7A Playoff breakdown: No. 13 Hersey vs. No. 4 Fenwick

SHARE 7A Playoff breakdown: No. 13 Hersey vs. No. 4 Fenwick

Thirteenth-seeded Hersey (6-3) meets No. 4 Fenwick (8-1) for the first time in the postseason when the two teams clash in the Class 7A opener at 7 p.m. Friday at Elmhurst College. The winner plays in the second round against No. 5 Wheaton North (7-2) or No. 12 Glenbrook North (6-3).

When Hersey throws …

Quarterback Jack Warner’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Eddie Miklasz, who added to his team-leading receiving totals with seven catches for 92 yards in the regular season finale against Wheeling. Miklasz leads the Huskies in all receiving categories with 52 receptions on the season for 945 yards and 12 touchdowns. Warner owns a 61-percent completion percentage with 1,922 yards, 19 TDs and six interceptions. His other main target is Tyndale Dahnweih (26 catches, 458 yards, six TDs) while both Kyle Polinski and Cole Monckton have over 100 yards receiving each.

When Hersey runs …

Warner leads the team on the ground with seven rushing touchdowns, but the bulk of the carries goes to senior Mario Thomas, a 5-foot-6, 175-pound dynamo. Thomas gained 270 yards against Wheeling and scored three TDs. For the season, he has 92 carries, 639 yards and four TDs. Polinski has 68 carries and 392 yards and a TD, while Chase Bandolik has come along as a backup.

When Fenwick throws …

Senior QB Gino Cavalieri (81-for-145, 1,317 yards, 18 TDs) doesn’t throw often, but his favorite pass play is a screen to 6-5, 242-pound senior tight end Ryan Smith, a grandson of Notre Dame 1953 Heisman trophy winner Johnny Lattner. Smith leads the Friars with 27 catches for 513 yards and seven TDs and has an amazing 18.48 average per reception considering that many of his catches are near the line of scrimmage. Opponents need more than one tackler to bring him down. Running back Robert Spillane has five TD catches on the season. The top wide receiver is senior Jimmy Donahue, with eight catches for 139 yards and two TDs.

When Fenwick runs …

Beating Fenwick will take an eight-man defensive front to bottle up Spillane, a 6-3, 225-pound Western Michigan-bound senior. Spillane, the cousin of Ryan Smith, has rushed 121 times for 950 yards (7.85 average) and 13 TDs. He scored three times on his first six touches against St. Laurence in the regular-season finale with two on the ground and another through the air. Spillane rarely takes a play off, as starting running back and middle linebacker. The Friars use senior Charlie Emmons as a fullback to open holes for Spillane, but as a change of pace Emmons has rushed 37 times for 149 yards and four TDs.

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