South suburban’s top first-round playoff matchups

SHARE South suburban’s top first-round playoff matchups
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Class 6A

Oak Forest (6-3) at Richards (8-1)

When:6 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: A previous meeting in Week 6 resulted in a 39-14 win by Richards. For Oak Forest to turn the tables, its defense must pressure Richards QB Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (99-for-174, 1,685 yards) and the Bengals’ offense must find more balance. If Rogers is allowed to sit back and target Spencer Tears and Ryan Willet (30 catches, 605 yards), the result likely will be another lopsided decision. Getting RB/WR Connor Rago involved, be it on the ground or through the air, would improve the Bengals’ chances. Another factor for the Bengals is avoiding penalties.

Class 7A

Lincoln-Way Central (5-4) at Lincoln-Way East (8-1)

When:7 p.m. Friday

Outlook: Back in Week 2, the Griffins edged the Knights 23-15 and are since on an seven-game winning streak. Whether it’s been handing the ball off to Liam Morrissey (220 carries, 1,118 yards ) or allowing QB Mike Weller (140-for-233, 1,713) to move the chains through the air, East’s offense has been stellar. The Knights limp into the playoffs having lost three of their final four. RB Sean Studer (243-1,308) is Central’s main offensive threat, though QB Connor Campbell (90-for-177, 1,048) has a stable of quality receivers. If the Knights can produce a few turnovers, things might get interesting.

Mount Carmel (5-4) at Batavia (8-1)

When:1:30 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: After dropping its season opener to Oswego 40-38, Batavia has won eight straight. However, only two of those opponents sport a winning record. Translation: the defending Class 6A state champions take a major step up in competition facing the Caravan. Batavia’s strength is its defense, which allowed just 112 points on the season and has a knack for creating turnovers. Offensively, the Bulldogs rotate quarterbacks Kyle Niemiec (77-for-118, 785 yards) and Evan Acosta (56-for-96, 682 yards), while RBs Zach Garrett (112-783) and Noah Frazier (40-209) and WRs Canaan Coffey (52, 640) and Peyton Piron (25, 281) are top threats. The Caravan are going to do what they do best and that’s run the football behind QB Anthony Thompson and RBs A.J. Lewis (104-666) and Anthony Ries (75-672). The Caravan don’t go to the air often, but Thompson is capable, having completed 33 of 71 attempts for 473 yards.

T.F. South (6-3) at Reavis (7-2)

When:7 p.m. Friday

Outlook: Back in Week 8, T.F. South drubbed Reavis 34-14. However, the Rebels have to try and pick themselves up from a crushing 31-27 last-second loss to archrival T.F. North while the Rams are coming off a 46-14 win over Eisenhower. T.F. South RB Torian Lewis gave Reavis fits in Week 8. The Rams hope to avoid that from happening again. Another T.F. South running back, Sterling Smith (62-480), warrants close attention too. The Reavis offense, led by Isiah Alpuche, Travis Liszewski, Khalid Norvell (99-641) and Calvin Jordan, needs to produce time-consuming drives and keep the Rebels offense on the sideline.

Class 8A

Brother Rice (6-3) at Naperville Central (7-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Outlook: The Crusaders have a tough task facing the defending Class 8A state champs. However, Rice’s schedule should have them ready. QB Alex Alarcon (1,961 passing yards; 529 rushing yards) is a dangerous dual threat, who has a D-1 bound RB in Northern Illinois recruit Marcus Jones (142-752) and two game-breaking WRs in Ricky Smalling (56, 830) and Julian Bland at his disposal. The Crusaders likely will need to use all of those weapons against a Naperville Central defense that has allowed just 87 points all season.

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