Preps Talk

EDGY: Impressions from the IHSA Pairings

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EDGY: Impressions from the IHSA Pairings

Lots to mull over and break down from Saturday's release of the IHSA Football pairings, and here are some quick thoughts and observations.

My impressions for the next look Class 7A and Class 8A brackets? How can you not love first round matchups like No. 31 Minooka traveling to No. 2 Huntley? Or No. 26 Plainfield South going to No. 7 Barrington?

The overwhelming feedback I received from the coaches, both in Chicagoland and all across the state, was very positive in regards towards seeding Class 8A and Class 7A in a true 1-32 bracket as opposed to the old geographic pairings system.

"It's terrific," said one Chicagoland area 8A head coach. "We are playing a school that's pretty close to us but it's what the true seeding should be. I had our seed figured out by early morning on Saturday and no longer wonder about any real mystery or behind-the-scene things going on anymore."

[MORE: IHSA Football Playoffs - Reaction and analysis for all brackets]

If anything, the Class 8A and 7A seeding system now has coaches statewide (in particular in 6A and 5A) asking if the next step is bringing the 1-32 seeding process down to the smaller classes.

In the larger classes, the IHSA unfortunately seeded together a handful of conference teams against each other in the open round action. In Class 8A, No. 23 seed Marist will take on No. 10 seed Niles Notre Dame in an East Suburban Catholic Conference rematch. In Class 7A, No. 9 seed Rockford Auburn will host No. 24 seed Rockton Hononegah. Both hail from the NIC-10 conference. While these are true seeds, no one wants to play an opening round game against a conference opponent.

My solution? In this case, why not just swap the lower-seeded schools? In the case of No. 23 Marist, why not move the Redhawks up a seed to No. 22, swapping with Warren Township? In the case of No. 24 seed Hononegah, let them swap with No. 23 seed Bradley? With this, it avoids anyone from having to play a conference opponent in the opening round.

Here is one major issue that I've been hearing about from coaches comes from Class 5A: in the upper or ‘northern’ bracket, No. 12 seed Rich Central (6-3) was assigned to the north bracket while No. 9 seed Sterling (7-2) was sent to the south or lower bracket. If the dividing line to determine north vs. south was I-80 (which seems logical just looking at the released IHSA Class 5A map) why is Rich Central, which is located just south of I-80, sent North while Sterling, is located north of I-80 sent to the south bracket?

Here are my way-too-early most dangerous teams to watch in Class 8A thru 5A.

Class 8A: No. 23 Marist — the Redhawks can score points in bunches.

Class 7A: No. 17 Glenbard North — the Panthers just run the ball well and play serious defense.

Class 6A: No. 13 Hinsdale South — When the Hornets are "on" they can beat a lot of teams.

Class 5A: No. 5 St. Laurence — the Vikings path early on is favorable.

94 Days to Kickoff: Kaneland

94 Days to Kickoff: Kaneland

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: Kaneland

Head coach: Pat Ryan

Assistant coaches: Mike Thorgesen, Ryan Gierke, John Pavlak, Drew Sterkel, Matt Smith, Zack Martinelli, Ryan Noel, Mike Lotz, Anthony Mastropieri, Trevor McKeown and Alec Aurelio

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (3-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East Conference). The Knights made the Class 5A state playoff field. They defeated Lindblom, then lost to Sterling in second round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Hinsdale South 

Aug. 31 vs Geneva 

Sept. 7 vs Rich Central 

Sept. 14 @ Sterling 

Sept. 21 vs DeKalb 

Sept. 28 @ Sycamore 

Oct. 5 @ Yorkville 

Oct. 12 vs Morris 

Oct. 19 vs Rochelle

[MORE: 95 Days to Kickoff - Waubonsie Valley]

Biggest storyline: Will the Knights leave their mark in the last season of the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference?

Names to watch this season: RB Jonathan Alstott and OL/DL Drew Hahn.
 
Biggest holes to fill: The Knights will need to reload in a few key spots, especially at QB and on the O-line; however, they bring back a nice core of 11 returning starters (five offense, six defense).

EDGY's Early Take: The Knights are still in search of a new conference to call home after the 2018 season. The Northern Illinois Big 12 is in its last season under its current form. This year's Knights have a chance to get back to the state playoff field. The schedule is very tough, but this team will challenge every single week come August. 

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

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: Waubonsie Valley

Head coach: Paul Murphy

Assistant coaches: Ron Griffin, Tom Baumgarnter, Chris Genslinger, Brad Caldwell, Josh Cuttone, Noel Soto, Ryan Voitik, Duane Butts and Ken Anderson

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Waubonsie Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Oak Park-River Forest

Aug. 31 vs Libertyville

Sept 7 @ Neuqua Valley

Sept. 14 @ Edwardsville

Sept. 21 vs Naperville North

Sept. 28 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 5 vs Prairie Ridge

Oct. 12 @ Naperville Central

Oct. 19 @ Metea Valley

[MORE: 96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs]

Biggest storyline: It's all about the schedule. Can the Warriors survive a challenging lineup --which includes playing Neuqua Valley twice-- and make the playoffs?

Names to watch this season: WR Julian Cain and DL Avante Rogers

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will have several new faces on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2018. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's not often that veteran head coach Paul Murphy and his Warriors view the playoffs from home. But that's what happened last year. They were the first Waubonsie team since 2006 to do just that. Look for the Warriors to rely on a strong group of receivers to bounce back this fall. They also feature a good group of underclassmen ready to step up. Also, they will need to get used to life in the newly-realigned DuPage Valley Conference. The 2018 schedule includes two games against big district rival Neuqua Valley and a loaded non-conference slate which includes some heavy hitters.