Preps Talk

Edgy: The IHSA 8A playoffs are going to be loaded

Edgy: The IHSA 8A playoffs are going to be loaded

With the IHSA state playoffs nearly upon us, I fully expect several storylines, upsets and a few surprises to arise over the next handful of days.

What could be one of the most talked about subjects on the IHSA Football Playoff Pairings Show, live on CSN and CSNChicago.com from 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday night?

Class 8A. And how stacked it is.

Need proof?

Start with the Week 9 power rankings. Of the top 25 ranked teams, the top six are undefeateds in Loyola, Homewood-Flossmoor, Brother Rice, Palatine, Neuqua Valley and Hinsdale Central. Want to go deeper? Add to the potential 8A field with Marist (8-0), Naperville North (7-1), the perennial 8A/7A bubble team Glenbard West (6-2), Lincoln-Way East (6-2), Stevenson (7-1), Oak Park-River Forest (7-1), Lyons Township (6-2), Barrington (7-1), St. Charles East (8-0) and Oswego (8-0).

In case you didn't do the math, that's potentially half of the 8A IHSA state playoff field (16 teams), Their current combined record is 118-10.

Yet we also all know rankings and high seeds seldom tell the whole story when it comes to the state playoffs. While it would be easy to just go with the higher seeds/ranked teams, you might also want to consider at least a handful of teams with lesser records heading into the IHSA Class 8A state playoff field.

Some examples?

Edwardsville (7-1) seems to be left out of the 8A discussion at times, simply because of the lack of 8A teams south of I-80. Yet the Tigers, led by the state's top Class of 2017 name in four star-ranked A.J. Epenesa (Iowa), features a terrific defense and trust me, the Southwestern conference teams handle travel as well as anyone in the state come playoff time.

Or how about New Trier (6-2)? All the Trevians did was snap Maine South's 77-game Central Suburban South winning streak. Would you want to draw Maine South (5-3) in the first round, with an offense that is capable of putting up 40-plus points against some of the state's top defenses?

Anyone still remember a team like Waubonsie Valley (4-4)? The Warriors playoffs begin this Friday hosting Wheaton North (4-4) in what could be one of the state's top regular season finales. All Paul Murphy and his Warriors did last season was sneak into the 8A state playoffs as a 5-4 team and wound up making it to the 8A semifinals. Could Waubonsie Valley be this year's, well, Waubonsie Valley all over again?

The overall depth and quality in this 8A field will be as strong --or even stronger—than ever this playoff season. Throw in the second year of the IHSA’s true 1-32 seeding system, and the 8A playoffs will be incredibly fun and nerve-wracking to watch starting in the opening round.

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers. 

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture.