CN100 Sports Football Preview: IHSA 7A Semifinal - Plainfield North vs. Fenwick

rodney prunty
CN100 Game of the Week: Plainfield North vs. Fenwick

OAK PARK – Every playoff game Plainfield North has won has extended the Tigers’ program record for wins, which now stands at 10.

In order to push that number to 11 and earn a berth in the Class 7A state championship game next week, the Tigers have to get past Fenwick at Triton College Saturday in a game that fans can see on CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21. You can also watch it anytime in HD with Xfinity On Demand by clicking Get Local and CN100. X1 users, look for Get Local under the Xfinity Services tab.

The hallmark has been Plainfield North’s defense. After falling to 2-2 with a loss to Oswego East, Plainfield North (10-2, 7-2 Southwest Prairie) outscored teams 207-7 while rolling through the last four games of the regular season and the playoff opener against Highland Park.

"We had nine returning starters off of last year’s defensive squad, so we felt going into the year we would be solid on that side," Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said. "Our kids have played well and proven that to be true. Our defense has played fast and physical each week with minimal big plays given up."

The Tigers have been disruptive at every level of the defense. Up front, senior defensive lineman Ari Ekowa posted 54 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Senior linebackers JJ Frey and Will Stoll lead the defense. Frey has 94 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, an interception and a sack, while Stoll added 87 tackles and five sacks.

Junior defensive backs Dillon McCarthy (63 tackles, three interceptions, punt return touchdown) and Zach Nadle (70 tackles) have done the dirty work. Senior defensive back Kevin Block doesn’t have the stats of those two, but he routinely draws the opposing teams’ top receiver and rarely gets challenged because of his stellar coverage.

Offensively, senior running back Tyler Hoosman has been the workhorse with 1,545 yards and 26 touchdowns on 215 carries. He also has 20 catches for 201 yards and four more scores.

Junior quarterback Brady Miller’s air attack racked up 1,764 yards, 20 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also rushed for a touchdown. His top targets in the pass game are seniors TJ Kane (31 catches, 379 yards, four touchdowns) and Connor Peplow (47 catches, 741 yards, seven touchdowns).

Plainfield North’s defense will definitely be challenged by Fenwick (11-1, 4-0 Chicago Catholic Green), who is back in the postseason after going 3-6 a year ago.

The Friars have played a tough schedule. Their lone loss came to defending Class 8A state champion Loyola. They handed defending Class 4A state champion Phillips its only loss.

The Friars are dominant offensively, led by 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Jacob Keller. He is 146-for-243 passing for 2,153 yards, 24 touchdowns and five interceptions, while adding four rushing TDs. He’s benefitted from a massive group of receivers on the other end of his throws.

Junior receiver Mike O’Laughlin (6-foot-5) leads the way with 46 catches for 837 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior receiver Sherman Martin III (6-foot-2) has 39 catches for 738 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior tight end (6-foot-5) is another big target with 27 catches for 340 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Conner Lillig is a dual threat with 1,349 yards and 18 touchdowns on 198 carries, also adding 25 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns.

Senior linebacker Brett Moorman paces the defense with 101 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions.

Up front, senior lineman Ellis Taylor has 65 tackles, 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He’s flanked by freshman lineman Jacob Kaminski, who has 7.5 sacks. Junior DB Lorente Blakeny has 60 tackles.

- Paul Johnson, CN100 Sports Correspondent


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