Analysis | Friday Night Drive

What we learned in Week 13: Many usual suspects making trip to Champaign

East St. Louis’ Taryan Martin is rapped up by a host of Lemont defenders in the Class 6A semifinal in Lemont on Saturday.

Everyone likes a good Cinderella story, but if you’re looking for one of those at the IHSA State Finals on Thanksgiving weekend, you are likely to be sorely disappointed.

All 16 programs to reach the pinnacle aren’t exactly strangers to the experience of playing in a title game. All have made at least one championship game appearance, and in some cases significantly more than one, since the 2014 season.

Providence enters the finals as the school with the longest amount of time since reaching the title game, with its last appearance coming in 2014. But then again, the Celtics have made 13 championship game appearances in the school’s history, so you can’t exactly call that a drought.

Three schools are making a return trip to the finals from last season: East St. Louis, Sacred Heart Griffin and Lena-Winslow. Only Lena-Winslow is trying to defend its title, and the Panthers are also trying to be the first 1A team to win three consecutive champions since Carthage (1998-2000)

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines of the postseason’s semifinal round:

Running down the dream

With windy conditions at almost every semifinal contest around the state, teams that survived likely leaned on their running game to give themselves the best chance to advance.

The state’s newly crowned single-season rushing leader, Prairie Ridge quarterback Tyler Vasey, posted what for him was a rather mundane total of 171 yards in the Wolves’ narrow victory over St. Ignatius.

But many other running backs around the state took the cue and posted eye-popping numbers of their own.

East St. Louis’ TaRyan Martin rushed for 375 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries as the Flyers were forced to focus heavily on the ground. The Flyers’ typically potent attack completed no passes in the win.

• Peoria’s Malachi Washington took on another huge workload as the Lions couldn’t stop scoring in their win over Morris. Washington rushed for 383 yards and scored five touchdowns.

• Tri-Valley’s Blake Renegold churned out 282 yards on 43 carries in the Vikings’ victory over top-seeded Maroa-Forsyth. Renegold also scored five touchdowns and is a week removed from setting the Class 2A record for rushing yards in a game by piling up 417 in a quarterfinal win over Knoxville.

IC Catholic’s Joey Gliatta is currently in the midst of a postseason run that could certainly be classified as unexpected. Gliatta had just six carries on the season through the Knights’ first 11 games, but in the last two games he’s scored seven touchdowns, including a 192-yard rushing game with four TDs in the semifinal round against Byron.

One team will be subjected to success formula in 23-24

Once the semifinals winners were determined it is possible to determine which, if any, schools will be subjected to the success formula for the next two-year enrollment period.

This is the first time since 2019 that any teams could potentially be subjected to having a success adjustment. The rule requires that a school trophies (for football this is champion or runner-up) in two consecutive years. Since no playoffs were held in 2020, no school could achieve trophies in 2019 and 2020.

Only private and nonboundaried schools can be subjected to the success formula, and only two schools entered the semifinals with the potential to still remaining: Sacred Heart Griffin and St. Rita, as they were the only two nonboundaried programs that reached state title games in 2021.

St. Rita lost its semifinal to Mount Carmel, but Sacred Heart Griffin’s win over Rochester on Friday night puts the success adjustment on the Cyclones.

By rule, the success adjustment, if applied, requires a team to move up one class from where the success was achieved. That’s 4A for Sacred Heart Griffin and the success adjustment will move the Cyclones to 5A.

It may not actually be applied though, because Sacred Heart Griffin will also have its multiplier reapplied for the next cycle, which will take it up to the 5A ranks already. The success adjustment can’t be applied if that means a team would move up two classes.

Schools that will be multiplied increases from nine to 14 in the 2023-24 cycle. Three schools (Quincy Notre Dame, Sterling Newman Central Catholic and Rockford Boylan) will lose their multiplier status, while eight schools will gain it or have it restored from previous years.

By the numbers

Remaining playoff team records:


• Just four out of the 14 No. 1 seeds reached the championship game.

• Providence is the only team remaining in the field that did not qualify for the playoffs last season.

Nazareth and Providence are attempting to join a very exclusive group of teams that lost four regular-season games and still managed to achieve a state title. IC Catholic (2008), Montini (2009), Joliet Catholic (2018) and Loyola (2018) are the only other teams to accomplish it.