Class 7A playoff breakdown: No. 5 Wheaton North vs. No. 1 Lake Zurich

SHARE Class 7A playoff breakdown: No. 5 Wheaton North vs. No. 1 Lake Zurich

When No. 5-seeded Wheaton North (9-2) hosts top-seed Lake Zurich (10-1) in a Class 7A quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Saturday, it will mark the first time this postseason that the Bears have played on the road. Lake Zurich is coming off of a 20-0 shutout win over Hononegah. It was the fourth time this season that the Bears held an opponent scoreless.

The Falcons are riding an emotional high. They rallied from a 25-point deficit against Fenwick last week for an improbable 32-31 victory.

When Lake Zurich throws…

After beating Hononegah, Lake Zurich coach David Proffitt had heaps of praise for senior quarterback Noah Allgood, whom Proffitt said is “a huge part of the reason why we’re still playing in the postseason.” Allgood’s Week 11 performance was typical. He finished 6-of-10 passing for 99 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with five of his six completions going for 12 yards or more. Allgood averages more than 16 yards per completion, a devastating number that resulted in five separate third-down conversions last week. He connected with tight end Colton Wagner on both scores, but also likes to utilize tailbacks Ben Klett, Zane Lodico and two-way fullback Sean Lynch as receivers out of the backfield.

When Lake Zurich runs…

Because Lake Zurich’s option-based running attack is the foundation of the team’s offense, carrying the ball 35 times for just 101 yards (less than three yards per run) as the Bears did last week against Hononegah may not be enough against Wheaton North. That’s been the exception rather than the rule though, as Lake Zurich’s backs are averaging a combined 5.4 yards per carry (478 rushes, 2,602 yards). Wheaton North gave up more than 330 yards on the ground to Fenwick last week.

Klett (84 carries, 583 yards, 10 TDs) is a speedy sophomore who averages around 7 yards a run, and he has emerged as the team’s top back. Dylan Schassler (60 caries, 430 yards, 3 TDs), who ran just four times for 16 yards against the Indians, is also a dangerous weapon with big-play ability.

When Wheaton North throws…

If not for the valiant effort by senior Northwestern recruit Clayton Thorson last week, the Falcons would be sitting at home this weekend. After falling behind to Fenwick by 25 points in the first half, Thorson helped rally his team to the tune of 26 unanswered points. His stat line? Try 29-of-48 passing for 385 yards and 5 TDs. Illinois State recruit Matt Biegalski was the recipient of 14 of those passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns. On the year, Biegalski has 50 catches for just under 1,000 yards. His ability to get open against a stingy Bears secondary may wind up being as big a factor as any, especially with Syracuse recruit Colton Moskal and all-NSC-caliber defensive backs Lynch and Matt Moon patrolling the middle of the field for Lake Zurich.

When Wheaton North runs…

As good as Thorson is with his arm, he can also hurt teams with his feet. He may not run a ton, but he’s rushed for more than 500 yards and 12 TDs in 2013. Those 12 rushing TDs are also more than any Lake Zurich player. Wheaton North proved just how dangerous its ground game can be when it racked up 209 rushing yards in a first-round victory against Glenbrook North, thanks in part to Thorson’s team-best 97 yards and two TDs. When Thorson isn’t scrambling, look for the Falcons to turn to Dom Garza (8 TDs) out of the backfield. He leads Wheaton North with more than 100 rushing attempts. Dee Alexander has more than 70 carries this season and averages more than 5 yards per carry.

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