By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
For much of Rockford Boylan’s run to the IHSA 6A State Championship last season, they were picked to lose every step of the way, not gaining validation until their title win.
This season, the Titans are in the 7A playoffs, and things appear to be the same way. And Boylan is closing in on another opportunity to prove their excellence.
The Titans, picked by many Chicago-area writers to lose, struck early on the road Saturday, Nov. 12, and cruised to a 30-13 victory over the Crystal Lake South Gators to clinch a berth in the 7A semifinals.
Tyreis Thomas ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns to continue his strong playoff run. Marquez Beeks also scored a touchdown for the Titans.
The win sets up Boylan to host a semifinal game with the chance to go down state for a second consecutive season. They will face the Lake Zurich Bears with the winner going down to Champaign.
The Bears are making their fifth appearance in the semifinals in six years, despite a tough season that has seen them fight a ton of injuries. They have used a different starting lineup in almost every game this season.
The Bears are led by a Big Ten-bound recruit. Jack Lynn, a big tight end, will be heading to Minnesota next season and gives Lake Zurich a big, physical target for their offense.
Stillman Valley finds themselves in familiar territory, despite taking a different route to get there. After a slow start to the season, the Cardinals also will have a home game with a chance to go down state.
After giving up an early touchdown to Sandwich in their 4A quarterfinal match-up, A.J. Dobson and Jeff Cialkowski both scored two touchdowns for Stillman Valley on their way to a 35-6 victory.
The Cardinals will face Richmond-Burton in the semifinals, which held on for a 7-0 win over Evergreen. With a win, Stillman Valley would make their third-straight appearance down state, with the previous two coming in Class 3A.
Meanwhile, Dakota will take to the road for their semifinal appearance in Class 1A after a 16-9 win over Forreston.
The Indians were able to avenge an earlier loss to Forreston, a 32-7 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals. But Dakota has been on a roll since the last weeks of the season, knocking off Lena-Winslow twice, and now Forreston.
In the next round, Dakota will face off with Freeport Aquin. The Indians’ defense, which has been stout in the playoffs, will have to be extra sharp against Aquin, which boasts one of the top offenses in Class 1A.
From the Nov. 16-22, 2011, issue