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Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch: Playoffs Round 1

8 months agoTony Andracki and Edgy Tim

“Edgy Tim” O’Halloran provides the Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch in Week 9. Head to EdgyTim.Rivals.com for more coverage.

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

Class 8A 

#18 seed Sandburg (6-3) at #15 seed Minooka (7-2)
Friday 7 p.m.

Just based on the close seedings alone, this one has the look of a terrific matchup between two 8A programs with very little shared history. Sandburg and head coach Troy McAllister have been getting a strong season from several key underclassmen led by junior QB Anthony Shelton along with freshman RB Quinn Durkin. Durkin broke into the Eagles starting lineup in mid season and has made the most out of his opportunity and become a key ball carrier and a big spark for Sandburg and will run behind a big and physical offensive line keyed by senior OG Zack Barrett (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) and junior OT Matt Marek (6-foot-4, 285 pounds).

Minooka head coach Matt Harding has been leaning on the Indians defense this season along with an offense that looks to establish the running game then mixing in some play action passing game. Minooka will look towards senior RB Joey Partridge, senior TE Carson Jacoby, senior QB Nathan Maul along with senior WR/DB Donovan Anderson plus a senior-heavy offensive line led by OT Brady Barrowman (Ball State). The Indians defense has been a strength all season long and senior DE Cayden Garcia is a key play maker and disruptive force for the Indians.

Can Minooka find enough offense and then limit the Sandburg group game? Can Sandburg ball control against the Minooka defense, control time of possession and finish long drives with points? Is poor weather expected for Friday night favor Minooka or Sandburg? Or both? 

Pick: Minooka 

#20 seed Naperville North (6-3) at #13 seed Glenbard West
Saturday (7-2) 1 p.m.

Naperville North and head coach Sean Drendel started the season at 2-2 but have won four out of its last five games to get into the postseason on a three game win streak. The Huskies will look towards junior QB Jacob Bell while senior RB Cole Arl is a tough-as-nails between the tackles runner for the Huskies this fall. Naperville North senior WR/DB Luke Williams (Purdue) is another name to watch along with sophomore DL Gabriel Hill and junior OLB/S Kaiser Williams.

Glenbard West and head coach Chad Hetlet’s staff have somehow gotten the Hilltoppers into the state playoffs despite having to deal with an ongoing rash of serious injuries which has seen several key starters sidelined for the year. Glenbard West will rely on converted QB Teyion Oriental who has sparked the Hilltoppers running game while the defense has remained a strength of the program again this fall and keep an eye on senior LB Eli Limouris, senior LB Ben Starrman plus junior DB/WR Mason Ellens. 

Can Glenbard West establish the running game and control the tempo for four quarters? Can Naperville North on offense break off some big plays and get the Hilltoppers back on their heels early and make them chase points? Look for a very hard hitting physical ball game here. 

Pick: Glenbard West

Class 7A 

#17 seed St Charles North (6-3) at #16 seed Bradley (6-3)
Saturday 6 p.m.

St. Charles North and head coach Rob Pomazak is looking to put its Week 9 20-10 loss to Geneva behind them this week on the road at Bradley. The North Stars have several key names to watch led by junior QB Ethan Plumb along with senior TE/LB Jake Furtney (Army), RB Joelle Holloman, senior WR Jake Mettetal and WR Anthony Taormina and this passing attack is very capable of putting up points in a hurry. The North Stars defense has been the bend but not break variety this season and will need a big effort against a Bradley offense that’s averaging 38 points a game this season.

Bradley and head coach Mike Kohl will put the offense into the hands of his son, senior QB Ethan Kohl. Kohl in last week’s 42-41 loss to Lincoln Way Central set the Bradley all time career passing yardage school record which now stands at 4,195 yards. The Boilermakers will also look to a very steady group of capable receivers which includes even more Kohl’s in WR Gavin Kohl and Calvin Kohl plus RB Kevontae Sutton is a nice changeup and give Bradley a running game threat as well this season. The Bradley defense also possesses good speed and play makers and senior LB AJ Mancilla is a multi year starter and leader for the Boilermakers. 

Can St Charles North offense continue to quick strike when needed including this week on the road at Bradley? Can the Bradley offense keep the North Stars defense off balanced and hit some big plays? Look for a terrific matchup between two top level quarterbacks here on Saturday night. 

Pick: Bradley 

#26 seed Brother Rice (5-4) at #7 seed Batavia (8-1)
Friday 7 p.m.

Brother Rice and head coach Casey Quedenfeld last Friday pulled off an impressive 42-21 win over CCL Blue rival St Rita to secure a spot in the IHSA state playoff field. The Crusaders got a big game last week from senior QB Marcus Brown, who shares playing with with senior QB Ryan Hartz and senior RB Randall Nauden (Navy) also added 31 yard rushing in the win. Brother Rice will again look towards its balanced offensive attack to lead the way. The Brother Rice defense has been also been getting the job done despite playing without standout junior LB Christian Pierce a Power 5 recruit lost for the season due to injury.

Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron is again a threat to win the Class 7A state title and the Bulldogs will rely on several key playmakers this week. On the offensive side of the football, Batavia senior QB Ryan Boe (North Dakota State) leads the way and has posted an impressive 2,209 total yards of offense and 27 touchdowns so far this season. Senior RB Charlie Whepley is a key target in both the running game (535 yard rushing) and as a receiver (35 passes 358 yards) out of the backfield this fall. The Batavia defense remains a strength of this program and the linebacker play led by senior LB Ben Fiegel (SIU) and LB Chase Osbourne are key names to watch.

Can Brother Rice win on the road in Batavia? Can the Crusaders offense get out of the gates quickly and put pressure on the Batavia defense? Can the Batavia defense contain QB Ryan Boe and make him stay in the pocket for four quarters? This will not be your typical 26 seed versus 7 seed game on Friday night in Batavia. 

Pick: Batavia

#27 seed St Rita (5-4) at #6 seed Mount Carmel (8-1)
Friday 7 p.m.

Both Mount Carmel and St Rita are coming off tough Week 9 losses and both will need to rebound here quickly. Mount Carmel and head coach Jordan Lynch will look to get the Caravan back on track against its oldest rival this week in a rematch from Week 4 38-7 win over the Mustangs. Mount Carmel is led on offense by junior QB Jack Elliott along with a deep and talented group of offensive skills, including senior 4 star ranked RB Darrion Dupree, senior RB Alonzo Manning Jr., senior WR Darrion Gilliam plus senior WR Maurice Densmore. The Mount Carmel defense also has impressive talent led by senior ILB Parker Startz (Ohio) along with a speedy and athletic secondary in senior Charles Miles (Western Michigan) plus senior Dillon Conway, junior Havy Payne and senior Jayden Jones.

St. Rita and first year head coach Martin Hopkins has been dealing with several key injuries especially later in the regular season. Will the Mustangs get back starting senior QB Jett Hilding, who started but left last week’s game against Brother Rice in the 3rd quarter and will senior RB DJ Stewart also be back this week? Junior RB Nick Herman has been solid this season and will pick up his workload minus DJ Stewart while the Mustangs defense will also need to rebound from allowing 42 points in last week’s 42-21 loss to Brother Rice. One thing is certain and that is whenever these two long time rivals square off everything will be left on the field. 

Can the St. Rita offense reload at a handful of key spots and get the running game going once again this week? Can Mount Carmel get out of the gates quickly and dent the St Rita defense early and set the tone? 

Pick: Mount Carmel 

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