Playoffs start Friday night

By Mark Gregory
@Hear_The_Beard

When the IHSA playoffs were announced last weekend, six Voyager Media area teams locked in spots to compete for a state title.

CLASS 8A

(28) Joliet West
@ (5) Oswego

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

Joliet West advances to the playoffs for the second time in three years, but also the second time in school history.

The last time West played in the postseason was two years ago – also at Oswego.

The difference this season is that the Tigers have more than just game film on the Panthers, because they played them earlier in the season.

With Joliet West making the move this season to the Southwest Prairie Conference, the teams met in week three of the season with Oswego pulling out a 7-3 win over West.

Defense was the mantra of Oswego all season, as the Panthers allowed an average of 7.9 points per game this season – having teams score double digits three times over the course of the year.

West is led by sophomore quarterback Jaxon Aubry and a talented group of receivers and have averaged 20.4 points per game.

The winner of the SPC rematch will face either No. 12 Edwardsville (8-1) or No. 21 Oak Park-River Forest (7-2).

(27) Lockport
@ (6) St. Charles East

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

Lockport (6-3) will most likely be taking the field without senior quarterback Ben Davis who was lost with mononucleosis.

Jacob Karli takes over coming off his first varsity start in the Porters’ 28-0 loss to Lincoln-Way East in the season finale.

St. Charles East (9-0) comes into the playoffs with only 36 playoff points – a total that was not good enough to qualify for the playoffs with only five wins, while Lockport has 40 points out of the SouthWest Suburban Conference.

While four of Lockport’s opponents are in the playoffs this season, only two of the Saints’ opponents advanced.

St. Charles East does boast the second best point differentials in the Class 8A field, outscoring its regular season opponents by 29.9 points per game.

Homewood-Flossmoor was the best in the class at 32.4.

The Saints’ offense tallied 41.6 points, while the defense was stingy in allowing only 11.6.

For Lockport, the offense scored 21.1 points per game, while the defense allowed 18.8 – a 2.3 point per game difference – the third lowest in Class 8A.

Only Waubonsie Valley (0.2) and Evanston (-1.1) were below Lockport.

Waiting for the winner of this game will be No. 11 Marist (8-1) or No. 22 New Trier (7-2).

(26) Maine South
@ (7) West Aurora

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

The Hawks advance to the playoffs for the 25th straight season, second most in the field – three behind Stevenson’s 28 times.

West Aurora is only in the playoffs for the sixth time in school history – second in a row.

The Blackhawks come out of the Upstate Eight Valley Conference after spending years in the DuPage Valley.

While West Aurora comes in with an unblemished 9-0 record, it holds only 24 playoff points, 18 less than Maine South’s 42 points.

The 24 wins for opponents are the least by any 9-0 team in the entire state and lowest of all teams in Class 8A.

Five of Maine South’s nine regular season opponents are in the IHSA playoffs, while West Aurora only has one opponent in the postseason.

Maine South comes in with a diverse offense as quarterback Nick Leongas and running back Fotis Kokosioulis pace squad that has scored an average of 41.9 points per game, while its defense has allowed only 23.

Waiting for the winner will be either No. 10 Barrington (8-1) or No. 23 Leyden (7-2).

(30) Notre Dame
@ (3) Palatine

1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29

The Dons are one of six teams from the East Suburban Catholic Conference in the postseason this year. Notre Dame enters the playoffs for the second-straight season, 17th in school history.

Notre Dame is keyed by a running attack centered around multi-talented back Ty Gavin and has averaged 22.9 points per game this season, while Palatine has amassed 40.2 points per game behind Division-I recruit quarterback Zach Oles.

Defensively, the teams have allowed nearly the same number of points, as Notre Dame has allowed 15.2 points per game and Palatine has given up 16.3.

The winner of the game will get either No. 14 Naperville North (8-1) or No. 19 Lyons Township (7-2).

CLASS 7A

(22) Hoffman Estates
@ (11) Benet Academy

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28

Benet comes into the playoffs off a second-place showing in the vaunted East Suburban Catholic Conference and a 7-2 mark overall.

An astounding seven of Benet’s opponents are in the 2016 postseason.

No team in the state has more opponents in the playoffs and only two equal the Redwings, including Class 7A and ESCC rival Carmel of Mundelein.

Benet faced its tough schedule and posted an 11.1 points per game differential, scoring 29.8 points per game and allowing 18.3.

Hoffman Estates scored 30.2 points per contest, but allowed 21.3 for a differential of 8.9.

The winner would face No. 6 Normal Community (8-1) or No. 27 Belleville West (5-4).

(17) Highland Park
@ (16) Plainfield North

1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29

In a match-up of a pair of 7-2 teams, the game could go either way and home field advantage could come into play for the Tigers.

With 38 playoff points, North edged Highland Park by one point and the home field.

The Tigers come into the playoffs boasting a 29.2 point per game differential, the third best in the field behind East St. Louis (36.0) and St. Charles North (32.4).

Plainfield North scored 40.9 points per game on the season, while allowing only 8.7 – including three consecutive shutouts and a pair of games allowing opponents to only one touchdown.

Highland Park on the other hand, has scored 32.1 points per game and allowed 16.4, for a difference of 15.7.

The winner most likely will draw the No. 1 seeded team in Class 7A Bradley-Bourbonnais (9-0), who faces No. 32 Libertyville (5-4) to open play.

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