BYRON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Only the strongest of the strong are left in the IHSA football playoffs now that we’ve reached the semifinals. The Byron Tigers are one of those teams now in the final four in Class 3A. Saturday they’ll face a football program that has a gaudy tradition.

A sign on Byron’s campus says it all, 12 down, two to go. The 12-0 Tigers are right where they expected to be, in the state championship hunt. In some ways it feels like their season is just now starting.

“Yea, we’ve been looking forward to this all year,” said Byron all-state sophomore running back/linebacker Cadine Considine. We’ve been working hard ever since the summer really this has been a goal of ours, so it’s really nice to be here.”

In past seasons at this stage of the playoffs the Tigers had to deal with Elmhurst I-C Catholic. I-C Catholic got bumped up to 4A this year, but now the Tigers have to deal with Lombard Montini, a Chicago Catholic League powerhouse. The Broncos have played in the state championship game nine times. They’ve won six state championships at the higher levels of 4A, 5A and 6A.

Byron head coach Jeff Boyer says the Tigers are looking forward to playing a team with Montini’s pedigree.

“Absolutely, and I think our kids are ready for that. We were pretty young last year going into the I-C Catholic game, and it showed in that game in the semifinals, but a lot of these kids are back from last year’s team, and I think they’re ready for the challenge this year.”

“We know they have six state championships, so the tradition is definitely there,” said Considine. “We have that tradition as well, so I feel like, to me, it’s a good matchup.”

Byron has defeated every opponent this season by at least 36 points. The Tigers have scored the most playoff points of any remaining team in the playoffs at any level. This Saturday, the Tigers will likely be faced with a four-quarter game. All Big Northern Conference defensive lineman Josh Harris says the Tigers know the challenge that awaits them.

“I think this team that we’re playing against is well-coached, well-played. They’ve got some good players. I feel like they’re a very explosive offense. They’ve got a lot of fast kids.”

“They’re a spread team,” said Boyer. “They’ve got an all-state running back and then also an all-state slot receiver, so very explosive offense. They want to run the ball first, but they certainly can throw the ball as well.”

Get your popcorn for this one. It should be a show. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in Lombard.