Illinois High School Football News

IHSA Class 3A state preview: IC Catholic vs. Williamsville

IC Catholic's Joey Gliatta (33) crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the Class 3A varsity football semi-final playoff game between Byron High School and IC Catholic Prep on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 in Elmhurst, IL.

The Class 3A state championship pairs two teams that have had very little problem stacking victories in recent seasons.

IC Catholic hasn’t lost more than two games in a season since 2014, with a trio of state championships from 2016-2018. Williamsville counters that success with a stretch of quality seasons that includes only one season since 2009 with more than two losses.

Both of these programs have proven time and time again that they know how to win.

Here’s a closer look at the two teams squaring off in the Class 3A title game.

IC Catholic (12-1)

Head coach: Bill Krefft (105-22, 11 years)

Last State Title Game Appearance: 2018, won over Bishop McNamara, 31-21

Path to state

defeated Chicago King, 63-0

defeated Stillman Valley, 42-14

defeated Princeton, 27-20 (OT)

defeated Byron, 35-0

Offensive stalwart

KJ Parker, WR/DB: Parker is just four yards short of 1,000 yards receiving on the season and is the kind of performer capable of breaking away for a score any time the football is in his hands.

Defense stalwart

Jesse Smith, LB: Smith didn’t even play a full complement of games for the Knights, missing a few games due to injury. But when he did play, he was an absolute menace, ultimately leading IC Catholic with a team-high 94 tackles with nine tackles for loss.

The wildcard

Joey Gliatta, RB/DB: There might not be a bigger wildcard than Gliatta. Through IC Catholic’s first 11 games, Gliatta had amassed just six carries. Two weeks later, Gliatta has 484 rushing yards and nine touchdowns after a pair of explosive performances against Princeton and Byron.

Stat book

The Knights offensive balance is pretty impressive. They have three running backs with at least 400 yards rushing and four different receivers with at least 10 receptions.

• Denzell Gibson has posted over 1,300 yards of total offense and scored 20 touchdowns this season and could be lining up at a different position on any play due to his versatility.

• IC Catholic was one of three teams that voluntarily “played up” this season. By IC Catholic’s enrollment number it would have been a Class 2A playoff qualifier.

The skinny

The amount of talent, particularly on offense, is extremely impressive especially when you consider the size of the school and its ability to consistently churn out wins. IC Catholic’s only loss came at the hands of Joliet Catholic. The Knights have proven to be an extremely difficult team to put away.

Williamsville (12-1)

Head coach: Aaron Kunz (174-48, 20 years)

Last State Title Game Appearance: 2019, Won 46-42 over Byron

Path to state

defeated Carlinville, 48-20

defeated Eureka, 18-16

defeated Olympia, 41-21

defeated Tolono Unity, 12-7

Offensive stalwart

Jake Seman, QB/DB: Seman is an absolute offensive force and has played a direct part in 48 touchdowns this season (33 pass, 15 rush). Seman has completed passes at a near 63% clip and is at an even 2,500 yards passing with just six interceptions.

Defensive stalwart

Collin Ripperda, RB/LB: Ripperda has a serious nose for the football and he along with teammate Nolan Bates seem to end up wherever the football is. Ripperda has a team-high 11 tackles for loss.

The wildcard

Sam McCoy, DL: If you are planning to do any damage against the Williamsville defense, you better pay McCoy some mind. Otherwise, he’ll probably be celebrating after making a play behind the line of scrimmage. McCoy has 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks on the year.

Stat book

Williamsville has a great propensity for getting off to a fast start. The Bullets have outscored opponents 352-42 in the first half and have only allowed a solitary field goal in the second quarter all season.

• If you’re looking for a balanced offense, look no further than Williamsville. The Bullets have ran for 2,563 yards this season while passing for 2,564.

• Williamsville has no players with more than 15 touchdowns but has five players who have scored at least eight times.

The skinny

Williamsville is a dynamic postseason performer and seems to find itself deep in the playoff fray every year. The Bullets have made two state championship appearances and have earned a bit of a Cardiac Kid reputation. In 2014, Williamsville lost in the final seconds to Wilmington on a last-second field goal. But in 2019, the Bullets pulled a win out of the fire by scoring in the game’s final 30 seconds against Byron.