LAST WEEK: The Red Raiders beat Fremd 38-30 at home in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Carter Beaudette, sr., RB, Joe Boland, sr., DB, Nick Dennis, sr., LB, Dan Frederick, sr., Caleb Jones, sr., DL, WR, Olalere Oladipo, sr., DL, Eric Mooney, jr., QB, Brian O’Mara, jr. WR
HUNTLEY NOTES: Only No. 26 Maine South has a worse seed than No. 24 Huntley of the eight teams remaining in the Class 8A bracket. Before beating Fremd, the Red Raiders defeated 2014 Class 8A state champion Stevenson 21-20 in the first round. … Huntley, which finished third in the Fox Valley Conference, brings a five-game winning streak into the quarterfinals. Its three losses this seasons came to teams — Cary-Grove, Prairie Ridge and West Aurora — with a combined record of 30-2. … The Red Raiders are averaging 34.2 points a game, but they are scoring 37.4 during their recent winning streak. Defensively, they are allowing 20.0 points a game. … Junior Eric Mooney is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound dual threat at quarterback. Through 11 games, he’s completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,694 yards and has thrown 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He’s also run for 1,277 yards and scored 21 TDs. In the win over Fremd, he finished 9-for-15 for 207 yards and three total TDs (2 rushing, 1 passing) despite feeling ill. “Eric is just a phenomenal player for us,” Huntley coach Matt Zimolak told the Daily Herald. “Someone brought up Michael Jordan and how he performed [for the Bulls with the flu in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals]. He’s one of those competitors.” … Some of Huntley’s other offensive standouts include senior Carter Beaudette, who will be the featured running back after taking over as the starter late in the season. He’s rushed for 646 yards and 10 TDs. Senior receiver Dan Frederick (27 receptions, 315 yards, 3 TDs) and junior receiver Brian O’Mara (21 receptions, 318 yards, 2 TDs) will be the primary pass-catchers. Huntley will be without its best receiver, senior Alec Coss, who is sidelined with a broken collarbone. He leads the team in catches (43) and yards (614) to go with three TDs. … Defensively, the Red Raiders are headlined by senior defensive linemen Olalere Oladipo (6-4, 225) and Caleb Jones (6-2, 215). Oladipo, a University of Illinois recruit, has four tackles for loss and three sacks. Jones has registered 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Senior linebacker Nick Dennis (6-0, 190) leads the teams with 105 tackles to go with seven tackles for loss. “They look pretty fast and have a good, consistent pass rush with four guys,” Loyola senior left tackle John Brekke said. “[Oladipo] is a threat and their main guy, but [Jones] is another player we have to consider in our game plan. But it’s nothing we haven’t had to prepare for before.”
LOYOLA NOTES: A win over Huntley gets the Ramblers into the Class 8A semifinals for the seventh time in eight seasons and one victory away from a fourth trip to the state title game in the last six years. … This is will be the Ramblers’ first game against an FVC opponent since John Holecek became Loyola’s head coach in 2006. The last time the Ramblers played an FVC team was in 1995. That year, Loyola beat McHenry 13-9 in the season opener. … Loyola has won its last 28 games, dating back to the 2014 season when the Ramblers captured the Prep Bowl championship. “They’re talented all across the board,” Huntley head coach Matt Zimolak told the Northwest Herald. “We see things that we can attack, but they’re pretty solid all around. That’s the difficult part. But in the playoffs, that’s what you’re going to see.”
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola