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2021 playoff pairings: First-round information for Suburban Life teams

Here are the first-round matchups for each Suburban Life area team. Dates and times will be updated when confirmed.

Class 8A

No. 32 Downers Grove South (5-4) at No. 1 Loyola (9-0)

When: TBD

About Downers Grove South: A Mustangs’ team loaded with sophomores started the season 0-4 – and was held scoreless the first three weeks in a brutal early schedule – but rallied with five consecutive wins to earn a playoff berth capped off by a 28-15 win over Leyden in Week 9. NIU recruit Eli Reed, a senior wide receiver, is the headliner who can contribute in all three phases. Sophomore running back Deon Davis has been coming on of late with huge games against Addison Trail and Morton.

About Loyola: Loyola, Class 8A champs in 2015 and 2018 and runner-ups in 2016 and 2017, has another dominant team that is coming off its closest game, a 21-19 win over Mount Carmel. Loyola has also had close calls against Brother Rice and Fenwick playing in the vaunted CCL/ESCC. QB Jake Stearney totaled 200 yards rushing and passing against Mount Carmel.

No. 25 Minooka (5-4) at No. 8 York (8-1)

When: TBD

About Minooka: The Indians battled back in their last two weeks of the season. After losing its first game to Bolingbrook 52-28, They responded by winning their next two games before dropping three of their next four games. Minooka took down Yorkville 20-17 in overtime and punched its ticket in its last game, winning 20-14 against West Aurora. Senior wide receiver Malik Armstrong, an NIU recruit, and receiver Trevor Hudak, who made a one-handed catch in OT to beat Yorkville, are among the players to watch.

About York: The Dukes, under fourth-year coach Mike Fitzgerald, are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 with the most wins since 2010. A 12-10 Week 6 win at Glenbard West, York’s first win over the Hilltoppers since 2007, is the Dukes’ marquee win. Their only loss came in Week 7 against Hinsdale Central, when York lost a 16-point fourth-quarter lead in a 27-23 defeat. Junior QB Matt Vezza, who took over as starter in Week 4, has emerged as a huge dual threat. He threw for 245 yards and four TDs and led a two-minute drive to beat Oak Park-River Forest 36-33 in Week 9. The Dukes’ defense, besides Week 7 and Week 9 hiccups, allowed just 44 points in the other seven games.

No. 29 Lyons (5-4) at No. 4 Lockport (8-1)

When: TBD

About Lyons: The Lions, under second-year head coach Jon Beutjer, are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017 courtesy of a 21-14 Week 9 win over Downers Grove North. Lyons’ four losses are to playoff teams New Trier, Hinsdale Central, York and Glenbard West. Joey Antonietti, an All-Conference QB as a junior, moved to running back and receiver in Week 6 and scored two TDs in the Week 9 win. Sophomore QB Ryan Jackson was 14-for-17 for 164 yards and two TDs in Week 9.

About Lockport: The Porters didn’t allow a point in its first two games of the season and only allowed one touchdown in its third game. Lockport shut out four teams during the season. The team’s lone loss of the season came to Lincoln-Way East in a 12-10 home loss. Lockport ended the season with a 45-15 win over Andrew.

No. 18 Marist (6-3) at No. 15 Glenbard East (7-2)

When: TBD

About Marist: The RedHawks went 6-3 in the vaunted CCL/ESCC Blue, with losses to powerhouses Mount Carmel, Loyola and Brother Rice, the latter 40-21 in Week 9. An offense led by senior QB Dontrell Jackson, a Coastal Carolina recruit, is averaging nearly 34 points per game. Tackle Danny McGuire is committed to Northwestern. Marist was a Class 8A semifinalist in both 2018 and 2019.

About Glenbard East: The Rams are making their third consecutive playoff appearance after what was a huge breakthrough season in 2018. Glenbard East’s losses came to South Elgin and Glenbard South, who both broke 40 points against the Rams’ defense. Tyrese Buffkin is a player to watch.

No. 26 Sandburg (5-4) at No. 7 Hinsdale Central (8-1)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

About Sandburg: After a few down seasons, Sandburg is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 under first-year coach Troy McAllister, previously at Phillips. The Eagles, fourth in the competitive Southwest Suburban Blue, did it by winning their last four games, 59-17 over Lincoln-Way Central in Week 9. A huge 30-27 upset of Lincoln-Way East in Week 6 was the key win in that stretch. Junior QB Christian Evans threw for 306 yards and three TDs in that win.

About Hinsdale Central: The Red Devils wrapped up their second consecutive West Suburban Silver title Saturday with a 6-0 win at Glenbard West. Hinsdale Central, making its 10th consecutive playoff appearance, has won eight games in a row since a Week 1 loss to Naperville Central. Sean Allison and JT Pyle lead a Red Devils’ defense that rose to the occasion late in a Week 7 win at York and was dominant at Glenbard West. Thomas Skokna is the big-play threat for an offense piloted by QB Billy Cernugel.

No. 20 Oswego (6-3) at No. 13 Glenbard West (7-2)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

About Oswego: The Panthers are making their 10th consecutive playoff appearance, ninth straight under head coach Brian Cooney, after winning a share of their 10th Southwest Prairie Conference title in 11 seasons. Senior running back Mark Melton is closing in on 1,000 yards – and close to 800 of that total came during four SPC West games in a sensational stretch run. Junior tight end Deakon Tonielli holds offers from Michigan and Tennessee, among others. Junior linebacker Braedon Hellinger and senior linebacker A.J. Johnson are the leading tacklers for a defense that struggled in Week 1 and Week 9 losses to Neuqua Valley and Yorkville, but fared much better in between.

About Glenbard West: The Hilltoppers, a perennial powerhouse under head coach Chad Hetlet, finished third in a competitive West Suburban Silver. Their two losses came to York and Hinsdale Central, both at home at Duchon Field. Joey Pope is over 1,000 yards rushing with 17 TDs. A defense led by linebacker Pat Shadid has only given up 77 points. Glenbard West’s young offense piloted by junior QB Korey Tai did struggle some in its toughest games down the stretch – scoring a combined 23 points against Downers Grove North, York and Hinsdale Central.

Wheaton North quarterback Mark Forcucci keeps the ball during a game at Batavia Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

Wheaton North quarterback Mark Forcucci keeps the ball during a game at Batavia Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. (Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com/)

Class 7A

No. 24 Wheaton Warrenville South (5-4) at No. 9 Brother Rice (7-2)

When: TBD

About Wheaton Warrenville South: The Tigers earned a playoff bid under first-year head coach Sean Norris by virtue of their 10-7 win over Glenbard North in Week 9. WW South’s defense has been a strength, allowing greater than 13 points only once since Week 2. The Tigers finished fourth in the tough DuKane Conference. Starting QB Matt Sommerdyke was injured in Week 9, but backup QB Kellen Brown threw a game-winning TD pass to Lance Kottke in the final minutes.

About Brother Rice: The Crusaders took second in the grind that is the CCL/ESCC Blue, its only losses high-scoring close calls against Loyola (46-43) and Joliet Catholic (56-49), both unbeaten teams. An offense led by QB Jack Lausch, who is going to Notre Dame to play both baseball and football – the latter as a preferred walk-on – is averaging just a tick under 40 points per game. Brother Rice was the 2018 Class 8A runner-up and a 2019 semifinalist.

No. 29 Larkin (5-4) at No. 4 Wheaton North (8-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About Larkin: The Royals, winless in the abridged spring season and just 1-8 in 2019, are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Larkin did it with three straight wins from Weeks 6-8, the big one a 30-28 win over rival Elgin in which the Royals rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter.

About Wheaton North: The Falcons built on a stellar 5-1 spring season and came within an overtime loss to Batavia in Week 3 – a game in which Wheaton North led by double digits in the fourth quarter – of an unbeaten season. Third-year starting QB Mark Forcucci, running back Brayton Maske and Seth Kortenhoeven lead the offense. Wheaton North’s defense has allowed eight or fewer points in six games. Wheaton North’s eight regular-season wins was its most since 2012.

No. 21 Willowbrook (6-3) at No. 12 Whitney Young (7-2)

When: TBD

About Willowbrook: The Warriors are making their fifth straight playoff appearance, overcoming an 0-2 start to the season and winning their fifth consecutive West Suburban Gold title. In the process the Warriors ran their win streak in the division to 28 straight. Josh Brown, who had a huge spring season, Nick Mabutas and Jaylon White are among the players to watch offensively.

About Whitney Young: The Dolphins are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Young did it with a 5-0 start to the season. Young has allowed 38 points in its seven wins and 66 in losses to Phillips in Week 6 and Taft to Week 8.

Class 6A

No. 16 Kennedy (5-3) at No. 1 Lemont (9-0)

When: TBD

About Kennedy: Kennedy started its season strong, winning its first three games of the season, scoring at least 28 points. The five-win Crusaders dropped their next two games before winning two more to get to five wins. Kennedy finished the season with a loss to Clark.

About Lemont: The South Suburban Blue champions started the season with a commanding 47-6 win over St. Charles East and never looked back. The team scored at least 37 points in eight of its games this season. Lemont finished with impressive victories, including Nazareth, and earned the top seed in the south bracket. Running back Albert Kunickis is among Lemont’s players to watch.

No. 13 Riverside-Brookfield (5-4) at No. 4 East St. Louis (7-2)

When: TBD

About Riverside-Brookfield: The Bulldogs are back in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons in which the playoffs were held, although the program’s last postseason win came in 2015. A trip to East St. Louis isn’t an ideal scenario to end that streak. Riverside-Brookfield started its season 5-1, its best win 26-14 over Aurora Christian in Week 4, but comes into the playoffs losers of three straight games to IC Catholic Prep, St. Francis and Bishop McNamara by an average 36-point margin.

About East St. Louis: The 2019 Class 6A champs are again the team to beat in the bracket. Its only losses are to out-of-state powerhouses Bellflower St. John Bosco (Calif.) and IMG Academy (Fla.) in a schedule that included four out of state teams. Missouri recruit Luther Burden, the No. 1 senior in Illinois and No. 2 receiver nationally, and cornerback Toriano Pride, a Clemson recruit and the state’s No. 2 senior, headline the roster.

Nazareth Academy's Justin Taylor (2) runs with the ball during football game between Montini at Nazareth Academy Oct 15, 2021.

Nazareth Academy’s Justin Taylor (2) runs with the ball during football game between Montini at Nazareth Academy Oct 15, 2021. (Gary E Duncan Sr for Shaw Local/)

Class 5A

No. 16 Noble/Bulls Prep (5-4) at No. 1 Glenbard South (8-1)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

About Noble/Bulls Prep: Noble/Bulls Prep is in the playoffs by virtue of its 58-28 Week 9 win over Chicago Noble/ITW Speer. The Bulls overcame an 0-3 start by winning four straight games, the best one a 16-13 win over Payton in Week 4.

About Glenbard South: The Raiders are making their 10th straight playoff appearance, as they took second in the Upstate Eight Conference with their lone loss to South Elgin. Trevor Burnett, who had a huge 243-yard game against Glenbard East in Week 8, is a player to watch out of the backfield. The Raiders also feature talented sophomore skill-position players in QB Michael Champagne and receiver Cam Williams, who holds offers from Illinois, Iowa and NIU.

No. 15 Kaneland (5-4) at No. 2 Fenwick (7-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About Kaneland: The Knights needed a win in their final game against LaSalle-Peru to qualify for the postseason. They averaged 37 points per game behind a potent passing attack led by quarterback Troyer Carlson. It’s the fifth consecutive playoff appearance for the Knights.

About Fenwick: The Friars are making their seventh playoff appearance since 2012. Fenwick is coming off its most impressive win of the season, as it beat previously undefeated St. Ignatius 28-20 on the road in Week 9. Ball State recruit Kaden Cobb threw two TDs and ran for one in that game. He leads a deep and talented roster that includes Illinois recruit Eian Pugh and Eastern Michigan commit Max Reese. Fenwick’s only losses came by one point to Providence in Week 3 and on a last-second field goal against Loyola in Week 5.

No. 14 Nazareth (5-4) at No. 3 Chicago Goode (7-2)

When: 4 p.m. Friday, at Gately Stadium

About Nazareth: The Roadrunners, who made five championship game appearances between 2014 and 2019, are making their eighth straight playoff appearance – but needed to scramble to get here after an 0-3 start. The only loss since then was a high-scoring 42-39 affair with St. Rita in Week 6 as Nazareth appears to be playing its best football as the season has worn on. Freshman QB Logan Malachuk has completed 60% of his passes for 1,413 yards and 15 TDs in seven games. Quentrell Harris has caught 46 passes for 784 yards and nine TDs and Justin Taylor 35 catches for 557 yards and four TDs.

About Goode: Goode, after a 4-1 spring season, won six consecutive games after a Week 2 loss to Whitney Young, before losing to Taft 49-7 in Week 9. Goode averaged 33 points per game

Class 4A

No. 9 Coal City (6-3) at No. 8 Wheaton Academy (7-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About Coal City: The Coalers were a 2019 Class 4A semifinalist and 2018 quarterfinalist. Coal City started the season with 1-2 before winning its next four games, including wins over Lisle and Peotone. The Coalers lost to playoff-bound Reed-Custer 33-9 before finishing the season with a 41-6 win. Reed-Custer was the only team to score greater than 14 points off Coal City’s defense this season.

About Wheaton Academy: The Warriors, with their most regular-season wins since 1957, now seek the program’s first playoff win since 2009. After losing its first game in a tough 17-14 game against Brookfield East, the Warriors responded by winning its next four games, scoring at least 34 points in each game. The team lost to IC Catholic Prep before finishing the season with St. Edward, Elmwood Park and Aurora Christian. Leading the way for the Warriors is QB David Dorn and linebacker Peter Johanik.

No. 12 Peoria Notre Dame (6-3) at No. 5 St. Francis (7-2)

When: TBA

About the Irish: Notre Dame had a four game winning streak heading into week nine before Peoria handed them a close 40-35 loss. Brady Osmulski is one of their top playmakers, who had 108 yards on 12 carries with three touchdowns before leaving with a reported hamstring injury.

About the Spartans: St. Francis ended the regular season in impressive fashion by handing IC Catholic its first loss of the season. The Spartans had 295 yards rushing on Friday and was highlighted by Adam Criter’s 92 yards rushing and two touchdown night. Blake Lawson is another standout, who had 181 total yards. TJ McMillen is a two-way standout.

Class 3A

No. 11 Monmouth-Roseville (6-3) at No. 6 IC Catholic Prep (8-1)

When: TBD

About Monmouth-Roseville: Monmouth-Roseville, out of the Three Rivers Rock Conference in western Illinois, is in the playoffs after an 0-5 spring season. It’s the program’s fifth playoff appearance since 2005. Monmouth, a 2018 Class 3A quarterfinalist, dropped its last two games to Erie-Prophetstown and Princeton, giving up 55 points in the finale, after six straight wins.

About IC Catholic Prep: The Knights, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A entering the week, is coming off its first loss of the season now, 19-7 to St. Francis on Friday night. Sophomore QB Dennis Mandala, sophomore KJ Parker and junior running back Malik Gray lead a talented group of young skill-position players. The program, of course, has a strong recent playoff history – three straight state titles from 2016-2018 and a quarterfinal appearance in Class 4A in 2019.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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