Joliet Catholic at Montini
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Records: Montini 11-0, Joliet Catholic 10-1.
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Montini Catholic High School, 19W070 16th Street, Lombard, IL 60148, USA
Joliet Catholic Academy, Illinois and Michigan Canal, 1200 North Larkin Avenue, Joliet, IL 60435, USA
Maine South High School, 1111 South Dee Road, Park Ridge, IL 60068, USA
Loyola Academy, 1100 Laramie Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091, USA
Lake Zurich High School, 300 Church Street, Lake Zurich, IL 60047, USA
Wheaton North High School, 701 West Thomas Road, Wheaton, IL 60187, USA
Lake Forest High School, 1285 North McKinley Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045, USA
Batavia High School, Main Street, Batavia, Illinois 60510, USA
Neuqua Valley High School, 2360 95th Street, Naperville, IL 60564, USA
On the offensive
Mike Ivlow (234 carries, 2,359 yards) was effective even when Joliet Catholic's offensive line was ravaged by injury, and he's been unstoppable since J.B. Butler returned. Alex Wills (165-for-259, 2,329 yards, 27 TDs, 7 INTs) is having the type of season Montini is accustomed to from its quarterback.
Joliet Catholic was repeatedly burned through the air in allowing a total of 110 points in playoff losses to Montini the last two seasons. The unit has improved considerably this season, though it would just as soon stay off the field. For that to happen, the Joliet Catholic's offensive line must neutralize Ohio State-bound end Dylan Thompson, Nile Sykes and Anthony Ferraro, who have a combined 58 tackles for loss.
The number: 22
Consecutive playoff victories for Montini, the four-time defending 5A champion. Joliet Catholic's longest streak is 21 from 1975-81.
All three playoff games in the last four years were highly entertaining Montini victories. The Broncos scored late and went for two to win the Class 5A title 29-28 in 2009, trailed in the third quarter of the 70-45 shootout in the 2011 final and scored on fourth down in the final minute to win 40-37 in a semifinal last fall.
Helfgot's pick: Montini 31-28. Broncos have the Hilltoppers' number until proven otherwise.
Maine South at Loyola
When: Noon Saturday.
Records: Maine South 9-2, Loyola 10-1.
On the offensive
While Maine South still spreads the field, it has struck a nice balance between the run and the pass this season while developing sophomore QB Brian Collis. Loyola takes a similarly balanced approach, though the mobility of QB Jack Penn gives the Ramblers a third dimension.
Both teams are difficult to drive on but susceptible to big plays. Jack Gleason and the secondary will need to be on the spot against Maine South's physical group of receivers. Vinny Labus and Maine South's 'D' recorded three shutouts during the Hawks' nine-game winning streak.
The number: 34