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Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch: Playoffs Round 3

7 months agoEdgy Tim

“Edgy Tim” O’Halloran provides the Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch in the 3rd 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.

Chicago Public League City Championship Semifinal 

Simeon (6-5)  vs Whitney Young (8-3) Fritz Pollard Field at Lane Stadium
Saturday 4 p.m. Live TV: Marquee Sports Network 

Simeon and head coach Derrick Hunter are seeking to defend its 2022 Prep Bowl championship title and win back to back Prep Bowl titles this season. The Wolverines have relied heavily on its talented defense anchored by senior D1 recruit DL Mikeshun Beeler along with junior 4 star ranked DE Christopher Burgess Jr. who is holding multiple Power 5 scholarship offers this fall. When the Simeon offense has the football, keep an eye on QB Keshawn Parker plus WR/QB Kaleb Sims and a big and physical offensive line led by senior Sean Goodrum.

Whitney Young and head coach Dan Finger’s three losses this season came at the hands of three IHSA playoffs teams in Chicago Hope, Morgan Park and Wheaton North. The Dolphins will look towards a balanced offensive attack led by senior QB Bennett Neumann whose main target is sophomore WR Nazir Rankin who is drawing recruiting attention in both football and basketball this fall. Whitney Young will also look to establish the running game led by an experienced offensive line including junior OC Nik Dale and sophomore OT Maricus Woods. 

Can the Simeon defense limit the Whitney Young balanced offensive attack? Can the Wolverines offense kick into a higher gear this week and dent a solid Dolphins defense? 

Pick: Simeon 

IHSA Quarterfinal Round

Class 8A

#6 Park Ridge (Maine South) (10-1) at #3 Barrington (11-0)
Saturday, Nov. 11, 5 p.m. Live TV: WCIU 

No question this will be one of the best overall Quarterfinal matchup in any class this week. Maine South and veteran head coach Dave Inserra have been able to get a huge season from junior QB Constantine Coines, who was pressed into service in Week 1 when then starting quarterback senior Jack DeFillips was lost for the year with an injury. Coines has become a much more confident passer and scrambler and provides a true dual threat in the Hawks always dangerous spread offense. The Hawks also will look towards junior RB Michael Dellumo along with senior WR/DB Evan Agosto as key playmakers on offense while the Maine South defense has speed and a good sized defensive line.

Barrington and veteran head coach Joe Sanchez also have a terrific junior QB in Nick Peipert who has been locked in all season long, and Peipert also has some key targets including senior RB Dillon Fitzgerald, RB Calvin Jackson plus WR Matt Marusich. The Barrington defense gave up some points in the first half last Saturday against Naperville Central but then made some key adjustments and held the Redhawks scoreless in the second half for the come from behind 28-21 Barrington win to advance. 

Can the Maine South offense continue to pile up the points and outgun a Barrington offense that is as capable as anyone that Maine South has faced this season? Which defense will rise up and make a few key stops in crunch time? I fully expect a tight, back and forth game that could come down to whoever has the football last on Saturday night. 

Pick: Maine South

Class 7A 

#6 Chicago (Mt. Carmel) (10-1) at #3 Quincy (Sr.) (11-0)
Saturday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m.

Mount Carmel and head coach Jordan Lynch will pack up the luxury buses on Saturday morning and head downstate 311 miles to take on Quincy. The Caravan have been one of the best programs in the state and its only blemish came in a Week 9 23-21 loss to Class 8A top ranked Loyola Academy. Mount Carmel is yet another high school team led by a junior quarterback in Jack Elliott who has been impressive all season long. Elliott has a wealth of talented skills led by senior 4 star ranked RB Darrion Dupree (Wisconsin), senior WR Darrion Gilliam (Kent State), senior RB Alonzo Manning Jr. (Navy) plus a big and physical offensive line. The Caravan defense is also talent heavy and senior ILB Parker Startz (Ohio University) is a leader and key player along with a strong secondary led by senior Charles Miles (Western Michigan), senior DB Jayden Jones plus senior Dillon Conway and junior DB Havy Payne.

Quincy and head coach Rick Little have built up the Blue Devils program over the past few seasons and this is a team with quite a bit of underclassmen talent that will be a factor in 7A for the next few seasons. The Blue Devils offense starts with junior QB Bradyn Little who has passed for 3,196 yards and 44 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions and his main targets include junior WR Tykell Hammers. The Quincy running game also is a strength led by junior RB Jeraius Rice (1,596 yards 20 TDs). 

Can the Quicy offense continue to move the football against a very strong Mount Carmel defense? Has Quincy played any team this season that comes close to offering as much talent, overall numbers and depth that Mount Carmel brings to town on Saturday? Can the Caravan travel 300 plus miles one way, avoid bus lag and be sharp on Saturday? 

Pick: Mount Carmel 

Class 6A 

#4 East St. Louis (Sr.) (9-2) at #1 Kankakee (Sr.) (11-0)
Saturday, Nov. 11, 1 p.m.

This game will no question feel more like a semifinal or state title game on Saturday as Kankakee and head coach Miles Osei will host one of the state’s all time winningest programs in East St. Louis. Kankakee last Saturday trailed Eisenhower 35-29 at the half before pulling away for the 49-35 win to advance. The Kays will look towards an explosive, big play offense led by senior QB Larenz Walters along with senior RB Tony Phillips Jr. and Kankakee has also used backup QB Cedrick Terrell effectively so far in the postseason. The Kays defense is also filled with a ton of speed and athletes and senior LB Kennarius Chandler is one of the state’s best and most overlooked impact defenders this season.

East St. Louis and veteran head coach Darren Sunkett also have a team stacked with talent on both sides of the football. The Flyers offense is anchored by senior QB Robert “Pops” Battle, a rare four year varsity starter along with several impressive underclassmen names to watch in junior RB TaRyan Martin, sophomore WR Christopher Bennett Jr. plus senior WR Jesse Watson (Purdue). The East St. Louis defense is also talent heavy and keep an eye on the Flyers secondary led by senior 3 star ranked Leontre Bradford (Purdue) and junior 4 star ranked Charles Bass. 

Can Kankakee get multiple stops against the Flyers explosive offense for four quarters? Will Kankakee stand out QB Larenz Walters be back 100 percent healthy this week? Expect a potentially high scoring wide open game on Saturday. 

Pick: East St. Louis

Class 5A 

#12 Joliet (Catholic Academy) (8-3) at #1 Morris (11-0)
Saturday, Nov. 11, 3 p.m. 

Joliet Catholic and Morris are just 23 miles away from each other and while these two traditional power programs haven’t faced each other too often over the past, when they do connect it’s always an intense, hard hitting and very physical game. Joliet Catholic and head coach Jake Jaworski has an updated offense which will mix in much more play action passing game, yet the Hilltoppers are finding playoff success going back to more of the ground and pound power run game led by senior RB HJ Grigsby. Grigsby operates behind a big, strong and physical offensive line led by senior OG Brady McKeon along with several key underclassmen linemen who have played well this season. The Hilltoppers defense has also been strong this fall and senior 3 star ranked DL Dillan Johnson (Wisconsin) is a leader along with senior LB Max Hrvatin.

Morris and head coach Alan Thorson has been touting this team all season long for its overall locked in approach and focus each week. Morris has a very balanced offense and is led by senior QB Carter Button (1,895 yards passing 26 touchdowns 4 INT) along with senior RB Jacob Swartz (1,689 yards rushing 25 TDs) while the Morris defense has been getting great play from its linebackers led by senior Connor Mettille and junior Blaine Beshoar. Also….these two really do not like each other at all and expect a huge overflow crowd Saturday in Morris. 

How healthy are a handful of key starters for Morris after last Saturday’s physical win over Sacred Heart Griffin?  Can Joliet Catholic run the football consistently on Saturday against the Morris defense? Can the Hilltoppers defense slow down the Morris balanced offense and big play ability? 

Pick: Morris 

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