2023 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 5A second-round analysis

Nazareth’s Lesroy Tittle moves the ball against Prairie Ridge in first-round Class 5A playoff football action at Crystal Lake Saturday.

It wasn’t a good week to be a high seed in Class 5A.

Three of the top four overall seeds fell in Round 1, with the top-seed in the South bracket, Morris, the ony team still standing from the top of the seeding pyramid.

One was actually better off as a No. 15 seed, where both teams on each side of the bracket are still alive, along with a 10 seed, a 12 seed and a 13 seed inside the south bracket, which somehow still looks power packed despite the upper-seed attrition.

First round picks: 12-4

Second-round matchups

Sterling vs. Wheaton St. Francis: Just a few weeks ago it would have seemed inconceivable that Sterling would have an opportunity to try to avenge a 42-28 loss to St. Francis back in Week 2. But the Golden Warriors fought their way into the bracket as a four-win team and upended a top-seed to get another chance at the Spartans, who has been playing dynamite football, especially in the second half.

Pick: Wheaton St. Francis

Morgan Park vs. Sycamore: Morgan Park is the best program in the Chicago Public League right now and despite the fact that it did advance to the second round via beating another CPL team they are a real threat to move into the quarterfinals and beyond. Sycamore has reached at least the 5A quarterfinals in each of the last three playoff contested seasons so it knows how to rise up to the occasion.

Pick: Morgan Park

Nazareth vs. Glenbard South: Most might take a casual look at Nazareth’s 5-5 record and 15 seed heading into the postseason and think they didn’t have a legitimate chance of defending its Class 5A title of a year ago, but appears nothing is further from the truth. Glenbard South is a tricky opponent here though and has been playing larger schools all season and doing well, although not quite the same caliber of opponent that Nazareth has faced.

Pick: Nazareth

Antioch vs. Carmel: Antioch has quietly been stacking up points all season and has posted nearly 250 of them over the last four weeks. The Sequoits face its most daunting challenge of the season thus far here with Carmel, whose lone loss of the season came at the hands of Mount Carmel, a contest they lead early in the second half before fading.

Pick: Carmel

Morris vs. Sacred Heart Griffin: Morris continues to shred everything in its path quickly controlling its opening round playoff matchup with Tinley Park before coasting to an easy win. It seems unlikely that Morris will continue to get to give their starters light work loads from here on out, whoever long that may last. Sacred Heart still has some swagger, but doesn’t appear to be quite at the level that copped them the Class 4A crown last year.

Pick: Morris

Triad vs. Joliet Catholic: Triad started 1-2 and has now won 6 of 7, but it hasn’t exactly been the smoothest ride. The Knights have won two consecutive games by one point each. Joliet Catholic moved up a classification but still looks pretty comfortable with itself especially when employing a power running game coupled with a stern defense.

Pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence vs. Hillcrest: You never know what you might get from either one of these two teams. Providence had less than an impressive offensive showing against Morton in Round 1, but flipped six turnovers into a win. Hillcrest limped into the postseason by getting beat easily by a .500 team in Week 9, but overcame a long road trip and stymied host Carbondale to move along.

Pick: Providence

Highland vs. Metamora: Highland has reached the second round of the playoffs in seven of the last nine playoff contested season so its no surprise to see them reach this point of the draw. Metamora, on the other hand, is just starting to show signs of being the postseason fixture that they had been earlier in its program history - such as the 19 consecutive playoff appearances from 1994 to 2012 that included seven state trophies earned.

Pick: Highland