Class 8A: (26) Edwardsville at (23) Palatine, 3 p.m. Saturday
Scouting the Tigers (7-3): Edwardsville continues to roll. The Tigers started the season 0-3 for the first time in six seasons, but have rattled off seven straight, including its 42-38 upset of seventh-seeded Huntley in a first-round playoff game. A win Saturday would mean their second straight trip to the quarterfinals.
Following a 32-7 loss to East St. Louis in Week 3, Edwardsville has averaged 48.6 points per game. The offense is led by 6-foot-1, 182-pound quarterback Kendall Abdur-Rahman, who leads the team with 1,045 yards and 19 touchdowns on 112 carries. He’s thrown just 64 passes but has completed four of six in the end zone to junior Lavontas Hairston.
Defensively, the Tigers have struggled at times, allowing an average of 22.2 points per game, not including the 38 surrendered to Huntley last week.
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Scouting the Pirates (7-3): Palatine advanced to the second round with a 24-3 defeat of No. 10-seeded South Elgin. The Pirates come out of the Mid-Suburban West Conference. They suffered their three losses by a total of just 12 points.
Palatine quarterback D.J. Angelaccio is 108-for-176 passing for 1,321 yards with 10 touchdowns against six interceptions. He also leads the team with 359 yards rushing and eight scores. Senior Marcus Stoudemire (329 yards, three touchdowns) and Jake Moertl (322 yards, seven touchdowns) fortify the Palatine ground game. Johnney O’Shea is the top receiver with 38 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns.
The Pirates’ defense is solid, allowing just 15 points per game. They reached the state semifinal in 2015 as the bracket’s No. 13 seed.
Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal game against No. 2 Barrington (10-0) or No. 15 Minooka (8-2).
Class 7A: (10) Buffalo Grove at (7) East St. Louis, 2 p.m. Saturday
Scouting the Bison (9-1): Buffalo Grove makes the trek to the metro-east from the far north suburbs of Chicago, very near the Wisconsin border. The Bison rebounded from a 1-8 season a year ago and got their first playoff win since 2002 by holding off Belleville West 17-7.
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.
Scouting the Flyers (9-1): Eric Johnson was called into action to replace injured East St. Louis quarterback Christian Perez, and the Flyers haven’t missed a beat. Johnson has thrown for 267 yards and four touchdowns in a 62-7 dismantling of Libertyville in last week’s first round.
Perez, a senior transfer from O’Fallon who has given a verbal commitment to Navy, completed 60 percent of 187 pass attempts for 1,702 yards with 22 touchdowns and one interception. Coach Darren Sunkett says his status is day-to-day, though he won’t hesitate to hand the huddle back to Johnson.
The defending 7A state champions entered the postseason outscoring its opponents an average of 28.9 points per game, the widest point differential in a deep 7A field. Running back Jigg Brown, another backup filling in for the loss of all-conference running back Jarrell Anderson, has been a big part of that. Brown rushed for 1,157 yards and 16 touchdowns during the regular season.
Eric Rogers II (43 catches, 733 yards, six touchdowns) and Lawaun Powell Jr. (34 catches, 558 yards, 13 touchdowns) lead the receivers.
Owens also leads the defense with 114 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions. Oliver McDowell has 13 quarterback sacks. The Flyers defense has held its opponents to just 14 points per game.
Next: The winner advances to the quarterfinals against No. 2 Normal (10-0) or No. 18 Chicago Mount Carmel (7-3), who play at noon Saturday.
Class 4A: (8) Althoff at (1) Rochester, 5 p.m. Saturday
Scouting the Crusaders (9-1): The Crusaders are making their seventh straight playoff appearance and for the fourth time in the last five years are meeting up with Rochester in an advanced round.
The Rockets disappointed Althoff last season in the quarterfinals, rallying from a 19-point deficit to win a 48-47 thriller at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville.
Offensively, the Crusaders still put up big numbers, averaging more than 34 points. 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 143 attempts. His 1,198 yards and 15 touchdowns lead the team. And SIU Carbondale commit Justin Strong has been versatile with 894 yards rushing, 148 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 80 tackles and nine quarterback sacks. The team has intercepted 18 passes, led by Dylan Appleton, who has six, and Strong with five.
Scouting the Rockets (10-0): Top-seeded Rochester has won six of the last seven Class 4A state championships. Its only interruption came in 2015, when it fell in the quarterfinals to Althoff, the eventual state runner-up.
This may be the best Rockets team of them all. They are second only to Highland on the 4A bracket at 49.9 points per game. The 13.6 points allowed by the defense is fifth-lowest.
Senior quarterback Nic Baker leads an offense that, through 10 games, has turned the ball over just twice. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he has completed 76 percent of his 220 pass attempts for 2,695 yards with 43 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Two running backs, Nick Capriotti and Zach Gleeson, have topped 450 yards rushing with six and eight touchdowns, respectively. Three others, including Baker, have at least 300 yards rushing. The top receiver in the offense is 5-11 junior Cade Eddington, who has 62 catches for 1,138 yards and 16 touchdowns. Two others have at least 500 receiving yards.
Defensively, senior Mike McNicholas has six of the Rockets’ 20 quarterback sacks. Junior David Allen has three of their eight pass interceptions.
Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal game against No. 4 Herrin (9-1) or No. 5 Tolono Unity (9-1), who play at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Class 4A: (7) Effingham at (2) Highland, 3 p.m. Saturday
Scouting the Flaming Hearts (9-1): Effingham lost its first game of the season in the metro-east, dropping a 27-26 decision to Mater Dei in Breese, but the Flaming Hearts have been perfect ever since.
The Hearts put up 43 points per game led by running back Terrence Hill, who accounts for 62 percent of the team’s total offense. The senior has carried 279 times for 2,021 yards and 33 touchdowns. He has fumbled five times, however.
Junior quarterback Landon Wolfe has completed 51 percent of 111 pass attempts for 804 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception. Logan Smith is the top receiver with 19 catches for 260 yards. A big offensive line is anchored by senior Drew Niebrugge (6-3, 300) and junior Brian Campbell (5-9, 290). The team has committed 16 turnovers, however.
Defensively, the Hearts allow 14 points per game. Frank Schnierderjon has six of the Hearts’ 25 quarterback sacks. Seven players account for the unit’s 13 interceptions.
Scouting the Bulldogs (10-0): Highland rolled into the second round with a 45-0 win over No. 15 Quincy Notre Dame last week. Running back Brady Feldman led the way with four touchdowns for a Bulldogs’ team that likes to balance the run with their potent passing game.
Offensively, the Bulldogs average 51.2 points and have the second-highest point differential (35.9) in the Class 4A field. They’re led by quarterback Garrett Marti, who has completed 66 percent of 201 attempts for 2,316 yards, 30 touchdowns and just one interception. Sam LaPorta, who is already getting plenty of Division I looks as a junior, has 54 receptions for 1,076 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Feldman is nearing 1,000 yards on the season to go with 17 touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for an additional 460 yards.
The defense allows just 15 points per game thanks to the 23 turnovers it has created. Senior linebacker Sebi Wolf leads the way with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Linebacker Kyle Lane (6-0, 230 pounds) has two quarterback sacks among his 101 tackles.
Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal game against No. 3 Hersher (9-1) or No. 6 Taylorville (9-1), who play at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Class 2A: (2) Westville at (10) Carlyle, 2 p.m. Saturday
Scouting the Tigers (10-0): Westville unseated the defending 2A state champion Deer Creek-Mackinaw 42-0 last week. Ranked No. 7 in the final AP state poll of the regular season, the Tigers have outscored opponents 424-98 this year.
Leading the offense, which averages 42 points per game, is senior quarterback Duncan Hathaway, who has completed 62 of 92 passes for 1,057 yards with 13 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s also rushed for 191 yards on 21 attempts — an average of 9.1 yards per carry.
Cameron Nicholas leads the team in rushing with 542 yards and 12 scores and, as a safety, is also one of central Illinois’ leading tacklers with 74. Wide receiver Tylan Stricklett has 37 catches for 778 yards and nine touchdowns.
Scouting the Indians (7-3): Carlyle opened its first IHSA playoff in four years by beating No. 7 West Prairie 32-14.
Quarterback Alex Huels completes 63 percent of his passes for 1,608 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season. After missing time with an arm injury. He looks mainly to Tyler Siever (56 catches, 747 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Nick Becker (42 catches, 776 yards, eight touchdowns). Landon Smith leads the ground game with 857 yards and nine touchdowns.
Jared VonderHaar counts six sacks among his 72 tackles, which lead a team that has gotten to the quarterback 21 times this season to lead the defense. Siever has four interceptions and a fumble recovery on a defense that has created 20 turnovers.
As a unit, the Indians defense allows an average of 27.8 points per game.
Next: The winner advances to a quarterfinal game against No. 3 Downs Tri-Valley (9-1) or No. 6 Shelbyville (8-2), who play at 1 p.m. Saturday.