Here is a capsule look at first-round playoff games across The Times area:
Savanna West Carroll Thunder (5-4) at Fieldcrest Knights (9-0)
Kickoff: 6 p.m. Friday at Veterans Field, Minonk
Last meeting: West Carroll 40, Fieldcrest 0 (2017)
About the Thunder: West Carroll competes in the rugged Northwest Upstate Illini Conference, where it went 3-3 in the South Division that features defending 1A state champion Forreston and unbeaten Freeport Aquin. The Thunder, which average 21.3 points and 287.4 yards on offense, while allowing 15.2 and 231.4 yards on defense, will look to dual-threat QB Derek Tracy (57-of-107 passing, 725 yards, 5 TDs, 9 INTs; 97 carries, 573 yards, 7 TDs), running backs are Aiden Sullivan (122-748-9) and Kody Sipe (81-370-3), plus receiver Michael Popkin (23 receptions, 273 yards) to find openings in the stingy Fieldcrest defense.
About the Knights: Unbeaten Fieldcrest is still looking to put together a solid 48 minutes in all three phases according to head coach Derek Schneeman. The Knights, who were the top-ranked team in Class 2A for much of the season after snapping perennial powerhouse Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's 31-game winning streak in Week 4, outscored opponents 316-58 and allowed just 150.9 total yards a contest. On the flip side, the Knights put up 35.1 points and 359.6 total yards a game with 1,000-yard running back Kenton Castrejon and 1,200-yard passer Matt Lorton leading the way.
FND pick: Fieldcrest
— Brian Hoxsey
Forreston Cardinals (7-2) at Marquette Crusaders (7-2)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday at Gould Stadium, Ottawa
Last meeting: Forreston 35, Marquette 7 (2016)
About the Cardinals: Forreston, the defending Class 1A champions have held that title three of the last five seasons, had its losses came late and were to their greatest rivals in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference’s South Division: 46-14 at home against unbeaten North Division champ Lena-Winslow in Week 7 and 36-30 at undefeated South winner Freeport Aquin in Week 8. It bounced back in the regular-season finale with a 22-20 win over Lanark Eastland-Pearl City. The Cardinals feature five rushers that have compiled 400 yards or more and, like winged-T Marquette, will be looking to own the line of scrimmage.
About the Crusaders: Marquette opened the season with seven straight wins, but have fallen in the past two weeks to Kirkland Hiawatha and Rockford Christian — allowing 83 points and 598 yards passing combined. However, the Crusaders will see in the winged-T Cardinals their first running team since a Week 2 win over 3A playoff entree Seneca. It's no secret that each club wants to move the ball on the ground (Marquette rushes for 275.4 per game, Forreston 359.7 an outing), one key will be which team can find a way to force the other to put the ball in the air. Another key will be one squad grabbing an early lead and putting the pressure on other in what figures to be a running bonanza.
FND pick: Forreston
— Brian Hoxsey
Seneca (5-4) at Farmington (7-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday at Farmington
Last meeting: First Meeting
About the Fighting Irish: Seneca has locked horns with five playoff bound teams this season, and excluding a 28-0 loss to Bismarck-Henning they've been in every single one of those games, collecting one win over Watseka. The Fighting Irish are a dangerous team as an underseed here as witnessed by the close games they've played against teams such as Paxton (22-18) and led the state's No. 1 ranked Class 2A team, Clifton Central, at halftime before succumbing 28-15. If Seneca can get its ground game rolling, and they have in several games in the second half of the season, they will be a hard team to shake.
About the Farmers: Farmington has quite a few things going for them, but it appears that the standout unit resides on the defensive side of the ball. The Farmers have surrendered 105 points this season, which on the surface doesn't appear that impressive but when you consider that 66 of those points were surrendered to the two undefeated teams on their schedule (Annawan-Wethersfield and Lewistown), the strength of the defense comes into focus. In their other seven games they allowed no more than a solitary touchdown to any of those foes.
FND Pick: Farmington
— Steve Soucie
Elgin Westminster Christian Warriors (1-7) at Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland Falcons (6-3)
Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday at The Woodshed, rural Streator
Last meeting: Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland 36, Westminster Christian 6 (2019)
About the Warriors: Westminster Christian had only had 12 guys on the roster when the two teams meet to begin the season. The Warriors lone win came in Week 3 with a 27-0 victory over Alden-Hebron, but have been outscored 341-104 on the year. WC senior quarterback Tyler Oman has a strong arm and threw for 117 yards in the clubs first encounter, but just 36 yards on 27 carries, plus a pair of kickoff return TDs by FCW's Tavarre Pfifer started the season off on a sour note. The key for the Warriors will be slowing down Pfifer when he has the ball in his hands, something much of the Illinois 8-man Association has had trouble doing.
About the Falcons: Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland, in its first year of 8-man football and winners of its last three games by a combined score of 139-7, defeated Westminster on the road, 36-6, in the opening game of the season for the program's first football triumph regardless of number of players since October 17, 2015. The Falcons feature running back/safety Tavarre Pfifer (114 carries, 1,070 yards, 14 TDs; 4 INTs), quarterback Braden Wallace (646 passing yards, 8 TDs) and top-wideout Tyler Harms (35 receptions, 455 yards, 8 TDs). The key for a FCW victory and advancement to the second round will be getting off to a good start and keeping what will be high emotions of the first home postseason game in a number of years in check.
FND pick: Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland
— Brian Hoxsey