2023 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 7A second-round analysis

Lincoln-Way Central's Anthony Noto runs the ball during the class 7A first round  playoff game on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, at New Lenox. (Dean Reid for Shaw Local News Network)

Class 7A is another grouping of teams that usually have a strong group of lower seeded teams making a lot of early and sometimes later-round noise.

But, like many of the other classifications, very few upstarts made an impact with just 19th-seeded Wheaton North, No. 25 Addison Trail and No. 28 Collinsville coming out of the bottom half of the bracket.

First-round picks: 15-1

Second-round matchups

Normal Community vs. Bradley-Bourbonnais: There’s a lot to like on the resume of Normal Community, but the one thing that really stands out is the spectacular play of the Ironmen defense. They have shut out their last four opponents and recorded six goose eggs over the course of the season. Bradley-Bourbonnais does have some intriguing offensive tools though, most notably QB Ethan Kohl, and should give the Ironmen a pretty good workout as they try to protect that scoreless string.

Pick: Normal Community

Addison Trail vs. Glenbard East: Addison Trail claimed its first postseason win since 2014 in toppling Lincoln Park while Glenbard East leaned on its very capable defensive unit to toss a shutout in sending Harlem out of the draw. Addison Trail’s playoff win was it first over an opponent that won more than two games during the regular season.

Pick: Glenbard East

Hersey vs. Downers Grove North: Hersey met a little resistance for basically the first time this season as it fended off Wheaton Warrenville South. It was just the third time all season the Huskies saw an opponent that had a winning record. That has not been the same experience Downers Grove North has had this season in its schedule as Kenwood marked the sixth winning team they’d played and fourth they’d beaten.

Pick: Hersey

Collinsville vs. Lincoln-Way West: Collinsville is still a tough team to figure out with its independent schedule and mixed bag of success against some of the better teams it did play this season. Lincoln-Way West has to endure one of the lengthier road trips of Round 2, but the Warriors seem to have a knack for being able to find themselves through close games, so if that materializes both teams have their advantages.

Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Hononegah vs. Willowbrook: It is often difficult to see how Hononegah stacks up against the rest of Class 7A as it plays in a closed conference. We got no answers in the opening round either as Hononegah played and defeated Rockford Auburn for the second time in as many weeks. Willowbrook was just 2-2 after four games but it appears that the Warriors have rounded into suitable playoff form.

Pick: Hononegah

Batavia vs. Lincoln-Way Central: Batavia looks really sharp right now and had everything firing on all cylinders as it dismissed Brother Rice from the playoffs. This makes for an interesting game with Lincoln-Way Central, a team that has shown a knack for morphing into what they need to be in order to give opponents problems.

Pick: Batavia

Quincy vs. Wheaton North: Quincy has had zero problems posting points this season, but in the second half they’ve had a little bit more trouble keeping opponents off the board as well. It hasn’t netted any losses yet for the Blue Devils, but Wheaton North is the kind of team that might be able to throw Quincy off its preferred path and do some damage of its own.

Pick: Wheaton North

Mt. Carmel vs. Prospect: Mt. Carmel wasted very little time running away and hiding from St. Rita in its second win over the Mustangs this season in Round 1. The Caravan defense should be on alert against the Knights here as they have posted 208 points in their last four contests. Trying to trade points with Mt. Carmel never seems like a good idea, but it might be Prospect’s only path to forging an upset bid.

Pick: Mt. Carmel