NIC-10 teams run into tough playoff matchups

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

Four teams from the NIC-10 were good enough to qualify for the playoffs this year.

Boylan, who won the conference championship, is the No. 2 seed in the IHSA Class 6A playoffs. Hononegah, Harlem and Guilford all qualified for the Class 7A playoffs.

For Boylan, the switch in class came somewhat as a surprise. The last several seasons, the Titans were large enough as a school to be in 7A. There was a lot of debate leading into the playoff selections where they would land, since they were on the school-size bubble.

The other three teams are all in Class 7A, where some difficult matchups await.

Addison Trail Blazers at Boylan

The Titans enter their home playoff game as a solid favorite to win. The Addison Trail Blazers barely made the playoffs, winning their final game of the season to qualify.

The Blazers come in averaging 22 points per game while allowing 19 points per game. The Titans score 48 points per game while only giving up 9 a game.

“We’re going to try and start a new season over,” Boylan Head Coach Dan Appino said. “And hopefully we can get better each game.”

The Blazers are a young and balanced team. Quarterback Trevor Bermingham has shown himself capable this season with several big passing games.

They are also led by a two-headed running back tandem in Anthony Messina and Anthony Cantanese. If they are going to be able to pull the upset, it will be behind a massive offensive line.

Wide receiver and safety Delricien Smith, is a player to watch out for. The junior transfered from Osceola High School in Florida, one of the top programs in the country, where he started as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-1-inch speedster has been known to clock a 40-yard dash time of less than 4.5 seconds, and is a player colleges are keeping an eye on.

Chicago Taft at Hononegah

The Indians will try to bounce back from their season-ending defeat to face a Chicago Taft team that is making their second straight playoff appearance, the first time they have done that in school history.

Hononegah will get to host the Eagles, who average 29 points per game.

The Eagles are not a very big team, but will pose an interesting threat to the Indians. They run a spread offense, something that has given Hononegah trouble this season.

Lead running back Omar Ramirez is tiny, but don’t let his size fool you. He has racked up several 100-yard games this season to lead the Eagles.

The best weapon for the Eagles is quarterback Michael Shewchuk. The 6-foot-3-inch quarterback is a dynamic weapon who throws well in the pocket and on the run, and is not afraid to pull the ball down and pick up yards.

“We rest up and we come back Tuesday and hit it hard,” Hononegah linebacker Skylar Purifoy said of the team’s upcoming challenge. “We plan on making a deep run in the playoffs, and we have to come out and play harder.”

Harlem at Glenbrook North

The Harlem Huskies’ offense is rolling, and they may need every bit of it as they face a Glenbrook North Spartans team that is averaging 32 points per game.

The Spartans feature a large offensive line and two great running backs in Grant Rushing and Nick Freund, who run behind it.

Zack Hilgendorf leads the spread offense for the Spartans, but while it is a traditional spread, Glenbrook tends to run more out of the set.

The Spartans, who defeated Harlem 34-7 in a 2001 playoff matchup, have only defeated one team this year that qualified for the playoffs. They also feature a defense that has struggled at times, something that could help a potent Harlem offense.

Guilford at Mount Prospect

The Guilford Vikings face the toughest task of all the NIC-10 teams, traveling to take on the Mount Prospect Knights, one of the favorites in Class 7A.

The Knights average 40 points a game on offense and have one of the stingiest run defenses in the state. The Vikings rely on their run game, which makes that the key to the game.

Steve Dazzo quarterbacks the explosive offense. The senior, who backed up three-year starter and current University of Illinois freshman Miles Osei, ran for 1,296 yards and 19 touchdowns and threw for 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns out of a spread offense.

He is complemented by Peter Bonahoom, who rushed for 843 yards and eight touchdowns. He also intercepted six passes this year and returned several kicks for touchdowns, making him one of the top players in the state.

From the Oct. 27-Nov. 2, 2010 issue

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