Next stop, St. Charles North.
Highland Park clinched a Class 7A state berth with a convincing 62-7 victory at Maine East on Oct. 20.
With their 5-4 overall mark, the 27th-seeded Giants will open postseason play with a road game at St. Charles North on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m.
The North Stars, seeded No. 6 in Class 7A, wrapped up a perfect 6-0 record in the Upstate Eight River Division on Oct. 20 by slipping past powerhouse No. 4 seed Batavia 35-28. They are 8-1 overall.
Under the direction of third-year head coach Joe Horeni, HP will be making a return trip to the state playoffs.
The Giants, who finished 7-3 a year ago, had it all going against Maine East.
The team had solid quarterbacking from senior John Sakos, who tossed touchdown passes to Giancarlo Volpentesta and Noa Morgenstern, and junior Michael Rooney, who had a 34-yard TD run. The other TDs were scored on the ground by Morgenstern, Tommy Motzko, Ryan Brincks, Justin Goodman and Billy Gimbel.
HP’s other score came from the defensive side, when sophomore Gerald Washington scooped up a fumble and raced it into the end zone.
The other defensive standouts included Motzko (4 tackles, 1 quarterback sack, 2 tackles for loss), Morgenstern (4 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 blocked pun), Marcus Shaw (4 tackles, 2 sacks), Luke Crawford (3 tackles, 1 interception), Will Hanson (4 tackles) and Jon Lipman (1 TFL).
The Giants used two kickers. Damian Campos went 6-for-6 on PAT kicks. Maya Taitz converted two of her three attempts.
Lake Forest 49, Waukegan 12
— With its decisive 49-12 win at Waukegan on Oct. 21, Lake Forest locked up a state playoff berth for the eighth year in a row and the 11th time in 12 years.
The 5-4 Scouts, who finished the regular season with three straight wins, will travel to Riverside-Brookfield (8-1) in a Class 6A opener on Oct. 27. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The winner will meet either Hoffman Estates (7-2) or De La Salle (6-3).
The two teams have a playoff history. Last year, the Scouts topped Riverside-Brookfield 40-7 in the first round.
LF’s offense certainly was clicking against Waukegan. Senior quarterback Jack Mislinski (9-13-0, 146 yards) threw three touchdown passes and also ran one in.
His top receiver was junior Ryan Cekay. He caught four passes for 111 yards. He came up with a 63-yard TD reception in the opening quarter and added a 20-yard TD grab in the second period.
Mislinski also tossed a seven-yard TD pass to Luke Nolan in the first quarter.
LF’s running game also was effective. In addition to Mislinski (3 rushes, 19 yards), Jacob Thomas (10-54), Bryan Ooms 9-40) and Jack VanHyfte (1-21) had one touchdown each.
Defensively, the Scouts had a ton of contributors: Will Wisniewski (6 tackles, 2 quarterback sacks), Spencer Yauch (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss), John Deering (4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery), Rylie Mills (2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL), Shannon Charleston (2 tackles, 1 sack), Ben Marwede (1 sack, 3 TFLs), Charlie Aberle (3 TFLs), Chris Cavalaris (3 tackles), Patrick Yale (2 tackles), Alex Moss (1 tackle, 1 interception), Matthew Barigazzi (2 INTs), Emmett Rubin (1 INT) and Eddie Scheidler (2 tackles).