What we learned in Week 2: Lincoln-Way Central, Sandwich among surprise 2-0 teams

151 teams statewide unscathed after two weeks

Joliet Catholic’s Mitchell Ragusa locks in on Providence’s Colin Sheehan on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023 Joliet Memorial Stadium.

The first two weeks of the IHSA football season proved to be a fairly impressive gauntlet for most teams to run through.

Out of the nearly 500 playoff-eligible teams, 151 got through without a loss.

That number isn’t exceptionally high or low for two weeks, but we’re starting to see some potential breakout teams emerge, including some that will raise an eye brow or two.

Benet, Lincoln-Way Central, Sandwich, Mundelein, Niles West, Lake Park, Libertyville, Downers Grove North, Momence, Lincoln, T.F. North and Charleston are just several programs that haven’t seen early success at this level in recent history.

Through two weeks, 145 teams are without a win. Again this number isn’t uncommon, but some of the representatives certainly are. It includes two defending state champions in Nazareth (Class 5A) and St. Teresa (Class 2A).

Others that are going to likely need to go 5-2 at minimum over the course of the rest of the season to earn a playoff berth are Lemont, Hinsdale Central, Richards, Sterling, Plainfield North, Glenbard North, Crete-Monee, Quincy Notre Dame and Simeon.

Some of these teams are better positioned than others (Lemont and Crete-Monee, for example) due to favorable conference schedules ahead. Others, however, aren’t nearly as fortunate.

CCL/ESCC continues to flex its muscles

It was another successful nonconference week for the grand majority of the CCL/ESCC.

The league collectively went 18-6 with four of the six losses (Brother Rice, Providence, St. Ignatius, St. Patrick) coming in games where members of the league played one another.

Only Marian Catholic (Homewood-Flossmoor) and Nazareth (York) lost to teams outside of the conference.

Collectively the league went 35-13 in the nonconference portion of their schedule with the White and Blue divisions leading the way with 7-1 marks. Surprisingly, the Red Division almost joined them with Marian Catholic just missing gaining an impressive win over Homewood-Flossmoor.

Now things get significantly tougher for the 24 teams in the league as 12 will win and 12 will lose each week. Those losses can add up quickly and deny teams playoff berths.

Fortunately for the 12 teams that haven’t lost yet, there’s a little margin for error. For others, especially the two teams in the CCL/ESCC without a win (St. Patrick and Nazareth), every game will be closely scrutinized the rest of the way. Nazareth will hope to take a similar path to great success that it did last year, as it started 2-4 and ripped off eight straight wins to capture the Class 5A state championship.

Shakeup in Class 3A

Class 3A was already set to go through a few changes with its defending champion (IC Catholic) moving up to the Class 4A field because of an added multiplier.

But the first few weeks of the season haven’t been kind to some of the early-season favorites.

Princeton’s last-second loss to Morrison was the substantial upset to the 3A mixture in Week 2, but it was far from the only one to hit the ranks of 3A.

Tolono Unity was bested by its long-time rival St. Joseph-Ogden, while Eureka was surprised by Shelbyville.

In the expected range of teams that will ultimately land in Class 3A, just 13 managed to get through the first two weeks without a loss.

One team not scuffling in 3A? That would be Byron, who has outscored its two opponents thus far 141 to 6.