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Ottawa running back Michael Hermosillo gets past Rock Island defender Trey Sigel during the Pirates’ 21-20 victory last Saturday in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Hermosillo and the Pirates (11-0) will play at Crete-Monee (11-0) at 6 tonight in a quarterfinal game.
OTTAWA — No. 2 seed Ottawa and No. 1 seed Crete-Monee have a lot in common with each other and have a lot on the line this Saturday when they face each other in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A playoffs.
Both are 11-0. Both have superstars that are going to be playing major college football next year. And both have never been past quarterfinals of the IHSA playoffs.
One team will make school history while the other will celebrate a great season when the Pirates face the Warriors, who have been ranked No. 1 since training camp opened back in August.
The Pirates ended the regular season ranked No. 3 in Class 6A by the A.P. Now, with a pair of undefeated seasons on the line, fans figure to get their money worth and more Saturday evening when the two square off at 6 p.m.
“Everything after this game will be a new experience for one team. The pressure is a little on them I think. They’re the No. 1 team in the state in 6A,” Ottawa coach Trent Swords said. “They’re an exceptional football team and I think we’re a pretty good football team. It’s going to be an interesting matchup.”
The Warriors feature two of the best prep football players in the country. Leading the way on offense is senior standout Laquon Treadwell, the top rated wide receiver in the nation according to Rivals.com. Treadwell is also is a dual threat in the defensive backfield as proven by his 53-yard interception return for a touchdown last week. The Warriors’ defense also showcases some top talent in Nyles Morgan, the fifth-ranked linebacker in the class of 2014.
“They like to throw the screen passes a lot,” Pirates’ defensive end Cyrano Rayfield said of the Warriors’ offensive game plan. “That means our ends are probably going to play standing up instead of normal three-point stance to see what we can create defensively.”
While the Pirates’ secondary of Austin Burant, Luke Lambert and Michael Hermosillo did a good job on Rock Island receiver Derrick Willies, they will have their work cut out for them again this week against Crere-Monee.
The Warriors have four receivers with at least 21 receptions on the season and quarterback Marcus Terrell has completed 181 of 265 passes for 2,672 yards and 34 touchdowns while tossing just six interceptions.
“We’re going to try and limit some of their big play ability, and we’re going to try and force them into some tight windows and hopefully make them make some mistakes,” Swords said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us defensively. If we can get them to make a few mistakes like they did against Richwoods, it’s going to be a ballgame in the fourth quarter and somebody is going to make a play.”
On offense it’s business as usual for the Pirates against a defense giving up just six points a game this season.
The standout running back Hermosillo (1,986 yards, 29 touchdowns this season), saw limited practice time this week after a late injury against Rock Island, but will look to pick up where he left off after 182 yards rushing and a catch of the game-winning touchdown pass against the Rocks. Fellow running backs J.D. Bryant and Alex Hartman will try to follow suit to set up the Pirates’ trademark strong run game and great blocking. Ottawa may also use a solid passing attack from Will Hoffman to get the job done.
“We may use the play action pass again like we did against Normal,” Swords said. It’s no secret that we are a run first team, but we are pretty good passing and if we can draw some defenders in, that may open up the pass.”