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SCHOOL CLOSINGS

Week 11 | Helfgot's 5 games to watch

No. 2 Mount Carmel vs. No. 6 St. Rita

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Gately Stadium.

Records: Mount Carmel 9-1, St. Rita 9-1.

On the offensive

Mount Carmel RB Matt Domer and his offensive linemen were big in the Caravan's 24-3 victory over Rita in Week 5 and again in last week's 49-6 first-round victory over Benet. Rita's output against Mount Carmel was its lowest of the season by 25 points.

Getting defensive

Both teams want to turn the opposing quarterback into a passer. Enoch Smith and Mount Carmel's D-line had something to do with St. Rita QB Tommy Mister's rare struggles in the first meeting. St. Rita needs to put up a better fight at the point of attack this time.

The number: 5.

Previous playoff games between the storied rivals. Mount Carmel won four of the five, including a 32-21 victory in the last postseason meeting in 2005. Rita's lone playoff win over Mount Carmel came in 1994.

The talk

The powers are meeting this early in the playoffs because the southern half of the 7A bracket was split into regional quads.

Helfgot's pick: Mount Carmel 28-27. Mister plays well, but Domer comes to the rescue.

No. 17 Maine South at No. 9 Oak Park

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Records: Maine South 8-2, Oak Park 9-1.

On the offensive

Maine South is 8-0 and averaging 42.5 points a game with sophomore Brian Collis as its starting quarterback. Running back Clay Burdelik is underrated. Quarterback Lloyd Yates, RB Jamal Baggett and WR Simmie Cobbs are all home-run threats for Oak Park.

Getting defensive

Oak Park has a talented secondary led by Xavier Rowe. From an athletic standpoint, the Huskies match up well with the Hawks' prolific offense. Maine South and LB Vinny Labus may be up against the fastest offense they've faced this season.

The number: 10.

Oak Park school record for victories in a season. The Huskies reached that total five times from 1911-20 and again in '84 and '85.

The talk

Maine South's coaches have enjoyed considerable postseason success, but the seniors were freshmen the last time the Hawks got past the quarterfinals. Oak Park, which may have more future college players, hasn't been to the quarterfinals since beating Maine South in the second round in 1985.

Helfgot's pick: Oak Park 23-21. Hard to pick against South in the playoffs, but Oak Park is loaded.

No. 10 Stevenson at No. 4 Glenbard North

When: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Records: Stevenson 8-2, Glenbard North 9-1.

On the offensive

There's no secret where Glenbard North is going with the ball, but stopping Northwestern-bound RB Justin Jackson is another matter. He had big games in the Panthers' playoff victories over Stevenson the last two years and is 112 yards shy of 3,000 this season. Stevenson has a strong passing attack with QB Willie Bourbon and receivers Matt Morrissey and Cameron Green.

On the defensive

Morrissey, a Michigan State-bound safety, will be responsible for preventing Jackson from breaking away. With Jackson likely to see a lot of time at cornerback for Glenbard North, Stevenson wants to wear down Jackson by making him earn his yards a few at a time. He needed 48 carries to go for 216 in last year's 23-14 second-round victory.

The number: 438.

Yards Jackson needs to set the state's single-season rushing record. T.J. Stinde of Class 1A Lexington rushed for 3,325 yards in 14 games in 2009. Jackson has 2,888.

The talk

Will all these carries take their toll on Jackson? He's averaging 31 a game and had more than 40 in each of North's final three regular-season games.

Helfgot's pick: Glenbard North 24-17. Stevenson doesn't let Jackson run wild, but Glenbard North wins with defense.

Marist at No. 1 Bolingbrook

Records: Marist 7-3, Bolingbrook 10-0.

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

On the offensive

Marist put up 64 points last week behind big games from all the usual suspects — QB Jack Donegan, receivers Nic Weishar and Flynn Nagel and RB Peter Andreotti. An option team, Bolingbrook hasn't proved it can throw but hasn't had to.

On the defensive

Bolingbrook's cat-quick defense against Marist's spread offense will go down as one of the best unit-vs.-unit matchups of the 2013 playoffs. If any team in the state has the personnel to match up with Weishar and Nagel, it's the Raiders. Marist's front line against Bolingbrook's O-line isn't as exciting but could be as pivotal.

The number: 67.

Points allowed by Bolingbrook this season.

The talk

Marist has improved defensively since inserting Weishar at linebacker and Nagel at safety, but the jury is still out.

Helfgot's pick: Bolingbrook 31-28. The potential for upset is there, but the Brook escapes.

Kaneland at No. 13 Joliet Catholic

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Records: Kaneland 9-1, Joliet Catholic 9-1.

On the offensive

Mike Ivlow's transition from 230-pound fullback to 2,000-yard rusher as a 195-pound tailback for Joliet Catholic has been among the stories of the season. Stopping him is the key to beating Joliet Catholic. Kaneland quarterback Drew David is a three-year starter with seven games of playoff experience from which to draw.

On the defensive

Joliet Catholic's improvement on this side is why the Hilltoppers have exceeded the expectations of many this season. They've had trouble with spread offenses in the past, but that can't be considered an indicator here. Kaneland needs to hold its own up front to have any chance of containing Ivlow.

The number: 13

Joliet Catholic state championships, the most in Illinois. The Hilltoppers haven't been crowned since 2007.

The talk

The winner could get a chance to settle an old score with Montini in the quarterfinals. Montini beat Joliet Catholic in the playoffs three times and Kaneland twice during its current run of four consecutive 5A championships.

Helfgot's pick: Joliet Catholic 35-28. Tougher schedule has Joliet Catholic more prepared.

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