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Entering the 2012 regular season, few could have seen this coming for DuPage County football. Perennial playoff qualifiers Naperville Central, Downers Grove South and Wheaton Warrenville South are not in the postseason. Benet and Willowbrook, meanwhile, are qualifiers after going a combined 1-17 last year. Some things, though, haven't changed. Look for Glenbard West (9-0) to be a favorite in Class 7A and defending 5A champ Montini (7-2) to make another run at a title.
A deep field loaded with possibilities. Can standout quarterback Aaron Bailey get healthy in time for Bolingbrook to defend its title? Can Maine South and quarterback Matt Alviti reclaim its spot atop the class? Will Loyola lose on U.S. soil? Neuqua Valley, 9-0 for the first time, hopes to break through after past playoff disappointments. Glenbard North, fresh off its first DuPage Valley Conference title since 1991, aims for a second straight trip to the semifinals -- and perhaps beyond.
No. 4 Glenbard North (8-1) at No. 13 Fremd (5-4)
Fremd gets the home game based on IHSA sanctions against Glenbard North from 2007 playoff game vs. Fremd.
No. 16 Naperville North (5-4) at No. 1 Neuqua Valley (9-0)
A rematch of season opener. Neuqua Valley's been steady all year. The key is how much the Huskies have improved.
No. 13 Proviso West (6-3) at No. 4 Waubonsie V. (8-1)
Warriors are eager to atone for last season's first-round exit. If Proviso West brings its "A" game, this'll be a thriller.
No. 12 Oak Park (6-3) at
No. 5 Hinsdale Central (7-2)
Oak Park beat the Red Devils in overtime two weeks ago. Hinsdale Central hopes to get WR Ian Bunting healthy again.
Boylan (9-0) may be the defending champion, but Glenbard West (9-0) is the top seed after rolling to its fourth unbeaten regular season in five years. Even without WW South in the field, 7A is loaded once again. Lincoln-Way East (9-0) is back with one of its best teams, and Batavia (9-0) has a ton of momentum. Is there a better turnaround story in the state than Benet's flip from 1-8 last year to 8-1 and its first East Suburban Catholic title this year?
No. 16 Elk Grove (5-4) at
No. 1 Glenbard West (9-0)
Hitters healthy and ready to roll. Tough enough to stop the run game. Can Grens slow 6-5 receiver Nathan Marcus?
No. 12 St. Charles E. (6-3) at No. 5 Wheaton North (8-1)
Few teams have skill position players the Falcons enjoy, but they also have a sleeper defense. D-line is a strength.
No. 14 Willowbrook (6-3) at No. 3 Hononegah (8-1)
Two potentially explosive offenses. Warriors average 31 points while Hononegah averages 40 points per game.
No. 8 Downers North (5-4) at No. 1 Batavia (9-0)
With 6-6 QB David Edwards, Trojans have the kind of power run game that'll have to keep Batavia offense off field.
No. 7 Andrew (6-3) at
No. 2 Benet (8-1)
Tough to doubt Benet after its run the last few weeks. Andrew must find a way to slow Benet's big-play offense
If you want to know about this year's 6A field, Glenbard South (6-3) is the team to ask. The Raiders played defending champion Prairie Ridge -- surprisingly not a qualifier this season -- and state-ranked Crete-Monee (9-0) and Rock Island (7-2). Cary-Grove (9-0) takes over where Prairie Ridge left off with a team aiming to keep the state title trophy in the Fox Valley Conference. Will anyone be able to prevent a Crete-Monee vs. Cary-Grove state title showdown?
No. 9 Glenbard South (6-3) at No. 8 St. Patrick (6-3)
Brutal draw for battle-tested Raiders. Shamrocks handed Benet its only loss. Winner faces 6A favorite Cary-Grove.
No. 8 Hinsdale South (6-3) at No. 1 Oak Forest (8-1)
Turns out Hinsdale South needed Friday's win to qualify. With low points Hornets knew they'd have tough opener.
The conversation starts with Montini (7-2), three-time defending 5A champion -- but it doesn't end there. Kaneland (9-0) is the northern bracket's top seed and has faced the Broncos in the semifinals the last two years. Marian Catholic (9-0) could see Montini in the quarterfinals, bringing confidence from a 49-24 regular-season win. Joliet Catholic (5-4) can never be ignored. All are familiar names -- as are Morris (8-1) and Normal University (9-0) in the lower bracket.
No. 14 Bremen (5-4) at
No. 3 Montini (7-2)
Bremen got in with a Week 9 win against 2-7 Oak Lawn. The Broncos could face No. 6 Sycamore (6-3) for the fourth time in six years in Round 2.
Defending 3A champion Aurora Christian (8-1) has the third-best point differential in the class, and Nokomis (8-1) and Williamsville (9-0) both are in the southern bracket. The fact that Aurora Christian is a No. 4 seed ignores a near-win over Montini and wins over 5A St. Francis and 6A Marmion. Arguably better than last season. A possible second-round game against Immaculate Conception (6-3) awaits. Top seeded Elmwood-Brimfield (9-0) is a new co-op team that is 3-11 in 12 playoff appearances.
No. 12 Imm. Conception (6-3) at No. 5 North Boone (8-1)
Tested IC and the dreaded 5 vs. 12 seed matchup could bite North Boone, which has faced two playoff opponents.
What you should know about the pairings
Missing the cut
St. Francis (37 playoff points) and Lisle (35) were among the 16 teams with 5 wins not to earn at-large playoff berths.
Barely made it
Downers North's 41 points passed the cutoff of 38. Hinsdale South (29) needed its sixth win against Willowbrook.
The toughest matchup
Glenbard South should have helped its cause with Friday's win, but drawing St. Patrick from the ESCC is no picnic.
At 9-0, Glenbard West is top-seeded in the northern 7A bracket and Neuqua's No. 1 in the 8A southern bracket.
It's a draw
Glenbard West's path has Wheaton North in quarters. Tough road for Glenbard North with Stevenson, Maine South.
Don't know that Neuqua wants to see Naperville North again. Immaculate Conception's poised for deep 3A run.