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Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch: Playoffs Round 2

9 months agoEdgy Tim

“Edgy Tim” O’Halloran provides the Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Head to EdgyTim.Rivals.com for more coverage.

As the IHSA playoffs heat up, here are the Top 5 games to watch this weekend in the Chicagoland area.

Class 8A 

#5 Elmhurst (York) (9-1) at #21 LaGrange (Lyons) (7-3)
Sat., Nov. 4, 6:00 p.m.

This Class 8A Round 2 game is a rematch of two West Suburban Silver rivals as York defeated Lyons Township 24-14 back in Week 8. Lyons Township and head coach Jon Beutjer will rely on a playoff experienced lineup led by senior QB Ryan Jackson along with a big offensive line anchored by senior 4 star ranked OL/DL Eddie Tuerk. Lyons also has a deep group of receivers and backs led by junior WR Travis Stamm and senior WR/LB Noah Pfafflin.

York and head coach Mike Fitzgerald  has an impressive starting lineup on both sides of the football again this season. The Dukes on offense have gotten a big season from senior QB Sean Winton plus senior RB Jake Melion while senior WR Luke Mailander (Illinois State) is a main target for Winton in the passing attack. York also has size and talent on both sides of the football and keep an eye on junior 3 star ranked OL/DL Joseph Reiff (Notre Dame) plus senior DE Jack Trautman.. 

Can the Lyons defense find a way to get the football back this time around from a ball control York offense? Can the York defense once again take away the potential big play ability of the Lyons offense for four quarters? I would not be surprised to see this rematch be a much closer game than the Week 8 game. 

Pick: York

#14 Naperville (Central) (8-2) at #3 Barrington (10-0)
Sat., Nov. 4, 7:00 p.m.

Naperville Central and head coach Mike Ulreich have somewhat quietly put together a really impressive season and will now face their biggest test this season taking on a red hot Barrington team Saturday night in Barrington. The Redhawks offense will rely on senior QB Jack Cook and junior RB Aidan Clark who will run behind a big and physical offensive line this season led by senior 3 star ranked OL Grant Ellinger (Virginia) and the Redhawks do a great job of staying balanced on offense. The Naperville Central defense has also been consistent all season and the defensive line is a key led by senior DL Maverick Ohle, senior DE/TE Christian Kuta plus junior DL Jake Stanish and junior LB Daniel Nussbaum will need to play strong again this Saturday night.

Barrington and veteran head coach Joe Sanchez have a balanced offensive attack that is getting a big year from junior QB Nick Peipert along with senior RB Dillon Fitzpatrick plus a host of speedy and sure handed receivers. The Barrington defense is also quick and very athletic and senior DE Devan Van Ness is a name to watch along with senior S Will Nazha on a defense that features several underclassmen this season. 

Can the Naperville Central defense defend and contain a Barrington offense that’s very capable of going up top with its passing game and running the football equally well? Can the Barrington defense get the football back from a Naperville Central offense capable of putting together long clock-eating drives? 

Pick: Barrington 

Class 7A 

#13 Downers Grove (North) (8-2) at #4 Arlington Heights (Hersey) (10-0)
Sat., Nov. 4, 4:00 p.m.

This game could easily be one of the top overall matchups in the entire IHSA Round 2 field this weekend. Downers Grove North head coach Joe Horeni has the Trojans playing impressive football this season. Downers Grove North will rely heavily on senior RB Noah Battle who is one of the top impact running backs in Chicagoland. The Trojans offense is also very capable of beating teams passing the football with sophomore QB Owen Lansu whose main target senior WR Owen Thulin while the DGN defense forced Kenwood last week into 6 turnovers and the Trojans play very fast and very physical defense this season.

Hersey and head coach Tom Nelson got a big game last week from RB Nasir McKenzie and the Huskies defense limited Wheaton South’s running game in a 28-19 win. Hersey also has some key playmakers including junior QB Colton Gumino, whose main target is Northwestern commit senior WR/DB Carson Grove. Hersey senior 3 star ranked OL Will Nolan (Iowa) leads the line play while junior TE/DE Logan Farrell is a major playmaker on both sides of the football for the Huskies. 

Can Hersey slow down the Downers Grove North running game and RB Noah Battle for four quarters? Can Hersey’s offensive balance keep a very aggressive DGN defense back on its heels? Which underclassmen quarterback steps up and makes big plays in crunch time? This game just has the feel of an overtime or two affair to me. 

Pick: Hersey 

Class 6A 

#8 Blue Island (Eisenhower) (7-3) at #1 Kankakee (Sr.) (10-0)
Sat., Nov. 4, 1:00 p.m.

Both Eisenhower and Kankakee mirror each other in several ways and this game is one to not overlook this weekend. Eisenhower and head coach Sheamus Murphy have a really nice core of big time play makers and leaders on both sides of the football. The Cardinals will look towards senior QB Nick Mayfield who is an impressive dual threat quarterback and his main targets are senior WR Antonio Russell along with junior 3 star ranked ATH Andre Lovett and Eisenhower has good size and strength on both sides of the football this season.

Kankakee head coach Miles Osei has made his transition from Elk Grove quite well as the Kays have marched to a perfect 10-0 record and this is a team loaded with speed and skills all over the field. Kankakee senior QB Larenz Walters has been impressive all season long but missed last week’s win over Bremen because of an injury but the Kays will lean on senior RB Tony Phillips along with RB James Stampley who will run behind a big and physical offensive line anchored by senior 4 star ranked OT Marques Easley (Georgia). The Kankakee defense has allowed just 48 points all season and has exceptional team speed and senior LB Kennarius Chandler is having an All State caliber season. 

Can the Kankakee offense continue to generate points if starting QB Larenz Walters remains on the sidelines? Can the Eisenhower offense with it’s multiple big play threats step up this week against a very fast and physical Kankakee defense? I have a feeling this game could wind up being closer than many people think. 

Pick: Kankakee 

Class 5A

#4 Chicago (Morgan Park) (9-1) vs. #5 Sycamore (H.S.) (9-1) at Gately Stadium
Sat., Nov. 4, 12:30 p.m.

Morgan Park and head coach Chris James and the Mustangs are one of two CPL teams still remaining in the IHSA state playoff field and Morgan Park was fully expected to be at this stage of the state playoffs all year long. Morgan Park has a nice roster filled with several impact players with a ton of varsity and playoff experience led by senior 4 star ranked WR/DB Tysean Griffin (Illinois) plus senior WR Chris Durr Jr. (Wyoming), junior QB Marcus Thaxton along with senior WR/DB Jahmere Washington and junior SS Jovan Clark.

Sycamore and veteran head coach Joe Ryan will make a second appearance this season at Gately Stadium on Saturday, having beaten Simeon back in Week 2 26-8. The Spartans are led by a strong running game while also mixing in plenty of play action passing attack when needed. Sycamore junior 3 star ranked S Burke Gautcher (Iowa) plays both quarterback and safety and is a big, strong and physical athlete who has impressive wheels along with a better than you think arm. The Spartans also have a game breaker in senior RB/DB Tyler Curtis and junior WR/DB Carter York. 

Can the Sycamore defense limit the big play ability of Morgan Park? Can Morgan Park avoid the penalty and turnover monster and limit the overall mistakes against a team in Sycamore who seems to thrive off of opponents’ mistakes? Can the Morgan Park defense get the football back and get its offense multiple touches on Saturday? 

Pick: Morgan Park 

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