2023 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 8A second-round analysis

St. Ignatius’ Jack Wanzung finds open field on a touchdown run against Joliet West in the first round of playoffs on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023 in Joliet.

In a classification that historically been considered deep, it’s never really a surprise when a handful of lower seeds rise up and make deep runs in the playoffs.

This field was also considered deep, but only two under seeds, St. Ignatius and Lyons, claimed opening-round wins.

First-round picks: 15-1

Second-round matchups

Loyola vs. Neuqua Valley: Plainfield North tried to play keep away from Loyola in Round 1 draining the first seven minutes of clock away before kicking a field goal, but the gambit didn’t last as Loyola quickly recovered built a 31-3 lead and rolled to the win. Neuqua Valley has amped up its offensive capabilities but will still need to go up another level to be in this one.

Pick: Loyola

Huntley vs. St. Ignatius: Huntley holds a 9-1 record, but it has been a bit of a grind for the Red Raiders who could only safely classify two of its nine wins as comfortable. St. Ignatius is probably down for a grind it out type of game themselves as nearly all of its win this season fill that same model excluding a rather easy win over Joliet West in the opening round.

Pick: St. Ignatius

Edwardsville vs. Glenbard West: Edwardsville has been a tough team to figure out. The Tigers gave East St. Louis a strong match before falling late and then toppled one of Missouri’s best teams in Week 9, De Smet. But Edwardsville took its time inching away from West Aurora in Round 1, a luxury it isn’t likely to have against Glenbard West, a team that’s been playing spectacular football since starting the season 1-2.

Pick: Glenbard West

York vs. Lyons: York has retained many of the same traits last year’s very successful version of the Dukes had, but after its Week 6 loss to Glenbard West, there have been some nicks in its armor. They still hold a 24-14 head-to-head victory over the same Lyons team they face this weekend, but the defense would like to stop a recent trend of surrendering a few more points than they would like.

Pick: York

Lincoln-Way East vs. Minooka: Since a narrow Week 2 victory over Batavia, Lincoln-Way East has barely had reason to play meaningful minutes in the second half of games. The Griffins probably wouldn’t mind if that continued and with a defense as good as Lincoln-Way East’s the offensive attack doesn’t often need to contribute a truckload of points. This is an opportunity for Minooka to reach the next level, but they will need a big effort particularly from its offense to make an upset bid a reality.

Pick: Lincoln-Way East

South Elgin vs. Warren: It’s another opportunity to see if the big numbers that South Elgin posts during Upstate Eight Conference play can be translated to the postseason. It seems like forever since Warren started the season 0-2 and people were questioning whether Warren was a big threat still. They’ve allowed just 51 points in the eight games since.

Pick: Warren

Barrington vs. Naperville Central: Barrington had a few threats at upsetting its run at an undefeated mark in the middle of its season, but now the Broncos appear to be back in top form . Naperville Central’s season has been a bit up and down, but the Redhawks have proven the capabilities of a team that can drop a bunch of points down at any time.

Pick: Barrington

Maine South vs. Belleville East: Maine South dropped its season opener to Brother Rice, but the Hawks have been a different team since then rattling off nine consecutive victories. Belleville East has been on a tear since its second loss of the season to Edwardsville in Week 7 (the other loss was to East St. Louis) outscoring its three foes 175-7.

Pick: Maine South