Class 7A: No. 23 Belleville West at No. 10 Buffalo Grove, 2 p.m.
Scouting the Maroons (6-3): West is making its sixth straight playoff appearance and ninth in the past 10 years.
The Maroons have achieved some balance on offense, despite a shuffle at quarterback early in the season. Four Maroons have made pass attempts, completing 54 percent of them for 1,021 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jack McCloskey has taken the majority of the snaps since Week 4. An offense that averages nearly 30 points per game, however, is fueled by the run game. Senior Kriston Davis ranks among metro-east leaders with 1,229 yards and 18 touchdowns. He runs behind a sizable line anchored by juniors Jalen Rogers and Dwight Oregon.
The Maroons defense allows 17.2 points per game. It is led by end Khari Kollore (49 tackles) and linebackers LeMondre Carter (49 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 interception).
Scouting the Bison (8-1): Buffalo Grove comes out of the Mid-Suburban (East) Conference, where it absorbed its only loss to rival Arlington Heights Hersey. The Bison rebounded from a 1-8 season a year ago and are making their first playoff appearance since 2003.
They average 29 points per game thanks to a junior-laden backfield that includes quarterback Connor Adams, who has completed 71 percent of his passes for 1,542 yards. Running back Tom Trieb was sidelined with a back injury but has 753 yards on the season.
The Buffalo Grove defense allows just 11.7 points per game, one of the lowest averages in the 7A field.
Next: The winner will face either No. 7 East St. Louis or No. 26 Libertyville.
Class 7A: No. 26 Libertyville at No. 7 East St. Louis, 3 p.m.
Scouting the Wildcats (5-4): The playoffs started a week early for Libertyville, which faced a must-win against Zion-Benton in Week 9 in order to cinch a playoff-qualifying fifth victory. It took care of business and has reached the postseason for a fifth-straight season and for the 17th time in the last 20 years.
Brendan Bazar is the centerpiece of the Wildcats’ ground game. In the Week 9 win alone, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior rumbled for 346 yards and six touchdowns.
Libertyville scores an average of 24.8 points per game but has been held to fewer than 14 four times this season. Its defense surrenders 19.1 points per game.
Scouting the Flyers (8-1): The defending 7A state champions returned to dominating form despite key losses to graduation. East St. Louis outscores its opponents an average of 28.9 points per game, the widest point differential in a deep 7A field.
Quarterback Christian Perez, a senior transfer from O’Fallon who has given verbal commitment to Navy, drives an offense that has put up 42.9 points per game. He’s completed 60 percent of 187 pass attempts for 1,702 yards with 22 touchdowns and one interception. After losing all-conference running back Jarrell Anderson on the first play of the season, Jigg Brown emerged as the feature tailback with 1,001 yards and 16 scores. Eric Rogers II (40 catches, 627 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Lawaun Powell Jr. (31 catches, 464 yards, 11 touchdowns) lead the receivers.
Owens also leads the defense with 100 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions. Imunique Williams has 11 quarterback sacks.
Next: The winner will face either No. 23 Belleville West at No. 10 Buffalo Grove (8-1), 2 p.m.
Class 4A: No. 9 Carterville at No. 8 Althoff, 2 p.m.
Scouting the Lions (7-2): Since its Week 5 loss to SIRR-Mississippi Division rival Anna-Jonesboro, Carterville has been on a roll. The Lions have averaged nearly 52 points per game, including a 68-point outburst over Sparta and 54 points against Nashville. But the Lions have just one win against a 2017 playoff team.
They average 35 points on the season behind quarterback Christian Rawlinson and running back Brock Tuttle, who closed the season with a 137-yard, four-touchdown performance against Nashville.
Defensively, Carterville allows 21 points per game.
Scouting the Crusaders (8-1): Althoff made consecutive runs at 4A state championships the past two years, finishing as runner-up in 2015 and being eliminated by Rochester in a quarterfinal thriller this past season. With its roster purged of its NCAA Division I talent, some wondered if the Crusaders could do it again. Here they are again with just one loss and a deep bracket’s No. 8 seed.
Offensively, the Crusaders still put up big numbers, averaging more than 34 points per game. Though sophomore Connor Sheehan has engineered the offense well, Althoff isn’t the high-flying air attack it has been in recent years. But Richard Cosey averages 8.6 yards per carry on 131 attempts. His 1,125 yards and 14 touchdowns lead the team. And SIU Carbondale commit Justin Turner has been versatile with 801 yards rushing, 142 more receiving and 11 total scores. All operate behind a huge offensive line anchored by Illinois commit Jordyn Slaughter.
Althoff is strong defensively as well. The Crusaders allow an average of 14.6 points. Devyn Nash leads the way with 75 tackles and nine quarterback sacks. The team has intercepted 17 passes, led by Strong and Dylan Appleton, who have five each.
Next: The winner will face either No. 4 Herrin or No. 13 Paris.
Class 3A: No. 16 Pleasant Plains at No. 1 Wesclin (9-0), 2 p.m.
Scouting The Cardinals (6-3): Pleasant Plains enters its fourth playoff appearance in six years on a four-game winning streak. The Cardinals average 32 points per game with some balance.
Senior quarterback Ben Reinert has completed half of his 239 attempts for 1,715 yards and 17 touchdowns. Nik Samson leads the running game with 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. Four Cardinals players have more than 200 yards receiving, including Tristin Tewes, who leads with 431 yards, and Kai Carlberg, who adds six scores to his 409 yards.
Defensively, Pleasant Plains surrenders 22.6 yards per game.
Scouting The Warriors (9-0): It’s been just two years since Wesclin made the 3A playoffs, but its the first time in the Warriors history they’ll enter the post season without a loss. It took eight weeks for the undefeated Warriors to crack the Illinois Associated Press Top 10, but they earned the top seed in their bracket with their historical run.
The Wesclin defense is driven by a deep and potent ground game that includes four ball carriers with at least 30 carries. Gavin Bilbruck leads the way with 1,183 yards and 15 touchdowns. But RJ Kattenbracker (736 yards, 6 TDs) and KJ Corley (685 yards, 7 TDs) can carry the Warriors as well. Quarterback Josh DeMage is an efficient passer with a 68 percent completion rate and has 591 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns.
Wesclin can be vulnerable on defense, however. It allows 25 points per game, among the most in the 3A field.
Next: The winner will face either No. 8 Newton or No. 9 Alton Marquette.
Class 2A: No. 12 Red Bud at No. 5 Eldorado, 1 p.m.
Scouting the Musketeers (6-3): Red Bud is making its second straight 2A playoff appearance and sixth under 17-year coach Dave Lucht.
The team scores big under versatile quarterback Griffin Ziebold, who pairs 1,766 yards and 24 touchdowns passing with 717 yards rushing and four more scores. But the offense has plenty of depth in running back Austin Melliere, who has nearly 600 yards of total offense; Seth Bass with 511 more; and wide receiver Alex Birchler, who leads the Musketeers with 38 catches for 794 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The defense gives up 34 points per game despite the efforts of linebacker Logan Houba and his 113 tackles, and end Cory Fithian, who has nine sacks.
Scouting the Eagles (7-2): Eldorado broke a sting of five straight losing seasons in 2009 and has missed the playoffs just once since. This is the Eagles’ first year, however, under new head coach Joe Clark, the former coach at Carlyle.
Eldorado averages 32 points per game while surrendering just 12.7. In 17 total playoff appearances, the Eagles have a record of 4-16.
Next: The winner will face either No. 4 Maroa-Forsyth or No. 13 Illini West (Carthage).
Class 2A: No. 10 Carlyle at No. 7 West Prairie (Sciota), 2 p.m.
Scouting the Indians (6-3): Carlyle makes its first playoff appearance since 2013 largely on a deep and varied offense.
Quarterback Alex Huels completes 63 percent of his passes for 1,396 yards and 14 touchdowns. He looks mainly to Tyler Siever (52 catches, 679 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Nick Becker (38 catches, 645 yards, 7 touchdowns). Landon Smith leads the ground game with 735 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, though, the Indians have struggled at times. Jared VonderHaar counts five sacks among his 62 tackles, which lead a team that has gotten to the quarterback 17 times this season. Siever has four interceptions and a fumble recovery on a defense that has created 18 turnovers.
But, as a unit, the Indians defense allows an average of 27.8 points per game.
Scouting the Sparclones (7-2): West Prairie was a 2A powerhouse beginning in the mid-90s, reaching the playoffs nine of 10 seasons and finishing second in 1996 and 2000. But the Spartaclones have been to the postseason just once in the past 10. They qualified last year following an eight-year run that produced seven total victories.
They’re back with a 7-2 record, a No. 7 seed and nearly 31 points scored per game. The team is led by senior running back Nate Ferguson.
Next: The winner will face either No. 2 Westville or No. 14 Deer Creek-Mackinaw.
Class 1A: No. 13 Madison at No. 4 Carrollton, 1 p.m.
Scouting the Trojans (6-3): It’s been at least 25 years since Madison has fielded its own football team. After going winless in a co-op season with Metro-East Lutheran, Madison revived the green and white uniforms and relined the open field near the school. In their reboot season, the Trojans are in the playoffs.
Madison averages 27.6 points per game behind quarterback Rhyheem Samuels, who has passed for 1,361 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has completed passes to eight different receivers. Alphonso Rice (355 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Artavius Stepney (439 yards, 3 touchdowns) anchor the running game.
Conway and Stepney also lead a defensive backfield with nine combined interceptions. Fashaun Merritt counts five quarterback sacks among his 72 tackles and has four fumble recoveries.
The Trojans, stingy on defense, allow just 12.6 points per game.
Scouting the Hawks (8-1): Carrollton is making its sixth straight 1A playoff appearance and third since finishing state runner-up in 2014. The Hawks rank No. 6 in the Illinois AP poll.
Quarterback Hunter Flowers has passed for 1,886 yards with 25 touchdowns. His favorite target is junior Nathan Walker, who has 44 catches for 916 yards and 10 touchdowns. Byron Holmes paces the running game with 767 yards and 14 scores.
The Hawks average 41.6 points per game and allow just 16.6.
Next: The winner will face either No. 5 Camp Point (Central) or No. 12 Hardin Calhoun.