High School Football

Class 8A playoff preview: Edwardsville at Oswego

Edwardsville Tigers celebrate their first-round playoff win over Oak Park-River Forest.
Edwardsville Tigers celebrate their first-round playoff win over Oak Park-River Forest.

No. 12 Edwardsville (9-1) at No. 5 Oswego (10-0)

Kickoff: 6 p.m. Saturday at Ken Pickerill Stadium, Oswego High School

Next week: The winner will play No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor (10-0) or No. 20 Glenbard West (8-2)

Edwardsville Tigers

Coach: Matt Martin (sixth year, 54-12)

Rank: Sixth in Class 8A

First round: Defeated Oak Park-River Forest 23-20 in overtime

Playoff history: The Tigers are in the postseason for the 23rd time. They have qualified for the postseason for six consecutive years. Edwardsville was runner-up in Class 7A in 2001 and 2002 under former coach Tim Dougherty, losing both times to Mount Prospect. It reached the Class 7A semifinals in 2005, the Class 7A quarterfinals in 2012 and the Class 7A semifinals in 2013.

Scouting report: Edwardsville finished second to East St. Louis in the Southwestern Conference, its only loss coming 20-10 to the Flyers. The Tigers average just under 36 points per game, while their defense allows just over 11 points. Sophomore running back Dionte Rodgers is the ringleader on offense with 1,284 yards and a school-record 24 rushing touchdowns. Senior quarterback Brendan Dickmann is 48-for-91 for 704 yards and six touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Daval Torres is the top receiver with 18 catches for 226 yards. On defense, senior end and Iowa recruit A.J. Epenesa (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) is one of the dominant players in the state. Senior end Nathan Kolesa, senior linebacker Cyress Ahart and junior linebacker Ryan Connelly also are keys. Senior kicker Riley Patterson had a 26-yard field goal to beat Oak Park-River Forest.

Oswego Panthers

Coach: Brian Cooney (fifth year, 46-10)

Rank: NR

First round: Defeated Joliet West 10-9

Playoff history: Oswego is making its 28 appearance in the postseason, and have qualified in 14 of the last 15 years. The Panthers won the Class 4A championship in 1992 and the Class 2003 title in 2003, both times under former coach Karl Hoinkes. They reached the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2015.

Scouting report: The Panthers, like Edwardsville, also have a potent running attack led by senior Drew Wright (1,010 yards, nine touchdowns). Senior Nick Marra has 436 yards and seven touchdowns. Oswego throws more than the Tigers. Junior quarterback Levi Olson has passed for 988 yards and nine touchdowns, with senior wideout Elliott Pipkin doing most of the damage to opponents with 40 catches for 622 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, lineman Noah Shannon (6-2, 270) has 53 tackles, including 11 for losses. The Panthers have surrendered just 80 points and have held foes to single digits seven times.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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