A look at today's high school football games of interest in the Illinois playoffs:

Class 5A

Who: Sterling (8-2) at Joliet Catholic (9-1)

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Joliet Memorial Stadium.

Playoff history: Joliet Catholic 95-20; Sterling 15-23.

Players to watch: Joliet Catholic - Josh Ferguson (RB, 1,530 rushing yards, 13.4 average, 22 rushing TDs), Malin Jones (WB, 1,011 yards, 11 TDs); Alex Kolodziej (WR 418 yards, 8 TDs); Sterling - (through regular season) Alejandro Rivera (QB-FS, 386 rushing yards, 157 passing yards), Ryan Hermes (FB-LB, 65 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries).

Notes: Behind the Illinois-bound Ferguson and the Northwestern-committed Jones, the Hilltoppers average 436 yards of offense per game and have averaged 53.5 points per contest during a six-game winning streak. Sterling might want to keep the ball out of their hosts' hands.

Class 4A

Who: Geneseo (9-1) at Sandwich (9-1)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Sandwich High School

Playoff history: Sandwich 1-3; Geneseo 66-30

Players to watch: Geneseo - West Cathcart (FB, 8.1 yards per rush before getting hurt), Andrew Walters (RB, 625 yards rushing), Alex Andersen (NG). Sandwich - Connor Voss (RB/DB, 1,039 yards rushing, 12 TDs), P.J. Crotty (RB/DB , 578 yards rushing, 9 TDs), Tim Schmitt (RB/LB, 427 yards, 4 TDs).

Notes: Sandwich is 8-1 against a 40-41 schedule but has beaten only two winning teams. One was last week's convincing playoff opener, 49-14, over Chicago Harper. The Leafs should challenge a defense that has yielded just 11.2 points per game.

Class 2A

Who: Sterling Newman (10-0) at Annawan/Wethersfield (8-2)

Game time: 1 p.m.

Playoff history: Sterling Newman 40-18; Annawan/Wethersfield 20-15

Players to watch: Sterling Newman - Joe Blessman (RB, 1,036 rushing yards, 14 TDs), Tim Wilson (RB, 931 rushing yards, 14 TDs); Annawan/Wethersfield - Weston Heinz (RB, 763 rushing yards, 11 TDs), Kyle Bumphrey (WR, 1,015 receiving yards, 11 TDs)

Notes: Newman had to mount a comeback last week and had its lowest point output of the season, while the Titans tied their season high.


Who: Morrison (9-1) at Lanark Eastland (9-1)

Game time: 1 p.m.

Playoff history: Morrison 22-20; Lanark Eastland 4-6

Players to watch: Morrison - Jason Caruso (RB, 627 rushing yards, 9 TDs), Danny Dennehey (QB 1,412 passing yards 16 TDs); Eastland - Aaron Reed (RB, 156 carries, 1,130 rushing yards, 14 TDs), Drake Walker (QB, 23-for-52, 329 passing yards, 6 TDs)

Notes: This is a rematch of last season's second-round game that Morrison won 42-0.


Who: Mercer County (9-1) at Clifton Central (9-1)

Game time: 5 p.m. today

Playoff history: Mercer County 1-1; Clifton Central 15-19

Players to watch: Mercer County - Austin Skiles (RB, 1,197 rushing yards, 18 TDs); Clifton Central - Trent Faulkner (QB, 88-for-134 1,438 yards in nine games).

Notes: The Golden Eagles surrendered 187 yards on the ground to Knoxville last week.