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State Preview: Fenwick vs. Kankakee, Class 5A state title game

Here’s a closer look at the two teams squaring off in the Class 4A title game.

Fenwick (11-2)

Head coach: Matt Battaglia (14-4, 2 years)

Last State Title Game Appearance: First title appearance

The Path to State

defeated Kaneland 50-14

defeated Rockford Boylan 24-14

defeated Nazareth 28-17

defeated Sycamore 17-6

Offensive stalwart

Kaden Cobb, QB: The Ball State-bound Cobb has been extremely prolific this season, throwing for over 2,700 yards with 27 scores and with three top-flight receivers all working to give him options to throw to he usually has a plethora of choices as to where to send the ball.

Defense stalwart

Conor Paris, LB: The challenge of an CCL/ESCC schedule always puts a strain on your defensive unit, but it didn’t seem to bother Paris all that much as he stacked up 111 tackles with nine stops for loss.

The wildcard

Max Reese, WR: You could pick anyone of a number of Fenwick WR’s for this label as a number of them could step up with a big effort. Reese looks like the best bet though after surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 11 scores.

Stat Book

A lot of teams claim to have balanced offensive attacks, but few actually accomplish it in the fashion that Fenwick has. The Friars have both run and passed for over 2,000 yards this season.

• Three different Friar receivers have at least 40 receptions and 650 receiving yards on the season including University of Illinois recruit Eian Pugh.

• This is Fenwick’s first appearance in a state championship game. The Friars previous deepest advancement came in a 2016 semifinal loss to Plainfield North.

The skinny

Fenwick has a truckload of talent on its roster but it hadn’t seemed like the Friars had put it all together. But the Friars are now doing exactly what the have to at the right time and its easy to forget that Fenwick is inches away from entering this game without a loss after losing by one-point to Providence on a missed conversion and losing to Loyola on a last-second field goal.

Kankakee (13-0)

Head coach: Derek Hart (27-12, 4 seasons)

Last State Title Game Appearance: First title game appearance

The Path to State

defeated Carbondale 37-7

defeated Morgan Park 49-6

defeated Marion 44-38

defeated Morton 41-14

Offensive stalwart

Tomele Staples, QB: Staples is a real gunslinger in the pocket and is confident his teammates will make plays that he facilitates. He is hitting on passes at a 70 percent completion rate while throwing for 29 scores.

Defense stalwart

Marques Covington, DL: If you can get past the line of scrimmage you might not have to deal with Covington. That’s because he makes his living in making plays behind that line, collecting 19 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.

The wildcard

Pierre Allen, WR: Allen has broken every school record for receiving both in single season and career for Kankakee and when they get the ball in his hands great things usually happen.

Stat Book

Kankakee is also making its first ever state championship game appearance. The Kays last reached the semifinals in 2008, losing in heartbreaking fashion on a missed conversion try to St. Francis, who then went on to win the 5A title.

• The Kays get scoring from a number of sources and have four different players who have scored at least 11 touchdowns.

• Kankakee’s defense has forced a whopping 39 turnovers this season and the Kays have a turnover ratio

The skinny

Kankakee has the ability to run up points quickly and against almost anyone. And if they can sustain it for longer than it short bursts the Kays are something to behold. In most games, Kankakee holds a substantial talent gap over its opponent and while the gap may still exist here, its a lot closer than it usually is in this contest.