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Football: Scouting playoff openers, Northwest
By Marty Maciaszek | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/28/2011 12:24 AM

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CLASS 8A

No. 14 Proviso West (5-4) at No. 3 Palatine (8-1)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday at Chic Anderson Stadium

Last week: Proviso West d. Oak Park-River Forest 42-6; Palatine d. Conant 28-7

Playoff history: Proviso West is making its third straight appearance after never reaching the postseason. The Panthers beat Taft 46-0 in its first playoff game and lost 24-20 to Sandburg in last year's first round. Palatine is making its 17th appearance and fifth straight and last year it beat Glenbard North 28-14 en route to a berth in the 8A quarterfinals. The Pirates have 11 first-round wins and took second in 5A in 1994.

Outlook: Palatine rolls in on an eight-game winning streak but last year's experience of going 5-4 and making a run to the 8A quarterfinals should prevent any chance of overlooking the Panthers, who had to win their last two games to qualify. Proviso West senior QB Quincy Cole is a dual threat and Demetrius Streeter and Craig Lottie are his top targets against Palatine's stingy defense where S Jesse Bobbit has 5 interceptions. "We have to tackle well because they are good athletes," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "It's a good challenge because they play in a good conference (West Suburban Silver)." Proviso West's defense is led by junior LB Jamal Payton and DL Deonte Eiland and will face a diverse Palatine offense led by QB Ethan Olles (1,624 total yards, 14 TDs), RBs John Serio (839 yards, 11 TDs) and Cam Kuksa (565 yards, 6 TDs) and its deep crew of receivers. "That's a solid football team," said Proviso West coach Famous Hulbert. "They're well-coached and they play hard. I'm very impressed." Palatine is also in good shape health-wise with the return of WR-RB Alex Nawrot, OL-DL Josh Baldus and DE Nick Novelli.

Advancement: The winner hosts No. 6 Barrington (7-2) or travels to No. 11 Glenbard North (6-3) in the second round.

No. 11 Glenbard North (6-3) at No. 6 Barrington (7-2)

When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Barrington Community Stadium

Last week: Glenbard North d. Naperville North 34-10; Barrington d. Schaumburg 32-16

Playoff history: Glenbard North is making its eighth straight appearance and 16th overall and took second three times (1991, 200 and 2003). The Panthers lost 28-14 to Palatine in the first round last year and have 9 first-round wins. Barrington is making its 18th berth and eighth in 10 years and was second in 6A in 1998. The Broncos lost 35-28 to Glenbrook South in last year but have 9 first-round wins.

Outlook: Don't show up too late or it could be over between two teams that rely heavily on running the ball behind big linemen. "The game probably won't last too long," joked Barrington coach Joe Sanchez. Barrington gets RB-LB Chase Murdock (1,417 yards, 18 TDs) back this week to run behind Wisconsin-bound OL Dan Voltz and crew. Glenbard North had 3 shutouts in a 5-0 start behind lineman Chris Dewing and LBs Hunter Week, Mario Rodriguez and Dan Fierro but then lost three straight by a total of 20 points to be on the edge of missing the postseason. But RBs Phil Jackson (969 yards, 16 TDs) and sophomore Justin Jackson (388 yards, 5 TDs) combined for 253 rushing yards last week as QB Brian Murphy (353 yards rushing, 6 TDs; 628 passing, 6 TDs) attempted only 2 passes and has been dealing with ankle problems. Last year Barrington limped into the playoffs with two straight losses but this year is on a three-game winning streak as QB Mark Bennett (892 yards, 6 TDs, 6 INTs) and Sam Handler (33 catches, 424 yards, 4 TDs) hooked up for two TDs last week and triple threat Dylan Zyzda changed the game with a pair of big kick returns.

Advancement: Glenbard North would be at home and Barrington would be on the road for a second-round game against the winner of No. 14 Proviso West (5-4) and No. 3 Palatine (8-1).

CLASS 7A

No. 13 Conant (6-3) at No. 4 Elk Grove (8-1)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Robert Haskell Stadium

Last week: Conant lost to Palatine 28-7; Elk Grove d. Wheeling 20-14

Playoff history: Conant is making its 19th appearance and first since 2006 when it lost 21-14 to Maine South in the first round. The Cougars have won 10 first-round games. Elk Grove is making its 11th appearance and third straight for the first time in its history. The Grenadiers have six first-round wins but lost 38-21 to Schaumburg in last year's opener.

Outlook: It figures to be a special atmosphere in the first postseason battle for the Mayor's Cup Trophy in a series where Conant leads 19-18 but Elk Grove's 22-19 win in 2009 was its fourth in the last five meetings. "It's good for us," said Conant coach Bill Modelski. "Our kids want to play them and their kids want to play us." Both teams present interesting challenges for defenses that have keyed their success. Conant can mix QB Matt Cullen (1,510 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs) with his top receiver in junior Tim Manczko (54 catches, 696 yards, 7 TDs) out of the Wildcat formation behind a line anchored by Toledo-bound Paul Perschon. "(Manczko) is as good of a player as we've seen this year," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "He really has taken over a lot of games and his speed is deceptive because he's so tall (6-3)." Elk Grove has won seven straight since losing 17-10 to Barrington and despite losing QB-LB Dejan Basara (537 yards passing, 414 rushing, 8 TDs) in Week 4 with a broken collarbone. But Basara returned on defense last week and figures to join the offensive mix with sophomore QB Adam O'Malley (637 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT), WR Fernando Lozano (33 catches, 581 yards) and RB Stefan Skoneczka behind top linemen Greg Johnsen and Dan Egan. "They play hard everywhere and they have speed on the perimeter," said Modelski, who hopes LB Gino Prestia (ankle) and DE-LB Danny Lampert (shoulder) are able to go alongside standout MLB John Maevski. Elk Grove also got LB Alfonso Lavin cleared to return from a knee injury that turned out not to be a torn ACL.

Advancement: The winner hosts No. 5 Machesney Park Harlem (8-1) or travels to No. 12 Rockton Hononegah (6-3) in the second round.

No. 16 Prospect (5-4) at No. 1 Glenbard West (9-0)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Duchon Field

Last week: Prospect d. Buffalo Grove 42-8; Glenbard West d. Downers Grove North 49-7

Playoff history: The two schools crossed paths once before when Prospect was on its way to the second of three 7A titles in 2002 and beat Glenbard West 35-14 in the first round. The Knights are making their 14th appearance and seventh in a row and won their seventh first-round game last year before losing 14-7 to Lake Zurich in the second round. Glenbard West is making its 22nd trip and won the 5A title in 1983 and took second in 1976 and 2009. The Hilltoppers are making their fifth straight appearance and have 12 first-round wins including the last four seasons.

Outlook: A Glenbard West team regarded by some as its best since its 1983 title team hasn't had anyone come closer than 2 touchdowns and the stifling defense led by Penn State-bound DE Tommy Schutt and Ruben Dunbar has allowed only 50 points, although LB and leading tackler Andrew Larkin (knee) is questionable. "We've improved every week and I still feel our best football is ahead of us," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen, "but we have to bring it out this week and play a mistake-free game. They are very good up front. They are big and athletic." The Knights would like to take up as much time as possible with the running of QB Sam Frasco (966 yards, 12 TDs) and sophomore RB Sam Mazukelli (785 yards). The Hilltoppers' offense averages 274 rushing yards a game with Avery Balogh (776, 8 TDs), Joey Zito (392, 11 TDs) and Kendall Johnson (305, 5 TDs) behind Stanford-bound Johnny Caspers while QB Justice Odom (302 yards rushing, 2 TDs; 557 passing, 8 TDs, 0 INTs) returned last week from injury. "It seems they have more running backs than they know what to do with and then they find a few more," Sebestyen said. Prospect senior MLB Mike Etchingham (ankle) missed the last two games and Sebestyen said it would probably be a game-time decision if he can play.

Advancement: The winner hosts No. 8 Lake Zurich (7-2) or travels to No. 9 Geneva (7-2) in the second round.

CLASS 6A

No. 12 Rolling Meadows (6-3) at No. 5 Lakes (7-2)

When: 7 p.m. today

Last week: Rolling Meadows d. Hersey 13-0; Lakes d. Round Lake 55-6

Playoff history: Meadows is making its 12th appearance and eighth in the last nine years. The Mustangs have four first-round wins but lost 16-6 to Lake Zurich in the 2009 opener. Lakes is making its fourth appearance and third in a row. The Eagles lost their 5A opener 36-3 to Sycamore last year and beat Senn 40-20 for their only playoff win in 2009.

Outlook: Two vastly different approaches as Meadows wants to go to the air with QB Jack Milas (2,261 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs) and his deep skill crew led by Artie Checchin (56 catches, 784 yards, 11 TDs) and Ryan Gundersen (39 for 511, 6 TDs) while Lakes wants to run Direll Clark (1,068 yards, 14 TDs) behind a big offensive line anchored by Dan Pawlak (6-5, 265) and Dillon Falotico (6-5, 291). "They like to pound the ball and they have a real nice-looking running back," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "They can throw it a little bit, too. They certainly aren't one-dimensional." Lakes senior Chris Hoffman has thrown for 601 yards with 6 TDs and 3 INTs and his top target is 6-3 junior Justin Bergeron (24 catches, 403 yards, 6 TDs). Meadows also isn't just throwing as RB Garrett Peterson (489 yards, 6 TDs) has been solid since returning from injury and it saw the 3-5-3 defense run by Lakes last week against Hersey and also against Wheeling and Buffalo Grove. One of the keys for Meadows after consecutive 13-point games is efficiency last week it had 413 total yards but 5 turnovers. "Thirteen points isn't going to get it done in the playoffs," Mishler said. "We're certainly confident in our offense and believe in the guys and we know they can do it."

Advancement: Rolling Meadows would host and Lakes would be on the road in a second-round game against the winner of No. 13 Grant (6-3) and No. 4 Antioch (8-1).