O’Brien: Breaking down the brackets after the first round

Loyola's Mike Gavric (44) gets a little love from Artie Collins (11). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.
Loyola's Mike Gavric (44) gets a little love from Artie Collins (11). Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

A look back at the first round of the state playoffs and a look ahead at the second round.


First round lesson: The Southwest Prairie may have been overrated. The conference went 1-3 in the first round. Only Oswego won.

Take notice: Homewood-Flossmoor’s vaunted defense lived up to they hype in the first round. The Vikings blanked Fremd 21-0.

First round upset: No. 22 Waubonise Valley handled No. 11 Bolingbrook easily and won 38-21 on the road.

Best second round game: No. 5 Marist at No. 21 Naperville Central. Can the RedHawks handle the Redhawks on the road? Naperville Central has done well against a rugged schedule and has the best player on the field, quarterback Payton Thorne.

Second round upset watch: No. 19 Loyola over No. 3 Oswego. The Ramblers get to play at home and the Southwest Prairie didn’t distinguish itself in round one.


First round lesson: It was a historic weekend. Maine West won its first ever playoff game and Glenbard East won its first since 1999.

Take notice: Simeon, Willowbrook and Mount Carmel each shut out their opponents. The field is lopsided, a lot of the second round games could be blowouts as well.

First round upset: No. 12 Maine West beat No. 21 Benet 20-18. That wasn’t an upset according to seeds but definitely was according to expectations.

Best second round game: No. 1 Simeon has to travel to take on No. 17 Lincoln-Way West in New Lenox. The Warriors should provide a challenge, they played Homewood-Flossmoor well earlier in the season.

Second round upset watch: No. 8 Hersey at No. 9 Nazareth.


First round lesson: The Fox Valley is not overrated. Cary-Grove, Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake South dominated opponents by a combined score of 132-21.

Take notice: Antioch destroyed Reavis 49-0. The Sequoits are still undefeated and still unranked in the Super 25. Quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis is one of the state’s best players.

First round upset: No. 11 Crete-Monee beat No. 6 Bloomington 41-13.

Best second round game: No. 5. Prairie Ridge at No. 4 Phillips. This one should be fun. It’s a matchup of last season’s Class 6A and Class 5A title winners.

Second round upset watch: No. 11 Crete-Monee could do it again against No. 3 Glenwood.


First round lesson: Five Public League teams lost and none were even competitive.

Take notice: Montini and Hillcrest dominated in the first round and appear destined to meet in the title game.

First round upset: No. 14 Joliet Catholic beat No. 3 Metamora 49-20 on the road.

Best second round game: No. 8 Elmwood Park at No. 16 Evergreen Park. The Tigers picked up their first playoff win since 1985 in the first round.

Second round upset watch: No. 14 Joliet Catholic is at home against No. 6 Marion.


First round lesson: There was an offensive explosion with ten teams scoring more than 40 points.

Take notice: UP-Bronzeville beat St. Edward 24-14 at Gately. The Lions didn’t get much attention this season, but that is a great win.

First round upset: No. 10 Effingham beat No. 7 Breese Mater Dei 21-6.

Best second round game: No. 2 Coal City at No. 10 Johnsburg. Two football towns whose teams each shut out their first round opponents.

Second round upset watch: No. 5 Marengo over No. 4 UP-Bronzeville.


Three local teams survived the first round in Class 3A: Byron, Lisle and Herscher. Hope Academy and Chicago Christian are still alive in Class 2A. Aurora Christian, Orr and Ottawa Marquette were the local winners in Class 1A.


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  • Ralphie

    When you say that a team was “overated” you have to begin with where they were initially rated. Glenbard West was never rated in the top five and Hinsdale Central was not in the top ten. GW lost to Maine South and OPRF. Not a disgrace. GW was rated around tenth at the start and I believe that’s who they are. Perhaps OPRF was underrated. Their defense is fantastic

  • Ralphie

    Glenbard West plays LWE and OPRF plays Brother Rice so we are playing the two best teams in the state. So we will see. All I said was the WSC wasn’t overated, not that they were the best conference in the state. So chill out

    • IHSA

      No, you implied that due to their first round wins the WSCS was not overrated. I just pointed out that last weekend proved nothing since they all should have won their first round games and they haven’t beaten anyone (yet) this season w/ the exception of the HCHS win over Naperville Central back in August. I’m a pre-precious metal WSC alum so I hope they all do well, but both HCHS and GWHS were overrated.

  • Ralphie

    The West Suburban Silver wasn’t overrated. Glenbard West Oak Park and Hinsdale Central all won

    • IHSA

      Big deal, they are clearly overrated, who’d they beat in the first round? Certainly not any world beaters. We’ll see how things go in Rd2 before we start talking about the strength of either the WSC or DVC. Only Real WCS scalp belongs to HCHS over NCHS and that was very lucky gift. No way the Redhawks should have blown that game. It was an early X-mas gift for HCHS.

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