High school football: Cary-Grove, Marengo, Richmond-Burton prepare for quarterfinal matchups

Cary-Grove quarterback Ben McDonald will lead the Trojans' triple-option offense against Chicago Phillips in a Class 6A playoffs quarterfinal game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Cary-Grove quarterback Ben McDonald will lead the Trojans' triple-option offense against Chicago Phillips in a Class 6A playoffs quarterfinal game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Both Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg and Prairie Ridge coach Chris Chris Schremp prefer when opponents have not seen a triple-option offense before facing their teams in the playoffs.

Seaburg and Schremp feel, with so few teams running option, it offers a significant advantage. C-G may lose some of that edge when it hosts Chicago Phillips at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in a Class 6A playoffs quarterfinal game since the Wildcats saw Prairie Ridge in the second round.

No. 4-seeded Phillips (9-2) held off No. 5. Prairie Ridge, 24-19, on Saturday at Chicago’s Gately Stadium. The Wildcats limited the Wolves to 289 total yards and did a commendable job against the option, an offense they only had one week to prepare for.

Now, Phillips will see many similarities from No. 1 C-G (11-0), although the Trojans do some things different and have thrown the ball much more than Prairie Ridge this season.

Marengo (9-2) and Richmond-Burton (10-1) are the other two local teams remaining, both in the Class 4A quarterfinals. No. 5 Marengo plays No. 1 IC Catholic (11-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Elmhurst. No. 3 Richmond-Burton plays at No. 2 Coal City (10-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Phillips at C-G offers, for the second straight week, a 6A matchup of two of the state’s top programs.

C-G has been to the quarterfinals in 11 of the past 15 seasons and has played for four state championships. The Trojans won the 6A state championship in 2009.

Phillips is 19-4 in the playoffs since 2011 and won state championships two of the past three years. The Wildcats became the first Chicago Public League team to win a football state title when it brought home the 4A championship in 2015.

Phillips lost to Johnsburg, 23-20 in overtime, in the 2016 4A semifinals, then came back to win the 5A state championship last season.

Marengo at IC Catholic: In 2015, Marengo had its best playoff run since 1997 as it reached the Class 4A semifinals, where it lost to Phillips, 47-13.

This is the Indians’ second playoff appearance since that season and they are fired up for a shot at the defending state champion Knights.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Indians coach Paul Forsythe said. “You couldn’t ask for anything else, high school football, quarterfinals, now we have to go and play with the big dogs. I’m excited for our kids. I’m excited for the challenge.”

Everyone expected IC Catholic to be here. The Knights won back-to-back 3A state championships and were boosted to 4A by the IHSA’s success factor.

Not many people thought the Indians would be a quarterfinal team after finishing 2-7 last season, but here they are.

“We’re in good shape,” linebacker Blake Heinberg said. “I’m excited for next week. We have a good opportunity in front of us.”

Richmond-Burton at Coal City: Points may be tough to come by when these two meet Saturday.

R-B has allowed 74 points all season and shut out both playoff opponents, Plano (42-0) in the first round and Genoa-Kingston (19-0) on Saturday.

Coal City has only been scored upon in five games this season and has allowed 70 points total after its 33-14 win Saturday at Johnsburg.

Coal City’s only loss came to Morris, 21-7, in the season opener. The Coalers went on to win the Interstate Eight Conference Large Division title.

Coal City was last in the quarterfinals in 2014, where it beat Manteno, 29-28, then lost to Phillips, 26-6, in the semifinals.

“We, from Day 1, have tried to prioritize defense and said, ‘We’re going to be a really good defensive team and run the football,’ ” R-B coach Mike Noll said. “That’s been the ticket for success.”

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