Batavia (11-1) at Mt. Carmel (11-1)
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: 44-20 Mt. Carmel in the 2022 7A state title game.
About the Bulldogs: Batavia is clicking on all cylinders at this point with its high-flying offense and a defense that makes life difficult. Isiah Brown is heating up in the postseason, while the offensive line cannot be ignored for the job it’s doing protecting Ryan Boe and paving lanes for Chalie Whelpley, Zach Granberg and company. Boe, a Class 7A all-state selection, threw five TDs last week in a blowout win over Hononegah. Defensively, keep an eye on the secondary with Chase Osborne, Josh Kahley and Luke Alwin with the double-duty. Linebackers Ben Fiegel and Ben Brown are top-end players for a front-seven that teams have difficulty running on. This is the third matchup in three postseasons between these teams with the Caravan winning the first two.
About the Caravan: Their only loss is to 8A powerhouse Loyola Academy by two points. Mt. Carmel, the defending 7A state champion, is again loaded. Running back Darrion Dupree, a University of Wisconsin Madison commit, is one of the best running backs in Illinois. QB Jack Elliott was 6 for 10 for 152 yards and four touchdowns in their big win over Quincy in the quarterfinals. The Caravan haven’t scored less than 21 points this season and have won all playoff games in blowout fashion to date.
Who’s next: The winner plays either Downers Grove North or Normal Community for the 7A state title game next weekend.
FND Pick: Batavia
St. Francis (10-2) at Nazareth (7-5)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
About St. Francis: The Spartans are back in the semifinals for the second straight season – they lost to Providence 17-14 in last year’s Class 4A semifinals. St. Francis seeks its first finals appearance since winning the 2008 Class 5A title. St. Francis beat Nazareth 35-17 win Week 9. Alessio Milivojevic threw for 273 yards and two TDs to Ian Willis, who had 133 receiving yards, and TyVonn Ransom ran for 113 yards. St. Francis has ripped off eight straight wins since a 2-2 start, with wins over Joliet Catholic and IC Catholic along the way. Milivojevic on the season has completed 74.4% of his passes for 3,102 yards with 36 TDs and just four interceptions. Ransom has rushed for 1,327 yards and 10 TDs and Willis has 73 catches for 941 yards and 15 TDs. Defensively, senior LB Dom Beres has 164 tackles.
About Nazareth: The Roadrunners have put an 0-4 start and a 4-5 regular season in the rearview mirror, like last year finding another gear and new life in the playoffs. Now they’re a win away from an improbable return to state to defend their Class 5A title. Nazareth kept its run going in dramatic fashion in last week’s quarterfinals, rallying at Carmel 21-17 on Logan Malachuk’s 27-yard TD pass to James Penley on third-and-15 with 46 seconds left. Malachuk threw for 309 yards in the win. Penley finished with 106 yards on seven receptions, while sophomore Trenton Walker had nine catches for 140 yards. Anchoring the defense is junior lineman Gabe Kaminski, a Class 5A All-State pick.
Up next: The winner faces either No. 12 Joliet Catholic (9-3) or No. 15 Providence (8-4).
-- Josh Welge