Quincy Notre Dame coach Bill Connell knows what it takes to win football playoff games.
His teams have a 177-80 overall record during his 24 seasons and have made several deep playoff runs along the way. The Raiders are usually still playing at this time of the year by doing things the old-school way — a strong running attack, strong defense and just enough play-action passes to keep teams honest.
“That’s been our success and a lot of the plays we run now we ran 24 years ago,” said Connell, whose 7-3 squad plays host to Althoff (10-0) on Saturday in a Class 4A second-round playoff game. “It’s just basic football. For us it’s old-fashioned football.
“I’ve been at it for a long time and the only stat I look at is takeaway-giveaway. That’s going to tell you the story at the end.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Althoff (10-0) at Quincy Notre Dame (7-3), 2 p.m.
Althoff was fourth in the final 4A state rankings; Quincy Notre Dame was 13th.
Quincy Notre Dame: 22nd appearance, 24-21 playoff record; Althoff: 22nd appearance, 37-18 playoff record, won state titles in 1980, 1989, 1990.
Althoff led 62-0 midway through the second quarter and defeated Clinton 62-27. Quincy Notre Dame beat Harrisburg 47-28.
Connell admits his team’s style and Althoff’s wide-open offensive attack couldn’t be more different. However, the Raiders got a school record and Class 4A playoff record 384 yards and six touchdowns on 42 carries last week against Harrisburg from star senior back Ben Nord
“You’re just scared to death,” Connell said of Althoff. “I’ve watched No. 21 (C.J. Coldon) and No. 1 (Keenen Young, teh two wide receivers ... they’ve got six guys (offensive threats) and then the two linebackers. They’ve got too much stuff to take away.
“We don’t match up. We don’t match up even close. We’ve just got to play our game and do what got us here and hopefully that’s good enough for another week.”
This isn’t Connell’s first playoff rodeo. His teams have seen similar wide-open offenses and found ways to win. But one common opponent could be a sign of trouble for Quincy Notre Dame.
Mater Dei, the same team that lost 68-46 to Althoff, beat Quincy Notre Dame 47-28. Notre Dame’s other losses were to third-ranked Rockford Lutheran (62-7) and Quincy (42-7).
Althoff coach Ken Turner is hoping his team’s edge in speed and athleticism will help in this battle against a traditional power. Quincy Notre Dame allowed 412 yards rushing last week in the win over Harrisburg.
“We want to get our guys the ball in space and let them run with it,” he said. “You can tell they’re disciplined and well-coached. It’s a historic program kind of like us, private schools that a lot of people know who they are. They’re physical up front, a very good football team with a good running back.
“They want to lull you in and lull you in getting four or five yards, then break a big one. If you fall asleeep on them running the football, they’ll play-action pass you.”
SCOUTING QUINCY NOTRE DAME
A 62-7 loss to Rockford Lutheran in the season opener shook things up a bit, but the Raiders are still standing in the second round.
The Raiders top weapon is Nord (5-foot-10, 165 pounds), who has 1,456 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns while averaging seven yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Landon Heming has completed 63-of-128 passes for 1,146 yards and 14 TDs with nine interceptions. His top targets are Ben Welper (16 catches, 330 yards, three TDs), Reed Hye (15 catches, 322 yards, four TDs) and Austin Tappe (14 catches, 230 yards, four TDs).
Linebacker Parker Kientzle (107 tackles) anchors the defense along with Nathan Tyrpin (62 tackles, three sacks) and Caleb Hines (48 tackles, six tacks, 12 tackles for loss).
Althoff relies on a high-powered offense averaging 46.9 points per game while generating 4,741 yards.
That includes a school-record 2,636 yards passing and 30 TDs from senior quarterback Jordan Augustine, who has completed 157-of-220 passes. He’s also run for 247 yards and seven TDs.
Turner thinks Althoff’s running backs Malik Easley (815 yards, 11 TDs) and Jaylon Bester (815 yards, 13 TDs) sometimes get overlooked with all the hype surrounding the quarterback and receivers.
That’s easy to do with a receiving group that includes junior C.J. Coldon (48 catches, school-record 1,033 yards, 10 TDs), senior Keenen Young (53 catches, 869 yards, 13 TDs) and senior Tarkus Ferguson (26 catches, 339 yards, two TDs).
Althoff linebackers Bryson Strong (120 tackles, nine sacks) and Chris Branson (101 tackles, three sacks) are tough, productive and aggressive.
Saturday’s Playoff Schedule
5A: Lincoln-Way West (8-2) at Triad (9-1), 3 p.m.
4A: Columbia (10-0) at Mater Dei (7-3), 1 p.m.
4A: Althoff (10-0) at Quincy Notre Dame (7-3), 2 p.m.
2A: Sangamon Valley (9-1) at Nashville (7-3), 2 p.m.