2022 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 6A second-round analysis

Kaneland’s Dominick DeBlasio (11) and Troyer Carlson (10) celebrate a touchdown against Riverside Brookfield during a 6A playoff football game at Kaneland High School in Maple Park on Friday, Oct 28, 2022.

It didn’t take long for Class 6A to provide some incredible second-round matchups.

Most of them can be found in the south side of the bracket where the bottom quadrant of teams all advance to set up some matchups that seem much better suited for the semifinal round rather than the second round.

First-round record: 13-3

Second-round matchups

Wauconda vs. Niles Notre Dame: Wauconda’s defense has only surrendered 87 points all season, but 14 of those came during a narrow victory over Antioch in Week 6. Niles Notre Dame didn’t have such problems with Antioch in Round 1 picking up a somewhat comfortable win. A rigorous CCL/ESCC schedule has prepared Niles Notre Dame for the postseason, how much that benefitted them will show itself this weke.

Pick: Niles Notre Dame

St. Ignatius vs. Grayslake Central: St. Ignatius powered its way into Round 2 and has now won eight of its last nine with the only loss coming at the hands of a powerhouse Mount Carmel squad. Grayslake Central edged out Belvidere North to move on and it marked just the second win over a playoff caliber opponent that the Rams have accumulated this season.

Pick: St. Ignatius

Prairie Ridge vs. Kaneland: It’s not surprising to see Prairie Ridge moving into the second round, it hasn’t failed to do so since 2014. But if it doesn’t do something to correct recent defensive woes it might have trouble advancing much farther. Kaneland has a playoff pedigree of its own to protect and has really caught a groove over the second half of the season and has allowed just 30 points over its last four games.

Pick: Prairie Ridge

Grayslake North vs. Harlem: Grayslake North’s Week 5 lopsided loss to Antioch seemed only to inspire them to better play. The Knights have scored 240 points in the five games since that loss and have limited to opponents to just 34 points during that same stretch. Harlem has been a factor in multiple previous postseasons, but only managing to pull away late from Amundsen might be an indication that it might not be in the cards this year.

Pick: Grayslake North

Lemont vs. Quincy: Lemont hasn’t been in a competitive game in eight weeks last being forced to make late critical plays in Week 2 when it edged Nazareth. Can Quincy push the envelope against Lemont and make them play into the second half with purpose? Quincy’s sophomore quarterback Braydn Little certainly intends to try to make them try after throwing for a school record 428 yards in a Round 1 win over Glenwood.

Pick: Lemont

Kenwood vs. Bremen: Kenwood is one of the few Chicago Public League teams that might be able to make a run in their respective playoff classes especially since QB Nacari McFarland has returned from injury. Bremen is proving itself to be a bit more difficult team to dismiss from the field than previous incarnations of the Braves. Bremen collected a much easier than expected win over Washington in the opening round marking on the second time in the last 10 playoff qualifying teams from Bremen to advance past the opener.

Pick: Kenwood

Simeon vs. Crete-Monee: This is an absolute doozy of a second round matchup. Simeon has one of the state’s more potent offensive combos with RB Andre Crews and WR Malik Elzy capable of blowing a game wide open at any time. Crete-Monee is also absolutely no stranger to making its presence felt deep into the playoff bracket either. This looks like one of the marquee matchups of the season round.

Pick: Simeon

Normal West vs. East St. Louis: Normal West is a pretty strong Class 6A squad with its lone loss coming to Richmond-Burton in a nonconference matchup but the Wildcats enter this second round game like most East St. Louis opponents do: as a substantial underdog. After losing two of its first three games to nationally ranked out of state opponents, East St. Louis has outscored the other eight opponents on its schedule by a 451-57 margin.

Pick: East St. Louis