In a diversion from past seasons, there’s not a single undefeated team in the Class 1A draw.
But like most every other season, expect the tournament to provide many threats from two different conferences: the Northwest Upstate Illini and the Western Illinois Valley.
Iroquois West (8-2) at Abingdon (9-1): Abingdon was the only one of the six teams that qualified from the Lincoln Trail Conference that advances past the first round, and despite Abingdon’s placement as the top seed, it could be in trouble here. Iroquois West beat Monmouth United in the opening round, the same Monmouth United team that handed Abingdon its lone regular season loss in Week 9.
Pick: Iroquois West
St. Bede (8-2) at Ridgeview (6-4): St. Bede has quietly put together a solid season and the Bruins managed to fend off a tricky Hope Academy squad in the first round. They’ll get another test from Ridgeview, another team whose record doesn’t fairly indicate how good it might be. All four of Ridgeview’s losses came to teams that qualified for the playoffs in a larger classification.
Pick: St. Bede
Fulton (8-2) at Ottawa Marquette (9-1): Fulton put together a very strong season in its first run through the Northwest Upstate Illini, a league that traditional puts a big footprint on who advances deep in the 1A bracket. Ottawa Marquette has mowed through most of its competition this season, but its independent schedule hasn’t provide many strong obstacles for it to clear.
Lena-Winslow (8-2) at Forreston (8-2): Forreston beat Lena-Winslow 22-20 in Week 9 of the regular season and both teams probably don’t relish that the rematch comes so soon in the bracket. Both schools have postseason pedigree, but in recent years it’s hard to envision a scenario that would have Lena-Winslow exiting so soon.
Camp Point Central (9-1) at Moweaqua Central A&M (7-3): These two teams appear to have been linked with one another this season. Both had COVID cancellations so the two small school powers hooked up for an unexpected nonconference game which Camp Point Central won 44-14. Camp Point Central looks like a clear favorite and will look to its running attack, which had a pair of rushers clear the 1,000-yard barrier last week to pace the effort.
Pick: Camp Point Central
Arcola (8-2) at Brown County (6-4): Despite being separated by quite a bit geographically, these two schools share an opponent in common as each is responsible for the only two losses for Toledo Cumberland. Brown County’s record is deceptive as the Western Illinois Valley had a number of high quality teams this season.
Pick: Brown County
Greenfield (8-2) at Carrollton (9-1): Carrollton is widely considered to be the best team in the Western Illinois Valley and it showed over the second half of the season. Greenfield was the only team during that run that managed to stay even remotely close to the Hawks, but the gap was still wide enough to make Carrollton being a substantial favorite here.
Sesser-Valier (8-2) at Athens (9-1): Athens had a bit of trouble with Macon Meridian in round 1, but really found its groove in the second half and ultimately earned its place in the second round. Sesser-Valier has had times where the defensive effort has been very good and it will need one of those here to have a chance of moving past Athens and into the quarterfinals.