Class 6A playoff preview: Hinsdale South at Crystal Lake Central

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Seventh-seeded Crystal Lake Central (7-2) will play host to 10th-seeded Hinsdale South (7-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. Here’s what you should expect this weekend:

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Hinsdale South

Marcus Curry, running back, jr. — In Curry’s first season on varsity, he has been a breakout star, rushing for 463 yards and six touchdowns. He’s averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Curry suffered a hamstring injury in early October that limited his playing time down the stretch, but was healthy and saw action in Hinsdale South’s Week 9 win over Downers Grove South.

Rob Regan, quarterback, sr. — Regan took over as Hornets quarterback down the stretch last season and the experience appeared to pay off this season. The mobile quarterback led the team in rushing with 532 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a passer, he has been effective when necessary and has limited the mistakes, counting two interceptions and six turnovers.

Crystal Lake

Ryan Williams, running back, sr. — Williams is a two-year starter and will be making his third postseason appearance with the Tigers. With an inexperienced quarterback, he was being looked upon to lead the offense this year and has done so, rushing for 1,414 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Jack Ortner, receiver, sr. — Ortner leads the Tigers and their spread offense, helping ease the transition for first-year starting quarterback Matt DeCoste. He has 60 catches for 862 yards and six touchdowns this season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

When Crystal Lake is on offense …

The Tigers have plenty of options. After losing two of three in September, Central won its final four games and put up at least 33 points in each, including 65 and 56 in the final two games, respectively. The Tigers ended up scoring 342 points this season, second-best in the Fox Valley. Senior quarterback DeCoste is a first-year starter, but has plenty of experience alongside him in Williams and Ortner.

When Hinsdale South is on defense …

The Hornets clamped down throughout the stretch, winning three of their final four games, including 7-0 over Downers South on Friday. It was their second shutout of the season. They gave up 10 or fewer points in all three of those wins. Senior linebacker Jake Hynek has been outstanding in just five games, with 42 tackles, including three for a loss to go with 2 .5 sacks.

When the game is on the line …

Both teams are playing with momentum. The Tigers, who are making their seventh straight playoff appearance, are eager to erase memories of last year’s double-overtime loss to De La Salle. The Hornets, meanwhile, are making their second playoff appearance since 2006. It’s about a 50-mile ride from Darien to Crystal Lake, so the Hornets need to be careful about being rusty coming off the bus.

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