High School Football

Seven area teams face second round games in high school football playoffs

Seven teams from the St. Louis metro-east region will compete in second round IHSA playoff football games on Saturday.

Here’s a look ahead to their second round games:

Class 8A: (16) Edwardsville at (1) Minooka

Kickoff: 4 p.m.

Last time out: Minooka def. Joliet West 20-7; Edwardsville def. St. Charles East 44-17.

Scouting the Tigers (8-2) A win away from a fourth straight trip to the Class 8A quarterfinals, Edwardsville is making its 26th playoff appearance and has an all-time postseason record of 31-25. The Tigers placed second in Class 7A in both 2001 and 2002 under head coach Tim Dougherty. Junior running back Justin Johnson, who rushed for 123 yards and four touchdowns in an opening round win, is the Tigers’ top offensive player with 1,215 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Scouting the Indians (10-0) Champions of the Southwest Prairie (West) Conference, the Indians are making their 18th overall and third straight playoff appearance. Minooka is 14-17 all time in the IHSA playoffs. Senior quarterback Seth Lehr (5-11, 175) has throw for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns while senior Noah Ellens (5-10, 160) is speedy running back capable of going the distance on any play. Lehr threw a pair of touchdowns passes, one to Ellens, in the Indians’ opening-round win over Joliet West last week.

UP NEXT: The winner of the Minooka-Edrwardsvlle game will play either No. 8 South Elgin (9-1) or No. 24 Chicago Brother Rice (6-4).

Class 6A: (1) East St. Louis at (9) Rock Island

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last time out: East St. Louis def. Chicago Morgan Park 44-0; Rock Island def. Dunlap 28-18

Scouting the Flyers (10-0): The Flyers took the first step toward state championship No. 9 with an impressive win over Morgan Park last week. Senior running back DaMonta Witherspoon (1,223 yards, 23 touchdowns) scored four times while junior Tyler Macon, making a case as one of the top quarterbacks in the state, added a pair of scoring passes. Macon’s 260 yard effort a week a week ago gives him more than 3,000 passing yards for the season to go along with 29 touchdown completions. On defense, senior Kendrick Scarborough had a big day for the Flyers who have three shutouts and have held six opponents to seven or fewer points.

Scouting the Rocks (8-2): A member of one of he top athletic conferences in the state, the Western Big 6, the Rocks are making their 25th playoff appearance and have an all-time record of 28-24. Coached by Ben Hammer, Rock Island has won four games in a row including their upset win over No. 8 seed Dunlap last week. Junior quarterback Devin Swift (1,700 yards, 9 TD passes) fired a pair of scoring passes for the Rocks against Dunlap while defensive end Donovan Rogers returned a fumble for a touchdown late to cement the Rocks first round win.

UP NEXT: The winner of the East St. Louis-Rock Island game will play either No. 5 Peoria (9-1) or No. 4 Oak Lawn Richards (9-1)

Class 5A: (4) Kankakee at (12) Mascoutah

Kickoff: 5 p.m.

Last time out: Kankakee def. Peoria Notre Dame 30-23; Mascoutah def. Carbondale 40-28

Scouting the Kays (9-1) Kankakee is making its first trip to the playoffs in four years and 16th in school history. Coached by Derek Hart, the Kays lost a 27-26 decision to undefeated Crete-Monee in Week 2 but enter the second round contest on an eight-game winning streak. Speedy junior quarterback Tyjuane Stewart ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns while senior back Mattias Clark scored a touchdown and finished the day with 164 yards on the ground against Notre Dame. The Kays are are in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Scouting the Indians (7-3) Continuing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their 1979 state championship, the Indians are in the second round of the IHSA playoffs for the first time since reaching the Class 4A quarterfinals in 2008. Making their 13th playoff appearance in all, the Indians continue to lean heavily on senior running back Devin Wills, whose 29 touchdowns tops the entire St. Louis area. Wills scored four times last week and upped his season rushing total to 1,705 yards with a 267-yard effort against Carbondale. Senior quarterback Devon Ross has thrown for 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns while wide receiver Timothy Middleton has 27 receptions, six for touchdowns. Linebacker Andrew Schultz is the Indians top defender with 68 tackles.

UP NEXT: The winner of the Kankakee-Mascoutah game will play either No. 1 Mount Zion (10-0) or No. 9 Joliet Catholic (7-3)

Class 5A: (2) Rochester at (10) Highland

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Last time out: Rochester def. LaSalle-Peru 68-26; Highland def. Cahokia 21-20

Scouting the Rockets (9-1): The most successful program in the state in the past decade, Rochester has won seven state championships since 2010, including five in a row in Class 4A (2010-14) under coach Derek Leonard. The Rockets are 49-11 all time in the postseason. Senior quarterback Clay Bruno leads the Rockets powerful offense with more than 2,600 yards passing and 35 touchdowns, while junior running back Jacob DuRocher has rushed for 1,462 yards and 20 scores. Sophomore wide receiver Hank Beatty has 69 receptions for over 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Rockets defense is led by senior safety Dalton Tieman with 55 tackles.

Scouting the Bulldogs (7-3) Two years after seeing their state championship dreams end with a 31-14 loss to Rochester in the Class 4A state semifinals, the Bulldogs get their chance at payback. In the postseason for the eighth straight year, Highland is on a six-game winning streak after posting a mild upset win last week at Cahokia. Freshman quarterback Brent Wuebbles has thrown for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns while operating behind an experienced line. Wuebbles has also run for over 600 yards and combines with back Logan Chandler (1,418 yards, 19 touchdowns) to give the Bulldogs one of the top backfields in the Mississippi Valley Conference

UP NEXT: The winner of the Highland-Rochester game will take on either No. 14 Triad (7-3) or No. 11 Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin.

Class 5A: (14) Triad at (11) Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last time out: Triad def. Marion 55-28; Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin def. Morris 43-35

Scouting the Knights (7-3) Entering the postseason on a three game losing streak, the Knights responded a week ago with one of the top offensive offensive performances of the season, rolling up nearly 300 yards on the ground in a 27-point demolition of South Seven Conference co-champion Marion. Running backs Sam Yager (851 yards) and Luke Foreman (578 yards) along with senior quarterback Logan Wongler (735 yards) have accounted for more than 2,200 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns in coach Paul Bassler’s run oriented offense.

Scouting the Cyclones (7-3): The father of Rochester coach Derek Leonard, Springfield SHG coach Ken Leonard leads the Cyclones into the postseason for the 20th straight year and 40th in school history. The Cyclones have five state championships, five second place trophies and an overall postseason record of 81-34. Senior Trace Jeiniongs (12 touchdowns, 385 yards) has been the Cyclones player who has found the end zone the most often, while junior quarterback Isaiah Thompson (680 yards, 8 touchdowns) and Alex Sweetland (534 yards) also shine in the Cyclones offense.

UP NEXT: The Triad -Springfield SHG winner will play either No. 2 Rochester (9-1) or No. 10 Highland (7-3)

Class 4A: (2) Columbia at (10) Fairbury Prairie Central

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last time out: Columbia def. Roxana 56-28; Fairbury Prairie Central def. Olney (East Richland) 35-14

Scouting the Eagles (10-0):: Ranked among the top 10 Class 4A teams all season, the Eagles are a win away from their first quarterfinal playoff game since reaching the Class 3A semifinals in 2008. After giving up just 45 points all season, the Eagles surrendered a season-high 28 last week in a lopsided 56-28 win over Roxana. Senior linebacker Eli Wagner (95 tackles, 3 sacks) headlines the Columbia defense which also features two-way starters Ronnie Hunsaker (51 tackles, 1 sack) and speedy Londyn Little (31 tackles, 3 interceptions). On offense senior quarterback Nick Horner (1,482 yards 23 TD passes) and running back Donavan Bieber (1,012 yards, 16 TD’s) are among the top Class 4A players in the state. Columbia is making its ninth straight playoff appearance.

Scouting the Hawks (8-2) Making their 15th playoff appearance and third in a row, the Hawks are a member of the Illini Prairie Conference where they placed third behind Chllicothe Illini Valley and Tolono Unity. Coached by Scott Quain, the Hawks are 3-2 on their home turf while going 5-0 on the road. Junior quarterback Kaden King (5-11, 200) has a strong arm and has both the strength and speed to have fun with the football. Junior Jacob Niffen (6-1,m 185) is King’s top target. The Hawks have outscored their 10 foes 356-209 this season.

UP NEXT: The winner of the Columbia - Prairie Central game will play either No. 6 Benton (9-1) or No. 3 Effingham (9-1).

Class 3A (5) Mater Dei at Fairfield (4)

Kickoff: 4 p.m.

Last time out: Mater Dei defeated West Frankfort 56-0; Fairfield def. Alton Marquette 36-8

Scouting the KnighS (9-1): : Riding a nine-game winning streak after a season opening loss to Effingham, the Knights continued to roll last week behind quarterback Reed Braundmeier who threw for 233 yards and had three touchdown passes. The shutout was also the second in three weeks for Mater Dei’s defense which is led by senior linebacker Nolan Foppe (73 tackles) and defensive lineman Bennett Krebs (61 tackles). In the playoffs for the second year in a row and the 27th time in school history. Mater Dei is led on the offensive side of the football by Braundmeier (22 touchdown passes, 2,200 yards), running back Zach Napovanice (1,328 yards, 18 TDs) and wide receiver Mitchell Haake (39 catches, 807 yards, 8 TDs)

Scouting the Mules (10-0): Champions of the Black Diamond Conference, the Mules coasted through a second straight undefeated season thanks in a large part to a defense which allowed just eight points in its first six games and has surrendered just 38 all season. On offense, junior quarterback Lance Zurliene has thrown for more than 950 yards and 12 touchdowns The Mulesalso have two of the top running backs in the Black Diamond Conference in senior Wyatt Gilbert (1,023 yards, 19 touchdowns) and junior Kaleb Wells (657 yards, 6 TD’s) Making its 19th playoff appearance and fifth straight, the Mules have an all-time postseason mark of 8-18.

UP NEXT: The Mater Dei-Fairfield winner will play either No. 1 Beardstown (10-0) or No. 9 Quincy Notre Dame (7-3).

Dean Criddle has worked at the Belleville News-Democrat for 32 years as a sports writer. Dean graduated from SIUE with a double major in journalism and English, is married and lives in Belleville.
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