Fisher vs. Freeport Aquin
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Freeport
Records: Fisher (6-3); Freeport Aquin (7-2)
FYI: Fisher, 1-8 a year ago, has come a long way to make its 13th playoff appearance and first since 2013. The No. 12-seeded Bunnies are 2-12 all-time in the playoffs. Three-time state champion Aquin, a No. 5 seed, is making its 26th playoff appearance. The Bulldogs' losses came against No. 3 Forreston and Stockton ... Jaden Jones-Watkins leads Fisher with 1,146 yards on 174 carries. Kade Thomas has chipped in 742 yards on 92 carries. Thomas has has passed for 835 yards on 49-of-92 accuracy ... Freeport's Jonah Diemer has completed 118 of 203 passes for 1,753 yards and 27 TDs. He's been intercepted nine times. Zac Cummins has 32 catches for 566 yards and 10 TDs while Bryce Carlson has 34 grabs for 440 yards and eight TDs. The top rusher is Keegan Koester with 52 carries for 408 yards, a 7.8 average ... The winner faces No. 4 seed Stockton (7-2) or No. 13 North Fulton (6-3).
Eastland-Pearl City vs. GCMS
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Gibson City
Records: Eastland-Pearl City 5-4, GCMS 9-0
FYI: GCMS has climbed to No. 2 in the 2A state poll ... The Falcons have steamrolled opponents by a 424-46 margin ... Senior RB Mitch McNutt has amassed 1,074 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12.3 yards per carry in limited duty because of lopsided wins ... Jared Trantina has complemented him with 624 yards and 14 TDs, while QB Nathan Garard has completed 36 of 48 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns ... His favorite target has been Ryland Holt (12 catches, 253 yards, 7 TD) ... Eastland-Pearl City went 4-4 in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference ... The Wolves beat Polo 41-7 in week 9 to make the playoffs ... The leading rusher is junior RB Jayden Kempel with 874 yards and 8 TDs ... Junior QB Braden Smargiassi is 55 of 111 for 800 yards with seven scores and seven interceptions ... The top receiver is junior Lucas Peterson (20 catches, 394 yards, 2 TDs) ... The Wolves are 6-9 in nine previous playoffs appearances ... The winner faces West Carroll or Fieldcrest in the second round.
South Mac vs. Tri-Valley
Time and place: 3 p.m. Saturday, Downs
Records: South Mac 5-4; Tri-Valley 8-1
FYI: South Mac is a co-op of Bunker Hill and Mount Olive ... The Chargers went 4-2 in the Prairie State Conference ... They were 5-2 overall before losing to Alton Marquette (49-6) and East Alton-Wood River (32-14) ... Senior captain Johnny Darrah has led the ground attack with 1,230 yards, 13 touchdowns and 9.3 yards per carry ... South Mac has used three quarterbacks, including Darrah, with a combined 607 yards passing and 9 TDs ... The Chargers have scored 32.6 points per game and given up 21.2 ... Tri-Valley has a 40.4 scoring average while allowing 11.9 per game ... The No. 5-ranked Vikings again have a potent running game paced the the area's leading rusher, Zach Woodring, with 1,668 yards, 13 touchdowns and 9.2 yards per carry ... The passing attack has a combined 512 yards and six touchdowns from QBs Jake Reeser (405 yards, 5 TDs) and Brock Ward (107, 1) ... Tri-Valley has won eight straight since a 25-20 opening loss to Decatur St. Teresa ... The winner meets Villa Grove or Shelbyville in the second round.
West Carroll vs. Fieldcrest
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Minonk
Records: West Carroll 6-3; Fieldcrest 7-2
FYI: West Carroll went 5-3 in the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference ... The Thunder are making their fifth playoff appearance, going 1-4 in the previous trips ... West Carroll averages 26.1 points per game and has given up 11.9 ... The top running threat is Kaleb Hartman with 745 yards, nine touchdowns and 5.8 yards per carry ... Kaleb Plattenberger has added 320 yards and six scores ... The passing game is led by QB Kody Plattenberger, who is 75 of 139 for 1,160 yards and 13 TDs ... Fieldcrest QB Cam Grandy has piled up nearly 2,600 yards of total offense. Grandy has thrown for 1,702 yards and 18 touchdowns, completing 68 percent of his passes. He also has run for 889 yards and 16 TDs ... His top receivers have been Mike Morse (42 catches, 495 yards, 4 TDs) and Derek May (41, 446, 5) ... The winner takes on Eastland-Pearl City or GCMS in the second round.
EPG vs. Rockridge
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Taylor Ridge
Records: El Paso-Gridley (5-4); Rockridge (8-1)
FYI: EPG, a No. 14 seed, is making its eighth playoff trip and fourth straight. The Titans have yet to win a playoff game ... Rockridge, ranked fourth in 2A, is making its eighth consecutive playoff trip and 20th overall. The No. 3-seeded Rockets' lone loss was a 22-21 setback against No. 1 Sterling Newman. Rockridge is coming off a 20-17 win over No. 7 Orion ... Ryne Faulk paces EPG rushers with 1,326 yards on 198 carries. He also has 19 receptions for 294 yards ... Jarrin Landrus has completed 83 of 169 passes for 1,141 yards. His favorite target, Lukas Kiefer, has 26 receptions for 365 yards ... Rockridge is led by Nathan Parchert, who has 169 carries for 1,473 yards and 19 TDs ... Riley Fetterer has completed 67 of 121 passes for 1,041 yards and 14 TDs. Reed Nelsen is the leading receiver with 28 catches for 426 yards and six TDs ... Linebacker Niko Zarlatanes has a team-leading 49 solo tackles and 36 assists ... The winner meets No. 6 seed Knoxville (7-2) or No. 11 Chicago Marshall (6-3)..
Dee-Mack vs. Westville
Time and place: 1 p.m. Saturday, Westville
Records: Deer Creek-Mackinaw (5-4); Westville (9-0)
FYI: The reigning 2A state champion, No. 15 seed Dee-Mack is its making 28th playoff appearance and fourth straight ... Thirteen-time qualifier Westville, ranked No. 6, is making its third straight playoff trip ... The No. 2-seeded Tigers are two-time state runners-up ... Levi Scheuermann is the Chiefs' top rusher, averaging 8.3 yards en route to 456 and 13 TDs ... Connor Craig has averaged 7.4 yards on his way to 408 ... Scheuermann has completed 45 percent of his passes for 953 yards and seven TDs. Tylor Thompson is the top receiver with nine catches for 335 yards, a 37.2 average per catch ... Hunter Mull has a team-high 23 solo tackles and 72 assists ... Westville is led by Duncan Hathaway, who has completed 62 of 92 passes for 1,057 yards. He's also rushed 21 times for 191 yards ... Teammate Owen Mariage-Tucker has gained 799 yards on 92 carries ... Tylan Stricklett is the top receiver with 37 catches for 778 yards ... . The winner plays No. 7 seed Bushnell-West Prairie (7-2) or No. 10 seed Carlyle (6-3).
Beardstown vs. Central Catholic
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Bill Hundman Memorial Field, Bloomington
Records: Beardstown 7-2, Central Catholic 8-1
FYI: Central Catholic, ranked fourth in 3A, is riding the momentum of a convincing win over then-No. 2 ranked Tolono Unity that earned the Saints a share of the initial Illini Prairie Conference championship … Central Catholic’s balanced offensive attack is directed by quarterback Max Moews, who has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,501 yards and 18 touchdowns … Tailback Sa’mond Davis has rushed for 1,198 yards and 23 TDs with bruising receiver James Morris at 39 receptions for 910 yards … Beardstown features three 400-plus yard rushers in Drake Wrobleski (966), Chad Grimm (451) and Brady O’Hara (442) … Tigers’ quarterback Ike Riddle has passed for 843 yards and 12 scores … Beardstown has played mostly 1A-2A schools in the Western Illinois Valley Conference … The winner meets No. 2 Williamsville or Spring Valley Hall in the second round.
Pontiac vs. Tolono Unity
Time and place: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Tolono
Records: Pontiac (6-3); Unity (8-1)
FYI: The No. 5-seeded and No. 9-state ranked Rockets topped No. 12 seed Pontiac in week two, 38-14 ... The Indians, who last made the playoffs in 2015, are in the playoffs for the 20th time ... Unity is making its 24th straight playoff trip and 27th overall ... Austin Norman leads Pontiac with 1,121 yards on 170 carries for a 6.6 average. Liam Melvin has rushed 60 times for 385 yards, a 6.4 average ... Ethan Lee has completed 58 of 125 passes for 851 yards and 13 TDs. He's been intercepted seven times ... The top receivers are Cobi Parra (12 catches, 276 yards) and Colton Clesson (11, 152) ... Unity's Keaton Eckstein has rushed 154 times for 1,116 yards and seven TDs while Steven Migut has passed for 1,070 yards on 64-of-106 accuracy and rushed for 997 yards ... Migut's favorite receiver is Dawson Kaiser with 36 catches for 603 yards ... Ethan Miebach has a team-high 92 tackles ... The winner meets No. 4 seed Herrin (8-1) or No. 13 seed Paris (6-3).
Blue Island Eisenhower vs. Normal West
Time and place: 2 p.m. Saturday, Normal West H.S.
Records: Eisenhower 6-3; West 7-2
FYI: The pace should be fast as two spread offenses square off … West is the No. 8-ranked team in 6A and trying to overcome the season-ending injury to speedy Genesis Forrest with the rushing talents of Armani Forrest (539 yards) and Malik Tucker (536) … The Wildcats’ rotating quarterback system has produced a pair of 700-yard passers in Carson Camp (44 of 72, 735 yards) and C.J. Lewis (54 of 93 for 795 yards) … C.J. Davis is West’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 573 yards … Eisenhower finished third in the South Suburban Red Conference. The Cardinals’ top rusher is tailback Timothy Baity while Scott Gardner is Eisenhower’s quarterback … The Cardinals have a formidable defensive force in end Armon Bailey … The winner faces Oak Lawn Richards or New Lenox Providence in round two.
Downers Grove North vs. NCHS
Time and place: 1 p.m. Saturday, Normal Community H.S.
Records: Downers Grove North 5-4; NCHS 9-0
FYI: The No. 4-ranked team in 7A, NCHS begins what the Ironmen hope is a lengthy playoff run against a member of the rugged West Suburban Silver Conference … NCHS quarterback Daylen Boddie is near a rare feat of 1,000 yards rushing and passing. The junior is the Ironmen’s top rusher at 1,004 and has thrown for 982 while completing 60 of 116 … Tailback Varshaun Dixon has been the other half of the one-two NCHS punch with 911 yards on the ground with 100 or more in four of his last five outings ... Jalen Coleman is the leading receiver with 23 catches for 461 yards … Two of Downers Grove North’s losses came to Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central, the Nos. 4 and 10 teams, respectively, in Class 8A … The Trojans utilize both an option and a spread offense and are led by tailback Drew Shelly and quarterback Jack Carr … The winner plays Moline or Chicago Mount Carmel in the second round.