Prairie Ridge players gather in the endzone around Taidhgin Trost, right, after Trost's touchdown against Grayslake North during their first round playoff football game at Prairie Ridge High School on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 in Crystal Lake. Prairie Ridge won 51-6.
Prairie Ridge players gather in the endzone around Taidhgin Trost, right, after Trost's touchdown against Grayslake North during their first round playoff football game at Prairie Ridge High School on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 in Crystal Lake. Prairie Ridge won 51-6. — Matthew Apgar -

I went 113-15 in Round 1.

Not too shabby.

But there's likely no chance I improve on that in Round 2, with so many toss-up games dotting each of the eight classifications.

Let's try anyway.


Minooka over Edwardsville: Despite the seed disparity, this is a tricky one. Minooka didn't exactly cruise in Week 1 and years of practice has prepared Edwardsville more than adequately for long road trips.

Brother Rice over South Elgin: South Elgin came through with a solid showing against Oswego East in the opening round shaking a stigma that the Upstate Eight Conference would have a tough time gaining a win outside of their locked conference. But the Crusaders are a bit taller task.

Gurnee Warren over Fremd: Having witnessed an impressive Fremd defense in Round 1, its hard to know how much to expect from what its considered to be one of the best defenses in the state. In any case, expect any yards gained on either side to come at a heavy price.

Bolingbrook over Oswego: A healthy Bolingbrook team is apparently a very dangerous one. Weakened a bit by injuries down the stretch, the Raiders got a little healthier and the consequence of that was evident as they dominated Hinsdale Central. Oswego's defense is good enough however to make this game a real meat grinder for both sides.

Glenbard West over Loyola: This is a second round game? Excuse me? This looks like a scuffle befitting at least a semifinal game. It's probably going to be a grind as well, both defenses can really bring it. The Hilltoppers appear to have a bit of an edge at the skill positions, but there's no chance Loyola goes quietly in any case.

Marist over Huntley: Both squads took out opponents easily in the first week of the playoffs. But while Marist has had to scratch and claw its way through a brutal schedule just to get a chance to be in the postseason, Huntley hasn't played a pressure-packed game for about a month. It makes a difference in a matchup this close.

Lincoln-Way East over Niles Notre Dame: The Griffins could very well meet the challenge and advance into the quarterfinals. But they aren't going to get there easily as the Dons won't back down and will throw everything they have at the favorites. The Dons also got a boost with the return of Julian Schurr to the lineup from injury.

Neuqua Valley over Homewood-Flossmoor: This has the potential to not only be the most interesting second round game in the class, but maybe the entire bracket. Both teams have the potential to score on any play from scrimmage and the defenses to hold foes in check. Both teams' lone loss speaks to their quality as Neuqua fell in OT to East St. Louis, while H-F dropped its contest to Lincoln-Way East.


Mount Carmel over Glenbard North: Both teams feature vigorous defensive units, but the fact that the Caravan haven't given up more than three touchdowns all season in its power-packed schedule indicates that the Caravan are simply on another level than most of the teams in the Class 7A field.

Normal Community over Phillips: This one's tricky. A real contrast in styles but odds are Phillips won't be given another chance to pull a last-second rabbit out of its hat as it did against Lincoln-Way West in the first round. The Ironmen will likely have the edge in the trenches, but can they rein in explosive talents like Ronald Pledger?

Hersey over Lake Zurich: The Huskies have flexed their offensive might for most of the season but it might be meeting its match here with the Bears. Lake Zurich might not quite be at the same defensive level of a few years ago, but the unit is still pretty darn good.

Willowbrook over Yorkville: It's almost been too easy for Willowbrook since a Week 1 loss to Providence as no one has been closer than 14 points since, but Yorkville has had a season full of bucking the odds in the SouthWest Prairie and they might be able to give Willowbrook a real fight here.

Nazareth over Thornton: This has the potential to be a real offensive extravaganza. But what kind might it be? Nazareth clearly has the components in place to score on almost anyone, but will the Thornton offense be able to keep up against a Nazareth defense whose strength often gets overshadowed by the powerhouse Roadrunner offensive attack.

Batavia over Hononegah: After some hiccups in the middle of the season, Batavia seems to have caught its groove once again. It can't really be questioned that the DuKane Conference has done a better job of preparing its team for the rigors of the postseason as just two NIC-10 teams are still alive in the postseason.

Rolling Meadows over Prospect: Rolling Meadows won by three touchdowns when the two squads locked horns in Week 7, so the Mustangs enter the contest as a favorite. But this really feels like the kind of game where the last team with the ball could win, especially considering the 55 they hung on DeKalb in the first round.

Wheaton Warrenville South over Downers Grove North: Two underseeds moved along into this second round matchup, but the Tigers look primed to keep this underdog roll moving on into the quarterfinals. Downers Grove North was just one of five teams with four losses still alive, but Cinderella's slipper might have a hard time still fitting here.


Prairie Ridge over Simeon: This has the potential to be a whale of a contest. Prairie Ridge really seems to have caught a groove over the second half of the season and that's exactly why they've been placed with a very slight favorites label. Prairie Ridge's offense is tough to stop without reps against it, something Simeon hasn't been fortunate enough to have.

Cary-Grove over Antioch: A high-scoring Cary-Grove squad will take its skill set right at a defensive unit from Antioch who isn't particularly fond about letting up points. However, Antioch hasn't played a team with quite the offensive capabilities that Cary-Grove possesses as they are the only team left standing from their conference.

Deerfield over Kenwood: Deerfield may have been underestimated a bit coming out of a conference that hasn't had a wealth of postseason success in recent years. They might have the opportunity to extend it for another week as well, as Kenwood pulled a nice trick being one of just three CPL teams to claim a first round win, but might not have the firepower to keep it going.

Kaneland over Lake Forest: Kaneland has posted quite a few points this season and while Lake Forest has shown the ability to rein in most of the teams on their schedule, the better teams have posted points. If the Knights can catch their offensive groove early, the Scouts might have trouble matching them point for point.

East St. Louis over Rock Island: There may be challenges in the bracket for the Flyers forthcoming, but it is hard to see a path for the Rocks to keep this within the margin of where an upset might be possible.

Richards over Peoria: It's almost a guarantee that a ton of points are going to be scored in this one. Peoria and Shepard set a state record for points in a playoff game (158) and they play an up-tempo game that wears down most foes. But Richards might have the talent to match up, especially if LeShon Williams is a full-go after dealing with an ankle issue for most of the season.

Chatham Glenwood over Lemont: These two are forming a little bit of a history against one another. Glenwood edged Lemont in a first-round matchup last year, and while the Indians are much-improved from last season especially on defense, Glenwood looks like they might still have a little too much firepower for the Indians to overcome.

Crete-Monee over Providence: The Warriors have stacked up tons of points in a schedule that appears wasn't all that demanding, but they still present a noticeable problem for a Providence team that has struggled to rein in teams with explosive offensive personnel. Tempo will be everything, if Providence can slow the game to a crawl, its prospects improve exponentially.


St. Rita over Sterling: This looks like a fairly titanic tilt in the early rounds of this bracket. Sterling has routinely posted big numbers in the regular season and transitioned nicely into the Western Big Six, but can they crank it up even more? St. Rita's explosive sophomore Kaleb Brown will be a load for any opponent to try to slow down, and few teams are more battled tested.

Hillcrest over Fenwick: The Hawks survived one of the most evenly matched first round matchups in a win over St. Laurence and will now try to topple their second consecutive CCL/ESCC team in Fenwick. The Friars pulled a rabbit out of their hat scoring late to topple Payton, and it is hard to imagine a scenario where that bodes well in trying to amp up for Hillcrest.

Rockford Boylan over Marmion: The Titans have largely been playing competition at higher classifications and they've been playing spectacular defense while doing so. That could be a problem for Marmion, who only has wins over two playoff teams this season, Amundsen who they beat in Round 1 and St. Ignatius, a four-loss squad that bowed out last week.

Montini over Sycamore: Another high caliber second round game in this Class 5A pits a pair of teams that are more than capable of making a run at DeKalb. Sycamore's defense has been downright incredible this season, but they likely haven't seen a team that brings as much to the table as the Broncos.

Joliet Catholic over Mount Zion: The Hilltoppers demonstrated they plan to use the same punishing blueprint they did last season in a win over Morton: a punishing ground game and a defense compelled not to surrender much. Mount Zion is the No. 1 seed, but has done most of its postseason damage in previous years in 4A, not 5A.

Kankakee over Mascoutah: The transformation of the Kankakee football program has been impressive, but can they make the long road trip and stay sharp enough to beat a quietly solid Mascoutah team? Kankakee's "Dark Side" defense is going to be put to the test by a team that's really stacked up the points in their seven wins this year.

Rochester over Highland: The Rockets started a little slow in their opening round victory over LaSalle-Peru but finished extremely fast. Highland will probably bring a little bit more to the table in this matchup, but it remains to be seen if anybody in 5A has the defense mettle to slow down Rochester's high octane offensive attack.

Sacred Heart Griffin over Triad: A very young Cyclones squad appears to be coming into its own at the right time. Sacred Heart can't look past a tricky Triad team in anticipation of another "Leonard Bowl" with Rochester as Triad has already proven they can't be under estimated after they dropped 55 points on higher-seeded Marion in the opening round.


Coal City over Kewanee: The Coalers have been taking apart opponents with precision all season and they'll look to continue that trend here. Kewanee seems poised to give the Coalers a run for their money, but they'll need to continue to play really dominant defensive football which is a huge chore against Coal City.

Wheaton St. Francis over Genoa-Kingston: St. Francis caught a bit of a bracketing break with their opening round game allowing them to give sensational quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse another week off to give a broken arm a better chance to heal some more. Genoa-Kingston is capable of pulling an "upset" here but it will all come down to the play of the Cogs defense.

Richmond-Burton over Marengo: Yet another rematch between regular season opponents. Richmond-Burton won the first round of the battle between these two in a 38-13 win in Week 5. R-B just may be too stingy on defense to allow Marengo a chance at redemption in the repeat meeting.

IC Catholic over Stillman Valley: Wheaton St. Francis was finally able to slay IC Catholic in a regular season contest, but getting the Knights out of the playoff bracket will be a different beast entirely. Stillman Valley will get the first legitimate shot to do so, and game tempo and ball possession will be key.

Illinois Valley Central over Murphysboro: The Grey Ghosts continue to protect the top seed but face an interesting challenge in Murphysboro. Illinois Valley Central simply continues to do what it needs to do to keep racking up wins, but Murphysboro has basically done the same. One of their two losses was a forfeit during a teacher's strike, and the only on field loss was a narrow one to Carbondale where they squandered a sizable lead.

Bishop McNamara over Tolono Unity: Bishop McNamara finally broke away from Paris in the second half in Round 1, and hope to be able to protect their home turf in Round 2. They will likely get a stern challenge from the Rockets, whose lone loss was a one-point defeat by Illinois Valley Central all the way back in Week 1.

Columbia over Prairie Central: Columbia's defense showed a few cracks after allowing just 45 points in the regular season by allowing 28 points in the opening round playoff win over Roxana. Prairie Central might be able to exploit that too and this looks like a shootout in the making.

Effingham over Benton: Effingham seems a little bit better prepared for a second round playoff game. Benton's wins over playoff teams includes a narrow 8-7 win over Salem and a regular season win over West Frankfort. The only other playoff team they played led to a 41-0 loss to Murphysboro.


Princeton over Spring Valley Hall: Princeton dominated Hall in Week 5, claiming a 41-0 victory. It may not be as easy this time around, but it still looks like the Tigers look well positioned to claim a spot in the quarterfinals.

Farmington over Paxton: Farmington's two losses are to a pair of undefeated teams, and in other than those two games, its defense has been splendid. And while Paxton's offense has been more than fine, they've really only flourished against lesser competition.

Byron over Durand: It's been a breakthrough season for Durand-Pecatonica, who claimed the school's first ever playoff victory last week. But this week might be a little bit too high of a mountain to climb for Durand this week against a very strong Tigers squad.

Wilmington over Eureka: The Wildcats defense has really rounded into form down the stretch, excluding a misstep in a loss to powerful Coal City, that could set the tone in a matchup between two teams they previously may have relied on strong offensive attacks to overwhelm their opponents.

Quincy Notre Dame over Beardstown: Beardstown's opening round playoff win over Newton was the first time it had played a 3A squad all season as they play predominately a 1A/2A schedule. QND, on the other hand, has played and competed with multiple larger classification schools as an independent.

Breese Mater Dei over Fairfield: This will be another test for strength of schedule. Mater Dei took a narrow loss to a 4A school in Week 1 (Effingham) and has picked off everyone since, including several larger schools. Make no mistake, Fairfield has been truly dominant, but its done nearly all of its damage against smaller schools.

Williamsville over DuQuoin: The Bullets have emerged as one of the favorites to hoist the big trophy in DeKalb, and explosive performances that have led to six games with at least 50 points posted. That could be a problem for DuQuoin who has had a lot of success, but have given up a fair amount of points in the process.

Mt. Carmel over Vandalia: It's still hard to get a read on how Mt. Carmel stacks up with Illinois teams, based on its heavily Indiana-centric schedule. But Vandalia's inability to shake itself free from North Mac in the opening round until very late, does give one pause in its chances of advancing much further.


Knoxville over Watseka: The Blue Bullets remain one of the more surprising undefeated teams of the 29 that remain, but that doesn't mean to discount their accomplishment. Knoxville's offense has been posting points at an epic rate while defensively they've held opponents to under eight points in seven games this season.

GCMS over Sterling Newman: Two teams you'd expect to be playing a bit later in the tournament, but a loaded bracket led to this encounter. GCMS has played very well since taking its lone loss to Fieldcrest. Sterling Newman also has just one loss (Morrison) but has had a number of other close calls.

Fieldcrest over St. Edward: The Knights have been really good defensively this year and that's bad news for the Green Wave, who really had to go on the grind just to get a shot at a second round game in a narrow win over Chicago Orr.

Clifton Central over Mercer County: Central can clearly score points but if they are going to get clear through to the quarterfinals they'll need to start locking down opponents on defense. Mercer County was once 2-3, but has played considerably better football in the second half.

Pana over Fithian Oakwood: Pana has routinely posted big points this season and look on track to keep that going here. Oakwood has struggled to keep quality opponents off the scoreboard and Pana certainly qualifies as that.

Bismarck-Henning over Nashville: The Blue Devils punishing running attack might claim another victim here. Nashville has piled up some wins this season, but it is hard to see a lot of quality in the slate of games they've played to date. Bismarck-Henning hasn't exactly pushed itself either, but its a program that's almost built for postseason success.

Maroa-Forsyth over Auburn: The Trojan War (Chapter 2) between two strong football schools that share the same mascot. Maroa claimed a 28-14 win in the Week 9 matchup between the two schools and it will likely be a real scrap in the rematch.

St. Teresa over Tuscola: A doozy of a second round matchup here as two Central Illinois Conference battlers as St. Teresa took the first encounter 28-12 back in Week 4. St. Teresa has been an absolute points machine this season and gave A&M all they wanted in their lone loss of the season. Tuscola could overcome all of that, but it won't be easy.


Kewanee Wethersfield over Forreston: It's easy to formulate an argument that both of these two teams may be among the classification's best five teams, but only one will survive this round. K-W has been sensational as of late, while Forreston has had more than its fair share of close calls down the stretch.

Morrison over Kirkland Hiawatha: Morrison has been a surprise success story out of the Three Rivers Conference and they look poised to do at least a little more damage. Kirkland Hiawatha has already had a watershed year, with a school-record effort in wins and the program's first playoff win, but they'll need a big effort to keep extending those numbers.

Lena-Winslow over Orangeville: It was hard not to notice how dominant Lena was in its first round win over Aurora Christian, but a tip of the cap is more than deserved for Orangeville. It might not be nearly enough to make this a game, but its ability to complete muffle a Hope Academy squad that many had thought would be a team that might make things interesting for Lena, says something about Orangeville's quality.

Freeport Aquin over Stockton: Not surprisingly, Northwest Upstate Illini squads lock horns again in a playoff battle. Aquin won 40-22 when the two played early in the season and its hard to imagine that result not being duplicated as Aquin seems to have a knack for pulling out victories over quality opponents this year.

Moweaqua Central A&M over Fisher: The Raiders are scoring points at a furious rate, and the only reason they aren't scoring more is that their games usually get out of hand so quickly. This doesn't bode well for Fisher, who was beaten soundly in their one other game against an elite team, GCMS (42-0).

Arcola over Greenfield: Arcola was upset in Week 5 in a loss to Cumberland, but that only seemed to spark them as they averaged 50 points a week since. Greenfield has a nice playoff pedigree but they barely escaped a first-round upset against Brown County and might have a hard time slowing down an Arcola offense that is clearly in a groove.

Argenta-Oreana over Carrollton: This one looks remarkably close on paper as both teams score points in bunches, and both have given up reasonable amounts to foes. They both seem more than comfortable in shootouts as well. They even share a common opponent, Arthur. Not surprisingly they even match there: Argenta beat Arthur by eight while Carrollton beat Arthur by nine.

Athens over Camp Point Central: Tough second round draw for both teams. Athens is always a little bit under-seeded due to their presence in a very difficult conference loaded with solid 2A and 3A teams. That could be enough to topple Camp Point Central, whose slate in the Western Illinois Valley wasn't littered with many imposing tests.