Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Daily Chronicle Class 5A Semifinal Preview

Sycamore's Tyler Curtis looks to get past Sterling's JP Schilling during their Class 5A state playoff game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Sycamore High School.

Class 5A

No. 11 Nazareth (8-4) at No. 1 Sycamore (12-0)

When: 2 p.m Saturday

Last matchup: The teams met in the first round of the 2015 playoffs, with the Roadrunners knocking off the Spartans, 38-6.

About the Spartans: Sterling became the latest victim of the Sycamore defense last week as the Spartans shut out the Golden Warriors 28-0. And Sterling came in with a potent offense that had scored at least 50 points four times this year. But big games from Zack Crawford, Kiefer Tarnoki, Lincoln Cooley and Joey Puleo propelled the win. ... Crawford also had his second big week in a row at running back. He averaged more than 6 yards per carry and had a touchdown, plus picked up a key fourth-and-short in Sterling territory after a Burke Gautcher interception. That led to a Tyler Curtis touchdown run on the next play and a three-score lead. ... The shutout was the sixth of the year for the Spartans and second in the playoffs. They’ve recorded shutouts in five of their last six games, all against playoff teams.

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth is one of three four-loss teams remaining in the playoffs across all eight brackets, but don’t be fooled by that record. The young Roadrunners are red-hot, winners of six straight games dating back to Week 7 with a 29.8 point margin of victory over those six games. All four of Nazareth’s losses came to teams that reached at least the quarterfinals in higher classifications, two of them still alive in semifinals. Wisconsin recruit Justin Taylor ran for two touchdowns and Nazareth held Morgan Park to 113 yards of total offense in a 29-0 quarterfinal win. Nazareth seeks its sixth championship game appearance since 2015, first since 2019 when the Roadrunners took second place in Class 7A. Sophomore QB Logan Malachuk has thrown for 2,079 yards and 13 TDs with eight interceptions on the season. Three players have over 30 catches on the season – sophomore James Penley and seniors Zach Hayes and Taylor. Sophomore Alex Angulo is Nazareth’s leading rusher with 608 yards and nine TDs. Sophomore defensive end/edge Gabe Kaminski, who holds offers from Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee and Wisconsin, has 62 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks.

Friday Night Drive pick: Sycamore