Soucie: Class 3A Second-round breakdown

All 16 home teams won in the opening round in Class 3A which is a very rare occurrence.

Odds are the home teams will have a much more difficult time maintaining a clean sheet of victories this week.

First round picks: 14-2

Second-round matchups

Lisle (7-3) at Byron (10-0): Both of these teams overwhelmed outmatched Chicago Public League teams in the opening round. But Byron looks better positioned to continue to roll into the next round with its typical power running game. The Tigers also have a long history of advancing deep in the draw. Lisle will likely try to stay on task by hanging around and making it a game late.

Pick: Byron

Reed-Custer's Jake McPherson celebrates a touchdown against Peotone in the first round of the Class 3a playoffs at Reed-Custer High School on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 in Braidwood.

Clark (9-1) at Reed-Custer (9-1): Clark was one of just three Chicago Public League schools to earn a victory in round one as it used its strong interior presence to take control of an opening-round win over Elmwood-Brimfield. Reed-Custer also leaned on its trench play to physically take over its opening-round win over Peotone, the second time the Comets have bested the Blue Devils this year.

Pick: Reed-Custer

Prairie Central (8-2) at Princeton (9-1): Princeton quietly put together a really good season sandwiched around one misstep, a Week 5 loss to Kewanee. The five-game win streak that the Tigers are currently on has seen them roll to each of those wins. Prairie Central’s run hasn’t been as smooth, but the Hawks have showed an affinity for winning close games.

Pick: Princeton

IC Catholic (9-1) at Durand-Pecatonica (9-1): Based on previous reputation and a sound resume from this season, IC Catholic has emerged as the odds-on favorite in Class 3A, but starting here, the path will not be easy for the Knights if another state title is to be. Durand-Pecatonica is a viable threat here, as even though the 3A school plays largely 1A/2A competition during the year, it has looked really good doing it.

Pick: IC Catholic

Paxton (7-3) at Tolono Unity (10-0): Tolono Unity wasn’t really pushed in many of its Illini Prairie Conference matchups and that includes a 35-0 victory over Paxton in Week 8. Can Paxton bridge that gap and make a game of it? The odds are probably against it, but quirky things have happened more than once in the postseason.

Pick: Tolono Unity

Fairfield (9-1) at Williamsville (9-1): Williamsville will always be a team to look out for in the Class 3A mix until proven otherwise ,but the Bullets have for reasons not easily explained sort of fallen out of the conversation. That’s probably a mistake. Fairfield usually has its way in the Black Diamond Conference, but it rarely carries that momentum into deep playoff runs.

Pick: Williamsville

Carlinville (8-2) vs. Mt. Carmel (10-0): Mt. Carmel has been an absolute wrecking ball this season and always gets an added boost from hosting postseason games in the the affectionately labeled “Snake Pit”. Carlinville is a testament to a team that knows how to grind out wins, upending postseason stronghold DuQuoin in round 1.

Pick: Mt. Carmel

Monticello (8-2) at Benton (10-0): Monticello is a program that has found ways to make some deep advancements in the postseason and the regular-season losses shouldn’t give one too much pause in considering whether or not it can do it again. Benton historically dominates its conference, but the Rangers typically don’t make huge runs in the postseason either.

Pick: Monticello