By Anthony Jones
The Illinois High School Association released playoff brackets this past Saturday, with Triad and Highland both landing in the southern half of Class 5A. Beyond their week one matchups, there is plenty to break down in their playoff sections.
First of all, it is important to break down how the IHSA sets up playoff brackets. For all classes except 7A and 8A, the 32 schools in any given class are split into north and south brackets. This year’s southern bracket for 5A stretches from Marion all the way up to Chicago-based Morgan Park.
Another important note is how home field advantage is determined. The right to host a game is determined by who has hosted fewer games in the postseason, with seeding being used as a tiebreaker.
Looking first at potential second round foes, if Triad wins this week, they will travel to the winner of Jacksonville versus Mahomet-Seymour. Those two squads will battle it out at 7:00 pm on October 30.
Boasting the third seed, the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs stand at 9-0 on the season. They share two common opponents with Triad in Mattoon and Lincoln. Against the Greenwave, the Bulldogs won 18-0 and their win over the Railsplitters came by a score of 53-20.
The Jacksonville Crimsons earned the fourteenth seed in the bracket after closing out their season with two wins to get to 5-4. They finished in fifth place in the ten team Central State Eight conference, which holds several strong teams including Rochester and Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Looking at Highland’s potential round two opponents, they would host either Morris or LaSalle-Peru. Their week one matchup will be played at 7:00 pm on October 29.
Ranked as one of the top 5A squads in several polls, the Morris Redskins roll into the postseason with a 9-0 record and the two seed. Being held to less than 28 points only once this season, their offense has proven capable of putting points on the board all year long.
The LaSalle-Peru Cavaliers snagged the fifteenth seed by virtue of their 5-4 record. They enter on a two game skid, including a 31-7 loss to the aforementioned Morris. Only allowing over 23 points twice so far, the Cavaliers defense has proven to be a solid front.
If either Triad or Highland advance to the third round, their opponent would be among the aforementioned teams. This also includes a possible battle between the two rivals that would be hosted by the Knights and be their fourth bout in 2021.
The next round would be a semifinal game to determine the last team standing in the southern portion of the bracket. Prospective opponents for that game include Carbondale, Peoria, Morgan Park(Chicago), Kankakee, Dunlap, Marion, and Metamora.
One other team that might pop up on a prospective state championship path for the Knights or Bulldogs is Mississippi Valley foe Mascoutah. Holding an 8-1 mark, with their lone loss coming from Highland, the Indians hold a reasonable chance to find their way to the semifinal round.