Breaking down DuPage County first-round state playoff matchups

  • St. Francis' Adam Criter (2) tries to spin out the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Antonio Richardson (17) during the first half of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021.

    St. Francis' Adam Criter (2) tries to spin out the tackle from IC Catholic Prep's Antonio Richardson (17) during the first half of a game in Wheaton on Friday, October 22, 2021. Mark Black / Shaw Media Illinois

 
 
Updated 10/23/2021 9:01 PM

The IHSA football playoffs are always special. After all, not every team makes it. Those who do have to earn their way.

But this year's playoffs are extra special, of course. After the reality check that was 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced an abbreviated season to last spring, minus a postseason.

 

Hello, playoffs. Welcome back. We're so, so glad to see you again.

Here is a quick look at every DuPage County team's first-round matchup, released by the IHSA Saturday night. Times and dates of the games will be announced Monday.

Class 8A

Last week's AP rankings top five: Loyola, Neuqua Valley, Maine South, Warren, Marist.

No. 30 Bartlett (5-4) at No. 3 Neuqua Valley (8-1)

Sneak peak: Don't envy Bartlett in this matchup. Neuqua Valley will enter this game an angry group of Wildcats after losing Friday's DVC Bowl on the final play to Naperville North. The Wildcats want to play in DeKalb on Thanksgiving weekend.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 14 Taft and No. 19 Palatine.

No. 26 Sandburg (5-4) at No. 7 Hinsdale Central (8-1)

Sneak peak: Hinsdale Central is riding an eight-game winning streak, and the West Suburban Silver crown fits very well, thank you. The defense was fantastic in Saturday's win at Glenbard West.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 10 Glenbrook South and No. 23 O'Fallon.

No. 18 Marist (6-3) at No. 15 Glenbard East (7-2)

Sneak peak: The Rams have the better record and higher seed, but the draw did them no favors here. Marist is very, very good. Rams quarterback Dillon Williams has shown he can be very good.

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Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 2 South Elgin and No. 31 Edwardsville.

No. 21 Glenbard North (6-3) at No. 12 Bolingbrook (7-2)

Sneak peak: Glenbard North has lost three games by a combined 5 points, to Batavia, Wheaton North and WW South. Bolingbrook should expect a difficult game.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 5 Warren and No. 28 Barrington.

No. 25 Minooka (5-4) at No. 8 York (8-1)

Sneak peak: The Dukes are the surprise team in DuPage County. Not that they weren't expected to be good, but few would have predicted they would be a factor in the oh-so-tough West Suburban Silver.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 9 Lincoln-Way East and No. 24 Oswego East.

No. 20 Oswego (6-3) at No. 13 Glenbard West (7-2)

Sneak peak: The Hilltoppers play a lot of juniors, so this might not be their year. Then again, if they can clean up some mistakes on offense, they can be tough. This is the 14th straight playoff berth for Glenbard West, which has advanced to the state championship game three times under coach Chad Hetlet.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 4 Lockport and No. 29 Lyons Twp.

No. 17 Naperville Central (6-3) at No. 16 Naperville North (6-3)

Sneak peak: The Huskies won 38-27 when these cross-town rivals played Oct. 1 during the DuPage Valley Conference portion of the schedule. Both are coming off Week 9 wins, though the Huskies are sky-high after handing Neuqua Valley its first loss in the DVC Bowl on Friday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 32 Downers Grove South and No. 1 Loyola.

No. 32 Downers Grove South (5-4) at No. 1 Loyola (9-0)

Sneak peak: Is Loyola the best team in the state regardless of class? The Ramblers have made the case this season. The Mustangs have their work cut out for them.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 16 Naperville North vs. No. 17 Naperville Central.

Class 7A

Last week's AP rankings top five: Batavia, Brother Rice, Wheaton North, Mt. Carmel, St. Rita.

No. 29 Larkin (5-4) at No. 4 Wheaton North (8-1)

Sneak peak: Behind Holy Cross-bound quarterback Mark Forcucci, the Falcons are looking for a deep run in a difficult class. The draw isn't bad for the Falcons, however, a product of a strong regular-season record and plenty of playoff points.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 13 Hoffman Estates and No. 20 TF South.

No. 21 Willowbrook (6-3) at No. 12 Young (7-2)

Sneak peak: Losses to Providence, Downers North and York pushed the Warriors to a low seed, but they again have a good team this year. This is a tough draw for Young.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 5 Moline and No. 28 Hampshire.

No. 24 WW South (5-4) at No. 9 Brother Rice (7-2)

Sneak peak: Ouch. Don't let the Brother Rice record fool you, this is a very good team. The Tigers have been tested every week in the DuKane Conference, however. They will need every bit of that experience to beat Brother Rice.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 8 Plainfield Central and No. 25 Yorkville.

Class 5A

Last week's AP rankings top five: Rochester, Fenwick, Morris, Mahomet-Seymour, Peoria.

No. 16 Chicago Bulls (5-4) at No. 1 Glenbard South (8-1)

Sneak peak: The Raiders, ranked eighth by AP voters entering Week 9, boast a high-powered offense built around senior running back Trevor Burnett, sophomore wideout Cam Williams and sophomore quarterback Michael Champagne. But don't sleep on their defense, which has played well against a schedule full of 7A and 8A schools. This is a good draw for the Raiders.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 8 Evergreen Park and No. 9 Sycamore.

Class 4A

Last week's AP rankings top five: Joliet Catholic, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Richmond-Burton, Kewanee, Genoa-Kingston.

No. 12 Peoria Notre Dame (6-3) at No. 5 St. Francis (7-2)

Sneak peak: The Spartans have to be feeling good after Friday's victory against IC Catholic. It's not an easy path, but they are good enough to go far.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 4 Genoa-Kingston and No. 13 Bogan.

No. 9 Coal City (6-3) at No. 8 Wheaton Academy (7-2)

Sneak peak: This is a tough draw for the Warriors. Coal City is no pushover, and powerhouse Joliet Catholic looms in the second round. But the Warriors are happy to host their first playoff game in program history.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 1 Joliet Catholic and No. 16 Marengo.

Class 3A

Last week's AP rankings top five: IC Catholic, Wilmington, Byron, Williamsville, Tolono Unity.

No. 11 Monmouth-Roseville (6-3) at No. 6 IC Catholic Prep (8-1)

Sneak peak: Friday night's loss to St. Francis is a setback, but the Knights still are a team to watch. They have a championship tradition they will try to live up to again.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 3 Pecatonica and No. 14 Mendota.

No. 9 Carver (6-3) at No. 8 Lisle (6-3)

Sneak peak: The Lions have a good running attack in the double-wing offense behind Cole Campbell, Gabe Quinones and Tyrese Watson to show a first-round foe from Chicago. That second-round matchup, probably against state power Byron, should make Lions fans wince.

Advancement: The winner plays the winner of No. 1 Byron and No. 16 Catalyst Maria.

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