NO. 10 BARTLETT (6-3) AT NO. 7 LEYDEN (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: West Leyden in Northlake
Winner gets: No. 2 Loyola Academy or No. 15 Evanston
Playoff appearances: Bartlett (12th overall, 3rd consecutive); Leyden (7th overall, first since 2009)
Scouting Bartlett: The Hawks are back in the playoffs hoping to make amends for last year’s disappointing first-round exit. All three of Bartlett’s losses this year came against state-ranked opponents, including last week’s 42-14 defeat against undefeated Neuqua Valley. Senior RB Aaron Everson has a school-record 1,769 rushing yards and 26 total touchdowns this year. Senior DE Chris Kantzavelos, a Central Michigan recruit, leads a defense that held opponents to 19 points per game during the regular season.
Scouting Leyden: The Eagles claimed the West Suburban Gold title this season, going undefeated in conference play for the first time since 1979. Leyden enters the playoffs hoping to bounce back from last week’s 49-6 loss at Lyons, which marked the first time it had allowed more than 21 points in a game all year. QB Mike Smith leads a balanced attack on offense for the Eagles. Leyden is a cooperative program between East Leyden in Franklin Park and West Leyden in Northlake.
Quote: “Leyden’s quarterback is very shifty, he can throw the ball and he has a couple good receivers. We’ll have our hands full because they mix it up really well. They’re pretty close to 50-50 pass and run.”
— Bartlett coach Tom Meaney
Erik Jacobsen’s pick: Leyden
NO. 15 JACOBS (5-4) AT NO. 2 ROCKFORD BOYLAN (9-0)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Winner gets: No. 7 Fenwick or No. 10 Huntley
Playoff appearances: Jacobs (8th overall, 3rd consecutive); Rockford Boylan (28th overall; 8th consecutive)
Scouting Jacobs: The Golden Eagles finished fourth in the highly competitive Fox Valley Conference Valley Division but earned a trip to the playoffs with last week’s 21-3 victory against rival Dundee-Crown. Jacobs started seven sophomores the past four weeks and is particularly loaded with young talent on offense, where junior QB Bret Mooney has thrown for 1,962 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead an attack that averages 30.8 points. His top target is junior WR Hunter Williams, who has 28 catches for 690 yards. Senior DE Adam Kulon is a Toledo recruit who helps lead a defense that will welcome back senior DE Tim Regan from an injury that sidelined him the past two games.
Scouting Rockford Boylan: The Titans enter the playoffs riding a 37-game winning streak and seeking their third consecutive state championship. Rockford Boylan is ranked No. 3 in the Class 7A state poll after capping its sixth straight undefeated regular season by trouncing Rockford Auburn 60-6 last week. Senior RB DeMarcus Vines has 1,224 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns to lead an offense that averages 45.1 points. On defense the Titans held eight of their nine opponents to 14 points or less while claiming their seventh straight NIC-10 championship under first-year coach John Cacciatore.
Quote: “We played the defending 6A state champs (earlier this year), so why not the 7A champs? We’re pretty fired up to go play Boylan. As I told the kids, this is a great opportunity. If you want to be the best, you play the best.”
— Jacobs coach Bill Mitz
Erik Jacobsen’s pick: Rockford Boylan
NO. 12 ST. CHARLES EAST (6-3) AT NO. 5 WHEATON NORTH (8-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Winner gets: No. 4 Glenbrook North or No. 13 Prospect
Playoff appearances: St. Charles East (20th overall, first since 2009); Wheaton North (20th overall, 6th consecutive)
Scouting St. Charles East: The Saints punched their ticket to the playoffs by shutting out Larkin 26-0 last week. St. Charles East’s three losses came against Cary-Grove, Neuqua Valley and Batavia, all of which went undefeated during the regular season. Senior FB/LB Joe Hoscheit is a key contributor on both sides of the ball for the Saints, who finished second in the Upstate Eight River. Junior WR Brannon Barry has 41 catches for 486 yards this season.
Scouting Wheaton North: The Falcons are No. 14 in the Sun-Times Super 25 after knocking rival Wheaton Warrenville South out of playoff contention with last week’s 23-13 victory. Senior QB John Peltz has thrown for 1,335 yards this season to pace a high-powered offense that averages 37.4 points. On defense Wheaton North has allowed more than seven points only three times. The Falcons lost to the eventual Class 7A state champion each of the past two years.
Quote: “There is no doubt we’ll have our hands full. (Wheaton North) is explosive on offense, very sound on defense and they play in the tough DuPage Valley Conference. The list goes on and on.”
— St. Charles East coach Mike Fields
Erik Jacobsen’s pick: Wheaton North
NO. 10 HUNTLEY (6-3) AT NO. 7 FENWICK (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Morton West in Berwyn
Winner gets: No. 2 Rockford Boylan or No. 15 Jacobs
Playoff appearances: Huntley (4th overall, first since 2009); Fenwick (14th overall; first since 2010)
Scouting Huntley: The Red Raiders rebounded from last year’s 2-7 finish to make the playoffs under first-year coach John Hart, who came to the school last spring following a highly successful run in Indiana and downstate Illinois. Huntley wrapped up its regular season by posting its first shutout since 2008 in last week’s 41-0 win at McHenry. Senior QB Kam Sallee is a dynamic playmaker who has thrown for 1,323 yards and 23 touchdowns and leads the team with 616 rushing yards. The Red Raiders were the runner-up in the highly competitive Fox Valley Conference Valley Division, but they will be without senior RB Ethan Connor on Saturday after he aggravated a nagging ankle injury last week.
Scouting Fenwick: First-year coach Gene Nudo helped lead the Friars to a first-place finish in the Chicago Catholic White Division this fall. Fenwick capped its regular season with a 28-3 victory against De La Salle last week. QB Gino Cavalieri leads an offense that averages 32.1 points. On the other side of the ball the Friars held six of their nine opponents to 14 points or less this season, including two shutouts.
Quote: “It was never our goal just to make the playoffs. We’re definitely not satisfied.”
— Huntley coach John Hart
Erik Jacobsen’s pick: Fenwick
ERIK JACOBSEN’S RECORD
Last week: 10-0
Follow Erik Jacobsen on Twitter @JacobsenECN