The quarterfinals for the 2018 IHSA state football playoffs are set after an exciting slate of second-round games this weekend. Six of the top eight seeds in Class 8A reached the next round of action, while five of eight did in Class 7A. Brother Rice and Simeon, the top seeds in those respective classes, remain alive entering the quarterfinals.
Not every highly seeded team made it out of the second round alive, however. Oswego, the No. 3 seed in Class 8A, found itself facing a Loyola team that looked the part of a defending state runner-up. The No. 19 seed Ramblers went off in a 22-0 shutout victory that sends them into the quarterfinals looking surprisingly dangerous after a shaky regular season.
Even bigger upsets came in the Class 7A bracket, where No. 2 Glenbard West fell to No. 15 East St. Louis, No. 3 Hononegah lost to No. 14 Wheaton-Warrenville South and No. 6 Rolling Meadows got knocked out by No. 22 St. Charles North. All three of those losses came on the same side of the bracket, too, which opens up the opportunity for one of those lower-seeded teams to potentially reach the state title game.
Here’s a rundown of the action from the second round of the 2018 IHSA state football playoffs. For more analysis and coverage, make sure to tune into “Sun-Times Game Week” at 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon on the Chicago Sun-Times High School Sports Facebook page.
Top games of the week
Okay, here’s the Loyola a lot of folks expected to see entering the season. The 19th-seeded Ramblers, who entered this year ranked No. 2 on the Sun-Times’ Super 25 after finishing state runner-up last year, shut out third-seeded Oswego with a stunning 22-0 win Saturday in Wilmette to move onto the quarterfinals. Loyola’s defense forced several turnovers, including a pick six by Jake Gonzalez in the third quarter, to hand the Panthers their first loss of the season.
“People didn’t give us a lot of credit. And we’re getting better,” Loyola coach John Holacek said after the victory. “We’re not the biggest team but we’re playing at a high intensity right now.”
The Ramblers’ postseason won’t get any easier from here with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 seed and local juggernaut Maine South next weekend.
Simeon, the No. 1 seed in Class 7A, needed a big second half to rally past Lincoln-Way West in a high-scoring second-round matchup. The Wolverines trailed 28-27 at halftime before racking up three touchdowns in the final two quarters to punctuate a 48-35 victory. Simeon receiver Rashaan Palmer was the game-changer with five catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns, including this remarkable leaping score in the first quarter:
Check out this TD catch by Rashaan Palmer. Great grab. Simeon leads Lincoln-Way West 20-14. The 1Q is finally over. pic.twitter.com/VJEj3QNITv
— Michael O'Brien (@michaelsobrien) November 3, 2018
Simeon now faces a tough quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 seed Nazareth next weekend.
One of the best athletes in the state keeps making that clear each weekend. Billingsley, the do-it-all star for Phillips and a commit to Alabama, delivered again in the second round to carry the Wildcats to a 24-19 win over Prairie Ridge. He filled in at quarterback, ran for 88 yards on 13 carries, kicked a kickoff and made several big tackles while powering Phillips into the quarterfinals. Running back Anthony Anderson also had a big day with 138 rushing yards off 16 carries, but Billingsley’s greatness was the big takeaway from the game.
“I was trying to get away but [Billingsley] just held me in place there and I felt like a little kid,” Prairie Ridge running back Jackson Willis said of trying to break a Billingsley tackle. “It was kind of embarrassing, but that speaks to his athleticism and how good he is.”
A matchup against Cary-Grove, the No. 1 seed in the Class 6A playoffs, awaits for Billingsley and Phillips.
Brackets and full results for all classes
Coming up next
The new Super 25 and “Player of the Week” will be unveiled on Sun-Times Game Week on Facebook Live with Michael O’Brien, Annie Costabile and Beth Long at 4:30 p.m. CT Monday.
Top quarterfinal matchups include:
- Class 8A: No. 1 Brother Rice vs. No. 8 Warren
- Class 8A: No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor vs. No. 5 Marist
- Class 8A: No. 19 Loyola vs. No. 6 Maine South
- Class 7A: No. 1 Simeon vs. No. 8 Nazareth
- Class 7A: No. 4 Batavia vs No. 5 Willowbrook
- Class 6A: No. 1 Cary-Grove vs. No. 4 Phillips