, his brother LB Joe Kingsbury along with DL Pat Farrell and S Johnny Schmitt.
Prospect and head coach Dan DeBoeuf has also brought the Knights program to new heights and a win over CCL Blue power St Rita would be a huge leap forward for his programs. The Knights have been getting an All State caliber season from QB Brad Vierneisel and his main targets have been Northwestern commit WR Frank Covey and WR Jake Parisi and the Prospect offense has been downright explosive this season.
Can the Prospect defense slow down the St. Rita power running game and force them into unwanted down and distance? Can the St. Rita defense cover the speedy receivers and back from Prospect for four quarters?
#7 Crete (Monee) (8-2) vs #2 Chicago (Simeon) (10-0) @ Gately Stadium
Sat., Nov. 5, 1:00 pm
This outstanding Class 6A Round 2 game will have more of a semifinal feeling to it on Saturday at Gately Stadium. Crete-Monee and head coach John Konecki can and will throw tons of different looks, formations and even a few things from the trick bag when needed this season. Look for the Warriors and QB Cory Stennis to get the football into the hands of standout WR Joshua Franklin (Western Michigan) along with WR/DB Lynel Billips Williams (Miami of Ohio) and both Franklin and Billips-Williams can break open a big play with every touch this season.
Veteran head coach Dante Culbreath is in his final lap as Wolverines head coach this season. Look for Simeon to get RB/DB Andre Crews plenty of touches on Saturday, and Crews will run behind an experienced offensive line led by senior Jose Manning. The Simeon defense has several up and coming names to watch in sophomore DE Christopher Burgess Jr. plus junior DE Mikeshun Beeler while senior leaders DB/RB Andre Crews and S/WR Malik Elzy also play on the defensive side of the football.
Can the Simeon defense contain Crete’s big playmakers Josh Franklin and Lynel Billips Williams for four quarters? Will Crete be able to limit long, extended drives from Simeon and get the football back early and often?
#3 Rockford (Boylan Catholic) (9-1) at #11 LaGrange Park (Nazareth Academy) (6-4)
Sat., Nov. 5, 1:00 pm
Rockford Boylan and head coach John Cacciatore are no strangers to playing deep in the IHSA postseason along with eventually running into several top Chicagoland powers year in and year out. The Titans will bring a pretty balanced offensive attack to Nazareth Academy on Saturday led by QB Connor Dennis along with a deep group of backs and receivers including RB Mekhi Glover, RB/LB Ja’Mar Johnson and WR/DB Mark Harris. The Boylan offensive and defensive lines are also a strength and keep an eye on OL/DL Jack Kerno and DE Barron Sholl.
Nazareth Academy and veteran head coach Tim Racki was able to scratch out 5 wins to get into the IHSA state playoff field and the Road Runners are simply one of the state’s most dangerous No. 11 seeds in the entire playoff field. The Road Runners offense is led by sophomore QB Logan Malachuk who already has two full varsity seasons under his belt. Nazareth Academy WR/S Justin Taylor (Wisconsin) is a key name to watch along with a defense that has been a strength all season and features 6 all conference players anchored by sophomore DE Gabe Kaminski, who already has Power 5 scholarship offers this fall.
Just how good and battle tested is Boylan coming from the locked NIC-10 conference? Can the Nazareth Academy offense get some big plays against a very solid Boylan defense?
Pick: Nazareth Academy
#5 Joliet (Catholic Academy) (8-2) at #13 New Lenox (Providence Catholic) (6-4)
Sat., Nov. 5, 1:00 pm
These two Will County area Catholic school powers always get up whenever they play against each other, and this game is a rematch from a Week 5 48-42 come-from-behind Joliet Catholic win over Providence Catholic. Joliet Catholic and head coach Jake Jaworski will look towards its play action passing game led by QB TJ Schlageter along with a deep and talented offensive skills including WR Justin Bonsu, RB HJ Grigsby while OL Anthony Birsa (Northwestern) is a leader on the Hillmen line. The JCA defense also has playmakers and the defensive line is a strength led by DT Dillan Johnson, DE Billy Burke plus DL Jeremy Johnson and Hunter Powell.
Providence Catholic and first year head coach Tyler Plantz has been able to mold this team into a state playoff team after inheriting a varsity squad with very little varsity playing experience. The Celtics offense is balanced and QB Lucas Proudfoot is a leader who has been steady all season long. Also keep an eye on RB Jamari Tribett, RB/LB Mason Santiago along with WR Jack Tess while the offensive line continues to get better led by Sean Dean and Ethan Hesselmann. The Providence Catholic defense will need to continue to limit the big play against JCA’s passing game and keep an eye on LB Billy Jones.
Can the JCA running game mote production this time around against Providence defense? Can the JCA secondary better cover and defend against the Providence passing attack?
Pick: Providence Catholic