It would be extremely difficult to find anyone willing to pick against Lincoln-Way East in the Class 8A state playoff bracket. There may be some confident Brother Rice or Marist fans, but the Griffins are a huge lock to win the state title to most neutral observers.
Lincoln-Way East’s defense is just ridiculously dominant. It has now played two playoff games and hasn’t even allowed a point. The Griffins shut out one of the state’s premier programs, Glenbard West, 45-0 in Glen Ellyn on Saturday. They beat St. Charles East 49-0 in the first round.
Lincoln-Way East is unbeaten and totally unchallenged this season. Thornwood scored 18 points against the Griffins’ second and third string defense in Week 8. That means Lincoln-Way East’s defensive starters have allowed just six points (Homewood-Flossmoor scored a touchdown in Week 6) in the past nine games.
The Griffins will host Edwardsville (8-3) in the quarterfinals.
Showdown in Park Ridge
Loyola has shaken off its regular season troubles in the playoffs. The Ramblers (8-3) have dominated two Southwest Prairie opponents. They beat undefeated Oswego 22-0 in the second round and knocked off Minooka 38-14 two weeks ago.
The big test comes in the quarterfinals against Maine South (10-1). It should be a terrific matchup of two of the state’s best programs.
Loyola coach John Holecek was clearly thrilled with the thought of facing the Hawks in Park Ridge.
“I don’t make the brackets, we just play whoever we play,” Holecek said after beating the Panthers.
Class 7A is more fun
Class 8A, usually the glamour class, isn’t quite as exciting this season due to Lincoln-Way East’s dominance. There is plenty happening in Class 7A though.
Undefeated Simeon will host Nazareth and star quarterback JJ McCarthy in the quarterfinals. The Wolverines haven’t seen anything like the Roadrunners offense this season. Simeon will have to tighten things up quite a bit to advance to the semifinals. The Wolverines were severely hampered by penalties in their second round win against Lincoln-Way West.
Another glitzy 7A quarterfinal at Gately will feature two of the state’s greatest programs, Mount Carmel (10-1) and East St. Louis (9-2). The Caravan squeaked by Lake Zurich in the second round. The Flyers are big favorites in this one.
Batavia (11-0) hosts Willowbrook (11-0) and Wheaton-Warrenville South (10-1) hosts St. Charles North (8-3) in the other two quarterfinals.
Phillips (9-2) passed its first test in defending the triple option. The Wildcats beat Prairie Ridge 24-19 in the second round. Now things get much more difficult. Cary-Grove (11-0), which beat the Wolves 21-14 this season, will host Phillips in the Class 6A quarterfinals.
The Trojans run the option as effectively as Prairie Ridge, but have a much better passing attack. Cary-Grove quarterback Ben McDonald is dangerous and accurate.
The Trojans totally shut down Prairie Ridge star Jackson Willis. It won’t be as easy to stop Wildcats stars Jahleel Billingsley and Fabian McCray.
This might be the most intriguing matchup of the quarterfinals. The winner becomes a heavy favorite to win the Class 6A state title.
Contributing: Beth Long
Tags: Lincoln-Way East, Phillips