CRYSTAL LAKE – On paper, a second-round matchup against Simeon looked to be an unlucky draw for Prairie Ridge.
The Wolverines, considered one of the top contenders in Class 6A, played only seven games during the regular season. It resulted in a one-loss Simeon team drawing the No. 8 seed and an earlier-than-expected meeting with top-seeded Prairie Ridge.
Not that the Wolves wouldn't have been favored whenever they faced Simeon. It just felt more like a quarterfinal or possibly even a semifinal.
It turns out, it didn't much matter.
Prairie Ridge dominated Simeon, 49-0, on Saturday to advance to the 6A quarterfinals for the fourth time in five seasons.
"You just look at their players, they're a pretty intimidating group when they get off the bus," Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp said. "I was happy the way we handled the different style of play and the athletes that they have."
The Wolves (10-1) will face Fox Valley Conference rival Cary-Grove (9-2) next weekend.
Prairie Ridge's defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs to start Saturday's contest and limited Simeon to 79 yards of total offense on the afternoon.
Senior Chau Smith, a star two-way player at running back and defensive back, was limited to 22-yards rushing on 11 attempts. The Wolverines (7-2) committed six offensive penalties in the first half. Three were for delay of game, including on their very first play from scrimmage.
Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said his team never got into a rhythm.
"We couldn't get anything going in the first half," Culbreath said. "First quarter, we were already down about 21-0."
Prairie Ridge struck twice in the first quarter with 2-yard touchdown runs from quarterback Connor Lydon and fullback Kyle Koelblinger. Running back Blake Brown took a pitch 17 yards to make it 21-0 less than a minute into the second quarter.
Running back Taidhgin Trost got in on the action midway through the second quarter when he got behind the defense to haul in a 90-yard touchdown pass from Lydon.
"I thought I was gone, but I looked back and there was a guy right behind me," Trost said. "Blake [Brown] came up and blocked him and really opened it up for me."
Lydon and Trost connected twice more for scores: the second on a 14-yard score with 16 seconds left in the half, and the third on a 34-yard TD to start the running clock with 9:37 remaining in the third quarter.
Trost finished with 138 yards on three catches along with six carries for 45 yards. Koelblinger had eight carries for 75 yards. Zach Bentsen (seven carries, 28 yards) finished the scoring with a 2-yard TD with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter.
Koelblinger and Marko Mancini each had an interception.
Now, the Wolves turn their attention to next weekend's rematch with Cary-Grove. Prairie Ridge won the first meeting, 42-7, in Week 8 at Cary.
"It's probably going to be the game people expected the first time around," Schremp said. "I'm still shocked at how well we came out and played in that game.
"Our kids never cease to amaze me with how they come out and attack games. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a tough game."
STAR OF THE GAME
Taidhgin Trost, Prairie Ridge, jr., RB
Trost hauled in three receptions for 138 yards and three touchdowns. The junior also had six carries for 45 yards.
Simeon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Prairie Ridge 14 21 7 7 - 49
PR – Lydon 2 run (Koelblinger kick), 8:10
PR – Koelblinger 2 run (Koelblinger kick), 4:09
PR – Brown 17 run (Koelblinger kick), 11:01
PR – Trost 90 pass from Lydon (Koelblinger kick), 5:56
PR – Trost 14 pass from Lydon (Koelblinger kick), 0:16
PR – Trost 34 pass from Lydon (Koelblinger kick), 9:37
PR – Bentsen 1 run (Koelblinger kick), 9:49