August 12, 2022
Analysis | Friday Night Drive


Steve Soucie: These 7 teams need to avoid an 0-2 start

Some traditional powers must avoid having to go 5-2 just to make the playoffs

Maine South's Daniel Lazic returns a kickoff during a game at Glenbard West on Saturday, Aug. 31.

255 playoff eligible teams took losses in Week 1.

And while that's an expected number which is roughly half of the teams participating in Illinois, all 0-1 teams aren't the same.

What's important to note is the teams from that large swath of teams currently owning 0-1 records is how likely it is they might end up at 0-2. Because that's when you can start thinking about the danger zone.

Although its far too early to tell for sure it looks like almost every 5-4 team will be punching playoff tickets should they get there, you still don't want to paint yourself into that particular corner.

It's simple math. An 0-2 team needs to go 6-1 over their remaining games to insure a playoff berth and 5-2 over the remaining games to play the somewhat safe "waiting game".

Both are low leverage possibilities for most teams, even those that play very strong schedules out of the box.

Let's take a look at a few teams that are almost in "must win" situations this week.

Loyola (lost season opener to Cleveland St. Ignatius): The defending Class 8A State Champions put themselves in a little bit of a bind last season before rebounding rather forcefully in the second half. Ideally, they don't want to do that again. A rivalry matchup with New Trier lurks this week and if they did happen to drop to 0-2, there's enough red flags on their remaining schedule to give one concern.

Maine South (lost season opener to Glenbard West): The Hawks push themselves in the nonconference schedule as Mount Carmel lurks as a prominent Week 2 foe. But an 0-2 start would have some improving teams (most notably Fremd) in the conference licking their chops to knock of the kings of the league and put them in a very precarious playoff position.

Both Oak-Park River Forest and Willowbrook (they play each other): Willowbrook has a better road to maneuver inside their division of West Suburban Conference, but a second loss for Oak Park River Forest could really have some stinging long team consequences.

Lincoln Way West (lost season opener to Hersey): The Warriors have another very challenging nonconference date with Evanston this week. If they dropped that contest, a quick look forward on the schedule sees matchups with superpowers Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East and will put a lot of focus on the rivalry game with district rival Lincoln-Way Central in Week 5.

Naperville Central (lost season opener to Hinsdale Central): It's been noted several times how difficult this team's schedule is. The non-conference schedule remaining is hard enough with Lincoln-Way East, Pickerington (Ohio) and East St. Louis still in the way. And oh yeah, there's three of four teams in their own conference that aren't planning to roll over either.

West Aurora (lost season opener to Plainfield South): The Blackhawks need to get back to the .500 mark quickly because it clearly appears their new league the Southwest Prairie West is going to be a beast. In the other five league crossover games saw West Division teams beat East Division teams by a 222-30 margin.

• Out-of-state opponents had their way with most of the elite teams that ventured away from Illinois foes in Week 1.

There are significantly less of those encounters this week, mostly teams from Illinois locking horns with Missouri squads. The most interesting of those are games from the East St. Louis hosted Classic which featured the host school locking horns with Missouri power, Trinity Catholic. Phillips will make the trek south as well, squaring off with St. Mary's.

Indiana will also play host to an interesting matchup as perennial Hoosier State power Mishawaka Penn plays host to Homewood-Flossmoor.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.