Playoff primer for Illinois recruits
Saturday night felt like Christmas to most high school football fans, coaches and players in Illinois.
The unveiling of the playoff pairings seems to take on more of a March Madness feel every year, similar to what college basketball goes through every March.
Even though the Illinois football coaching staff has used most of its evaluation days during the latest evaluation period, here is an idea of what games they'll keep tabs on this weekend.
And here's a schedule for any Illinois fans who aren't making the trip to Penn State if they want to see any possible future Illini in action.
O'Fallon (5-4) at Naperville Neuqua Valley (8-1) — 7 p.m., Friday
Comment: Neuqua Valley wideout Mike Dudek, a Class of 2014 commit, is a do-everything type player for the Wildcats. Don't sleep, either, on O'Fallon running back Kentrail Moran, a Class of 2016 recruit who could pique the interest of many programs across the country.
St. Charles East (6-3) at Lincolnshire Stevenson (7-2) — 3 p.m., Saturday
Comment: The Fighting Saints and guard Brennan Bosch, a Class of 2015 target, will try to pull off the upset on the road.
Chicago Heights Bloom Township (5-4) at Bolingbrook (9-0) — 6 p.m., Saturday
Comment: Class of 2014 recruit Parrker Westphal — have a feeling the talented cornerback is going to either Northwestern or Michigan State — and Class of 2015 defensive lineman target Micah Dew-Treadway will look to help Aaron Bailey's alma mater reach the double-digit mark.
Plainfield South (6-3) at Chicago Marist (6-3) — 7:30 p.m., Friday
Comment: Stud linebacker Clifton Garrett from Plainfield South, the top in-state prospect in the Class of 2014, and his Cougars will try to contain Marist wide receiver Flynn Nagel, a Class of 2015 target who seems to have had a big game every game this fall.
Lyons Township (5-4) at Chicago Simeon (6-3) —3:30 p.m., Saturday
Comment: The visiting Lions and Class of 2015 running back Leonard Ross will try to fluster the Wolverines' defense in a matinee game on the turf at Gately Stadium in Chicago.
Plainfield East (6-3) at Lincoln-Way East (7-2) — 7 p.m., Friday
Comment: Class of 2014 commit Nick Allegretti is the starting center for the host Griffins, who are looking for another deep run after placing second in state last year at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Benet Academy (6-3) at Chicago Mt. Carmel (8-1) — 7:30 p.m., Friday
Comment: Whether it's Mt. Carmel running back Matt Domer, a Class of 2014 commit, or Benet quarterback Jack Beneventi, a Class of 2015 target, both teams have players who the Illinois coaching staff is keenly aware of. Illinois practiced at Gately Stadium — where this game will take place — in late March.
Downers Grove North (5-4) at Chicago Whitney Young (8-1) — 7 p.m., Friday
Comment: Quarterback David Edwards, a Class of 2015 target who projects as a possible tight end in college, has been effective in helping Downers Grove North qualify for the playoffs against elite basketball recruit Jahlil Okafor's school.
Thornton Fractional South (5-4) at Lincoln-Way North (8-1) — 7:30 p.m., Friday
Comment: Class of 2014 commit Julian Hylton from Lincoln-Way North will likely play defensive back at Illinois. His days as a running back are dwindling. With the numbers he has posted for the Phoenix, watch out for a possible deep playoff run.
East St. Louis (6-3) at Normal West (8-1) — 1 p.m., Saturday
Comment: The Flyers and Class of 2015 targets Terry Beckner and Natereace Strong have allowed East St. Louis to possibly make another lengthy postseason stay. And maybe a long bus ride to DeKalb for the state title game.
New Lenox Providence Catholic (5-4) at Crete-Monee (8-1) — 1 p.m., Saturday
Comment: The visiting Celtics have one of the top talents in the Class of 2015, wide receiver Miles Boykin. Crete-Monee, last year's Class 6A state champion which featured Illinois cornerback Jaylen Dunlap, have one of the top linebackers in the country in Class of 2014 recruit Nyles Morgan (he's not coming to Illinois) and another stud Class of 2014 recruit in defensive end Chris Slayton (he hasn't ruled out Illinois yet).
DeKalb (5-4) at Batavia (8-1) — 7 p.m., Friday
Comment: All-purpose back Dre Brown, a Class of 2015 target, helped the visiting Barbs secure a playoff berth with a standout effort in their regular season finale win against Rochelle. Can he do it again and help DeKalb pull an upset?
Cary-Grove (6-3) at Rockford Guilford (7-2) — 1 p.m., Saturday
Comment: Cary-Grove and its Class of 2015 offensive lineman Trevor Ruhland has five FBS offers so far, including one from Illinois. His total might increase if the Trojans are able to replicate what they accomplished last year en route to a state runner-up finish.
Peoria Richwoods (5-4) at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (8-1) — 7 p.m., Friday
Comment: Current Illinois running back Kendrick Foster might have a dilemma on Friday. Root for his alma mater (Richwoods) or future Illinois teammate Malik Turner, a Class of 2014 wide receiver commit at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin? Turner's teammate with the Cyclones Quinn Oseland is a Class of 2015 offensive lineman who just picked up an offer from Illinois last week.
Jacksonville (6-3) at Marion (7-2) — 2 p.m., Saturday
Comment: Gabe Megginson, a Class of 2015 offensive lineman target who was in attendance for Saturday's loss to Michigan State, and the visiting Crimsons will make the long jaunt south to open up the playoffs.
Chicago Morgan Park (5-4) at Montini (9-0) — 2 p.m., Saturday
Comment: Class of 2014 linebacker Nile Sykes and the host Broncos are looking to add to their prestigious playoff history. Montini is vying for its fifth straight Class 5A state title. And aiming for its first undefeated state championship team during the current run.