The Riverside Brookfield High School football team returns to the Class 6A state playoffs with a familiar foe and a more familiar setting.

For the second straight season, the Bulldogs (7-2) open against Kaneland (6-3) but this time the game is home at 7 p.m. Friday. 

RBHS secured its first home playoff contest since 2017 with a 35-20 victory Friday at Rich Township (4-5), which needed a win to reach the playoffs. One of the highlights was the return of injured senior quarterback Diego Gutierrez and his typically strong outing.

“Definitely we wanted to make sure we kept [playing at home] in mind,” RBHS coach Sam Styler said. “Rich Township was coming out playing for their playoff lives. We made sure we came out and did what we needed to do to secure ourselves and try to get an opportunity to get a home playoff game.”

The Bulldogs, making their third straight playoff trip, and the Knights are the 8 and 9 seeds in the upper half of the 6A bracket. The winner most likely gets No. 1 Lake Zurich (8-1) in the second round.

The year 2015 also marked the Bulldogs’ last playoff victory. Kaneland won last year’s matchup in Maple Park, 35-14, behind a 28-point third quarter after the game was tied 7-7 at halftime.

“We’re looking for some redemption,” Styler said. “It’s really just about finishing. Last year, we came out and had a pretty good first half. We kind of let it slip away. It’s making sure we do all of the little things right to hopefully get the win.”

RBHS lost to its two opponents that made the playoffs (Kankakee and Crete-Monee) and beat three 4-5 teams. The Bulldogs scored at least 35 points in every victory and limited six of those opponents to no more than 21 points. 

Kaneland lost to undefeated Morris 43-33 and to 8-1 Sycamore and Washington by a combined seven points. The Knights scored at least 21 points every game and at least 28 in their six victories.

Correction, 10-25-23, 2:16 p.m.: This story was updated to correct the date the last time the Riverside Brookfield High School football team returned to the Class 6A state playoffs. It was 2017. We regret the error.