Here's a look at this week’s state championship games and Prep Bowl.
All eight state championships and the Prep Bowl will be shown on ESPN3.com and can be found at ESPNChicago.com.
No. 2 Bolingbrook (12-1) vs. No. 1 Loyola (13-0)
When:Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Class 8A state championship
The story: When Maine South was upset in the second round, this was the best possible remaining game, and both teams took care of business to get here. They both have dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks. Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey is most dangerous keeping the ball. Robbie Bain, who recently committed to Illinois, is an offensive lineman to watch. Loyola quarterback Malcolm Weaver prefers to pass it, but he’s also possesses plenty of speed. Weaver has a plethora of wide receivers to throw it to, too. Defensively, both teams have been dominant throughout the season. Bolingbrook faced some of the state’s best offensive teams in the Southwest Suburban Blue and contained them. Loyola may have been the state’s premier defensive team this season. The Ramblers allowed 8.2 points a game this season and only gave up more than 13 points once. Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison, who is committed to Florida, is questionable for the game after suffering an injury during the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Loyola 24, Bolingbrook 20
Rockford Boylan (13-0) vs. No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-3)
When:Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Class 7A state championship
The story: This is a rare game between one defending state champ against another defending state champ. Boylan won the Class 6A state title last season, and its enrollment placed it in Class 7A this season. Wheaton Warrenville South is the two-time defending Class 7A state champs. Boylan has been as impressive as any team in the state this season. After rolling through its Rockford-area competition in the regular season, the Titans have knocked off one Chicago-area team after another throughout the playoffs. They’ve defeated Libertyville (40-0), Wheaton North (37-20), Crystal Lake South (30-13) and Lake Zurich (16-10) on their way to the title game. All four of those teams were ranked in ESPNChicago.com’s poll at one point this season. Wheaton Warrenville South has had a fairytale season. After graduating nearly everyone from last season’s title team, the Tigers began this year 1-3, putting even a playoff berth in jeopardy. Relying on its defense and running back Dan Vitale, the Tigers turned their season around and have won their last nine games. Most of the victories haven’t come easily, but they’ve found a way to pull out each game. It’s almost as if they’ve been a team of destiny this year as they shoot for a 3-peat. Wheaton Warrenville South may be forced to start sophomore quarterback Jordan Davis due to injuries. Davis was on the sophomore team this season.
Prediction: Boylan 14, Wheaton Warrenville South 10
No. 6 Joliet Catholic (11-2) vs. No. 4 Montini (11-2)
When:Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: Joliet Catholic and Montini don’t need to familiarize themselves with each other. This is the third consecutive year the two teams have met. In 2009, Montini upset Joliet Catholic 29-28 in the Class 5A state championship. Joliet Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 advantage in the game, but Montini battled back. With Montini trailing in the fourth quarter, it scored in the final minute to tie the game, and the Broncos won it on a 2-point conversion. Last year, Joliet Catholic topped Montini in the regular season, but Montini went on to win its second consecutive title. Now, they meet again. Joliet Catholic is still powered by its rushing attack. Malin Jones and Ty Isaac are two of the state’s top running backs. Montini’s game is throwing the ball. John Rhode has delivered 35 touchdown passes, and that’s despite missing time early in the season with an injury. Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is one of the best to ever come through the state. This game could be a shootout. It may come down to which defense can make a stop or two.
Prediction: Montini 36, Joliet Catholic 35
Peoria Richwoods (10-3) vs. No. 5 Prairie Ridge (12-1)
When:Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: The third time was the charm for Prairie Ridge. After falling in the semifinals the last two years, the Wolves finally broke through to the title game. Their offense has been unstoppable most of the season. They’ve only been held to less than 29 points once. They’ve scored 33 or more points throughout the playoffs. Running backs Connor Greenwald and Jordan Getzelman and quarterback Nick Nissan have combined for 3,132 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. Peoria Richwoods has had an interesting season. The Knights dropped their first three games, including a 63-34 loss to Joliet Catholic, and responded by winning their next 10 games. Their offense is potent. They’ve averaged 39.5 points a game.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 38, Peoria Richwoods 28
Mt. Carmel (12-1) vs. Aurora Christian (12-1)
When:Friday at 4 p.m. in the Class 3A state championship
The story: Aurora Christian has cruised through the Class 3A playoffs. The Eagles have won all their playoff games by 13 or more points. Their offense, which is led by Western Michigan quarterback recruit Anthony Maddie, has averaged 42 points this season. Mt. Carmel, which is in southern Illinois, lost its first game of the season and has won its last 12 contests. Its schedule included six teams from Indiana. Its offense hasn’t scored less than 29 points since that opening week.
Prediction: Aurora Christian 42, Mt. Carmel 24
Simeon (10-3) vs. Mount Carmel (9-4)
When:Friday at 12 p.m. in the Prep Bowl
The story: It’s only fitting Simeon and Mount Carmel close out their seasons with each other. The two teams also met to start the season. Mount Carmel took that game 23-14 at Soldier Field. This time around they’ll play at Gately Stadium for the Prep Bowl. Both teams have been up and down this season, but their offenses have been rolling the past few weeks. This should be another highly competitive game between the two South Side schools.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Simeon 21