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

Batavia’s Luke Alwin celebrates his touchdown during the Class 7A second round playoff game against Lincoln-Way Central in Batavia on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.

Class 7A had just one of the top five seeds survive in top-seeded Normal Community, but despite that this Final Four looks very similar to what a lot of people may have anticipated headed into the regular season.

Despite being seeded out of the top five no one is all that surprised to see last year’s finalists, Mount Carmel and Batavia, squaring off for the right to return to state.

Downers Grove North could be the lone surprise at this stage, but the Trojans are clearly playing their best football at an opportune time.

First-round picks: 15-1

Second-round picks: 6-2

Quarterfinal-round picks: 4-0

Semifinal-round matchups

Normal Community vs. Downers Grove North: Normal Community has had a bit more adventurous path than one might expect as a No. 1 seed. The Ironmen needed overtime to dispatch Bradley-Bourbonnais in Round 2 and had to jostle quite a bit to put away Glenbard East in the quarterfinals. The Ironmen can clearly score points, but it remains to be seen if they can truly contain good football teams on defense. Downers Grove North has absolutely found another gear since back-to-back losses in Week 5 and Week 6 and its defense has really dug in against teams that entered games with them not really having much trouble scoring.

Pick: Downers Grove North

Mt. Carmel: vs. Batavia: A little bit of a postseason rivalry has emerged between these two powerhouses as they will now have met in three consecutive postseasons. Some bad feeling still lingers from a controversial semifinal win by Mount Carmel in 2021 but the Caravan left no doubt in the 2022 finals. Both teams are playing excellent football right now with both performing complete dominations of their opponents in quarterfinal round games. This game is likely to come down to which team’s defense can slow down the other team’s high octane offensive attacks just a little.

Pick: Mt. Carmel