No. 29 Maine West (5-4) at No. 4 St. Charles North (8-1, 7-0)
About the North Stars: The North Stars are back in the postseason for the first time since 2018, when they were the Class 7A state runners-up. St. Charles North is riding a seven-game winning streak and wrapped up the DuKane Conference title outright in a thrilling double OT victory over Batavia last Friday. Headlined by two-way standout RB/LB Drew Surges, the North Stars have rolled ever since their Week 1 loss to Palatine. Starting quarterback Will Vaske is back and healthy after missing some time with a shoulder injury and has a wide array of pass-catchers to pick apart defenses, whether it be Jake Mettetal Zach Priami, Anthony Taormina or Jake Furtney.
About the Warriors: Maine West helped itself into the postseason with a win over Highland Park last Friday. The Warriors’ year hiatus out of the 7A field is over, as it clinched three consecutive appearances from 2017-2019. After beginning the season 1-3, Maine West surged to sneak in.
No. 18 Batavia (6-3) at No. 15 Rockford (Guilford) (7-2)
About the Bulldogs: Losing in double overtime to St. Charles North to lose a share of the conference title wasn’t the way Batavia planned to end the regular season. The Bulldogs’ two conference losses to St. Charles North and Wheaton North were by a combined four points. Batavia still boasts a solid defense and has enough offense from quarterback Ryan Boe, running back Ryan Whitwell and others to potentially make a run.
About the Vikings: Guilford had its’ four-game winning streak snapped to close the regular season in a 27-7 loss to Boylan Catholic. In those four wins, the Vikings had point totals of 42, 44, 47 and 52. Guilford is back in the postseason for the first time since
No. 21 Geneva (6-3, 4-3) at No. 12 St. Rita (7-2)
About the Vikings: This is a rematch of last season’s second round matchup, one the Mustangs prevailed 28-7. Geneva started off hot at 4-0, but tripped a bit with losses to St. Charles North, Batavia and Wheaton North. The Vikings are headlined by Nate Stempowski at quarterback and he’s flanked by Troy Velez in the backfield. Sophomore wideout Talyn Taylor has been reliable all year. Defensively, Tommy Diamond, Charlie Morrison, Jackson Reyes and Charlie Winterhalter all flash.
About the Mustangs: St. Rita has qualified for the playoffs each season since 2000 with the exception of 2012, 2015 and 2018. The Mustangs will try to win a state title after losing in the Class 7A state title game in the last two playoffs. St. Rita earned a No. 4 rating in the latest Class 7A AP poll. The Mustangs’ two losses came to arguably the two best teams in the state. St. Rita fell to Mount Carmel, 35-3, and Loyola, 34-14. St. Rita’s defense is led by Illinois commit Pat Farrell at the defensive line with strong senior leadership at linebacker with Matt and Joe Kinsbury at linebacker and Johnny Schmitt in the secondary. This season is coach Todd Kuska’s last after 25 seasons.
No. 10 Riverside-Brookfield (6-3) at Kaneland (6-3, 4-2)
About the Bulldogs: A Week 9 win against McNamara snapped a two-game skid – although those losses (IC Catholic, St. Francis) were against a pair of teams that finished the regular season 8-1. It’s the third straight playoff berth, although they’ve lost in the first round each season. They last won a playoff game in 2015.
About the Knights: They’ve given up less than half as many points as they did a year ago, surrendering less than 16 points per game this year. They haven’t given up more than one score in a game since a 28-7 loss to Sycamore (9-0) in Week 6. Kaneland is in the postseason for the fifth straight year.
No. 13 Marengo (5-4) at No. 4 St. Francis (8-1)
About the Spartans: St. Francis fell in its season finale to IC Catholic on Friday. The Spartans are led on offense by talented quarterback Alessio Milivojevic, a unit that averaged nearly 47 points per game. The Spartans also can run the football effectively with Amari Head. TJ McMillen, of course, headlines a dominant offensive line.
About the Indians: Marengo held Plano to minus-31 yards rushing in a 32-7 victory Friday night to close the regular season. It became playoff eligible for the fourth consecutive season.