IHSA Class 8A State Championship Game Preview

Josh Pos, Staff Writer

Who? Warren Township Blue Devils (13-0) vs Lincoln Way East Griffins (13-0)

Where? Huskie Stadium at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb Illinois

When? Saturday, November 30th, 7pm.

Senior DT Willis Singleton looks to end his high school career with a bang before he heads off to Iowa St.

How to watch: WCIU, The U (Check local listings for cable number)

In an atmosphere few can say they have experienced at the O’Plaine Campus Stadium, the Warren Blue Devils shutout Brother Rice 28-0 in last Saturday’s semifinal. Now, they will go toe-to-toe with the school that is considered a powerhouse in the state of Illinois, the Griffins of Lincoln Way East. 

This is the Blue Devils first time in school history that they will be heading down to the state championship game. As for the Griffins, this will be the third time in the 21st century they have been down state, the last time being the 2017 season when they won the title beating Loyola Academy 23-14. 

The Griffin offense has been solid all year averaging over 32 points a game starred by Michigan bound Wide Receiver

AJ Henning. In the Griffins semifinal win over Marist last week, Henning had three catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

Here are keys to the Championship game.

Repeat last week’s second half, but in the first half.

Last week, it took the Blue Devil offense until late in the first half to get going. Until the drive towards the end of the first half that resulted in a touchdown pass from Trinate Jacobs to Christian Phillips, the Warren run and pass game was held to a minimum. With all due respect to Brother Rice, the Griffin defense is 10x more physical and quicker than the Crusader defense. The Blue Devil offense must have a strong start to the game even with the jitters of being in the Championship game. Derrick McLaughlin needs to get off to a quick start running the football for his confidence. Trinate Jacobs played a phenomenal game last week passing the ball and his decision making. When he was limping off the field helped by the trainers, all Warren fans were holding their breaths hoping that their Quarterback that had found his groove would not be out for the remainder of the game. It turns out that was not the case, as it was only a cramp and Jacobs was right back in the game. Can the Blue Devil offense that scored three touchdowns vs Brother Rice last week show up, but this time in the first half?

Can the Defense avoid the big plays.

In last weeks game, the Blue Devil defense gave up a couple of big runs on which the Crusader running backs got to the outside and broke through for big yardage. This week, there is no room for those big plays because the Griffins Junior running back Jamal Johnson grinded out 175 yards on 28 (6.25 yards per carry) at Marist last weekend. It’s not just the run game that is a strength to this Griffin offense, Michigan-bound WR/RB AJ Henning racked up 700 all purpose yards on 82 total touches in just the regular season. Lincoln-Way East has quick strike ability and the Blue Devil defense must control that to win this week. They need to get a rush on quarterback Kyle Quinn on every single pass play and hold Johnson to 1-3 yards per carry and not let him see very much green ahead of him because as long as there is a little bit of room, he can burst through the hole and get a big gain out of it. Can the Blue Devils stop the all-state duo of Henning and Johnson and force a turnover or two? If so, then line up on O’Plaine road late Saturday night to greet the 2019 Football 8A State Champions, the Warren Township Blue Devils.

Minimize the jitters.

This is the state championship game, so their will be jitters from both teams, but what it will come down to is who can settle their nerves and play their game. If Warren gets the ball first, they need to at least get two or three first downs leading to a Saul field goal to settle everyone down and get the team settled.

Prediction

This game will be an outstanding game between two great defenses stopping two solid offenses. I think that the Warren offense will score on their first drive or second drive of the game and the defense will play like they have all season long. I believe that this Blue Devil ball club is good enough to beat any team in this state, and they will prove that to all their doubters this week. It’s time to bring a football state title to Gurnee.

My Prediction: Blue Devils 21, Lincoln-Way East 10

 

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