With just over 100 playoff spots secured and nearly two-thirds of the field already at the standard for playoff eligibility, Week 8 is often a week that is as much about how the brackets will stack up as the race for who will get the final spots in the 256-team field.
Of the 36 remaining undefeated teams, there is just one matchup between a pair of 7-0 teams with Knoxville squaring off against Abingdon. But there is a ton of games between that involve teams with 5-2 and 6-1 records – these are key battles for postseason positioning.
Here are some key matchups to watch in Week 8:
Prospect (6-1) at Hersey (7-0); 7 p.m., Friday: The Mid-Suburban Conference has earned a reputation of being a very deep conference over the past few years, but you couldn’t help but feel this game was going to be a highly-anticipated matchup even before the season began. Both teams have lived up to their advance billings, and this should be a wild one.
Oswego East (6-1) at Oswego (5-2); 7 p.m., Friday: This has been a fierce rivalry since its inception and always seems to play a heavy hand in who captures a conference title. After starting 0-2, Oswego has done what it always seems to do in the Southwest Prairie: stack up victories. Oswego East started 5-0 and took a Week 6 loss. Its offense has been slowed a bit recently. The Wolves remain dangerous and could be primed to erupt again at any time.
Lincoln-Way East (5-2) at Lockport (7-0); 6:30 p.m., Friday: Is Lockport’s evolution into one of the SouthWest Suburban’s top teams complete? This is the final hurdle, and it’s a pretty substantial one. Lincoln-Way East’s upset loss in Week 6 did take the Griffins out of the driver’s seat for the conference title, but the road to the league crown always eventually ends up going through the Griffins at some point.
Simeon (3-4) vs. Kenwood (7-0); 7:15 p.m., Friday at Gately Stadium: Led by a ferocious defense that has allowed just 35 points all season, Kenwood may have emerged as the CPL’s top team. A win here would certainly put a stamp on it. The Broncos, while impressive thus far, still need a signature win like this game would provide. After a narrow loss to Morgan Park in Week 7, Simeon suddenly finds itself in a precarious position in regards to the playoffs. A loss here would put the Wolverines at five losees and make it pretty unlikely Simeon finds itself in the IHSA postseason.
Evanston (5-2) at Maine South (6-1); 7 p.m., Friday: Evanston slipped off the radar after dropping consecutive games in Weeks 2 and 3 but has roared back with a vengeance, winning five straight. The Wildkits finish with the two most difficult games on their league schedule, but they appear poised to give Maine South a better challenge than it appeared they could just a few weeks ago. Maine South has also regrouped nicely after a one-point loss to Palatine, and it is important to remember this is still a team that defeated a well-regarded Warren team earlier in the season.
Other games of note: Coal City at Reed-Custer; East St. Louis at Edwardsville; Bishop McNamara at IC Catholic; Metamora at Washington; Kewanee at Rockridge; York at Willowbrook; T.F. South at Lemont; Glenbard South at Glenbard East; Moline at Sterling.