NO. 21 OAK PARK-RIVE FOREST AT NO. 12 EDWARDSVILLE
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday at Edwardsville Sports Complex
Next Week: Winner advances to second round against No. 5 Oswego (9-0) or No. 28 Joliet (6-3)
EDWARDSVILLE TIGERS (8-1)
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Coach: Matt Martin (sixth year, 53-12)
Rank: No. 6 in Illinois Class 8A
Playoff History: The Tigers are making their sixth straight appearance and third straight in Class 8A. In the program’s 34 seasons, they’ve only failed to reach the postseason nine times, placing second in Class 7A in 2001 and 2002 under coach Tim Dougherty. Edwardsville was a semifinalist in 2005 and 2013 and quarterfinalist in 1995 and 2012.
Scouting Report: Edwardsville’s only loss came against Southwestern Conference champion East St. Louis, 20-10, in Week 6 of the regular season. The Tigers average 37 points per game behind quarterback Brendan Dickmann (48-of-91, 704 yards, six TDs, 4 interceptions) and sophomore running back Dionte Rodgers (153 carries, 1,284 yards, 24 TDs), who blitzed Rock Island in Week 2 with 295 yards and five touchdowns. Daval Torres (18 catches, 226 yards, TD) is the top receiver among a deep crew. A stingy defense, which has held opponents to just 10.2 points per game, is led by Iowa-bound end A.J. Epenesa (36 tackles, 2 sacks) and Nathan Kolesa (54 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, one interception).
OAK PARK-RIVER FOREST HUSKIES (7-2)
Coach: John Hoerster (7th year, 44-26)
Playoff History: The Huskies are making their fifth straight playoff appearance in Class 8A. They made a good run in Class 6A, reaching the quarterfinals in 1984 and ’85.
Scouting Report: One of the oldest football programs in Illinois, the Huskies history goes all the way back to 1891 and there have been few interruptions since. They come out of a very strong West Suburban Conference-Silver Division, which includes Hinsdale Central, Glenbard West and LaGrange Lyons. Both of Oak Park’s losses in 2016 came against league teams in the last three weeks of the regular season, including a 21-12 loss to unbeaten Hinsdale Central. An offense that averages 28.7 points per game is led by quarterback Jeremy Hunt and running back Terrance Roundy. Senior linebacker Rolliann Sturkey anchors a defense that holds opponents to just 16.4 points per game.