Northwest suburbs' teams set for 1st round
For the first time in school history, Maine West has qualified for the state playoffs in consecutive seasons. The Warriors will have a familiar foe in the first round though.
Benet, which beat Maine West in the opening round of the state playoffs last season, was matched up with the Warriors again this year according to the IHSA Saturday as the state football pairings were announced.
All eight classes of 32 teams each were revealed by the IHSA. In Northwest Cook County, eight other area teams qualified. Joining Maine West in 7A will be Rolling Meadows, Hersey, Hoffman Estates, Prospect and Buffalo Grove. In 8A, Barrington, Conant and Fremd all qualified.
Maine West (8-1), which lost to Benet 35-13 last year, picked up a 12th seed and will host Benet (6-3), which was awarded a 21st seed.
"We are coming off a huge win," Maine West coach Jason Kradman said. "And a season where we grew quite a bit. We have more experience and we know what the environment will be."
Hersey will also get a taste of déjà vu.
The Huskies will meet Lincoln-Way Central in the opening round of the playoffs this year. Last year, Lincoln-Way Central eliminated Hersey in the second round 21-7.
Hersey, which finished the year at 8-1, picked up the No. 9 seed in 7A. The Huskies have qualified for the second consecutive year and won their playoff opener last season. Lincoln-Way Central (6-3) of the Southwest Suburban Conference finished sixth in its conference and is seeded 24th.
"I think it will be an exciting game," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "It is great opportunity for us."
Also in 7A, Rolling Meadows may have been slighted when the undefeated Mustangs were awarded a sixth seed. Unfortunately, Meadows was one of six teams in the 7A bracket to go 9-0 and the Mustangs had the lowest playoff points (31) of those teams.
Despite that, Rolling Meadows will still be a home team for the first round. The Mustangs, who are making their eighth consecutive playoff appearance and 15th in the last 16 years, will host 27th-seed Alton (5-4). The Redbirds finished fourth in the Southwestern Conference.
"It has been kind of surreal," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "We talk about the fact that we have to earn it. And every year our guys do."
Hoffman Estates (6-3) jumped up to 18th-seed in the 7A playoffs thanks to its win over Conant on Friday. The Hawks, who were in 6A last year and lost in the semifinals to Prairie Ridge, moved up to 7A.
Hoffman drew a long drive and a tough assignment when it will have to travel to East St. Louis for its first round game. The Flyers (7-2), champions of the Southwestern Conference, were seeded 15th.
"It is a great opportunity," Hoffman coach Tim Heyse said. "They are a storied program and a great opportunity for us."
Buffalo Grove qualified for the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The Bison, who were 5-4 this season, were awarded a 30th seed. They will play at third-seeded Rockton Hononegah, which won the NIC-10 conference and was 9-0 on the season.
"It is an exciting thing for our kids," Buffalo Grove coach Jeff Vlk said. "It shows the resiliency that our kids have."
Under first-year head coach Dan DeBeouf, Prospect broke a 6-year playoff drought when the Knights qualified with a 5-4 record. They are seeded 31st and will play at second-seeded Glenbard East (9-0) in Lombard. The Rams won the Upstate Eight Conference. They have only been to the state playoffs once in school history with that appearance coming in 1999.
"We are excited," DeBeouf said. "We can't wait to get to work on Monday."
All three of the area's Class 8A playoff teams will be on the road for the first round of the playoffs. Barrington, which finished behind both Conant and Fremd in the MSL West received a higher seed than the conference co-champs based upon their record and playoff point total.
Barrington (6-3), which has qualified for the playoffs for the last six seasons and 14 out of the last 16 years, was seeded 20th. The Broncos will travel to Oswego East, which finished tied for second in the Southwest Prairie conference. The Wolves (7-2) are making their fourth consecutive playoff appearance and are seeded 13th.
"I am proud of our ability to bounce back," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, whose team has won its last 3 games. "We are excited to continue to keep playing."
Conant, which has not been to the playoffs since 2015, dropped down in the seeding after its loss to Hoffman Estates on Friday. The Cougars (6-3) received a 24th seed and will travel to play Hinsdale Central (7-2). The Red Devils tied for the West Suburban Silver conference and are seeded ninth.
"Our kids are just excited to keep playing," Conant coach Bryan Stortz said. "They are looking forward to the opportunity and another week of practice. The kids have bought in well to what we are doing here."
Fremd appeared to be on the outside looking in after the Vikings began the season 0-3. The Vikings rallied to win 5 of their last 6 games to qualify for the playoffs after going 1-8 last year
The Vikings, who are seeded 29th, will meet Homewood-Flossmoor, which finished second in the Southwest Suburban Conference. H-F was 8-1 on the season and is seeded fourth.
"The way our team is coming together we are happy to play anywhere," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "I am just happy for our kids. They have been through so much and stayed the course."
Official game dates and times will be announced Monday afternoon.