Here is a preview of quarterfinal playoff games involving teams in the Suburban Life coverage area.
Batavia (9-2)) at Nazareth (11-0)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Advancement: The winner plays the Rolling Meadows/Wheaton Warrenville South winner.
About Batavia: The Bulldogs, the 2017 Class 7A champs, get a second crack at Nazareth after a 47-28 loss to the Roadrunners in last year's 7A semifinals. Batavia senior running back Art Taylor has enjoyed a huge season with 1,259 rushing yards, 376 of them coming in two playoff games. Running back/linebacker Quinn Urwiler, a North Dakota recruit, is a dynamic two-way threat and Batavia's player to watch. Batavia's only losses were Week 1, against East St. Louis, and a one-point loss to St. Charles East Week 7.
About Nazareth: The Roadrunners are rolling going into their rematch with Batavia. Derrick Strongs Jr. ran for 162 yards and four touchdowns and Nazareth ran for 268 yards as a team in a second-round win over Thornton. J.J. McCarthy threw for 214 yards and a TD pass to Tyler Morris. Marcus Griffin and an underrated Nazareth defense will certainly be tested by a Batavia offense that wants to establish the run.
FND pick: Nazareth.
Willowbrook (11-1) at Lake Zurich (8-3)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Advancement: The winner plays the Mount Carmel-Phillips winner.
About Willowbrook: The Warriors, in the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive season, seek a breakthrough to the semifinals – they've lost their previous three quarterfinal games. What more can Sam Tumilty do for Willowbrook? The Warriors' senior quarterback accounted for 450 yards of total offense last week against Yorkville, and also had a key interception late to preserve the 33-24 win. Everett Stubblefield III leads Willowbrook's host of playmakers around Tumilty.
About Lake Zurich: The Bears, the 2017 Class 7A runners-up, have made at least the playoff's second round for four straight seasons. Defense, long Lake Zurich's calling card, seems to be peaking at the right time. The Bears have allowed a combined 21 points in four straight wins since a Week 7 loss to Class 8A quarterfinalist Warren. Last week they held high-scoring Hersey and Northern Illinois-bound quarterback Jordan Hansen scoreless the first three quarters of a 14-7 win. Junior linebacker Bryan Sanborn, younger brother of former Lake Zurich All-Stater Jack Sanborn, has offers from Wisconsin and Iowa and leads the Bears' defense. Quarterback Jack Moses ran for 137 yards and two TDs and threw for 141 against Hersey.
FND pick: Willowbrook.
Rolling Meadows (11-0) at Wheaton Warrenville South (8-3)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Advancement: Winner plays the winner of Batavia/Nazareth.
About Rolling Meadows: The Mustangs, in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2016, seek first semifinal appearance since 2004. Champions of the Mid-Suburban East, they've outscored opponents 423-165, with Deerfield and Hersey the only teams to come within single digits. The Mustangs held Prospect to just four first downs last week. Chris Divito, also a standout linebacker for Rolling Meadows, rushed for 155 yards and two TDs and also caught a TD against Prospect.
About WW South: The Tigers, back in the quarterfinals for the second straight year, now seek first semifinal appearance since the program took second in 7A in 2011. Tommy Barnett and the WW South defense has been stingy of late, giving up just one score in two of their last three games and holding down Downers Grove North in a 28-7 win last week. Jake Arthurs ran for two TDs in that game, and is a dynamic tandem with Prince Lankah.
FND pick: Rolling Meadows.
No. 4 St. Francis (10-1) at No. 1 Coal City (11-0)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Advancement: Winner plays the winner of Richmond-Burton/IC Catholic Prep.
About the Spartans: St. Francis advanced past the second round, reaching an internal goal after last year's second-round loss. St. Francis remains without starting quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, who hasn't been available since leaving Oct. 18 vs. IC Catholic with a left arm injury. The offense continues to roll with Mike Baffa starting in his place. He's thrown six touchdowns to two interceptions. Defensively, the Spartans are led by Mike Bumpus (68 tackles) and Luke Meyer (52 tackles).
About the Coalers: Winners of the Illinois Central Eight Conference, the Coalers have rolled over teams all year. The only two opponents to come within two touchdowns were in the first two weeks, Morris and Bishop McNamara. The Coalers have outscored two playoff opponents by a combined 74-0 margin. Defensively, Coal City has allowed only 87 total points this season. Linebacker Austin Pullara has a team-high 73 tackles and nine tackles per game. Offensively, the Coalers appear to prioritize running the football, rushing for 278 yards per game. Dan Jezik headlines the rushing attack with 1,829 rushing yards on the season.
FND pick: Coal City
IC Catholic Prep (10-1 at Richmond-Burton (11-0)
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Advancement: The winner plays the winner of Coal City/St. Francis.
About IC Catholic: The Knights get rematch with team it beat in last year's semifinals 28-9. Richmond-Burton actually led that game 9-7 going into the fourth quarter, so ICCP knows it has a handful here. Kyle Franklin has rushed for 1,452 yards and 25 TDs and Danny Cronin has thrown for 1,504 yards and 15 TDs. Wide receiver Chauncey Lee had a huge game last week in wni over Stillman Valley.
About Richmond-Burton: The Rockets have been dominant this season for second-year coach Mike Knoll. No opponent has come closer than 20 points. R-B is a run-heavy offense led by fullback Dalton Wood, who has rushed for 1,329 yards and 29 TDs. Quarterback Jacob Huber has thrown for 799 yards and 14 TDs.
FND pick: IC Catholic Prep.