Quarterfinal picks

Local area programs that make the IHSA football playoffs can at least say the run good programs.

But any one of those teams who earns a spot in the quarterfinals has to go mum in relation.

None can say the run a good program. But that they run a great program.

An excellent program.

An elite program.

And for Crystal Lake South, Marian Central and Prairie Ridge, to say they run a good program would be insulting.

There’s no need to look past Marian Central. Just take a look at the Green Bay Packers offensive line. You’ll find former Hurricane Bryan Bulaga. That’s just one example of what Marian can produce. I’ll get into the Montini-Marian rivalry and their playoff success in a second.

As for District 155, both Prairie Ridge and South return to the quarterfinals after both went at it in the same round last year.

Prairie Ridge seeks a three-peat of consecutive semifinal appearances and don’t forget about its quarterfinal appearance in 2007, either. Being raised by Wolves over on the North Side of Crystal Lake doesn’t sound like such a bad thing now, ya think?

Its sister D-155 school, South, has a luxury of playoff appearances. They’ve played postseason ball since the 2001-2002 season. Quarterfinals in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010. Semifinal appearances in 2005 and 2008.

Chuck Ahsmann is 21-2 in 23 games at the helm. It’s just simply phenomenal. He’s coached the team to two-straight quarterfinal games and won 17 regular season games. He’s one loss shy of two back-to-back undefeated regular seasons and it’s the first time the school won back-to-back conference championships.

All these programs have winning in common. Losing is frowned upon and rare. And even sometimes they have to beat each other to do that.

In some cases, they run into teams that have a storied past.

Take for instance with South. Rockford Boylan comes to Ken Bruhn Field on Saturday as the defending Class 6A champions from 2010. They had to beat Prairie Ridge last season to get to state.

Don’t forget, when South started its sustained playoff excellence in 2001, they were handed a first round loss from Boylan. I would remember. I was on the fan bus that broke down that night.

See where we’re all connected? It’s gets scary when you talk about Nazareth, Carmel and South later on.

The Gators are hoping for history to repeat itself. Last time they saw Boylan, in 2008, the Gators went into Rockford and won 28-0, en route to quarterfinal and semifinal appearances. That was also just the beginning of the Drew Ormseth era.

You know Boylan, after beating PR last year, knows it can take out an FVC team. And 2008 might be in the back of their heads. Those are just a few intangibles going into tomorrow afternoon’s game.

But back to Marian for a second.

We know for all the area teams that once you get into the playoffs the level of competition rises. South and Prairie Ridge know this. And you’re bound to play some juggernauts, especially deep into the playoffs.

Don’t have to tell Marian.

For the second-straight year, they go to Montini. The Hurricanes will try to avenge last year’s loss (and the year before), a wins that propelled Montini to two-straight Class 5A titles.

But what the hell is new in the Class 5A playoffs?

If people want to examine the South-Cary-Grove rivalry, take a gander at what Montini-Marian offers.

Since 2004, the Broncos and Hurricanes have tangled 5 times in the playoffs. Montini has a two-game edge since 2009. Marian won games in 2007 and 2006 while Montini won in 2004.

The winner has blocked a potential state run or they themselves have won state.

Montini, the two-time defending state champion is looking at No. 3 in a row. That’s how 2009 and 2010 went.

Marian fell a game short of state in 2007 but beat Montini 28-21 in the second round.

In 2006, the year Marian lost in the state title game, they squashed Montini 24-0 in the first round.

And in 2004, Montini beat Marian Central 34-14 in  the semis en route to a 4A state championship.

So what does this mean? Do we say the it’s just a matter of conference, catholic school and class certification that brings these two together for frequent battles? Yes, you can say that.

But the winner of Marian-Montini more than likely punches a ticket to the state championship game. To say there’s a lot on the line besides bragging rights would be an understatement.

Montini is healthy. And hungry. They’re at home. It might spell the end for Marian and their dream undefeated season.

As for last week…

Cary-Grove was eliminated by Nazareth last week 24-0 and I’m putting Prairie Ridge on upset alert.

Nazareth’s only loss – a 27-3 tilt against Carmel in Week 2 (CLS defeated Carmel 14-9 in second round) – is their only hiccup of the season. The Roadrunners solidly beat Joliet Catholic and Marist in consecutive weeks. Both games were on the road as well. Going through those teams, plus Deerfield in round one and Cary-Grove last week, Nazareth is battle-tested.

And although South was higher ranked last week, holding a team that averages nearly 40 points per game to just 9 and I haven’t even mentioned it was powerhouse Carmel yet, was a huge upset. South just doesn’t want to die so with that said, undefeated Boylan Catholic is also on upset alert.

Let’s go to the picks.

The Five Cents Quarterfinal Picks

Last week: 3-1

Playoffs: 8-4 – Playoffs overall: 32-15

Season: 71-19 – Season & playoffs: 79-23

*All games Saturday

Class 6A

(3) Nazareth Academy (10-1) at (2) Prairie Ridge (10-1) – 1 p.m. – Winner:  Roadrunner

Class 7A

(2) Boylan (11-0) at (3) Crystal Lake South (10-1) –  1 p.m. – Winner: Gator

THE FIVE CENTS PLAYOFF GAME OF THE WEEK 

Class 5A

(2) Marian Central (11-0) at (6) Montini (9-2) – 2 p.m.

Winner: Bronco 

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