Thoughts and observations from the second round of the state playoffs.
FIRST DOWN: Several of the games this past weekend had major repercussions on the Player of the Year race.
Prairie Ridge quarterback Samson Evans, the preseason favorite, won the game for the Wolves with a 66-yard touchdown run with 7.8 seconds left. Prairie Ridge (11-0) beat rival Cary-Grove 17-13 and will host Willowbrook (10-1) in the quarterfinals next weekend. That’s the kind of game-breaking clutch play that is tough to forget at awards time.
Homewood-Flossmoor running back Justin Hall and Naperville North quarterback Drake Davis are two major Player of the Year candidates from the suburbs. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs. Naperville Central’s Jayden Reed and St. Laurence running back Tori Clinton Jr. both had big games this week for teams that are still alive, that will boost their candidacies.
SECOND DOWN: The Public League also has a prime Player of the Year candidate, Phillips running back/linebacker Craig Elmore.
“He’s been dynamite in every game against every opponent,” Phillips coach Troy McAllister said. “He put up stats against some of the best teams in the state. When we had our big blowout wins he didn’t get the numbers because he didn’t play. He would play a quarter and we pulled him out. That has to be taken into account.
“When we played the best opponents he had his biggest games. Plus, he’s playing defense. It’s hard to find someone doing a better job than him. He’s the toughest player I’ve ever coached. He’s just been awesome all year.”
Elmore put up huge numbers against Simeon, Raby and Solorio. His six touchdowns against Solorio on Saturday tied the Class 5A state playoff record. He had 16 carries for 57 yards against Loyola earlier in the season.
“It’s an honor to even be mentioned as a contender,” Elmore said. “I don’t want to jinx anything, you have to stay humble. If I don’t get it, it’s fine with me.”
THIRD DOWN: The Southwest Prairie doesn’t get a ton of attention during the football season. Part of that is due to scheduling, the teams only face one another in the regular season. They don’t play any non-conference games, which makes it hard to get a handle on exactly how they stack up against the rest of the area.
Turns out they are pretty darn good. Minooka beat previously undefeated Barrington 41-34 on Friday. The Indians will travel to Edwardsville (8-3) in the quarterfinals.
Oswego beat perennial power Glenbard West 24-20 on Saturday and will have a road game against No. 1 Lincoln-Way East this coming weekend.
FOURTH DOWN: There were two exceptional individual performances in the second round. Palatine wide receiver Johnny O’Shea had 19 receptions for 276 yards and five touchdowns. All three of those are records for a Class 8A state playoff game. The Pirates lost to Edwardsville 38-35.
Clinton rushed 29 times for 369 yards and three touchdowns in St. Laurence’s 32-16 win against Hinsdale South.Tags: four downs, Minooka, Oswego, Palatine, Phillips, Prairie Ridge, St. Laurence