The real anticipation of the state playoffs comes from the small towns throughout Illinois that crave for a successful football team. On Saturday afternoons during late October and into November, towns that are still alive in the playoffs become barren.
For some unfamiliar with football success, traditions will be formed over these next couple of weeks. For others who have been there before, the pride of living up to the teams of the past pushes them to strive for the ultimate goal: an Illinois State Football Championship. Let's recap the highlights of an exciting opening weekend in high school football.
1A: Across the state Friday and Saturday, the playoffs kicked off in a fun-filled frenzy. In 1A, most of the top seeds easily advanced to the second round of the playoffs. East Dubuque, the number one seed in the northern bracket, advanced to the second round with a 48-14 win over conference foe Orangeville.
The Warriors were boosted by a strong running attack that included 86 yards and 3 touchdowns from running back Cole Crenshaw. Also running hard for the Warriors was Bryson Schilt, who rushed for 84 yards and touchdown.
Across the northern bracket, all of the top seeds won over the weekend except for Galena, which was upset by Alden Hebron High School. The little Giants tasted playoff success for the first time since 2007 after consecutive first round defeats the previous two seasons.
In the southern half of the bracket, many of the top seeds cruised to a second round playoff berth. Top seeded Brown County won over Tri Valley 27-0 after quarterback Ace Henricks threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the playoff opener.
1A did have one major upset this weekend. Villa Grove, who was undefeated through week eight of the regular season, was upset by 5-4 Red Hill. Red Hill pulled of the stunning upset by tipping Villa Grove 29-28.
2A: The 2A playoffs also kicked off with a bang this weekend. Each half the bracket was broken down into 2 quadrants. In all quadrants, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th seeds advanced onto the second round of the playoffs.
In the northern half of the state, number one ranked Sterling Newman had to come from behind to get the win over conference rival Amboy/Lamoille. The Clippers, clinging to a 7-6 lead in the 4th quarter could not hold on as Joe Blessman scored from 3 yards out with 4 minutes and 14 seconds left in the game.
Also in the northern half of the state, top seeded Deer Creek Mackinaw cruised to victory over Mendon Unity. The Chiefs were led by the arm of Max Seibert who threw four touchdowns to Tight End Matt Krause in the Chiefs 40-7 victory.
The southern half of the bracket had one of the most intriguing matchups in the first round of the state playoffs. Last year's semifinal foes, Marshall and Maroa Forsyth, squared off, this time in the first round. The Lions of Marshall, looking to avenge last year's defeat, couldn't overcome the speed of Trojans. Maroa pulled out a 28-14 win. Top seeds Westville and Johnston City also easily moved onto the second round.
3A: Like many first rounds, the top seeds rolled to victory in class 3A. What was unusual were the struggles faced by the number three seeds in all four quadrants of class 3A. Aurora Christian hammered third seeded Oregon in the northern quadrant 38-0. Aurora Christian was led by Anthony Maddie's 297 yards passing and six touchdowns. The Eagles prolific passing attack was far too much for the Oregon Defense to overcome.
Also in the northern bracket, third seeded Oakwood Fithian could not contain the spread attack of Champaign St. Thomas More. Josh Vetter had 199 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the visitors as they rolled to victory 28-18.
Sixth seeded Carterville was able to use a stout defense to continue the successful trend for six seeds as they defeated third seeded Harrisburg. One third seed, Greenville, did manage a victory by beating Breese Central in a 47-12 rout.
4A: In one of the strongest 4A brackets in years, there was a major upset over the weekend. Top seeded Rockford Christian lost to 5-4 Mendota in the first round. Upsets of number one seeds are uncommon in the first round of the state playoffs, but Mendota used a stingy defense and the legs of Evan Carroll to roll to a 39-15 win. Carroll finished the game with 191 yards rushing and three scores to lead the Trojans to victory.
Across the state in 4A, the other top seeds all cruised to the second round. Perennial powerhouse Metamora crushed Mahomet Seymour 54-26 behind Jake Ferguson's three touchdown scampers. The Redbirds will now take on Mt. Zion in the second round.
Cruising to the second round was top seeded Rochester. The Rockets used a balanced attack to take out Freeburg 49-7. During the game, quarterback Wes Lunt threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Also pacing the Rockets was running back Colten Glazebrook, who ran for four scores on only seven carries in the game.