A season ago, Barrington football coach Joe Sanchez was home with his wife watching the Illinois High School Association's playoff matchups scroll on his TV since the Broncos had failed to qualify for the state playoffs.
But what a difference a year makes.
After going 8-1 and qualifying this year's postseason, Sanchez, his team and their supporters gathered at Barrington High School on Saturday. Just like they had in eight of the previous 11 years, Sanchez and his team were waiting to see where the Broncos would be placed in the Class 8A brackets.
Just after 9 p.m., the team was rewarded for its patience. Barrington was awarded a No. 2 seed and will host Evanston (5-4) from the Central Suburban South in the first round of the playoffs next weekend.
The official dates and times of all the first-round games will be announced Monday by the IHSA.
"It is great to be with all of players, coaches and families," Sanchez said. "This is what we worked for at the start of the season. We look forward to the new challenge."
Fremd (6-3) also qualified for the 8A playoffs. The Vikings were seeded eighth and will host ninth-seeded Notre Dame (6-3) in their opening round game.
"We closed the door on the regular season," said Fremd coach Lou Sponsel, who was a team party in Palatine. "It is start of a new season, and we are excited."
Schaumburg, Conant, Elk Grove and Hersey all qualified and were placed in 7A while, Rolling Meadows is in 6A.
Schaumburg, which will be the largest school in Class 7A, also earned a No. 2 seed. The Saxons will meet Schurz (7-2) from the Chicago Public League. Schaumburg is not new to playing Chicago Public League teams, having met Simeon in 2010.
"Not the first time for us," Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. "We weren't worried too much on who played. We just need to take care of ourselves."
Conant, which gathered at coach Bill Modelski's home to watch where it would be headed, drew the No. 11 seed. The Cougars (6-3) will travel to the Fox Valley Conference's Valley Division champ Jacobs (7-2) and former Stevenson coach Bill Mitz.
"It is what we hoped for," Modelski said "Someone outside our league. We wanted to play someone different and we are excited to do that."
Hersey is making its first appearance in the state playoffs since 2004. The Huskies (6-3) earned 13th seed and will play at fourth-seeded Fenwick (8-1) from the Chicago Catholic League White, where the Friars were conference champions.
Elk Grove (6-3) needed a win Friday to make the state playoffs and the Grenadiers came up with one at Prospect. The Grens earned a 16th seed and will meet top-seeded and state-power Lake Zurich (8-1).
Rolling Meadows (6-3) is making its 13th appearance in the state playoffs; the Mustangs are seeded 10th and play at seventh-seeded Grayslake North (7-2).
St. Viator, which lost to St. Patrick on Friday night to finish at 5-4, just missed qualifying this year. The Lions finished with 35 playoff points, just 1 point short of qualifying.