2023 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 2A quarterfinal-round analysis

Wilmington head coach Jeff Reents walks the sidelines against Mercer County in round 1 of the Class 2A playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023 in Wilmington.

Class 2A’s north bracket has brought a lot of attention to itself.

The quarterfinal round has left four teams with a collective record of 43-1 and that one loss came at the hands of one of the undefeated teams in the draw.

But the attention on the north has deflected some of the emphasis on a south bracket that has some pretty good football teams as well.

First-round picks: 15-1

Second-round picks: 8-0

Quarterfinal-round matchups

Seneca vs. Wilmington: Seneca emerged with a 27-21 win when these two teams kicked off the regular season. Both teams are capable of bringing another highly competitive game to the field in this rematch. Both feature a potent offense that stacks up yardage in bunches and defenses that are stingy to the point of exhausting most other foes. It’s tough to find a more even matchup on paper in this round.

Pick: Seneca

Maroa-Forsyth vs. Bloomington Central Catholic: Other than a string of three games near the end of the regular season, Maroa-Forsyth has rolled through almost every other game on its schedule, including a pair of 42-6 victories to start the playoffs. Earlier in the year, BCC slowly emerged from a surprising team to an expected winner in most of its games in the Illini Prairie. The Saints have been propped up by a really good defense that’s allowed more than two touchdowns just three times this season and never more than 21 points.

Pick: Maroa-Forsyth

Nashville vs. Athens: Nashville has made runs to the title game in 2A in two of the last three playoff-contested seasons. The Hornets are simply not a team easily dispatched from the postseason. Nashville can be scored upon, though, and has given up 40-plus points in three games. Athens would be happy to try to take advantage, having had few problems posting points. Athens has scored more than 40 in six games and more than 50 in three.

Pick: Athens

Shelbyville vs. Breese Mater Dei: Shelbyville looked to be limping into the postseason when it was handled rather easily by Nashville in Week 9 (54-20), but the Rams appear to be back on track having won two postseason games rather comfortably. Mater Dei has a postseason pedigree to live up to and the Knights have played a considerably stronger schedule, but prior to its two wins in the opening rounds of the postseason, the Knights went just 1-2 against playoff-bound teams during the regular season.

Pick: Breese Mater Dei