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HALFTIME

8A: Naperville Central 7, Marist 7

Naperville Central’s defense scored a touchdown and stopped two drives inside its 20.

Without much production from its offense, Naperville Central probably feels fortunate to enter halftime in a tie with Marist.

The winner will face Loyola for the state championship next Saturday night in DeKalb.

Naperville Central (9-3) scored first on a 44-yard interception return by Mike Kolzow on Marist’s second play from scrimmage.

Marist (9-3) stuck to the ground game on its second possession, going 74 yards on 13 plays and tying the score on a fourth-and-goal TD run by Peter Andreotti from the 1.

Marist was stopped on downs at the Naperville Central 13 on its next drive, and Dillon Grooss intercepted a possible touchdown pass to Nic Weishar with 5 minutes, 13 seconds remaining before halftime.

Andreotti rushed for 58 yards on 16 carries and Jawill Aldridge added 62 yards on 10 rushes for Marist. Quarterback Jack Donegan  was 8-for-12 for 68 yards and Weishar forced his fourth fumble in five games as an outside linebacker.

Jake Kolbe was 8-for-9 for 79 yards and Ben Andreas caught six passes for 60 yards for Central.  

-Mike Helfgot @mhelfgot

3A: Aurora Christian 10, Stillman Valley 7

Aurora Christian took a lead on a late second-quarter field goal.

Aurora Christian tailback Legend Smith had shouldered the offensive load with 18 carries for 102 yards. The Eagles have missed several opportunities with three key penalties to negate big plays.

Stillman Valley trailed 7-0, but answered with a two-play, 18-second drive to tie the score.

Austin Bray has thrown for 41 yards in the first half. Stllman Valley has failed to convert all four of its third-down attempts, but extended drives with two fourth-down conversions.

The Eagles have converted three of their seven third-down tries.

-Bob Narang @bobnarang

7A: Mount Carmel 21, Edwardsville 0

Mount Carmel is used to playing deep into November. Edwardsville, not as much.

The Tigers haven't played in the state semifinal since 2005, when they lost to the perennial power Caravan.

Mount Carmel, in its 21st semifinal appearance in coach Frank Lenti's 30th season, looked comfortable and grabbed hold of the game early.

Mount Carmel's scored touchdowns on each of its first three drives. The defense held Edwardsville to a punt, turnover on downs and a fumble on its first three drives.

Illinois recruit Matt Domer finished the half with 15 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns, and Jimmy Mickens added six carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Edwardsville (12-0) threatened late in the second quarter, but fumbled on the goal line. The Caravan recovered, then ran out the remaining 3:19, content to stay up three touchdowns.

Six-foot, 290-pound Steven Richardson (Minnesota) and 6-foot-2, 275-pound Enoch Smith (Michigan State) made life difficult for Edwardsville junior quarterback Dan Marinko. The Caravan defensive tackles combined for six tackles and three for loss.

Markino was 7-for-20 for 112 yards and an interception.

The winner will play Lake Zurich in the 7A state final next weekend in DeKalb.

-Rich Mayor @ChiTribPreps

5A: Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 23, Washington 7

Washington’s bid to advance to the Class 5A final next Saturday is in jeopardy.

The Cyclones’ lead was padded on the final play of the half on a 34-yard Kenny Rowe field goal. They took over possession at the Panthers’ 10 seconds earlier after Washington fumbled a kickoff after a 26-yard Gabe Green-to-Nate Lowis touchdown connection put Sacred Heart-Griffin up 20-7.

Sacred Heart-Griffin scored on a 1-yard Anthony DiNello run and Green’s 19-yard pass to Illinois commit Malik Turner on its first two possessions. The Panthers had three-and-outs on their first two drives and had 10 yards of offense in their first three drives.

Washington took advantage of a roughing-the-punter call midway through the second quarter for its lone score. Instead of punting the ball to the Cyclones, the Panthers retained possession and scored on Casey Danley’s 3-yard plunge six plays later make it 14-7.

Danley has had some success running the ball after a slow start (6 yards on first six carries). He finished the half with 17 carries for 38 yards to go over the 2,000-yard mark for the season.

Quarterback Colton Marshall has attempted only six passes, completing two for 4 yards. \

For the Cyclones, junior QB Gabe Green is 8-for-18 for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Turner has four catches for 38 yards and Sam Sergent has three carries for 36 yards.

The winner will play either Montini or Sycamore in the Class 5A state final next weekend in DeKalb.

-Steve Reaven @ReavenTrib

8A: Loyola 7, Stevenson 0 

Loyola leads thanks to a 13-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard run by Julius Holley with 11 minutes, 2 seconds left in the second quarter. Holley gained 35 yards on the drive.

Stevenson started its first three possessions in Loyola territory to no avail. Ryan Mass has an interception for the Patriots, while Ryan Zinkula has an INT for Loyola.

The winner will play either Naperville Central or Marist in the Class 8A state final next weekend in DeKalb.

- Bob Hurst @hurstsports

5A: Montini 28, Sycamore 14

Montini scored a touchdown on four of its five first-half drives to move closer to a fifth straight appearance in the state championship game. The Broncos' only mistake in the half came when Tyler Tumpane, on first down at Montini's 1-yard line, fumbled. Sycamore senior Ben Niemann recovered for a 2-yard touchdown.

The Broncos had no problems moving the ball, generating 105 yards passing and quarterback

Alex Wills completed 12 of his 19 pass attempts for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Montini receiver Leon Thornton III has one catch for 8 yards, but was used mostly as a decoy after still feeling the effects of an injury suffered in last week's win over Joliet Catholic.

The Spartans, who have lost to Montini four times in the last six years in the playoffs, trailed 14-0 after the first quarter, but scored 14 points in the second quarter.

Sycamore cut the deficit to 21-14 with 1:26 left until halftime after Chris Malone caught a 7-yard touchdown pass.

But the Broncos marched down the field and Nile Sykes scored on a 2-yard run in Montini's "Bazooka" package with 9.5 seconds left.

The Spartans have rushed for 86 yards and passed for 29 yards.

The winner will play either Sacred Heart-Griffin or Washington in the Class 5A state final next weekend in DeKalb.

-Bob Narang @bobnarang

7A: Lake Zurich 10, Glenbard West 7

Glenbard West’s immediate dominance was reminiscent of last year’s Class 7A semifinal victory over Lake Zurich.

The Hilltoppers reached the red zone on each of their first three possessions, only this time, they had only seven points to show for it.

Lake Zurich weathered the early storm and rallied in the second quarter to take the lead into halftime of a Class 7A semifinal in Glen Ellyn.

Quarterback Noah Allgood spearheaded the comeback.

Allgood, who has improved considerably since Lake Zurich’s rally fell short in the Bears 19-13 loss to GBW in 2012, completed 8 of 10 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

His 44-yard strike to Trevor Staley set up a 19-yard field goal by A.J. Trittschuh, and his 6-yard TD pass to Ben Klett on a misdirection play off a fake pitch gave the Bears a 10-7 lead in the final minute of the half.

Allgood’s counterpart, Drew Vogg, played well for Glenbard West. He was 5-for-7 for 77 yards and completed his first three third-down passes for first downs.

Glenbard West was set to kick a short field goal on the game’s opening possession, but the Hilltoppers elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 4 after Lake Zurich jumped offside.

Vogg mishandled the snap, and Glenbard West fumbled it away again on the Lake Zurich 20 on its third possession.

In between, Devante Toney gave the Hilltoppers a 7-0 lead on a 27-yard run late in the first quarter.

-Mike Helfgot @mhelfgot

6A: Batavia 24, Boylan 0

As far as first half's go, it couldn't have been much better for visiting Batavia. 

The Bulldogs (11-1) forced three turnovers and converted on five of six fourth-down attempts. 

The only fourth-down conversion fail for Batavia came on the opening drive when running back Anthony Scaccia was stopped on a fourth-and-7 at the Boylan 6. 

From there the afternoon was a nightmare for Boylan (12-0). 

The Titans fumbled three plays into their opening drive and Batavia scored eight plays later with Scaccia running in from the 2. Following a bad snap on a punt, recovered by Batavia's Anthony Thielk at the Boylan 16, Batavia upped the lead to 12-0 on a 4-yard Scaccia run. 

The Bulldogs scored again on their next possession on a 1-yard Scaccia run, while Rourke Mullins helped Batavia to a 24-0 lead, picking off Boylan QB Demry Croft and returning it 56 yards for a TD. 

Batavia added another interception as the first half ended. 

For the half, Batavia ran 34 plays to Boylan's 19.

The winner will play either Richards or East St. Louis in the Class 6A state final next weekend in DeKalb.

-Phil English @PhillipEnglish

PREGAME

8A: Loyola (11-1) at Stevenson (10-2), 1 p.m.

Loyola will be making its fifth straight appearance in the Class 8A final four.

But it's a relatively new experience for Stevenson, which is returning for the first time since 2002.

"We've been knocking on the door the past four years, so it's great to be in this position," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "Patriot Nation is really amped up about the game.

"This is going to be like a state championship game where it's going to be a couple plays here and there that could ultimately determine the outcome."

The only other meeting in the playoffs between the schools was a second-round game in 1990, won by Loyola 10-7.

Loyola defeated Maine South 35-0 last week as quarterback Jack Penn accounted for four touchdowns and the Ramblers' defense had five sacks and forced five turnovers. 

Stevenson advanced with a 14-0 win over Barrington. Quarterback Willie Bourbon threw a pair of touchdown passes, while the defense forced three turnovers. 

"We have a ton of respect for Loyola," McNamara said. "They're really well-coached, they're very athletic, they're very physical and they play an aggressive style of football."

Penn, who has thrown for 1,872 yards with 21 touchdowns and four interceptions, leads Loyola's offense along with running back Julius Holley (775 yards, 8 TDs) and receivers Owen Buscaglia and Joe Joyce, who have combined for more than 1,100 yards and 19 TDs.

The Ramblers have shut out four opponents, including the last two. Defensive tackle Charlie Pontarelli leads them with 13 tackles for losses and six sacks.

Safety Ryan Zinkula and defensive back Mark Dowdle have five interceptions each, while Jack Gleason had three interceptions against Maine South.

"Our defense is playing well," Loyola coach John Holecek said. "The last two games they tackled well, they kept players in front of them and played physical at the line of scrimmage, so we'll need another effort like that."

Stevenson, which has won 10 straight, has been plagued by injuries this season. The Patriots lost center Henry Sise in Week 1 with a broken leg, then Western Michigan recruit and offensive tackle Zach Novoselsky in Week 3 with torn ankle ligaments and a broken leg. They lost linebacker Jimmy Marchese in the first half of their second-round game against Glenbard North with a torn ACL.

Wide receiver/safety Matt Morrissey, a Michigan State recruit, has been out the last two games with a strained hamstring.

"When one guy goes down, it became another guy's opportunity and our kids have responded very well," McNamara said. "We're still winning games without these guys."

McNamara called Morrissey "a game-time decision," but expects that he'll play.

"He's not 100 percent yet," McNamara said. "We're hoping that at the very minimum that we can spot play him, put him in certain situations and take advantage of his abilities."

Bourbon (2,107 yards, 21 TDs, 14 INT) also has run for 358 yards. Running back Jack Joseph has gained 627 yards and has five touchdowns.

Patriots receiver Cameron Green (43 catches, 835 yards, 10 TDs) can neutralize Loyola's secondary along with Morrissey (40 catches, 750 yards, 10 TDs).

"They're a very talented team that's well-rounded and they have a couple of stars in Green and Morrissey and a lot of good players surrounding them," Holecek said. "They've got skill, where if you miss a tackle, it's a touchdown."

Linebacker Itai Gerchikov led Stevenson in tackles this season with 94, and sacks with six.

- Bob Hurst @hurstsports

8A: Marist (9-3) at Naperville Central (9-3)

Marist’s trip to the 2009 state finals included a second-round stop in Naperville.

Naperville Central has not returned to the championship game since a 34-31 loss to Downers Grove North in 2001.

Either No. 8-ranked Marist or No. 11 Naperville Central will appear in next Saturday night’s Class 8A final after they get together in semifinal action at 7 p.m. Saturday in Naperville.

Both teams have been extremely impressive this postseason.

After putting up 64 points in a first-round victory over Plainfield South, Marist, which lost three consecutive first-round games after its 8A runner-up finish in 2009, knocked off then No. 1-ranked Bolingbrook 21-7 in round two.

Known for scoring a ton of points and giving up nearly as many, Marist followed with another 21-7 victory over Oswego in the quarterfinals.

A nightmare matchup for opposing defenses because of future Division I receivers Nic Weishar and Flynn Nagel, Marist became a much better defensive team since Weishar was inserted at linebacker and Nagel at safety.

The RedHawks allowed just one offensive touchdown in three of the four full games they played defense.

Naperville Central is on its third streak of the season. The Redhawks won their first five, lost their next three and were victorious in the next four to reach the semifinals.

Central’s 24-21 victory over Homewood-Flossmoor was a head-turner, and the Redhawks followed that up by beating crosstown rival Neuqua Valley 47-18 in the driving rain last Saturday night.

Illinois State-bound quarterback Jake Kolbe is Naperville Central’s headliner, but balance in all three phases has keyed the playoff run.

-Mike Helfgot @mhelfgot

7A: Mount Carmel (11-1) at Edwardsville (12-0)

The last time Edwardsville reached the state semifinals, in 2005, the Tigers were bounced by Mount Carmel 27-7.

Eight years later, they get their rematch.

Defending 8A champion Mount Carmel enters Saturday's 7A semifinal off a sloppy, element-influenced 7-0 victory over Downers Grove North. The Caravan defense held North to 14 total yards.

Six-foot, 290-pound Steven Richardson (Minnesota) and 6-foot-2, 275-pound Enoch Smith (Michigan State) will make life difficult for Edwardsville junior quarterback Dan Marinko. The defensive linemen combined for 10 tackles and three tackles for loss last week.

The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Marinko threw for 154 yards and rushed for 158 more in last week's 21-14 win over Lincoln-Way East. 

Mount Carmel quarterback Marko Boricich (TD pass last week) and Illinois-bound running back Matt Domer (30 carries, 170 yards) run up against a well-balanced and disciplined Edwardsville defense. The Tigers allowed 8.3 points per game during the regular season.

The winner will play either Lake Zurich or Glenbard West in the 7A state final.

Mount Carmel has won 10 state titles under Frank Lenti, and 11 overall. This is the Caravan’s 21st state semifinal appearance under the 29th-year coach.

-Rich Mayor @ChiTribPreps

7A: Lake Zurich (11-1) at Glenbard West (11-1), 1 p.m.

Facing Glenbard West at some point in the playoffs has taken on the feeling of inevitably for the Lake Zurich football team.

After weathering the elements to defeat Wheaton North 16-6 in the Class 7A quarterfinals, the Bears, ranked No. 6 in the Tribune Top 20, will once again travel to Glen Ellyn for a semifinal with No. 3 Glenbard West.

Glenbard West withstood a late Lake Zurich rally to record a 19-13 victory in a semifinal last year on the way to the state championship.

The Bears and the Hilltoppers will meet for the fourth time in five years and the third time in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at muddy Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn.

Both teams pride themselves on running the ball, but both defenses are extremely good at stopping it.

Glenbard West won three of the four, but an improved passing game led by quarterback Noah Allgood could be the difference this time for Lake Zurich.

“When we run the ball so effectively it opens up the passing game,” Allgood said following Lake Zurich’s victory over Wheaton North. “Our offensive line did a great job and our backs ran real well.”

Drew Vogg hasn’t been asked to throw the ball often this season for Glenbard West, but he has been effective.

Glenbard West rushed for 350 yards in its 42-21 quarterfinal victory over Schaumburg, but Vogg gave the Hilltoppers the lead for good with a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jermon Joyner-Kindle on their first play from scrimmage.

The winner will take on either No. 1 Mount Carmel or Edwardsville for the title next Saturday evening in DeKalb. 

-Mike Helfgot @mhelfgot

6A: Batavia (11-1) at Rockford Boylan (12-0), 1 p.m.

Rockford Boylan was the end of the road for Belvidere North, Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge this year, Fenwick and Jacobs last year, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Wheaton South, Crystal Lake South and Wheaton North the year before that. 

The Titans are 51-1 in the last three years, with two state titles. However, if there was a team destined to snap Boylan's home dominance, it would appear to be Batavia. 

Unbeaten and a top seed last year, Batavia was upset in the first round last year. So the Bulldogs are looking for their first state finals appearance since 2006.

Boylan's 6-foot-6 quarterback Demry Croft has thrown for nearly 1,800 yards and 16 TDs and has rushed for more than 850 yards and seven TDs this year. His favorite target is Brock Stull (850 yards, 7 TDs).

If the Titans lack one thing from their past this season it's a dominant defense. That's good news to Batavia running back Anthony Scaccia, who has more than 1,500 yards rushing and 22 TDs, while QB Micah Coffey has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 25 TDs. 

The Bulldogs are averaging more than 43.4 points a game, while Boylan is allowing 19.2 per. 

-Phil English @phillipenglish

5A: Sycamore (12-0) at Montini (12-0) 1 p.m.

Montini’s quest to become the first team since Addison Driscoll to win five straight state titles goes through another familiar opponent. The Spartans have been eliminated from the playoffs four times by Montini dating back to 2007.

The Broncos won 24-22 last year thanks to a last-second field goal.

Sycamore coach Joe Ryan has witnessed all four playoff defeats, but might bring one of the most talented teams of his tenure to Lombard on Saturday.

The Spartans have the talent on offense to test Montini’s stingy defense. Iowa-bound receiver Ben Niemann caught 11 passes for 124 yards last season against Montini. Niemann hauled in a pair of touchdown passes in last week’s 21-14 triumph over Lincoln-Way West. 

Sycamore quarterback Devin Mottet and tailback Dion Hooker highlight the Spartans’ wingback formation.

Montini has thrived during its run by living on the edge. The Broncos are tested and confident after pulling out another come-from-behind win over Joliet Catholic last Saturday. Montini quarterback Alex Wills could be the X-factor, with leading receiver Leon Thornton III possibly sitting out the game with a knee injury suffered against the Hilltoppers. Wills has thrown for 2,521 yards and 29 touchdowns.

-Bob Narang @bobnarang

5A: Washington (12-0) at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0), 1 p.m.

A multitude of off-the-field storylines have played out in Washington, Ill., since Sunday, when a powerful tornado stormed through town, leaving hundreds of homes in its wake and thousands of residents affected, including many associated with the football program.

The Panthers’ undefeated team receives a welcome diversion Saturday afternoon when it travels to Springfield to face fellow unbeaten Sacred Heart-Griffin.

Washington’s last semifinal berth was in 1985, when the Panthers won the Class 4A crown. After taking Monday off, the Panthers practiced at Illinois State on Tuesday and Wednesday and at the high school on Thursday and Friday.

Washington will need to contend with a Sacred Heart-Griffin offense that is averaging more than 55 points per game and has topped the 60-point mark five times. The Cyclones also are hungry to advance after losing in the semifinals the last two seasons.

Sacred Heart-Griffin showcases a spread attack that has accumulated 5,407 yards of total offense, including 2,954 yards in the air, courtesy of junior QB Gabe Green. The second-year starter has completed 168 of 223 pass attempts (75 percent) and thrown 35 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He also leads the Cyclones with 533 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 95 carries.

To help keep Sacred Heart-Griffin in check, the Panthers will have to limit how much damage WR Malik Turner inflicts. After struggling with injuries in 2011-12, the Illinois commit has been a force in 2013 with 60 catches for 1,262 yards and 20 touchdowns. Washington would be wise not to ignore Turner’s receiving mate, senior Nate Lowis. He has 43 catches for 828 yards and eight touchdowns and likely will play somewhere collegiately in the Ivy League.

Washington’s predominantly run-oriented offense appears capable of posing a problem. Halfback Casey Danley, who started the year at receiver, needs 23 yards to reach 2,000 and is coming off a 243-yard, three-touchdown effort in the Panthers’ quarterfinal win over Normal University High.

U-High, which came into the quarterfinals averaging 51.5 points per game, managed only one first down and 19 yards of offense in the first half of the 41-7 loss.

-Steve Reaven @ReavenTrib

3A: Stillman Valley (10-2) at Aurora Christian (9-3), 5 p.m.

Stillman Valley was the last team to defeat Aurora Christian in the playoffs, 46-16 in a 2010 Class 3A quarterfinal.

The Eagles, who have won two straight titles, don’t have the offensive firepower of their last two teams but reached the semifinal round by thanks to solid play from their defense (held seven teams to 14 points or fewer) and big performances from tailback Legend Smith and quarterback Austin Bray.

Smith had a combined 13 carries in Aurora Christian’s first two playoff wins, but ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-27 victory over Seneca last week.

Smith, a senior, leads the Eagles with 1,429 yards on 190 carries and has scored 18 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder was stuck behind current Northern Illinois freshmen Joel Bouagnon and Brandon Mayes last season, but rushed for 100-plus yards in five games this season, including a 331-yard effort against Guerin.

Bray, a 6-foot-4 junior, has completed 94 of 186 pass attempts for 1,675 yards, 24 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Cardinals knocked off Winnebago 34-20 in a quarterfinal. Fullback Zac Hare and wingback Tristan Elliot shoulder the offensive load for the Cardinals. 

-Bob Narang @bobnarang