NILES – As the state playoffs unfold, teams start shifting their games to Saturdays to get into the routine for a potential state championship game on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The practice was taken to an extreme around Illinois for this week’s quarterfinal round when only one game – the 6A showdown between Lake Forest and Niles-based Notre Dame College Prep – goes under the lights on Friday night.
The game will be shown on CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12. You can also find the game throughout Chicagoland with Xfinity On Demand.
Out of the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference, Notre Dame is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. But in the previous seven years, the Dons finished either 5-5 or 6-4, losing in the first round every season. The Dons had gone without a playoff win since 1988 before their 46-27 first-round win over Grayslake North and a 35-8 win over Steinmetz last week.
This season appeared to be much of the same. Notre Dame backed into the playoffs with a 5-4 record, losing to a 3-6 Carmel team in Week 9 to put their playoff chances in danger. But a 42-33 win over Joliet Catholic in Week 8 was enough to send the Dons into the playoffs. Now they’re on a roll.
“We are a team that has grown and developed each week,” longtime coach Mike Hennessey said. “We are playing well at this time and we are healthy.”
The offense has been fueled by running back Chris James. He’s rushed for 1,909 yards and 27 touchdowns on 277 attempts. Dual-threat quarterback Dan Nagode triggers the offense. He has thrown for 1,338 yards and nine touchdowns while rushing for 312 yards and four scores. His main target in the passing game has been Billy Hirsch (36 catches, 545 yards, four touchdowns).
Lake Forest has been on a roll in recent years, reaching the second round the past two seasons before breaking through to the quarterfinals this season. The Scouts also had to deal with some adversity, as they had to forfeit their game against Lake Zurich Week 4 due to a teacher’s strike, costing the team a chance to defend their North Suburban Lake title.
But the Scouts overcame that, and with their second narrow win over Lakes this season last week (23-21 after a 20-13 win earlier in the season), Lake Forest is two wins from making it to championship weekend.
Lake Forest is paced by dynamic running back Hub Cirame. He is the team’s leading rusher (945 yards, 13 touchdowns) and leads the team in receptions (43 catches, 429 yards, two touchdowns). Quarterback Andrew Clifford has been solid, passing for 2,197 yards and 15 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
Aside from Cirame, his main targets in the passing game are David Glynn (37 catches, 589 yards, three touchdowns) and Scott Powell (35 catches, 369 yards, four touchdowns). Powell is also a threat in the backfield with 304 rushing yards and two scores. The Scouts also have a solid kicker in Baylor Broughton, who is 9-for-14 on field goals and 31-of-36 on extra points this season.
Be sure to tune in to see Edgy Tim’s “Keys to the Game.” Get more Edgy at edgytim.com
- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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