CN100 Sports Football Preview: IHSA Playoffs First Round - Highland Park vs. Plainfield North

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CN100 Game of the Week: Highland Park vs. Plainfield North

IHSA Football Playoffs: First Round – Highland Park vs. Plainfield North

– Plainfield North has experienced solid success since its program debuted a decade ago, but the Tigers will make history Saturday against Highland Park.

Plainfield North hosts a playoff game for the first time, and it comes as two 7-2 teams square off in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. Fans can see the game on CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30, and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. 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 Tigers (7-2, 7-2 Southwest Prairie) come in on fire, winning four straight after a 21-14 loss to Oswego East. They have outscored their opponents 165-7 in that span, picking up three shutouts along the way. The Tigers are 1-2 against playoff teams.

Plainfield North has been balanced offensively. Senior running back Tyler Hoosman leads the team with 1,118 yards and 17 touchdowns on 144 carries. He’s caught 14 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. He gets assistance in the backfield from senior running back Carlos Baggett, who has rushed for 498 yards and three touchdowns on 53 carries.

"(Hoosman) has good vision and has shown breakaway skills and short-yardage toughness," Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said.

Junior quarterback Brady Miller has gone 97-for-164 for 1,295 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions. His main target is senior receiver Connor Peplow, who made 39 catches for 644 yards and six touchdowns. Senior receiver TJ Kane added 23 catches for 277 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season.

"(Miller) has improved each week, which has helped our offense be more balanced and efficient," Tim Kane said. "We have improved offensively since earlier in the year."

The Tigers returned nine starters on defense from last year, and that unit has not disappointed. Up front, senior defensive lineman Ari Ekowa has 43 tackles and seven sacks. Seniors JJ Frey (70 tackles, eight tackles for loss) and Will Stoll (66 tackles, three sacks) stabilize the linebacker position. Junior defensive backs Dillon McCarthy (43 tackles, two interceptions) and Zach Nadle (43 tackles) help support lockdown senior cornerback Kevin Block, who has three interceptions.

"(Block) draws the opponents’ best wide receiver each week," Tim Kane said. "Opponents don’t throw his way often, which allows us to adjust our scheme due to his coverage skills."

Block may not see many balls thrown his way this week, because Highland Park (7-2, 4-1 Central Suburban North) doesn’t pass very often. Junior quarterback John Sakos is only 36-for-59 for 432 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The bell cow back for the Giants is senior D.J. Penick and his whopping 1,718 yards and 23 touchdowns on 169 carries.

"This week will be a challenge due to their explosive offense and dynamic running back," Tim Kane said. "They will be a tough matchup, no doubt. Their team plays physical and with great effort on both sides of the ball and they do a lot of things on offense to get mismatches, so we have to recognize their many formations to get lined up right."

Sakos’ top targets when the Giants do pass are junior receivers Justin Goodman (10 catches, 117 yards, one touchdown) and D.J. Westbrook (10 catches, 119 yards). Westbrook also rushed for 155 yards. Senior running back Jeremy Allen has contributed 22 carries for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

- Paul Johnson, CN100 Sports Correspondent


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