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State football semifinal playoff capsules

Richards' Tacari Carpenter | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media

Richards' Tacari Carpenter | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 23, 2013 3:02PM



CLASS 8A

Marist (9-3) at Naperville Central (9-3)

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: Both teams have found their groove during the postseason. Naperville Central dropped three straight — to Wheaton Warrenville South, 14-7, Glenbard North, 40-34, and Wheaton North, 31-17, from Weeks 6 through 8. Central since has won four straight, including a 24-21 second-round win over Homewood-Flossmoor. On Saturday, Central turned five Neuqua Valley turnovers into four touchdowns and 47-18 win. Marist’s defense has allowed just 14 points in posting identical 21-7 wins the past two weeks. Marist’s defense will have its hands full trying to slow down Central RB Kevin Clifford, who rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns against Neuqua. Marist’s offense, which has posted 467 points on the season, has relied more in recent weeks on RB Peter Andreotti (251 carries, 1,303 yards, 14 touchdowns). That has as much to do with the soggy and windy weather conditions as much as how opposing defenses are strategizing. Marist QB Jack Donegan (234-of-363, 3,069 yards, 33 TDs) and receivers Flynn Nagel (91 catches, 1,366 yards, 18 TDs) and Nic Weishar (86, 1,044, 10) might be ready for breakout playoff performances.

CLASS 7A

Mount Carmel (11-1) at Edwardsville (12-0)

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: The Caravan defense has allowed a mere 89 points all season and has five shutouts to its credit. However, Edwardsville QB Dan Marinko is a major dual threat, having completed 162-of-259 passes for 2,654 yards and 28 TDs and rushed for 634 yards and 17 scores. The Tigers have racked up 501 points on the campaign while allowing just 117. Marinko’s top targets are WRs Darius Crochwell (60, 845, 14), Isaiah Michl (32, 654) and Fontez Davis (34, 580). Marinko and Davis hooked up for the game-winning touchdown Saturday in Edwardsville’s 21-14 win over Lincoln-Way East. Elijah Crockett (98 carries, 698 yards), along with Marinko, is a threat when Edwardsville decides to run. The Caravan offense moved the chains effectively Saturday vs. Downers Grove North. But all the unit had to show for it was a touchdown pass from Marko Boricich to Sam Connolly. That was enough to pull out the 7-0 win. The Caravan can ill-afford to leave points on the field against the Tigers. Mount Carmel would prefer a heavy dose of RBs Matt Domer (133, 1,125, 11) and Jimmy Mickens (163, 1,039, 12), along with Boricich, to move the chains and keep Edwardsville’s offense on the sideline.

CLASS 6A

Richards (11-1) at East St. Louis (9-3)

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: Both teams boast speed — and then some. The outcome could be decided on which team avoids turning the ball over and getting flagged for irresponsible penalties. Richards QB Hasan Muhammad-Rogers (127-of-233, 2,205, 28) used his legs to record two TDs Saturday during a 12-6 overtime win over Lincoln-Way North. If Mother Nature cooperates, expect Muhammad-Rogers to air it out, with WRs Tacari Carpenter (41, 818, 14), Spencer Tears, Dedrick Shannon and Ryan Willet seeing plenty of leather. The Richards defense, led by Romel Hill and Savon Robinson, must prevent East St. Louis QB Dominic Nelson from roaming outside the pocket. Nelson (91-of-164, 1,521, 13) has a top target in freshman WR Jeff Thomas (54, 929, 10) and a dangerous backfield mate in RB Greg Taylor (171, 1,604, 18).

CLASS 1A

Leo (10-2) at Lena-Winslow (9-3)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: The key for Leo will be preventing Lena-Winslow from controlling the line of scrimmage like it did during a 24-14 quarterfinal win over Stockton. The Lions should be able to counteract Winslow’s muscle with speed. Leo QB Latrell Giles, RB Theodore Hopkins and WR Riley McClendon-Gray have carried the load offensively during this remarkable postseason. Gray doubles as one of the Lions’ top defenders at defensive back. Winslow’s three losses during the regular season were by a combined 19 points. QB Ben Moest and RB Tyler Oakley are a potent 1-2 punch that leads an offense that’s generated 420 points on the season. Winslow’s defense, led by end Gus Werhane, is big and physical.

Compiled by Pat Disabato



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