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High school football playoffs Week 2: Five teams in hunt for quarterfinal berth

East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon runs the ball against Edwardsville during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.
East St. Louis DeMonta Witherspoon runs the ball against Edwardsville during Friday’s game at Edwardsville High School.

The metro-east started with 16 teams in the IHSA state football playoffs. After the first round, it’s down to five.

Edwardsville, East St. Louis, Cahokia, Highland and Columbia will be back at it Saturday, fighting to represent the region in the quarterfinal round next week.

Highland remains the highest seed remaining at No. 2 in class 5A. Both the Bulldogs and the fourth-seeded Cahokia Comanches bring second-round games back to their home turf, as does Edwardsville, the 23-seed in class 8A. East St. Louis, No. 15 in 7A, heads to the Chicago suburbs to face No. 2 Glenbard East, while Columbia hits the road to take on top-seeded Taylorville.

Here is a breakdown of each game:

Class 8A: (7) West Aurora at (23) Edwardsville

Kickoff: Saturday 5 p.m.:

Scouting the Blackhawks (9-1): Second to Class 7A power and undefeated Glenbard East in the Upstate Eight Conference, the Blackkawks are making their eighth playoff appearance and fourth straight under coach Nick Eimer. West Aurora does it on both ends of the field, scoring 45 points per game while giving up only 6.4 points per contest. Junior quarterback William Tammaru (1,382 yards passing, 13 TDs) headlines a balanced attack which features senior running backs JaQuan Buchanan (668 yards. 11 TDs) and Hezekiah Salter (996 yards 15 TDs). Senior Moshe Rogers (29 catches, 564 yards, 9 TDs) is the Blackhawks top receiver.

Last week West Aurora defeated South Elgin 28-20 in a first round game.

Scouting the Tigers (7-3) For the second year in a row, Edwardsville has rebounded from a rough start and is playing its best football of the season in the playoffs. Making its eighth straight trip to the postseason, coach Matt Martin’s team is riding a six game winning streak and is two wins away from a second straight berth in the Class 8A semi-finals. Notre Dame recruit Kendall Abdur-Rahman (18 TDs) headlines a quality backfield which includes senior running back Justin Johnson.. The Tigers, who have scored 35 or more points in their past six games, average 42 points while allowing 19 points per game.

Last week: The Tigers got interception returns of 40 yards from Jalen Cooper and 23 yards from Dionte Rodgers along with two touchdowns from Abdur-Rahman as they rolled past Evanston 44-27 in a first round game.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a quarterfinal round game against either No. 2 Lincoln-Way East or No. 18 Glenbard West

Class 7A: (15) East St. Louis at (2) Lombard Glenbard East

Kickoff: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Scouting the Flyers (8-2): The Class 7A state champions in 2016 and a quarterfinalist a year ago, the Flyers can clinch a third straight eilte 8 appearance with a win in suburban Lombard on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Macon leads the way for a Flyers team which has outscored its 10 opponents 542-246 and is coming off a 62 point effort in round one. Macon, who has thrown for 1,899 yards with 21 touchdown passes and run for 1,095 yard and 17 touchdowns, joins senior Treven Swingler (1,105 yards) and DeMonta Witherspoon (1,110 yards) with over 1,00 yards rushing. The Flyers defense has also stepped up in recent weeks by allowing just 53 points during a three-game winning streak.

Last Week: East St. Louis received three touchdowns each from Macon and Witherspoon in a 62-14 mauling of Hoffman Estates.

Scouting the Rams (10-0): While East St. Louis is making its 38th playoff appearance, the Rams are making just their second overall and first since 1999. Champions of the Upstate 8 Conference, Glenbard East is averaging 41 points per game while allowing only nine. The Rams ability to slow down an East St. Louis offense which is averaging 52 points per game will go a long way toward determining the winner Saturday. Senior quarterback Bret Bushka is the player who makes the Rams’ offense go. The 5-10, 185-pound BUshka has completed 127 of 211 attempts for 2,223 yards and 26 touchdowns. Senior Jeremy Johnson is the Rams’ top receiver (47 receptions, 909 yards 16 TDs).

Last week: Glenbard East defeated Mount Prospect 40-14 in a first round game;

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a quarterfinal round game against either No. 7 Chicago Mount Carmel or No. 23 Lake Zurich.

Class 5A: (5) Carbondale at (4) Cahokia

Kickoff: Saturday 3 p.m.

Scouting the Terriers (8-2) Making their 13th playoff appearance and first since 2013, the Terriers will be out for revenge after dropping a 28-7 in week five of the season. Third in the South Seven Conference behind Cahokia and Marion, the Terriers average 28 points per game while giving up just 18. Senior quarterback Jakeba Burligh has thrown for more than 1,700 yards with 17 touchdown passes. Burleigh (6-foot, 185 pounds) can go to a number of receivers including Clayton Greer and Austin Reliford who have combined for 46 catches for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior running back Korey Blythe (704 yards, 7 TDs) is the Terriers’ top running back.

Last week: Carbondale defeated Champaign Central 31-28 in a first round game.

Scouting the Comanches (9-1): Defense remains a key for coach John Clay’s team which has now held six of its nine opponents to seven points or less. Linebacker Delarius Rogers (109 tackles, 64 solos, 3 sacks) and defensive back Emori Lee (107 tackles, 72 solos) headline a deep and talented defensive unit which has 10 players with 50 or more tackles. Senior quarterback Malik Shaw, who threw for 174 yards and a score in the first meeting of the season between the two schools, has 1,592 yards and 10 touchdown passes for the season. Running back Vincent Perry has rushed for 1,122 yards and five touchdowns. The Comanches have an eight-game winning streak entering the game.

Last week: Cahokia defeated Mount Zion 22-6 in a first roumd game.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a quarterfinal round game against either No. 8 Decatur MacArthur or No. 1. Country Club Hills Hillcrest

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Highland’s Jack Etter attempts a pass against Rich Central in the 5A football playoff game Saturday. Jimmy J Simmons

Class 5A (7) Mattoon at (2) Highland

Kickoff: Saturday 4 p.m.

Scouting the Green Wave: (7-3): The Green Wave got two huge plays from senior quarterback Jack Pilson in the final five minutes to hold off Mascoutah a week ago. Masoutah had beaten the Green Wave 42-7 in the second week of the season. Against a battle-tested Highland team, Mattoon will need even more if it hopes to stay close. This is the Green Wave’s 15th trip to the playoffs and first since 2015. Mattoon, which has been outscored 252-286, averages 25 points while allowing 29 points per game.

Last week: Mattoon defeated Mascoutah 28-24 in a first round game.

Scouting the Bulldogs (10-0): Looking for a challenge, the Bulldogs didn’t get one a week ago as senior running back Brady Feldmann scored six touchdowns in a machine-like first-round win. Highland is making its seventh straight playoff appearance and 21st overall. Senior quarterback Jack Etter leads the Bulldogs, completing 120 of 184 attempts for 2,330 yards and 34 touchdowns. Etter’s main target has been senior all-state wide receiver Sam LaPorta (60 catches, 1,283 yards, 18 TD’;s). Feldmann, who is closing in on 3,000 rushing yards for his career, has rushed for 1,019 yards and 19 scores this season. The Bulldogs have outscored their 10 opponents 476-105 this season.

Last week: Highland defeated Rich Central 61-21 in a first round game.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a quarterfinal round game against either No. 14 Joliet Catholic or No. 6 Marion.

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Columbia’s Sam Horner carries the ball after a pass reception from brother Nic Horner during a first round IHSA Class 4A playoff game against Freeburg last year. The Horner brothers helped lead the Eagles to a 35-10 victory Friday night against Monroe County rival Waterloo. Photo by Chris Johns

Class 4A: (8) Columbia at (1) Taylorville

Kickoff: Saturday 5 p.m.

Scouting the Eagles (8-2): Making their eighth straight trip to the playoffs and 22nd overall., The Eagles wore down Cahokia Conference rival Freeburg last week in a first-round win which featured a pair of scoring tosses from quarterback Nic Horner and a 191-yard rushing effort from junior Donavan Bieber. The action was Bieber’s first in over six weeks because of a fractured foot. Horner, the son of Columbia coach Scott Horner has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. The Eagles, who have outscored their opponents 373-193, also have one of the top receivers in the area in junior Sam Horner (25 catches, 393 yards, 5 TDs).

Last week: Columbia defeated Freeburg 33-14 in a first round game.

Scouting the Tornadoes (10-0): Coached by Jeb (Odam, Taylorville ran away with the Apollo Conference title and is making its sixth straight postseason trip. The Tormadoes outscored their opponents 435-189 this season and appear to be playing their best football of the season heading into a second round game with the Eagles. . Senior quarterback Brandon Odam is one of the best in the state. The 6-3, 190-pound standout has completed 170 of 237 passes for 2, 993 yards and 32 touchdowns. Senior Justin Wright (60 catches, 1,252 yards, 15 TD’s) is Odam’s favorite target.

Last week: Taylorville defeated Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central 57-30 in a first round game.

UP NEXT: The winner advances to a quarterfinal round game against either No. 5 Pontiac or No. 4 Rochester

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