With the IHSA State Playoff Pairings Show just a little more than a week away, here are a few teams who could be potential sleepers once the brackets are released.
Waubonsie Valley: The Warriors (5-2) still have a bit of work to do before getting into the state playoff field but they should be fine. Waubonsie Valley has quality wins over Naperville Central (6-1) and Glenbard North (5-2), and will most likely fall into the lower-to-mid-20s under the new 1-32 playoff seeding system, which will have them starting on the road in the first round. Regardless, this Warriors team has gotten it done with a very strong defense, and an offense that has been making strides with quarterback Jack ConnoIly and running back Max Ihry.
Stevenson: The defending 8A state champs have dropped a few high-profile games this season (to No. 1 Homewood-Flossmoor and No. 5 Libertyville), but this is a team that is capable of putting it together for a strong postseason run. Quarterback Jack Sorenson (Miami) is a key. The biggest challenge will hinge on the Patriots (5-2) defense. If the Stevenson 'D' can turn it up another gear, be very aware of this team lurking in the weeds.
Glenbard North: The Panthers started off the season 0-2 and most pollsters left them for dead. But head coach Ryan Wilkens went back to work and guided his team to five straight wins. Keep an eye on the Panthers defense, a unit that has been exceptionally salty all season. The running game, with two standout backs in Devion Hodges and Vittorio Tricase, has gotten better each week. When Glenbard North can play lights out defense and consistently run the football, they will win a lot of games.
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Hinsdale South: The Hornets (5-2) still have a bit of work to do, and it starts Friday night when they host their neighbor Hinsdale Central (6-1). Hinsdale South is battle tested and they have a very balanced offense led by quarterback Sean McCormack and senior running back Marcus Curry. Athletically, this team can match up well against anyone in 6A.
Sycamore: If the Spartans (4-3) can get consecutive wins the next two weeks (vs. Morris and at Sterling), they have more than enough playoff points to make it as a 5-4 qualifier. Sycamore, who has won three straight games after a 1-3 start, is always battle tested in the Big 12 Northern East Conference. Head coach Joe Ryan also knows how to prepare his team for the postseason.