Both the Mid Illini and Mid State 6 conferences are well represented in this year’s IHSA high school football playoffs. Three out of the six Mid State 6 teams are in and five out of the eight in the Mid Illini are as well.
Peoria Richwoods leads the way as conference champs in the Mid State 6 in Class 6A and travels to Normal in a tough match up. Richwoods has had an interesting year after starting out with three straight losses against teams that are all playoff bound, and then turning it around to close with six straight wins culminated by an impressive defeat of a tough Quincy Notre Dame team two weeks ago. Normal, at 7-2, is always big, tough and speedy as well, so the Knights will have their work cut out for them. Peoria Notre Dame travels to number one seed Manteno in Class 4A seeking to continue their season with nothing to lose after getting in with a 5-4 record. The Irish and their fans are stoked for their first playoff appearance in ten years with the team demonstrating that hard work and commitment can indeed pay off. Quincy Notre Dame must face 2010 Class 4A state champion Rochester and Oklahoma State bound, all everything quarterback, Wes Lund, in one of the more perplexing, yet exciting, first round match ups in recent memory. Both teams have blemishes on their records, but each play schools in the larger classes and each could likely take it all this year. The IHSA apparently doesn’t lend much credence to a strength of schedule factor when making the seedings.
Four of the Mid Illini schools are bunched in the same Class 5A bracket with Dunlap traveling to Washington for a rematch and hoping for better results this time around. One would guess Isaac Fisher will have plenty to say about that for the Panthers, however. Metamora hosts south suburban Rich East in a more regional type of match up, so each will be watching plenty of film to prepare for the other. Likewise, Morton travels north and must face traditionally powerful Morris who will be ready for the Potters and looking to get back in the title hunt. Class 5A also features some of the traditional, year in, year out, absolute powers in Illinois football including, but not limited to, Joliet Catholic, Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin and two time defending champion Lombard Montini. Pekin heads to Moline who stands at 6-3, but plays a very tough schedule as a member of the Western Big 6. Don’t count out the Dragons, though, as they have size on the line, speed to burn on the perimeter and a fine signal caller directing traffic in Caleb Huss. In additon, they are no strangers to pressure having upended Richwoods and Metamora this year as well as taking Washington, Morton and Rock Island down to the wire. All in all, it shapes up to be a great weekend in Central Illinois.