Suburban Life football preview capsules for Round 2 of the playoffs

Lyon's Danny Caroll (5) is gang tackled by the York defense during football game between York at Lyons.   Oct 14, 2023.

Here are previews and picks of the second-round matchups for each Suburban Life area team.

Class 8A

No. 13 Glenbard West (8-2) at No. 4 Edwardsville (9-1)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

About Glenbard West: The Hilltoppers’ defense and special teams came alive in a 23-8 first round win over Naperville North. Mason Ellens returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and the defense forced three turnovers and limited the Huskies to their third-lowest scoring total this season. Jack Moellering rushed for two touchdowns against Naperville North. The win also secured a Hilltoppers streak since 2007 of not losing in the first round of a playoff under coach Chad Hetlet. Glenbard West, who won a share of the West Suburban Silvers title, has now won seven straight games and have averaged 36.7 points per game during that span. The defense has allowed 10 or more points twice during the winning streak.

About Edwardsville: The Tigers scored 35 unanswered points to start their first round game against West Aurora, ultimately winning 35-14. They’ve averaged 40.3 points per game this season and have scored 29 or more points in all of their wins. Edwardsville scored 15 points in its lone loss of the season to East St. Louis (7-2). The Tigers have made the playoffs each year under coach Matt Martin since 2011. They’ve reached the state semifinals twice during that span. Edwardsville’s defense is led by junior edge rusher Iose Epenesa, the top-rated junior prospect in Illinois according to both Rivals and 247Sports. He holds offers from schools like Miami, Michigan, USC, Auburn, Penn State and Iowa. The defense has allowed more than 14 points three times this season.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 5 York (9-1) or No. 21 Lyons (7-3).

FND Pick: Edwardsville

No. 5 York (9-1) at No. 21 Lyons Township (7-3)

When: 6 p.m. Saturday

About York: The Dukes controlled their first-round game against Homewood-Flossmoor from the start with an early 10-0 lead and went on to win 43-22 thanks to a few timely big plays. Wide receiver Luke Mailander finished the game with 167 yards and three touchdowns as the offense has now averaged 37.3 points per game. Backup running back Jimmy Connors picked up the pace for York as starter Jake Melion missed some game time tending to a nagging ankle injury. York won three straight regular-season games since losing to Glenbard West and has won two straight first-round games after making the Class 8A semifinals last season. The Dukes will play Lyons for the second time this season after they beat their West Suburban Silver rivals 24-14.

About Lyons: The Lions won their second straight first-round game when they beat Stevenson 31-6 thanks to a big performance from Jack Cheney. He blocked a punt and intercepted a pass to lead Lyons, who reached the Class 8A quarterfinals last season, to a win. Lyons scored 17 unanswered points in the second half. The Lyons defense has now allowed an average of 9.8 points per game with three shutouts and is led by two-way lineman and Illinois commit Eddie Turek. The offense has scored an average of 29.8 and is led by quarterback Ryan Jackson, who threw for 173 yards against Stevenson. The Lions last beat York in 2017.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 13 Glenbard West (8-2) or No. 4 Edwardsville (9-1).

FND Pick: York

Class 7A

No. 9 Glenbard East (9-1) at No. 25 Addison-Trail (7-3)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

About Glenbard East: The Rams won their first playoff game since 2018 when they shut out Harlem 24-0 on Friday. Amonte Cook scored the game’s first touchdown on a 54-yard reception and added another one late in the game. Their defense continued to roll with four interceptions, two from linebacker Aaron Dotson. Glenbard East has now shut out opponents three times this season and has allowed an average of 6.4 points per game. South Elgin scored the most points against the Rams in its 17-14 win. Meanwhile, the offense led by quarterback Blake Salvino has averaged 39.1 points per game, scoring 24 or more points in all nine of the Rams’ wins. Glenbard East last made a state quarterfinal in 1999 when the Rams reached the Class 6A semifinals.

About Addison-Trail: The Blazers won their first playoff game since 2014 when they defeated Lincoln Park, 21-18, on Friday. The game was also the first time Addison-Trail had played in the postseason since 2014. Friday was the closest game the Blazers played all season. The closest margin before then was a 32-20 win over Morton. Starting quarterback Nico Dill has led an offense that has scored 20 or more points six times this season with Noah Cruz being one of his top targets. The Blazers last made a state quarterfinals when they finished runner-up in the 1997 Class 6A playoff.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 1 Normal (10-0) or No. 16 Bradley-Bourbonnais (7-3).

FND Pick: Glenbard East

Downers Grove North's Jake Gregorio (34) celebrates after intercepting a pass against Kenwood during a class 7A playoff football game at Downers Grove North on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.

No. 13 Downers Grove North (8-2) at No. 4 Hersey (10-0)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

About Downers Grove North: The Trojans won their opening playoff game 42-13 over Kenwood thanks to a big performance from Noah Battle. He rushed for two touchdowns, caught another and returned an interception for a touchdown, totaling 217 yards from scrimmage in the win. Downers Grove North has now won all of its games with Battle in the lineup, who missed a couple of games with an injury. The defense forced five turnovers against the Broncos and limited opponents to 13 or less points seven times this season. The Trojans won eight games for the first time since 2005. They’ll try to make their first quarterfinals appearance since 2013.

About Hersey: The Huskies survived an opening-round scare and won their second straight first-round game against Wheaton-Warrenville South 28-19. Nasir McKenzie scored three times for Hersey, rushing in for three scores led off by a 73-yard run to give his team an early lead. The Tigers’ 19 points was the most the Huskies defense allowed all season. Hersey has allowed an average of 7.6 points per game with three shutouts. Senior wide receiver, Northwestern commit Carson Grove and Iowa commit offensive tackle Will Nolan have led an offense that has averaged 43.6 points per game. Hersey has not made a state quarterfinal since at least the 1998 Class 5A playoffs.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 28 Collinsville (6-4) or No. 12 Lincoln-Way West (8-2).

FND Pick: Downers Grove North

No. 15 Willowbrook (8-2) at No. 2 Hononegah (10-0)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

About Willowbrook: The Warriors won their sixth straight game after taking down Yorkville 21-13 in the first round. Four-year starting quarterback Arthur Palicki shined once again for Willowbrook, throwing for 350 yards, three touchdowns and adding another 91 on the ground. Willowbrook’s 21 points against Yorkville was the second-least amount of points it scored this season — the Warriors scored 12 in a loss to start the season against Niles Notre Dame. The Warriors will try to make it back to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2021. Willowbrook made five straight quarterfinal appearances from 2016 to 2021.

About Hononegah: The Indians stayed undefeated after a 56-12 win over Rockford Auburn in the first round. They needed only 21 plays to put up eight touchdowns as the Northern Illinois Conference champions bested their conference rivals. Quarterback Cole Warren threw for 146 yards and five touchdowns in the win. Hononegah finished the regular season undefeated for the fourth time since 2017. The Indians have made the playoffs each year since 2007 but have only reached the quarterfinal round once during that span, in 2021.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 7 Batavia (9-1) or No. 10 Lincoln-Way Central (9-1).

FND Pick: Hononegah

No. 3 Quincy (10-0) at No. 19 Wheaton North (7-3)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

About Quincy: The Blue Devils continued their perfect season with a 44-14 win over West Chicago in the first round. They finished the regular season undefeated for the first time since at least 1994 and won the Western Big 6 title. Quarterback Bradyn Little has led an offense that has averaged 45.9 points per game, scoring at least 35 points in every game. Quincy’s defense has allowed an average of 18.5 points per game, 33 and 14, respectively, in its last two games. The Blue Devils will try to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since at least 1994.

About Wheaton North: The Falcons won their fourth straight game by beating Whitney Young 34-0 in the first round. Wheaton North has made the playoffs for a third straight season after winning the Class 7A title in 2021. The program lost in the second round last year. The Falcons’ three lone losses are to playoff teams, Lockport, Batavia and Wheaton-Warrenville South. Illinois commit Joe Barna is a key leader defensively as an edge rusher and the Falcons have limited opponents to seven or less points four times this season. Quarterback Max Howser has been the offense’s captain and led a unit that has scored at least 22 points eight times.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 6 Mount Carmel (9-1) or No. 11 Prospect (8-2).

FND Pick: Wheaton North

Quarterback Alessio Milivojevic threw for 296 yards and five touchdowns as Wheaton St. Francis defeated Rochelle 45-14 in the first round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs on Friday.

Class 5A

No. 8 St. Francis (8-2) at No. 16 Sterling (5-5)

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

About St. Francis: The Spartans kept their win streak alive, winning their sixth straight after taking down Rochelle 45-14 in the first round. Ball State commit quarterback Alessio Milovojevic continued his hot senior season by throwing five touchdowns against the Hubs. St. Francis won a share of the CCL/ESCC Orange title and has been dominant during its winning streak, besting playoff teams like Joliet Catholic, IC Catholic, St. Rita and Nazareth. The Spartans have made the playoffs for four straight seasons and are trying to return to the quarterfinal round for the third time during that span. St. Francis lost in the Class 4A semifinals last season.

About Sterling: The Warriors started their Cinderella run after upsetting the top-seeded Payton 50-0 in the first round. Cale Ledergerber led the way for Sterling in the opener by returning two interceptions for a touchdown. Sterling took down Moline 22-17 in overtime in Week 9 to reach the playoffs at 4-5 before taking down Payton. The Warriors have made the playoffs for eight straight seasons and lost in the quarterfinals to Sycamore last year. Sterling has reached as far as the semifinals during that winning streak. The Warriors lost 42-28 to St. Francis in Week 2.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 4 Morgan Park (9-1) or No. 5 Sycamore (9-1).

FND Pick: St. Francis

No. 7 Glenbard South (9-1) at No. 15 Nazareth (5-5)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

About Glenbard South: The Raiders couldn’t have asked for a better start to the playoffs with a 54-0 win over UIC College Prep. Carter London ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns while the defense picked up its third shutout of the season. Glenbard South’s offense has averaged 44.4 points per game and scored at least 35 points in eight of its games. Notre Dame commit Cam Williams has been a major leader for the offense. The Raiders’ defense has allowed an average of 10.9 points per game and limited opponents to 14 or less points seven times this season. Glenbard South is making its 12th straight trip to the playoffs but is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time during that streak.

About Nazareth: The Roadrunners stated their run by taking down No. 2 seed Prairie Ridge 35-28 in the first round. Quarterback Logan Malachuk threw for three touchdowns, 264 yards and added 72 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. The defending Class 5A state champions will try to keep their playoff run going after entering at 4-5 and starting the season 0-4. All five of the Roadrunners’ losses came against playoff teams — Kankakee, York, Montini, IC Catholic and St. Francis. Nazareth has made the quarterfinal round every postseason since 2017.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 3 Antioch (10-0) or No. 6 Carmel (9-1).

FND Pick: Nazareth

Class 4A

No. 7 IC Catholic (8-2) at No. 2 Boylan Catholic (9-1)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

About IC Catholic: The Knights showed little trouble in their playoff opener, taking down Geneseo 35-12. They’ve now scored 34 or more points in eight of their games this season thanks to a large cast of talented players. Quarterback Dennis Mandala has been a steady leader offensively with Iowa commit K.J. Parker serving as a target as a wide receiver and CCL/ESCC Orange Offensive Player of the Year Joey Gliatta as a top rusher. Both Parker and Gliatta are key cogs in the secondary for the Knights as well. The defending Class 4A state champions have shown they can compete in the CCL/ESCC in their first year, beating teams like Nazareth, Marist and Fenwick. IC Catholic has won four state titles since 2016 and played in the quarterfinals each year since 2016.

About Boylan Catholic: The Titans started their playoff run with little trouble, picking up a 43-12 win over Phillips. Santana English had a big day for Boylan, returning a kickoff for a touchdown and catching two more passes for a touchdown. Quarterback Connor Dennis threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns. The Titans’ lone loss of the season came against Hononegah, with the offense averaging 36.3 points per game and the defense limiting opponents to an average of 9.9 points per game. Boylan will try to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2019.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 3 Dixon (9-1) or No. 11 St. Laurence (7-3).

FND Pick: IC Catholic

Class 3A

No. 6 Montini (7-3) at No. 14 Prairie Central (6-4)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

About Montini: The Broncos picked up their first playoff win since 2019 after taking down Eureka 48-6 in their playoff opener. Quarterback Gaetano Carbonara had led an offense that averaged 28 points per game while skill players Alex Marre, who was named the CCL/ESCC White Offensive Player of the Year, and George Asay. Montini started the season 5-0 but then lost three straight to Providence, St. Viator and Brother Rice — all playoff teams — before ending the season with a win over St. Laurence. The Broncos will try to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2018. Montini made the playoffs each year from 1993 to 2019, winning six titles during that span.

About Prairie Central: The Hawks got back in the win column at the right time, winning their first-round matchup against North Lawndale 48-6. They had previously lost two straight games after starting the season 5-2. Prairie Central quarterback Avery Elder has shown that he can be a dual threat throughout the season, especially in its 32-0 win over Paxton-Buckley-Loda midway through the season. The Hawks have made the playoffs for the sixth straight season and will try to reach the quarterfinals for the third time during that span.

Up next: The winner faces either No. 2 Princeton (9-1) or No. 10 Monmouth-Roseville (6-4).

FND Pick: Montini