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Football playoff kicks off this weekend. Here are previews of games with metro-east teams

Belleville West Will Shumpert (9) and Belleville West Ka’lon Carraway (56) tackle Edwardsville quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.
Belleville West Will Shumpert (9) and Belleville West Ka’lon Carraway (56) tackle Edwardsville quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.

CLASS 8A: Edwardsville (23) at Evanston (10)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Scouting the Tigers (6-3) As they did a year ago when they reached the Class 8A semi-finals, the Tigers enter the post season playing their best football of the season. After dropping three of its first four games, Edwardsville has rolled off five straight wins, including a 37-6 win over Class 7A state ranked Belleville West two weeks ago. Notre Dame recruit Kendall Abdur-Rahman (27-of-56, 515 yards, 11 TD’s, 89 rushes, 807 yards, 14T TD’s) has recovered from a mid-season injury to direct a Tigers offense which has put up 50 or more points three times in the last five weeks. Running back Justin Johnson (111 attempts, 724 yards, 10 TD’s) has also been solid. On defense, linebackers Jacob Morissey (69 tackles) and Ryan Strohmeier (64 tackles, 3 sacks) leads the way.

Scouting the Wildkits (7-2) Coached by Mike Burzawa, Evanston is making its fourth straight playoff appearance and 24th in the history of the program. The Wildkits placed third in the Central Suburban South Conference this season and enter the game averaging 30.6 poins while giving up 15.3 points per game.. Junior running back Quadre Nicholson has rushed for nearly 500 yards in the past three weeks for a Wildkits squad which enters the playoff game with three straight wins.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 26 South Elgin or No. 7 West Aurora

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Granite City’s Montre Snead intercepts the ball and takes it back for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter during the Warriors win over Mater Dei Friday. Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 7A: Granite City (29) at Batavia (4)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Scouting the Warriors (5-4): The Warrioirs rose to the occasion in a must win situation a week ago in beating Galesburg to earn a postseason bid for the first time since 2011 and the fifth in school history. Their reward is a first round game against the defending state champions. The key to the Granite City offense, which is averaging over 36 points per game, is junior quarterback Freddy Edwards who is recovered from a shoulder injury which cost him the last seven games a year ago, One of the top college proepcts in the St. Louis area, Edwards has thrown for 1,156 yards and 11 touchdowns while running for 1,381 yards and 19 touchdowns. Running backs Richard Graham (394 yards) and Jerry Watson (387) have also added offense, combining for five scores. The Warriors defense has been prone to the big play, but junior linebacker Logan Gordon (59 tackles, 4 sacks) is one of the best in southern Illinois,

Scouting the Bulldogs (9-0); One of the top programs in the state for the past decade, the Bulldogs capped off a 13-1 season a yeara go with a 21-14 win over Lake Zurich to capture the Class 7A state title. Batavia, which has won 31 of its last 33 games, is making its ninth straight playoff appearance and 22nd overall. Ranked at or near the top of the Class 7A state poll all season, the Bulldogs rely on a defense which has allowed only 110 points and a diverse offensive attack. Senior quarterback Jack Meyers has thrown for 1,334 yards and 12 touchdowns while junior back Artavion Taylor (917 yards, 7 TD’s) is one of four running backs with more than 350 yards rushing this season. Senior strong safety Sam Barus (69 tackles) and senior defensive end Luke Weerts (64) tackles lead the Bulldogs defense.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 20 Glenbrook North or No. 13 Moline.

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Tyler Macon picks up yardage during East St. Louis’ win over Belleville West for the top spot in the Southwestern Conference. Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 7A: Hoffman Estates (18)at East St. Louis (15)

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.

Scouting the Hawks: (7-2) A member of the Mid-Suburban West Conference, the Hawks are making their third straight trip to the playoffs and ninth overall. Fresh off a trip to the Class 6A state semi-finals a year ago when it ended the season 10-3, Hoffman Estates opened this season with six straight wins , lost two in a row then ended its regular season last week with a 29-27 win overr Conant. Senior quarterback Kyle Krogstad leads a balanced Hawks offensive attack. Krogstadthrew for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns in win win over Conant.

Scouting the Flyers: (7-2) Armed with an offensive unit which is averaging over 53 points a gamn, the Flyers soared to an undefeated Southwestern Conference season and are making their 38th playoff appearance. the Class 7A state champions in 2016, East St. Louis appears ready to contend for a ninth state championship. Operating behind a huge offensive line, sophomore quarterback Tyler Macon has thrown for 1,736 yards and 19 touchdoiwns while running for 1,023 yards and 14 scores. Senior running back Treven Swingler (1,073yards, 15 TD’s) and junior Demonta Witherspoon (1,043 yards, 16 TD’s) have also had great years. Junior Lawaun Powell (28 receptions, 649 yards, 8 TD’s) is one of the best in the state.. Linebacker Sydney Houston (107 tackles, 80 solos, 3 sacks) is just one of several stars on the Flyers defense.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 31 Mount Prospect or No. 2 Glenbard East

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Belleville West DJ Johnson in action during Friday’s game at Belleville West High School. Jimmy J Simmons

CLASS 7A: Belleville West (19) at Wheaton Warrenville-South (14)

Kickoff: Friday, 6 p.m.

Scouting the Maroons (7-2): Qualifying for the playoffs hasn’t been a problem for the Maroons who placed third in the Southwestern Conference behind East St. Louis and Edwardsville. West earned its seventh straight postseason bid, but will travel to Wheaton looking for just its second playoff win under coach Cameron Pettus. The Maroos feature a record setting offense which is averaging 40 points per game. Junior quarterback Jack McCloskey is one of the offensive weapons for the Maroons. In just his second year, McCloskey has completed 124-of-217 attempts for 1,977 yards and 34 touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Dominic Lovett broke the Maroons single season touchdown reception record with 23 and finished the regular season with 42 catches for 947 yards. Senior running back DJ Johnson has rushed for 887 yards and 10 scores. On defense, senior defensive end Keith Randolph (92 tackles, 5 sacks) along with Ka’Lon Carraway (50 tackles, 5 sacks) and Marcellus Romious (44 tackles, 2 sacks) are the top players

Scouting the Tigers (8-1): Led by one of the top coaches in the state in Ron Muhitch, the Tigers have bounced back from a rare losing season (2-7) and are making their 26th trip to the Playoffs. A perennial state title contender,, the Tigers have been in the title game 11 times and have seen championships. The key to the Tigers success this season has been on defense. In nine games, WW-South has held the opponets to 10 or less points six times and only gives up 10 points per game.. The Tigers only loss of the season came against defending state champion Batavia (41-20) in week six.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 30 Buffalo Grove or No. 2 Rockton Hononegah

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Belleville West Clarence Davis looks for and opening during Friday’s game. Jimmy J Simmons

CLASS 7A: Alton (27) at Rolling Meadows (6)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Scouting the Redbirds (5-4): Making their 11th playoff appearance, the Redbirds are in the playoffs for the second year in a row under coach Eric Dickerson who guided Alton to a first round win (32-12 over Lincoln Park) in 2017. The playoff victory was just the second in school history. Quarterback Andrew Jones (124 of 218, 1, 969 yards, 17 TD’s) leads the Redbirds offense which also features senior halfback Tim Johnson (970 yards, 6 TD’s) and receivers Ahmad Sanders (52 catches. 76 4 yards, 6 TD’s) and Terrance Walker (35 catches, 710 yards, 7 TD’s). Linebacker Izeal Terrell (81 tackles, 58 solos, 2 sacks) leads the Alton defense.

Scouting the Mustangs (9-0): Champions of the Mid-Suburban East Conference, the Mustangs are no strangers to the postseason as they make their 19th trip overall and eighth straiight apperance in the playoffs. Also with a prolific offensive attack, Rolling Meadows enters the game averaging nearly 48 points per game. and have cracked the 40 point mark in all but two of their nine wins. Senior Tymoteusz Szylak leads a balanced Mustangs running attack with 1,045 yards and 15 touchdowns while quarterback Arkadiusz Kolic has thrown for 1,100 yards and 13 touchdown.s.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 22 St. Charles North or No. 11 Normal University

CLASS 5A: Mount Zion (13) at Cahokia (4)

Kickoff: Saturday, 4 p.m.

Scouting the Braves (6-3) : A 19-15 win over Triad on the final Friday of the season clinched the 28th playoff appearance for the Braves who last qualified in 2016.. Coach Patrick Etherton’s team placed fourth in the Apollo Conference. Junior Sage Davis is the Braves top offensive weapon. and has rushed for 1,320 yards and six touchddowns . Sophomore quarterback Ashton Summers has thrown for 954 yards and six scores, while sophomore Drew London i(24 receptions, 254 yards) is one of six Braves receivers with more than 100 receiving yards.

Scouting the Comanches: (8-1): The South Seven Conference champion Comanches ended a playoff drought dating back to 2009 this season and are making their 17th postseason trip. Coach John Clay’s team has won seven straight since a week two loss to St. Louis Cardinal Ritter. The defensive minded Comanches have allowed only 9.2 points per game and have held their opponents to seven or less points in five of their final seven games. Senior linebacker Delarrius Rogers Jr (98 tackles), junior linebacker Demarveon Johnson (71 tackles) and Shannon Hudson (70 tackles, 8 sacks) are just three of many key defensive players. Quarterback Mailk Shaw hasn’t thrown an interception all season, but he does have eight touchdown passes and more than 1,400 yards through the air. Running back Vincent Perry iis one of the best in the South Seven Conference and ran for 1,029 yards and five scores in the regular season, while Cortez Brown Jr, is the top wide out with 24 catches for 527 yards and four scores.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 12 Champaign Central or No. 5 Carbondale

CLASS 5A: Jerseyville (16) at Country Club Hills Hillcrest (1)

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.

Scouting the Panthers (5-4); It took the Panthers a while to warm up to the conservative, run-first style of first hear head coach Ric Johns. But after a 1-4 start, Jersey won its final four games to earn its first playoff berth since 201 4 and 21st in school history. The Panthers, who needed an upset win over Class 4A power Columbia a week ago, to earn a playoff bid are led by quarterback Matthew Jackson. (42 -of-86, 447 yards, 550 yards rushingl 7 TD’s) and a pair of running backs who have combined for nearlly 800 yards on the ground. in Brian McDonald (409 yards, 7 TD’s) and Kurt Hall (361 yards, 6 TD’s).. Johns, who led Wesclin to an undefeated regular season and Cahokia Conference championship last season before taking the job at Jersey, must find a way to slow down an athletic Hillcrest team.

Scouting the Hawks (9-0:): Defense is the name of the game for a Hawks team which has three shutouts, allowed more than one touchdown in a game oinly once and gave up only 56 points in nine games as it rolled to the South Subruban Blue Conference championship. Senior defensive end Jayson Coley (38 tackles) leads a group of eight Hawks defenders who have collected more thjan 20 tacklles this season. On offense, senior quarterback Basil Webber has thrown for 852 yards and 12 touchdowns while sophmore running back Markeise Irving (911 yards, 12 TD’’s) leads a large group of talented offensive performers. The Hawks, who reached the Class 5A quarterfinals a year ago, have been ranked in the top five of the Class 5A state poll all season.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 9 Morton or No. 8 Decatur MacArthur

CLASS 5A: Olympia Fields Rich Central (15) at Highland (2)

Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m.

Scouting the Olympians (5-4) Third in the Southland Conference, the Olympians needed a 55-0 win over Christ the King High school last week to gain their fourth straight and 14th postseason berth. Rich Central advnced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs. Coached by Terrell Alexander, the Olympians have averaged 27 points per game while allowing 22 points per contest

Scouting the Bullldogs: (9-0); After reaching the Class 4A state semi-finals a year ago where it lost to eventual champion Rochester, the Bulldogs are poised for another long postseason run in a loaded Class 5A bracket. Three time defending Mississippi Valley Conference champions, Highland is making its seventh straight playoff appearance and 21st overall. Taking over the leadership of the Bulldogs offense from all-state quarterback Garrett Marti, senior Jack Etter has been just as good this season, completing 108 of 163 attempts for 2,130 yards and 32 touchdowns. Etter’s main target has been senior all-state wide receiver Sam LaPorta (51 catches, 1,095 yards, 16 TD’;s). Senior running back Brady Feldmann has run for 785 yards and 13 scores as part of a wide open Bulldogs offense which has outscored its opponents 415-84 Linebacker Reese May (77 tackles) is one of several standouts on defense.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 10 Mascoutah or No. 7 Mattoon.

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October 19, 2018 - Mascoutah, IL - Mascoutah’s Devin Wills carries the ball during the Centralia - Mascoutah Varsity football game Friday night in Mascoutah. [Photo: Chris Johns] Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 5A: Mascoutah (10) at Mattoon (7)

Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Scouting the Indians (6-3): Making its first playoff appearance since 2009, the Indians head into the first round game against a Green Wave team it defeated 42-7 in the second week of the season. Junior running back Devin Wills rushed for 220 yards and fout touchdowns in that game which saw the Indians dominate in every phase. Wills, running behind a much-improved offensive line, Wills remains the main offensive weapon after running for 1, 383 yards and 15 touchdowns. Quarterback Jeff Getchelll has thrown for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns with Timothy Middleton (23 catches, 415 yards 5 TD’s ) acting as Getchell’s prime target. On defense, junior Andrew Schultz (55 tackles) and senior DeJahn Tyson (48 tackles, 5 sacks) lead the way. The 1979 Class 3A state champion, Mascoutah is making its 12th trip to the postseason.

Scouting the Green Wave (6-3) The Green Wave has rebounded well under coach Troy Johnson after a dismal 2-7 season a year ago. Third in the Apollo Conference behind undefeated Taylorville and Effihgham, Mattoon clinched a playoff bid last week with a 26-23 win over Marion. This is the Green Wave’s 15th trip to the playoffs and first since 2015. Mattoon, which has been outscored 228-262, averages 25 points while allowing 29 points per game.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 15 Olympia Fields Rich Central or No. 2 Highland.

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Freeburg’s Cal Clossen carries the ball during the Freeburg - Mater Dei Varsity football game Friday night in Breese. Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 4A: Freeburg (9) at Columbia (8)

Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Scouting the Midgets (7-2) The Midgets received the automatic conference playoff bid while finishing in a three-way tie for the Cahokia Conference championship with Columbia and Central. The postseason berth is the first since 2014 for coach Ronnie Stuart’s Midgets who have now made the playoffs 20 times. The Midgets lost to Columbia 38-34 in week six of the regular season. when Eagles quarterback Nic Horner threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Hunsaker with 31 seconds remaining. . Running back Tanner Little (1,310 yards), 17 touchdowns), quarterback Cal Clossen (97-of-162 for 1,625 yards, 20 TD’s) and wide receiver/running back (Brendan Meng 438 yards, 5 touchdowns rushingl 32 receptions, 887 yards, 12 TD’s) are Freeburg’s top weapoins. Freshman defensive end Jacob Carmack (63 tackles, 38 solos, 5 sacls) leads the Freeburg defense.

Scouting the Eagles (7-2) While Freeburg responded with three straight wins following the loss to Columbia, the Eagles dropped games to Central and Jersey in the final three weeks. The Eagles are making their eighth straight trip to the playoiffs and 22nd overall. Junior speedster Ronnie Hunsaker took over as the Eagles top back when junior Donovan Bieber went down with an injury earlier this season. Also effective coming out of the backfield as a receiver, Hunsaker has rushed 865 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 10 receptions for 162 yards and three scores. Junior quarterback Nic Horner makes up for his lack of size with an aggressive style in which he has thrown for 1,162 yards and 11 touchdowns. Twin brother Sam Horner has 24 catches for 345 yards and five toucdowns.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 16 Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central or No. 1 Taylorville

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Central’s Jordan Spangenberg carries the ball for a touchdown against Mater Dei in the annual Milk Bowl game Friday night in Breese. Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 4A: Central (13) at Rochester (4)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

Scouting the Cougars (6-3): Like conference rival Freeburg, the Cougars finished strong by winning three straight games before a season ending loss to state power Herrin. Coach Brian Short’s team is returning to the postseason after failing to make it a year ago. A state playoffs qualifier in 2016, the Cougars are making their 12th overall postseason appearance.. Senior quarterback Max Kampwerth has had a solid season, completing 53 percent of his psses for 1,491 yards and 10 scores. The Cougars have a dynamite tandem in the backfield with Jordan Spangenberg (721 yards, 11 TD’s) and Tyson Lobb (480 yards, 7 TD’s). Senior Garrett Richter (32 receptions, 524 yards 6 TD’s) is one of the elite wide receivers in the Cahokia Conference. But to have a chance at upsetting the defending Class 4A state champions, tghe Cougars must play their best defensive game of the season. Spangenberg (75 tackles, 51 solos, 3 sacks) will be a key at linebacker while defensive lineman Kaleb Albers (55 tackles, 38 solos) lead the way.

Scouting the Rockets (8-1):: The most successful program in the state during the past decade and winner of seven state championships in the last eight years, the Rockets rebounded from an early season loss to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin to finish 8-1 in the regular season and establish themselves as the favorite to another state championship. Junior quarterback Chris Bruno has done a good job of running coach Derek Leonard’s offense, throwing for 1,610 yards and 17 touchdowns, while junior running back David Yoggerst is one of five players in the Rockets backfield with more than 200 yards rushing.. The Rockets average 39 points per game while allowing only 13.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No.. 12 Herrin or No. 5 Pontiac

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Mater Dei’s Logan Ratermann carries the ball against Central in the annual Milk Bowl game Friday night in Breese. Chris Johns Chris Johns

CLASS 4A: Effingham (10) at Mater Dei (7)

Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Scouting the Flaming Hearts: The Flaming Hearts, which dropped a 26-19 decision to Mater Dei to start the season, will journey to Clinton County riding a seven game winning streak after earning their 20th trip to the playoffs.. In senior quarterback Landon Wolfe, the Flaming Hearts have a player who has completed 110 of 192 attempts for 1,797 yards and 20 touchdowns.. Senior running back Kendall Ballman has run for 986 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior defensive tackle Joey Duncan (51 tackles) and Ballman (44 tackles) are Effingham’s top defensive players

Scouting the Knights: Mater Dei rebounded from back-to-back losses with an impressive win over Waterloo a week ago and is back in the playoffs for the 26th time after missing a year ago. Quarterback Travis Jasper, who threw a touchdown pass and returned an interception for a score in the Knights opening night win over Effingham, is the catalyst of the offense. The senior has thrown for 1,450 yards and has 15 touchdown passes while also running for 652 yards and seven touchdowns. Logan Ratermann (699 yards, 10 TD’s) is the Knights top option in the backfield while Zach Napovanice (35 receptions, 447 yards 3 TD’s) is the Knights top receiver. Linebackers Justin Thole (62 tackles, 10 sacks) and Drew Timmermann (56 tackles, 2 sacks) are the Knights top defensive players.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 15 Salem or No. 2 Paris

CLASS 2A: Downs Tri-Valley (12) at Nashville (5)

Kickoff: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Scouting the Vikings (5-4): A member of the Heart of Illinois Conference, the Vikings are making their 11lth straight playoff appearance and 12th overall. After placing second in the 2013 Class 1A state finals in 2013, the Vikings went a perfect 14-0 in 2015 when they won the Class 2A crown under coach John Roop.

Scouting the Hornets (8-1); Coached by Stephen Kozuszek, the Hornets return to the playoffs for the 17th time after placing second behind Anna-Jonesboro in the River-to-River Conference., Nashville is averaging 39 points per game while allowing just over 11. The Hornets, who last reached the postseason in 2015, advanced to the Class 3A state title game in 1998, where it lost to Maple Park Kaneland.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either No. 13 Fithian Oakwood or No. 4 Pana

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Madison’s Artavius Stepney carries the ball during a Sept. 2, 2017, game in Madison. Chris Johns For the News-Democrat

CLASS 1A: Albion-Edwards County (12) at (5) Madison (5)

Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Scouting the Lions (6-3): A member of the Black Diamond Conference, the Lions are making their seventh playoff appearance and still looking for their first ever playoff win. Defenses has been a key for coach Joe Rivers team which has allowed only 108 points all season.

Scouting the Trojans (8-1): The magic contiinues under head coach Mike Hill and his coaching staff which have led the Trojans to the playoffs in back-to-back years after a 29-year football hiatus for the program. The Trojans average 27 points per game while allowing only 4.9. Madison has four shutouts this season. Freshman quarterback Anthony Silas (1,100 yards passing) directs an offense which makes up for a lack of numbers with speed and athleticism in both the backfield and at the wide receiver spots.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a second round game against either no. 13 Moweaqua (Central A & M) or No. 4 Bridgeport (Red Hill)

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