2023 IHSA playoffs: Steve Soucie’s Class 4A semifinal-round analysis

Joe Lewnard/jlewnard@dailyherald.com
Wheaton Academy’s Brandon Kiebles gets tackled by Sandwich’s Diego Gomez during the Class 4A quarterfinal game in West Chicago Friday.

This is not the Final Four most expected in Class 4A.

St. Laurence surprised one of the co-favorites in IC Catholic in the quarterfinal round, while the other favorite, Rochester, breezed into the semifinals with another comfortable win.

They will be joined by Murphysboro, which earned its place by scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game in a win over Harrisburg, while Wheaton Academy continued to travel in rarified air for its program as it has reached the semifinals for the first time in school history.

First-round picks: 14-2

Second-round picks: 5-3

Quarterfinal-round picks: 3-1

Semifinal-round matchups

Wheaton Academy vs. St. Laurence: Wheaton Academy experienced very little difficulty reaching the semifinals breezing to a win over Sandwich in the quarterfinals but the bracket finally brings its first imposing challenge to the Warriors in this week’s foe. St. Laurence is really enjoying the program’s first appearance in the Class 4A playoff bracket. St. Laurence made two semifinal appearances back in 2015 and 2016 but both of those came in the Class 6A draw. A win here would put the Vikings in a state championship game for the first time since a 5A title game appearance in 1979. St. Laurence won the 5A title in 1977.

Pick: St. Laurence

Rochester vs. Murphysboro: Rochester moves into the role as clear favorite now with IC Catholic removed from the draw, which is a befitting label for a program that has reached at least the semifinal round of the postseason in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Murphysboro will try to play spoiler, but it’s going to need a giant effort from a defense that allowed just 37 points in its first seven games, but 111 in its last five matchups.

Pick: Rochester