Melvin Tate, our intrepid Wednesday Journal sports reporter, hits the road this weekend to cover a couple of high school football games of local interest. He’s taking in OPRF at Marist tonight, Friday, Oct. 27. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Then, he’ll be at Wheaton North on Saturday, Oct. 28 as the host Falcons welcome in Fenwick for a 6 p.m. game. For all you need to know regarding both matchups  (including predictions) here’s a special post-season edition of “Tate’s Take.”

OPRF at Marist: 7 p.m. tonight (Fri., Oct. 27)

Tate’s Take: On paper, Marist appears to have superior talent led by tight end T.J. Ivy, running back Delonte Harrell, and a suffocating defense. However, this is not your typical 9-0 vs 5-4 matchup which usually results in a blowout win for the undefeated team. The Huskies’ four losses all came to the other four West Suburban Silver teams that made the playoffs, and they were largely competitive in all four games.

The key for OPRF tonight will be ball control. The Huskies need to have long possessions to keep the prolific Redhawks’ offense off the field as much as possible. I also feel the weather will be a major factor tonight as it is going to be cold and windy. Expect coach John Hoerster to feature heavy doses of running backs Terrance Roundy and Keith Robinson.

And as I said yesterday, Marist does have some history of highly-regarded teams flopping in the first round. I expect OPRF to play with nothing to lose since no expert feels they will win, but this will be a closer game than folks think, and though I will pick the Redhawks, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Huskies prevail.

Marist 28, OPRF 20

Fenwick at Wheaton North: Saturday at 6 p.m. (Sat., Oct. 28)

Tate’s Take: Although Wheaton North is seeded #13 in 7A and Fenwick #20, this appears to be an evenly-matched game. Both teams have balance on offense; the Friars’ Jason Ivery and the Falcons’ Sam Singleton are the main running backs and each team has good passing attacks spearheaded by the Friars’ Danny Cronin and the Falcons’ Rhett Netzer. And the defenses are physical, featuring Jacob Kaminski, Joe Rafferty, and Jalen Bates for Fenwick and Bo Neidballa and Trenton Hegranes for Wheaton North.

In my opinion, the difference maker is Fenwick wide receiver Mike O’Laughlin. He will be the most talented player on the field and can make a game-breaking play at any time. Another close game, but I think Friars will win.

Fenwick 21, Wheaton North 14

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