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Northwest Herald area first-round preview capsules

Class 4A

No. 16 Marengo (5-4) at No. 1 Joliet Catholic (9-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Indians: Marengo tied for the fourth-highest playoff points among 5-4 teams in Class 4A with 48. The Indians have been to the playoffs four of the last five years. … QB Josh Holst has an area-best 20 touchdown passes and has thrown for 1,928 yards. He also has rushed for more than 400 yards. … RB Dylan Stolz has rushed for 873 yards. WR Collin Aubry leads the team with 43 catches for 633 yards and WR Logan Miller has 37 receptions.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic is No. 1 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll and has 14 state championships in its history. The most recent one came in 2018 when the Hilltoppers defeated Montini, 35-27, for the Class 5A state title. … This is the smallest class Joliet Catholic has played in since the playoffs were expanded to eight classes in 2001. … RB Jordan Anderson is Joliet Catholic’s offensive focal point. The Hilltoppers average 44.3 points a game. … RB Vinny Iannantone also will carry the ball a lot in Joliet Catholic’s ground-oriented attack.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 9 Coal City (6-3) at No. 8 Wheaton Academy (7-2).

Friday Night Drive pick: Joliet Catholic

No. 15 Chicago Sullivan (6-3) at No. 2 Richmond-Burton (9-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Tigers: The Tigers are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year. … Sullivan lost three of its last four games after a 5-0 start, falling to Mather (7-6) in Week 6, Amundsen (34-0) in Week 8 and Hyde Park (20-12) in Week 9. Its six wins also included a forfeit win in Week 1 over Juarez. … The Tigers have been stout defensively, allowing 11 points a game. Their offense is averaging just over 15 points a game. … Sophomore QB Chris Askew has thrown for 404 yards and run for 201 yards. RB Stephon Duncan leads the Tigers with 309 rushing yards.

About the Rockets: The Rockets have won 29 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the state and are defending Class 4A state champions. … R-B is No. 4 in The Associated Press Class 4A poll. … The Rockets defense has allowed only 91 points for the season and has three shutouts. … FB Brock Wood leads R-B with 1,188 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. RB Steven Siegel has rushed for 529 yards and 12 touchdowns. … R-B’s last loss came in the 2018 Class 4A semifinals to IC Catholic, which won the state title that season.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 10 Hyde Park (6-3) at No. 7 Stillman Valley (7-2).

FND pick: Richmond-Burton

Class 6A

No. 16 Rockford East (5-4) at No. 1 Cary-Grove (9-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the E-Rabs: East is in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons after missing in 2019. Before that, the E-Rabs had not made the playoffs since 2001. … Entering Week 8, RB Javius Catlin had 980 yards and eight touchdowns, including 289 yards and three TDs in a Week 7 win over Freeport. … East picked up its fifth victory to qualify for the playoffs in a Week 8 forfeit from Jefferson.

About the Trojans: C-G is No. 2 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll and has outscored its opponents by 306 points. … This is the Trojans’ 17th consecutive trip to the playoffs and they have not lost a first-round game in that string. … C-G’s triple-option offense is devastating. FB Nick Hissong (1,104), RB Drew Magel (740), RB Wade Abrams (588) and QB Jameson Sheehan (538) all have shown an ability to score from anywhere on the field. Hissong averages 9.1 yards a carry, while the other three all average more than 12 per attempt. … C-G assistant coach Dean Schlueter was quarterback on Rockford East’s 1974 team that won the first Class 4A state championship in state history. Illinois had a five-class system in the early years.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 9 Grayslake Central (7-2) at No. 8 Belvidere North (7-2).

FND pick: Cary-Grove

No. 12 Crystal Lake Central (6-3) at No. 5 Chicago Amundsen (8-1)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Winnemac Stadium

About the Tigers: Central is in the playoffs for the third time in four years. … QB Colton Madura has thrown for 1,310 yards and 13 touchdowns and run for 738 yards and 11 TDs. … RB Brent Blitek has rushed for 894 yards and 11 touchdowns. … Madura has several talented receivers with Jake Carnrite, George Dimopoulos, Charlie Fleming and Jason Penza. … The Tigers have scored 279 points and allowed 305.

About the Vikings: Amundsen is in the postseason for the third straight year. … The Vikings won the Chicago Public League Illini Windy City Division and average 38.3 points while allowing 13.8. … QB Elijah Hernandez has thrown for 1,046 yards with 13 touchdowns. … Four Vikings – Isaac Cambero, Jaime Garfias, Adam Muench and Maurice Oldham – have rushed for more than 200 yards.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 13 Chicago Mather (6-3) at No. 4 Deerfield (8-1).

FND pick: Crystal Lake Central

No. 10 Vernon Hills (7-2) at No. 7 Prairie Ridge (7-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Cougars: Vernon Hills is in the playoffs for the first time since 2016 when it was Class 5A state runner-up to Peoria Central. … The Cougars won their last four games by a combined average of 39-8. … RB Nathan Lee has 515 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while RB Ben Choi leads the Cougars with 830 yards. … The Cougars’ defense has allowed fewer than 10 points in five games, with two shutouts.

About the Wolves: Prairie Ridge is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season and has two Class 6A state titles and a runner-up finish in that stretch. … The Wolves are putting up 43.1 points a game, second in the Fox Valley Conference to Cary-Grove’s 47.4. … FB Nathan Greetham (1,151), RB Zach Bentsen (891), QB Mason Loucks (716) and RB Tyler Vasey (427) give the Wolves a balanced triple-option attack. … Loucks took over at quarterback before the season when Vasey injured his right elbow. When Vasey returned, the Wolves have used him at running back and his speed has made them more dangerous.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 15 Lakes (5-4) at No. 2 Wauconda (9-0).

FND pick: Prairie Ridge

No. 14 Crystal Lake South (5-4) at No. 3 Harlem (8-1)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

About the Gators: South defeated Huntley, 28-14, in Week 9 to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season. … QB Justin Kowalak leads the area with 1,956 yards passing and 16 touchdowns. … RB Nate Van Witzenburg has 1,046 yards rushing and is the Gators’ second-leading receiver with 28 catches. … Kowalak has several good targets: Michael Prokos (48 receptions), Brady Schroeder (23), Colton Hess (22) and Cooper LePage (21).

About the Huskies: Harlem is making its 13th consecutive playoff appearance, all the others were in Class 7A. … The Huskies were NIC-10 runner-up to Hononegah, which handed them their only loss, 14-6, in Week 2. … RB Adrian Palos leads Harlem with 1,034 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. … QB Austin Redmon has thrown for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 11 Antioch (6-3) at No. 6 Lake Forest (7-2).

FND pick: Harlem

Class 7A

No. 28 Hampshire (5-4) at No. 5 Moline (8-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Whip-Purs: Hampshire is in the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and are in Class 7A for the first time. … QB Tyler Fikis has rushed for 1,077 yards and thrown for 1,409 yards. … TE Devin Yeats has 22 catches for 500 yards and WR Zach Vodraska has 17 catches for 304 yards. … Hampshire won four straight games, incuding a 43-42 win at Prairie Ridge, then lost its last two games to Jacobs and Cary-Grove.

About the Maroons: Moline is in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and won the Western Big 6 with a 7-0 record. … The Maroons average 38.9 points and allowed 9.4 points a game. … Riley Fuller, Cranston Wall and Pablo Perez are Moline’s top rushers, while Matthew Bailey, Colin Shults and Grant Sibley are the Maroons’ leading receivers.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 21 Willowbrook (6-3) at No. 12 Whitney Young (7-2).

FND pick: Moline

No. 19 Jacobs (6-3) at No. 14 Hersey (7-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Golden Eagles: Jacobs is in the playoffs for the first time since 2017. … Jacobs has a powerful running game with RBs Ben Ludlum (1,422) and Nasir Canty (988). … The Eagles have scored 371 points, an average of 41.2 points a game. … QB Max Benner has thrown for 574 yards. TE Grant Stec has 17 catches, five of which went for touchdowns. … Jacobs is the only team to play Cary-Grove to a close game, a 36-22 loss which was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.

About the Huskies: Hersey is in the playoffs for the sixth time in eight years and the fourth consecutive season. … The Huskies were third in the Mid-Suburban Conference East Division after suffering one-point losses the last two weeks to Prospect and Buffalo Grove. … Hersey has allowed only 115 points. … QB Jimmy Makuh is completing 66.8% of his passes for 2,176 yards with 22 touchdowns. … WRs Dylan Colquist (43) Breyden Smith (42) are Makuh’s favorite targets.

Up next: The winner advances to play the winner between No. 30 Eisenhower (5-4) at Normal Community (9-0).

FND pick: Hersey