Five games to watch as opening round of high school playoffs begin

Here are five games to keep an eye on when the high school football playoffs kick off Friday night.

No. 20 Bolingbrook (7-2) at No. 13 Maine South (7-2)

This Class 8A matchup features two programs with rich traditions. Maine South reached the Class 8A title game last year; Bolingbrook averages over 42 points a game with Northwestern-commit safety Damon Walters leading its defense. Undefeated South Elgin could await the winner.

No. 25 Stevenson (6-3) at 8 Warren (8-1)

Also in 8A, we've got a North Suburban Conference rematch. Warren won the first meeting 36-16, but the Patriots have been on fire since with five straight wins. Patriots QB Matt Projansky has thrown for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns; Warren running back Charley Thompson has rushed for 1,148 yards and 12 touchdowns.

No. 19 Naperville Central (6-3) at No. 14 Lyons Township (7-2)

The seeds are close, the records are close, and this 8A game figures to be close between teams from two strong football conferences - the DuPage Valley and West Suburban Silver, respectively. Both teams are strong defensively, with Maverick Ohle (8.5 sacks), Ryan Spickermann (50 tackles) and Jack LeCrone (70 tackles) among the Redhawks to watch while Daniel Nussbaum has given the team a lift filling in for the injured Charlie Eagan. The Redhawks' neighbor, Naperville North (7-2), also have a challenging first round game against Marist who played 7 playoff teams this year including Glenbard West, Mt. Carmel and Loyola.

No. 24 Brother Rice (5-4) at No. 9 Jacobs (8-1)

In Class 7A, Jacobs - who shared the Fox Valley title with Huntley and Prairie Ridge - takes on a Brother Rice team has made the semifinals the last three playoffs. Jacobs RB Antonio Brown has 1,677 rushing yards with 21 touchdowns. If Jacobs wins, it could have quite a road trip next weekend to No. 8 Collinsville.

No. 20 Hoffman Estates (6-3) at No. 13 Elk Grove (7-2)

These Class 7A MSL teams played in Week 2 with the Grenadiers winning 24-14, part of a turnaround season that culminated with their first playoff berth since 2013. Quarterbacks Aiden Cyr and Mitch Janczak make their respective teams go.

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