Previewing the top second-round IHSA state playoff games

A look at the five best games in the second round.

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Lockport’s Ty Schultz (7) runs the ball against Lincoln-Way East’s Charles Nevinger (54).

Lockport’s Ty Schultz (7) runs the ball against Lincoln-Way East’s Charles Nevinger (54).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Class 8A: No. 1 Loyola at No. 11 Naperville Central, 1 p.m. Saturday

Has any team navigated the pandemic better than Loyola, which is 16-0 this calendar year? The Ramblers (10-0) graduated one of the best classes in program history (including spring Player of the Year Vaughn Pemberton) but are unbeaten once more against a schedule that included seven playoff qualifiers. That’s despite losing lead back Marco Maldonado with a broken collarbone in Week 4. Quarterback Jake Stearney and running back Mike Regan have kept the train rolling. Naperville Central (7-3) is battle-tested with wins over No. 12 Hinsdale Central and No. 16 Lincoln-Way East, a split with Naperville North and a three-point loss to No. 9 Neuqua Valley. Quarterback Owen Prucha ran for 194 yards in last week’s win over Naperville North.

Class 8A: No. 19 South Elgin at Marist, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last week’s 24-13 win over Edwardsville was South Elgin’s first game to be decided by fewer than 28 points all season. This week, the Storm (10-0) looks to reach the IHSA quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Expect a heavy dose of running from a team that has piled up 3,094 yards and 48 touchdowns on the ground this fall. Mason Montgomery (979 yards, 12.4 per carry, 10 TDs), Anthony Marshall (659 yards, six TDs) and Jordan Jones (385 yards, 10 TDs) lead the way. Coastal Carolina-bound quarterback Dontrell Jackson Jr. has 1,950 total yards and 21 TDs for Marist (6-3), Four-star senior linebacker Jimmy Rolder — whose 11 offers include LSU, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois — has been one of the season’s breakout stars.

No. 25 Glenbard West at No. 17 Lockport, 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Two of the state’s best defenses go at it here. Linebacker Pat Shadid is among the playmakers for Glenbard West (8-2), which has four shutouts and has allowed only 81 points all season. Joey Pope and Jason Thomas have been productive backs for the Hilltoppers. Identical twins Cole and Cody Silzer, who are both committed to Eastern Illinois, and returning state wrestling champ Andrew Blackburn-Forst anchor the defensive line for Lockport (9-1), which also has four shutouts and has given up only 70 points this fall. 

Class 7A: No. 6 Batavia at No. 10 Mount Carmel, 7 p.m. Friday

Batavia (10-0) has had some close calls, including an overtime win vs. No. 8 Wheaton North and a one-point victory over No. 20 Glenbard North. The Bulldogs are another stingy defense, especially against the run; opponents have rushed for only 507 yards all season. The leaders are a pair of linebackers: Tyler Jansey, who owns a Wisconsin offer, with 76 tackles (14 tackles for loss) and five sacks, and Jack Sadowsky, who has an Iowa State offer, with 67 tackles (18.5 for loss) and five sacks. Mount Carmel (7-3) had 100-yard rushing games from sophomore Darrion Dupree and junior quarterback Blainey Dowling last week in the mud and rain against Thornwood. 

Class 6A: No. 18 Lemont at Springfield, 7:30 p.m. Friday

In the score heard around the state last week, Springfield (7-3) beat Rock Island 94-72. It was the highest-scoring playoff game in IHSA history; amazingly, Springfield trailed 21-6 after one quarter. Senators quarterback Rashad Rochelle, a Rutgers recruit, passed for six touchdowns and ran for three more. Those 94 points are nine more than Lemont (10-0) has allowed all season. Lemont has a Big Ten recruit too: 6-3, 210-pound running back Abert Kunickis, who is heading to Northwestern as a preferred walk-on.

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