MORRIS — All four of the football teams in the Morris Herald-News coverage area will see postseason action, with Class 4A Coal City and Class 8A Minooka both entering the postseason with unblemished 9-0 records. Morris is 7-2 entering the playoffs, while Seneca is 5-4 and will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced the playoff pairings Saturday night.
In Class 5A, Morris, the sixth seed in the southern bracket, will host 11th seed Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin (6-3) in the opening round. The winner of that game will play the winner of No. 14 Triad and No. 3 Marion. If Morris wins the opener, the second-round game would be at either Triad or Marion, with a possible rematch of the 2017 Class 4A title game against Rochester at home in the quarterfinals.
"The 5A bracket is loaded," Morris coach Alan Thorson said. "Just on our half, you have a lot of trophies between us, Sacred Heart, Joliet Catholic and Rochester, and on the other side you have St. Rita, Montini, Sterling and Sycamore. Whoever wins this class will have certainly earned it.
"We are excited to play a great program like Sacred Heart. They have three losses, but they were to three real good teams [Chatham-Glenwood, Rochester and Springfield], just like our two losses were to two real good teams [Coal City and Sycamore]. We love the challenge. That's what makes the playoffs great."
In Class 4A, Coal City is the top seed in the northern bracket and has a matchup slated with 16th seed Chicago Phoenix (3-4). Whether that game gets played is in question due to the Chicago teachers' strike. If the strike is not settled on time, the Coalers will get a bye in the first round. The game opposite theirs in the bracket is No. 9 Chicago Ag Science at No. 8 Kewanee. Again, if the teachers' strike is not resolved, Kewanee would get a bye and be the Coalers' second-round opponent.
"We are looking at this week like a regular week," Coal City coach Dan Hutchings said. "It is business as usual for us. We are going to start the week practicing like we are going to play."
In Class 8A, Minooka is the top seed and will play 32nd-seed Joliet West (4-5), which reached the playoffs with only four wins due to winning its division of the Southwest Prairie Conference. Provided there is no monumental upset, the Indians would either play at 17th seed St. Charles East or host No. 16 Edwardsville in the second round.
In Class 3A, Seneca, the 13th seed in the southern bracket, will travel to No. 4 Farmington (7-2) in the first round. Should the Irish pull off the upset, they would most likely host No. 5 Paxton-Buckley-Loda in the second round, as P-B-L drew Chicago Carver in the first round and would receive a bye if the strike is not resolved.