Analysis | Friday Night Drive

2022 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 6A semifinal analysis

Lemont's Payton Salomon (1) scrambles during the boys varsity football game between Lemont High School and Nazareth Academy on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 in LaGrange, IL.

Impressive performances were delivered by the remaining teams in the Class 6A bracket during the quarterfinal round.

East St. Louis continues its dominating run through the field, having now shut out three consecutive opponents while invoking the running clock in each win.

Lemont showed it was capable of leaning on its defense to get the job done when someone slows its offense, while Prairie Ridge QB Tyler Vasey put together yet another amazing performance as part of his record-breaking season. It’s also a mistake to sleep on St. Ignatius, which continues to flex its muscle during the school’s first-ever run to the state semifinals.

First-round record: 13-3

Second-round record: 6-2

Quarterfinal record: 4-0

Semifinal matchups

St. Ignatius vs. Prairie Ridge: St. Ignatius is already experiencing the highest level of success they have in the modern era after reinstituting its program in 2005 after a long dormancy. Now that the Wolfpack are here they’ve set their sites on more and might have the weapons arsenal to do it. RB Vinny Rugai is capable of big games and the St. Ignatius defense might be one of the few that has plenty of experience locking horns with an offensive attack similar to the one of choice by Prairie Ridge. Even with that knowledge, Prairie Ridge’s offensive juggernaut Tyler Vasey has not been even remotely slowed down in the postseason but that’s the biggest key for anyone trying to topple the Wolves this season.

Pick: Prairie Ridge

Lemont vs. East St. Louis: It can be spun as an encouraging sign that Lemont demonstrated that it didn’t need an overflow of offensive productivity to secure its place in the semifinal round. Lemont is ultimately going to need every element of its attack working in perfect concert to give them the best chance to topple East St. Louis who might be playing at the apex of its abilities right now. The Flyers have netted three consecutive shutouts and none of its opponents have been remotely close to making games competitive. But if anything can be learned from last season’s postseason is that the Flyers aren’t invincible as they were edged by Cary-Grove in the state championship game when it appeared they were close to unbeatable. Lemont is going to have to play nearly perfect to make a run at East St. Louis, but if the conditions are right it might be a more interesting matchup here than it might appear.

Pick: East St. Louis