Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 11/1/2016 2:34 PM

When an upset really isn't an upset

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  • Hinsdale Central's Josh Bean (3) is pulled down by Waubonsie Valley's Jake Julian (37) during Waubonsie Valley's 33-23 victory Saturday in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.

      Hinsdale Central's Josh Bean (3) is pulled down by Waubonsie Valley's Jake Julian (37) during Waubonsie Valley's 33-23 victory Saturday in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Football's obviously a weekly sport, but sometimes I wish we had more time to digest the playoff brackets.

Between the last-second outcomes, the upsets and the key injuries, way too much happened in two days of action last weekend.

Eyes on Five continues its march to Champaign with a look at a memorable first round.

1. Crazier eights:

We knew the Class 8A bracket was going to be brutal, but last weekend might have been more than we expected.

The outcomes demonstrated the immense depth of the field while also showing the lack of a dominant team. The result was a series of what we normally call "upsets", but we need to use that term mildly.

We saw 31st-seeded Waubonsie Valley (6-4) "upset" No. 2 Hinsdale Central (9-1), but the Warriors come from the powerful DuPage Valley Conference and last season made a run to the semifinals from a similar position.

Twenty-sixth seeded Maine South, No. 25 Fremd, No. 24 Huntley, No. 22 New Trier, No. 20 Glenbard West, No. 19 Lyons Twp. and No. 18 Lincoln-Way East "upset" seven teams with a combined six losses. The list of defeated teams reads like a who's who -- Brother Rice, Stevenson, Marist and others -- but the list of winners isn't too shabby, either.

Most striking about the first round in 8A was the large number of close games, especially last Friday when five of the eight games were decided by 3 points or fewer. In all, eight games were decided by a touchdown or less.

What we're left with is a field of 16 teams, and each should feel good about its respective position. Unbeaten top seed Loyola is still the favorite, but the gap between favorite and underdog is slim as it's ever been.

2. Showdown:

For me, the most exciting part of the opening round was covering two of the three Class 8A showdowns between the West Suburban Silver and the DuPage Valley Conference.

The Silver emerged with a pair of wins on last-second field goals as Lyons Twp. beat Naperville North and Glenbard West topped Neuqua Valley. As mentioned above, Waubonsie Valley edged Silver champion Hinsdale Central.

Elsewhere in the leagues, the Silver's Oak Park lost to Edwardsville in overtime while the DVC's Glenbard North hammered Pekin in Class 7A.

Speaking of the Panthers (8-2), if you're up for a road trip you'll want to make the 300-mile trek to East St. Louis (10-0). The Flyers are a favorite to win the state title, but Glenbard North's proven to be a team capable of anything.

The winner of that game has every reason to believe they've got a great shot at playing in Champaign on Thanksgiving weekend.

3. Kudos:

So many great performances by DuPage County athletes last weekend ... Glenbard North running back Vittorio Tricase, Glenbard West receiver Alec Pierce and IC Catholic Prep quarterback Luke Ricobene among others.

None, however, topped do-it-all Waubonsie Valley junior Charles Robinson.

Robinson, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, came into the season as a tight end with receiver speed and skill, but his role grew tremendously as his second varsity campaign progressed. He soon entered the defensive lineup as an end, and even played in the secondary in Saturday's win over Hinsdale Central.

By game's end Robinson snared 6 catches for 214 yards and scored 4 of the Warriors' 5 touchdowns. He also recovered a fumble and batted a pass that resulted in a teammate's interception.

To keep advancing in the playoffs, Waubonsie Valley must stay balanced offensively with quarterback Tanner Westwood and running back Nate Ashford. But it never hurts to have a guy take over in the playoffs.

4. Great weekend:

We focus our conversations on DuPage County, but we need to talk about the Mid-Suburban League for a moment because of the impact it made on the entire field last weekend.

Four of the six qualifiers advanced into the second round and one of the teams that lost, Hoffman Estates, nearly upset Benet by rallying to tie the game after falling behind 23-0.

While Rolling Meadows (in 7A), Palatine and Barrington each won as expected, Fremd pulled off the biggest stunner of the first round by beating a Brother Rice team expected to challenge for a Class 8A spot in Champaign.

Does the MSL have playoff legs? Perhaps, but Palatine especially needs to overcome the odds. Even though the Pirates are unbeaten and seeded third in 8A, they lost quarterback Zach Oles -- who entered the game with 1,888 passing yards and 487 rushing yards -- to a season-ending injury.

One way or the other, the MSL will have a say in how the brackets progress in 7A and 8A.

5. Stat time:

Congratulations to venerable Montini coach Chris Andriano, who notched his 300th victory last week against St. Ignatius.

The Broncos made their first playoff appearance in 1981 with Andriano at the helm, and this season they're making their 29th appearance overall and 24th consecutive in search of their seventh state title.

Montini would have loved a record better than 6-3 heading into the playoffs, but it was entirely appropriate for Andriano to get No. 300 in the postseason.

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