Goss: Class 5A promises to provide football playoff fireworks
By Dick Goss email@example.com October 28, 2013 9:48PM
Mason Mahoney (26), Colin DuCray (14) and their Lincoln-Way West teammates will open the Class 5A playoffs vs. Urban Prep-Bronzeville. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 1, 2013 7:36AM
The opening round of the state high school football playoffs generally provides several exciting match-ups and some that are blowouts.
Two of the Joliet area’s best teams, Joliet Catholic and Lincoln-Way West, have games in Round 1 of Class 5A that may not be close. The Hilltoppers (8-1) will beat Urban Prep-Englewood (6-3) and the Warriors (8-1) will dispatch Urban Prep-Bronzeville (7-2).
In the interest of taking them one game at a time, coaches and players are not allowed to look ahead. But we can. Beginning with Round 2, the northern bracket of 5A will provide dynamite battles.
Joliet Catholic could host Kaneland (8-1) in Round 2 and visit Montini (9-0) in the quarterfinals before facing Lincoln-Way West in the semifinals. West could visit St. Francis (5-4) or Glenbard South (9-0) in Round 2 and travel to Sycamore (9-0) or host Nazareth (7-2) in the quarterfinals. Kaneland and Sycamore — which beat West in Week 1 this season and last — are legitimate, and Nazareth is on a roll.
Montini is a whole other issue, however. We previously discussed the difficult schedules some of our teams, such as Providence and Joliet Catholic, have played. Well, Montini totaled 54 playoff points and went 9-0 against a schedule that included eight — yes, eight — playoff teams. The Broncos beat Maine South 21-19 and East St. Louis 34-6 to open the season and have not slowed down.
Joliet Catholic and Lincoln-Way West may survive only until they run into Montini. The Broncos have won four straight state titles, (and five total) since 2004, but never with the unbeaten record this year’s team boasts.
Then again, Montini’s reign will end sometime. Joliet Catholic has played solid defense, and with the Hilltoppers continuing to regain their health on offense — quarterback Nick Morrison will be available this week, and offensive guard JB Butler may be back at some time during the playoffs — they may be just the team to derail the Broncos, whom they are due to beat.
Should Montini be the semifinal opponent for Lincoln-Way West, the game would be a tossup if the same Warriors show up who whipped Lincoln-Way Central 42-13 on Friday night. Coach Dave Ernst’s team was impressive.
As much nervous anticipation as 5A provides, there is plenty more in other classes:
8A: Plainfield South (6-3) opens at Marist (6-3), with the winner facing Bolingbrook (9-0) in Round 2. South can score points against Marist but must keep the RedHawks offense in check. No easy task. Whoever wins that game, though, will run into the ultimate defense in Bolingbrook, which opens against Bloom (5-4).
If the Raiders advance, they would face Oswego, Waubonsie Valley, Naperville North or Hinsdale Central in the quarterfinals and have a rematch with SouthWest Suburban Blue rival Homewood-Flossmoor in the semifinals.
7A: Plainfield East (6-3) at Lincoln-Way East (7-2). Plainfield East scored a total of seven points in its three losses, all to playoff teams, and Lincoln-Way East’s defense is as good or better than those. The Bengals may be able to contend with the Griffins offense, but consistently solving their defense will be key.
If Lincoln-Way East wins, the Griffins may make trips to Belleville West in Round 2 and Edwardsville in the quarterfinals. The buses better be tuned.
6A: Romeoville (5-4) is at Rich Central (8-1) and Providence (5-4) visits Crete-Monee (8-1). Our guys are underdogs, right? That does not mean they can’t win. Considering the schedules Rich Central and Crete have played — and remember, Crete lost to Benet 30-6 in Week 4 — makes you believe we could have two winners.
4A: Coal City (5-4) is an underdog at Quincy Notre Dame (8-1). But the Coalers playing a better schedule could work in their favor. Peotone (7-2) should handle Pontiac (6-3). If the two Interstate Eight Large teams win, they would meet in Round 2 at Coal City.
3A: Oregon (5-4) at Wilmington (8-1) will not be easy for the Wildcats but they should advance, with Immaculate Conception looming in Round 2.
Seneca (7-2) hosts Kewanee (6-3), after which the Irish probably would meet Raby (7-2). Who’s up for a Wilmington vs. Seneca quarterfinal?