Four playoff football games to watch for Naperville area in Round 1

SHARE Four playoff football games to watch for Naperville area in Round 1

Metea Valley (5-4) at No. 22 Waubonsie Valley (8-1), 1 p.m. Saturday

Last meeting: Waubonsie Valley 38, Metea Valley 37, on Sept. 19.

Key players: Metea Valley — RB Bryson Oliver, DE Erin Morgan; Waubonsie Valley — QB Zack Bennema, RB Tony Durns.

Outlook: If this turns out anything like the previous meeting, then attendees are in for a thrilling treat after Halloween. The big question is whether either team can stop the other’s potent running attack. Amazingly, both teams are even better offensively now compared to the first meeting. Metea quarterback Kyle Mooney (1,355 yards passing, 18 touchdowns) has been impressive in throwing the ball to especially Nick Dodson and Kris King while Bennema has shown in recent weeks that he can throw it extremely well, too. Oliver and Durns both had huge rushing games the last time they played, each scoring four TDs. Ready for an encore?

No. 11 Brother Rice (6-3) at No. 10 Naperville Central (7-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last year: Did not play.

Key players: Brother Rice — RB Marcus Jones, QB Alex Alarcon; Naperville Central — DE Joe Schweikart, LB Bobby McMillen.

Outlook: One very good team is going to be sad late Halloween night. Brother Rice comes to Naperville battle-tested, and its record really doesn’t do it justice. The Crusaders have beaten three teams currently ranked in the Top 25, narrowly beat No. 7 Providence, while their two other losses came to out-of-state-teams. The Redhawks will have to pressure Alarcon because he’s shown the ability to make big passing plays. They’ll also need to avoid mistakes and control time of possession through Kevin Clifford and the rest of the offense.

Neuqua Valley (6-3) at No. 8 Homewood-Flossmoor (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday

Last year: Did not play.

Key players: Neuqua Valley — QB Broc Rutter, LB Derrek Warkenthien; Homewood-Flossmoor — QB Bryce Gray, WR Jared Sharp

Outlook: Neuqua has shown it can stop the run. The Wildcats will try to double their pleasure by stopping running back twins Deante and Devonte Harley-Hampton. Can the Wildcats stop the pass as well? The combo of Gray-to-Sharp is very good and one Warekenthien and the Wildcats will need to address. Rutter is approaching 2,000 yards passing and already has 20 TDs. The Wildcats will need a big night from him and their talented receivers, as well as a solid ground game led by Charlie Hunter, to score the upset.

Benet (6-3) at No. 13 Hinsdale Central (7-2), 2 p.m. Saturday

Last year: Did not play.

Key players: Benet — RB Brad Sznajder, WR Karl Schmidt; Hinsdale Central — QB Matt Rafferty, WR Thomas Ives.

Outlook: Benet has relied on defense this fall and the Redwings will need to find a way to slow the up-tempo style of Hinsdale Central, especially the aerial attack. The Redwings struggled at times in shutting down the passing game in losses to Marist and Nazareth. Offensively, it comes down to the Sznajder brothers making plays and avoiding mistakes. Brad Sznajder has been as reliable of a back that you could find in the area this year. Quarterback Jack Sznajder will need to avoid mistakes (11 interceptions) and connect with his top receiver, Schmidt, for a balanced approach.

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