Football Friday 2021 // Playoffs Round 1

We have finally arrived at round 1 of the post season. One of the most anticipated and spookiest weekends of the year with Halloween and IHSA football first round playoffs. Three of our teams competing for the right to advance to the round of 16 in Class 8A. We’ve waited two years for playoff football to return, so let’s get to the highlights!

Naperville Central vs. Naperville North

What a way to kick off the post season. The Crosstown rivalry adds another chapter as Naperville Central and Naperville North square off in the playoffs for the first time since 2000! North is 4-2 all time in the post season against the Redhawks and the Huskies defeated Central 37-28 back in Week 6 at North Central College.

Naperville North strikes first as junior Nathan Jacobs runs it in to put his team on top 7-0. The DVC Champion Huskies looking for their first playoff win since 2010.

Later in the first quarter, Owen Prucha with a pass to Tristen Hall who makes a juggling catch in the end zone. Central ties this game at 7 after a quarter of play.

Into the second half, Redhawks now leading 14-10. The always dangerous Reggie Fleurima fields the punt and works his way through the Huskie defense. He breaks a few tackles, uses his speed and waits for his blockers. The Northwestern commit takes it 55-yards for the touchdown. Another big time play from the senior against his former team. Redhawks lead 21-10.

Central goes up 28-10 after a touchdown run from Prucha. Time running out for the Huskies. Quarterback Aidan Gray, who was named the Chicago Bears High School All Stars winner for his game winning touchdown over Neuqua, runs it in to cut the deficit to 28-16 with over 4 minutes left. But Naperville Central is able to run out the rest of the clock and the Redhawks pick up the round one victory. The program’s first playoff win over North since 1995.

Bartlett vs. Neuqua Valley

Our other round 1 playoff matchup features the 3 seed Neuqua Valley against former Upstate Eight rival Bartlett. These teams have some post season history as well with the Hawks defeating the Wildcats on this same field back in 2004. Neuqua hoping to bounce back from its first loss of the year in Week 9 against Naperville North.

Neuqua Valley running back Jaden McGee has been running better and better as the season has progressed. Here the junior takes it in from 19 yards out to put the Wildcats on top 7-0.

After touchdown runs from Mark Mennecke and another from McGee, Mennecke connects with a wide open Josh Wenz for a 51-yard touchdown. Neuqua Valley dominating in the first half with a 39-7 lead.

The Wildcats go on to just crush Bartlett throughout the night. Carter Stare adds a touchdown on an end around. Allen Ross finds the end zone on the ground as well. Neuqua Valley moves on to the second round for the second straight post season after a 60-7 round 1 blowout victory.

Playoff Schedule

So because Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central are both advancing, we will have another week of Football Friday after the second round of games. We do not know the opponents for either team yet. But Naperville Central will face the winner of Downers Grove South and Loyola. Loyola is the number one seed in the playoffs while DGS is the 32 seed. No matter who wins, the game will be played at Naperville Central, most likely on Saturday.

Neuqua Valley will take on the winner of the 14 seed Taft and the 19 seed, Palatine. If Taft wins, Neuqua will host in round 2, and if Palatine wins the Pirates will host. So we will be back next week for two more games. Should be another exciting week, see you then! For Football Friday, I’m Justin Cornwell.

For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!

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