"I'm not a guy that believes you've got to have a lot of experience to have success in the playoffs."
- Former N.Y. Giants QB Phil Simms
The folks at Bloom High School may want to take that quote and scribble it on a few chalkboards. Bloom will be making their first playoff appearance since 1989 Friday night when they take on Simeon, one of the many games that we will feature on Friday’s edition of High School Lites. We will also feature Chicago's Perspectives High School, a team that will playing in their first football playoff game in school history. The story is slightly different with Bolingbrook. The Raiders, who would probably take issue with the Simms quote, are the reigning 8A champs and have made the playoffs in each of the last 21 years. But will they have their starting quarterback ready to go against Sandburg?
Here is a snapshot of each game we will profile on Friday’s edition of High School Lites. Please note that all rankings reflect the class seedings in the IHSA playoffs:
No. 10 Bartlett (6-3) at No. 7 Leyden (7-2), 7:00 p.m.
Opportunity is knocking again for Bartlett. They have not defeated a + .500 team yet this year, although they did look impressive in Upstate Eight Valley play. RB/DE Aaron Everson, the new Bartlett single-season rushing yardage record-holder, can be dominant. They also feature another two-way player in Central Michigan recruit Chris Kantzavelos. Leyden, the West Suburban Gold champs, look to continue a memorable season with quarterback Michael Smith at the reins.
No. 9 Bolingbrook (7-2) at No. 8 Sandburg (7-2), 7:00 p.m.
The big question here is whether Raiders quarterback Aaron Bailey plays. Bailey, who injured his knee in September against Lincoln-Way East, has been cleared to play according to reports. But will he? Sophmore quarterback Quincy Woods has filled in quite well in his absence. Sandburg defeated Bolingbrook 13-6 on the road in week seven—one of five wins they have in which they kept opponents to a touchdown or less. The Eagles have gone to the playoffs in 25 of the last 29 seasons.
No. 13 Proviso West (6-3) at No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (8-1), 7:00 p.m.
It’s an intriguing matchup with the Waubonsie offense going up against a Proviso West defense that has shut out four opponents on the season. The 8-1 Warriors are averaging 41 points per game. Running back Austin Guido and Wisconsin-bound tight end Troy Fumagalli are always threats to score. As for Proviso West, head coach Famous Hulbert had guided a program from relative obscurity to one that has qualified for the playoffs four consecutive seasons.
No. 12 Oak Park-River Forest (6-3) at No. 5 Hinsdale Central (7-2), 7:30 p.m.
Can anything top the excitement the last time these two teams faced each other? In week seven, OPRF shocked Hinsdale Central 42-41 in overtime. The Huskies feature playmakers on both sides of the ball, namely defensive end Nile Sykes and running back Jakari Cammon. Hinsdale features a fine quarterback in Brian Owens. The 7-2 Red Devils have won each of their last four games by a touchdown or less. That said, five of their seven wins were against teams currently in the playoffs.
No. 11 Bloom (6-3) vs. No. 6 Simeon (7-1), 7:30 p.m. at Gately Stadium
Milli Vanilli was at the top of the charts. A gallon of gas cost $1.12. The Cosby Show dominated TV airwaves. Even mullets were big. All of these things happened in 1989, the last time Bloom High School reached the IHSA playoffs. They clinched a spot last week after shutting out Rich Central 21-0. Simeon, on the other hand, is a long-time veteran of postseason play. Their 12th straight IHSA appearance has been fueled by quarterback Elcee Burke and running back Sharoid Roach.
No. 7 Andrew (6-3) at No. 2 Benet (8-1), 7:30 p.m. at Benedictine University
To say that Benet is having a dream season would be an understatement. The Redwings, who were 1-8 last year, have reversed their record thanks in large part to a stifling defense and sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi. He passed for 365 yards and four touchdowns in last week's thrilling win over Joliet Catholic. It gave Benet their first share of a conference title in school history. But a good opponent awaits. Andrew's biggest win of the season was in week nine: a 27-0 win over Thornton.
No. 5 Shepard (6-3) at No. 4 Perspectives (6-2), 4:15 p.m. at Gately Stadium
Chicago's Perspectives Charter is widely known as the school of the NBA’s first overall draft pick, Anthony Davis. But that's OK for now. Their football team, who will be playing in their first playoff game in school history, would like to change that thought process. Keep an eye on running back Lonnie Washington. He has racked up 22 touchdowns on the season. Shepard is averaging 36 points per game. Quarterback Jimmy McClinton and receiver Londell Lee have both shattered various Astros records.
No. 7 Lincoln-Way North (6-3) at No. 2 Richards (8-1), 7:00 p.m.
The Southwest Suburban Red conference got five teams into the playoffs, including the 6-3 Phoenix. Julian Hylton is one of their leaders on offense. The junior running back found the end zone three times in last week's 38-9 victory over Stagg. Richards has a few weapons on offense with running back Tommy Mister and quarterback Hasan Muhammed-Rogers. And let's not forget the Bulldogs defense, either. They have posted four shutouts on the season.
No. 12 Lake View (6-2) at No. 5 Grant (7-2), 7:00 p.m.
The 7-2 Bulldogs are familiar faces around the 6A playoff circuit. It’s their seventh appearance in the last eight years. This year's team is led by a defensive group who only surrendered nine points in last week's game against Antioch. The offense, however, has been hit by the injury bug. Quarterback Kyle Whitman and running back Jonathan Wells have missed time. The 6-2 Wildcats, who are on a four-game winning streak, will be making their first IHSA playoff appearance since 1996.
No. 15 St. Viator (5-4) at No. 2 Lakes (8-1), 7:30 p.m.
Even though Lakes' football program has only been in existence for eight seasons, they've made the playoffs in five of them (including four straight). The North Suburban Prairie champs are paced by a vicious offense. In their current six game winning streak, they have beaten three playoff teams --Wauconda, Grant and North Chicago-- by scores of 69-20, 42-14 and 62-0, respectively. St. Viator has bounced back nicely after a 2-7 season. They feature Mayo Arogundade at running back.
Our Muscle Milk Team of the Week is the Palatine Pirates-- a team that has had to use a lot of muscle in 2012, and not by choice. The Mid Suburban-West champs were without their star running back, Cam Kuksa, for most of the regular season. But he's back and that could mean trouble for the teams who stand in their way on the road to Champaign. Plus, we’ll also catch you up with Joliet Catholic in this week’s “Drive” segment, presented by Northern Illinois University. And we’ll take a drive down Memory Lane in “Flashback” and bring you up-to-the-minute scores from across Chicagoland.
High School Lites airs at 10:30 p.m. Friday night and streaming live at CSNChicago.com. The show will re-air Saturday morning at 7:30 and 8:30.
Follow CSNChicago.com preps writer Joe Collins on Twitter: @JoeCSN.
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