No. 5 Sterling (9-2) at No. 1 Sycamore (11-0)
When: 1 p.m Saturday
Last matchup: The teams met in the final week of the 2018 regular season, with Sycamore winning 35-7. They also met in the 2016 quarterfinals, with Sycamore avenging a 38-6 Week 1 loss with a 29-22 win over the previously unbeaten Warriors.
About the Spartans: Looking for a second straight semifinal berth, the Spartans have won their first two playoff games by a combined 97-13 after picking up their fifth shutout of the year in a 43-0 win at Carmel last week. Linebacker Kiefer Tarnoki came up with an interception for the second straight game in the win. With the wind a major factor, the Spartans stuck to the ground attack. Quarterback Eli Meier attempted three passes, two in a drive in the closing second of the first half into the wind. But the ground attack, led by Zack Crawford, Tyler Curtis and Joey Puleo, powered the offense in the wind. Wide receiver Burke Gautcher has been a deep threat all year for the Spartans but the win negated the deep game on Saturday.
About the Warriors: Sterling has advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since three straight trips from 2016-2018; the Warriors made the semifinals in 2016 & ‘18. … Sterling has given up more than 30 points just three times all season, and is 1-2 in those games. … Last week’s 50-8 win over Chicago Goode was the fourth time the Warriors have reached the 50-point mark; they have scored 34 or more points nine times in 11 games, including each of their two playoff wins. … On the season, Sterling holds a 482-201 scoring edge. … The Warriors are led by the QB platoon of seniors Kael Ryan and JP Schilling. Ryan has 1,171 yards and 22 touchdowns on 140 rushes, and has thrown for 338 yards and 2 TDs; Schilling has run for 607 yards and passed for 607 yards, with 12 touchdown runs and 6 TDs on 43-for-69 passing. … Antonio Tablante has 757 yards and 14 TDs on the ground, while AJ Kested (46 rushes, 380 yards, 6 TDs) and Cale Ledergerber (44 rushes, 214 yards, 2 TDs) also get the occasional carry. … Isaiah Mendoza leads the Sterling receivers with 16 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Justin Null has 12 catches for 137 yards and 2 TDs. Ledergerber (11 catches, 112 yards, TD) and Dylan Ottens (7 catches, 155 yards, TD) also have more than 100 yards receiving.
Friday Night Drive pick: Sycamore