If it weren’t for a season-opening loss to Brother Rice, Marist would be in discussion as possibly the most impressive team in the area this season.
Now the RedHawks (9-1) get a chance to continue their march toward the 8A state championship with a second-round road game against Payton Thorne and Naperville Central on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Marist has only allowed more than seven points once in the last seven weeks and that was in a 34-13 blowout of highly-regarded Nazareth and star quarterback JJ McCarthy.
The RedHawks beat a good Stevenson team 28-6 in the opening round of the playoffs.
Naperville Central (7-3) has scored more than 34 points in all but two games this season. Thorne is contender for Player of the Year and has a several talented receivers to target, including Sam Jackson, Jared Suchevits and Cade McDonald.
Oak Park (8-2) at No. 6 Brother Rice (10-0) 6 p.m. Saturday
Brother Rice, the top seed in the Class 8A playoffs, faces a tough second-round test Saturday at 6 p.m. against 16th-seeded Oak Park. The winner will face Warren or Hinsdale Central in the quarterfinals.
The Crusaders, led by running back Jessi Plunkett, had little trouble rolling past Zion-Benton with a 49-0 first-round victory. They’ve posted four consecutive shutouts dating back to the start of October, including an impressive 31-0 road blowout of Montini. Few teams in the state have been playing better football over the last month.
Oak Park earned its spot in this game by defeating New Trier, 34-16, last week. Since starting the season with a 1-2 record, the Huskies have won seven straight games, including a 10-7 road upset of Glenbard West on Oct. 13. If the Oak Park defense can step up like that again Saturday, a big playoff upset is possible.
Barrington (7-3) at No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1), 1 p.m. Saturday
Barrington, coming off a 23-14 win over Oswego East last week, seems to have found its groove again since a three-game losing streak in September. However, Homewood-Flossmoor should provide a much tougher challenge, especially with the game being held in Flossmoor. The Vikings’ stout defense has allowed 17 combined points in four games since since being pummeled in a 48-6 loss to Lincoln-Way East.
No. 5 Simeon (10-0) at Lincoln-Way West (8-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
Ever since a statement win over Phillips in early September, Simeon has been overwhelming teams week after week. The Wolverines’ latest victory was a 46-0 thrashing of Rockford East in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs. Lincoln-Way West, meanwhile, keeps grinding out wins, including a 24-17 road win over Harlem last week. Can the Warriors pull off a big upset at home?
No. 20 Prairie Ridge (8-2) at No. 17 Phillips (8-2), 1 p.m. Saturday
The only game between Super 25 teams this week pits Phillips against Prairie Ridge at Gately Stadium. The Wildcats nearly got upset a week ago before Jahleel Billingsley’s second-half heroics powered the team to a 30-24 win over Lake Forest. Prairie Ridge, which had no trouble with Hinsdale South in a 38-14 first-round victory, won’t be an easy out, either.
More Sun-Times high school sports stories
- VIDEO: Watch the CST Game Week show for playoff predictions
- PLAYOFF BRACKETS: All eight classes
- Beth Long’s predictions for Class 8A
- Beth Long’s predictions for Class 7A
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