Team Death Watch 2002
IHSFW.com has started it's first ever Team Death Watch.
In essence what the IHSA likes to refer to as clinchers & hopefuls,
we've given it a little spin of our own. So if you're sick of hearing
who's going to make it, read on about who's hanging on for life and
why that number one team may lose the big game.
While the IHSA and every other media outlet in the state
will be looking for Friday night fanatics, as teams on the bubble look
to beat top ranked teams in the state so they can face more top ranked
teams in round 1 of the playoffs. We've decided to keep a running tally
of all the semifinalists from the 2001 season. Just to see which ones
have a junior class that's steppin' up and which one lost all their
talent with graduation.
Teams are listed by State Champ, Runner-up, Semifinalist
vs. State Champ, then Semifinalist vs. Runner-up.
biggest class in the state will always be the toughest. Hands down.
While some of the best teams may be in the lower classes 8A delivers
the most punch. Average players are bigger, taller & quicker. The
kids hit harder, throw farther & the position depth is enough to
make the Metamoras
&New Lenox (Providence)s
of the state sick with envy. Winning here isn't easy & repeating
is almost a myth. More surprises happen here than any other class.
(8-0) - The Mustangs are looking tough on defense (16 points allowed
through week #8) and are walking over teams. Except the Lockport (Twp.)
Porters, who gave them a 7-3 scare in week #1. The truth is DGS hasn't
faced more than one good team this year. Top that off with the fact
that a statewide consensus preseason #1 rarely wins the state title
& since 1985 only one other team has had back to back championships
in the IHSA's top class. Take all that and you're crowning a new king
(4-4) - One of the teams we started the Death Watch for. The
Red Hawks are 4-4 as of week #8 with one game left against Bob Stone's
team the Hawks could be out of the loop for the first time since 1991
if they fall to West Chicago.
(7-1) - While Maine South is a lock for the playoffs, the Hawks
suffer from the same fate as Downers, lack of a tough schedule. Even
conference rival Winnetka
team wasn't a real test for the Hawks. The Hawks lone loss came from
a drubbing by the Griffins of Frankfort
(Lincoln-Way East) in
week #1. The Griffins who are in the wild SICA (Blue)
have been matched up with a slew of title contenders in that conference
who are more than eager to knock off a DGS or Maine South and act like
the Chicago Bears do when they win on last minute plays, like it was
suppose to happen.
(8-0) - The Falcons are looking to be one of the strongest teams
in the state, at 8-0 the only close game they had was against Naperville
Central, so the only problem they might have in the playoffs is Naperville
Central who beat them last year in the semifinals.
No class is more up for grabs than 7A. With Chicago (Hubbard)
&Buffalo Grovelooking to be the only undefeated teams in that playoff. Champs Prospect
& runner-up Edwardsville are looking good, but still have one more
loss each than they should.
(6-2) - The Knights had one tough game on their schedule,Buffalo Grove.
The team they beat twice last year, the only losses BG saw last season.
This year BG was out to settle the score & they did. Chances are
if the Knights & Bison face off again it could be a role reversal
from last season. The Knights armor may be dented as they let one go
Heights (Hersey)in week #7.
(7-1) - Edwardsville may repeat again as runner-up in 7A, but not
because they're better than most of the field, but because the IHSA
will place them in a bracket heavily laden with southern teams who have
yet to form a dominant team. The Tigers bring a lot of experience &
talent, but may fall short with better teams from up north.
Bolingbrook(7-1) - Stagg! That's really all there is to say. Stagg! The Raiders
lost to Palos
in week #7, but not on some last second fluke play. They were served
up 23-2. While in the past games like these have served as wake up calls
for championship teams, let's not forget it also means there's something
is wrong with your hi-powered offense when the school known as "Running
Back High" can't put 6 on the board on a clear October day.
Chicago (St. Rita)(6-2) - St. Rita entered the playoffs last season 6-3 and made the
semis. Their only two losses this season came from two of the topped
ranked teams in the state. While they might be one of the more underrated
teams state wide, their 6-2 record might make return trip to the semis
a bit difficult as they could end up facing some of the big dogs in
7A, but things could be a lot more interesting as a class bubble team,
where St. Rita may play in 6A.
only conference that still has all four 2001 semifinal teams undefeated
as of week #8. 6A could have an all undefeated semifinals, but with
some tough competition from Freeport (H.S.),
&Chicago (St. Rita).
Plus Providence possibly going to 5A, look for the possibility of a
new addition to the final 4.
New Lenox (Providence)(8-0) - The undisputed #1 at the end of the 2001 season is making
the top five in almost every state wide ranking. And with the Celtics
looking to make the road to Champaign a happy trip back, Joliet Catholic's
new & improved running game might be the only thing in the way of
the Celtics bring home the trophy.
Oak Lawn (Richards)
(8-0) - The Bulldog are looking tough, but a schedule that wasn't
as tough as last season may have the Dogs a little lax for the playoffs.
If they lose to undefeated Lansing
(Thornton Fractional South)
in week #9, look for them to be pumped for the playoffs, but a relaxed
undefeated Richard's team might think to cake walk to the semis. Setting
them up for a second round challenge from teams likeChicago (St. Rita),
Bloomington (HS)(8-0) - The Purple Raiders are ready to go for a shot at the 6A
title, the biggest obstacle they'll face is every other northern school
who's after the title. With the advent of the 8A class playoff system
southern teams seem to be playing a bigger role in the title quest.
We'll see if this is a continuing trend or if last year was just last
(8-0) - The Corsairs are flying high this season & with good
reason. After beatingChicago (Mt. Carmel)for the first time a big win against St. Rita last week has got the
Corsairs looking to be the last of the Carmelite schools to bring home
a state trophy. The only problem is Carmel is doing all right against
the private schools it's going to have to worry about Gary Korhonen's
Richard's team who beat them last year in the semis.
it be said, no class has as much class as 5A. From Rochelle
to Springfield (S.H.G.)
& fromJoliet (Catholic)to Jerseyville (Jersey),
nobody brings more banners, more tailgating, more cheering & more
rabid fans than any other class. This class is now one of the most diverse
and carries the most recognized teams in the state. Although it's been
dominated by a set group of teams these things change from time to time.
And with the IHSA using a new bracketing format, no class looks to be
more affected than 5A. With the addition ofNew Lenox (Providence)most likely to 5A, this class may only see 1 or 2 of the semi finals
Joliet (Catholic)(6-2) - JC is legendary in the state of Illinois. Players who couldn't
tell you how how many trips to the semifinals their team had maid can
tell you that, Mike Alstott played here and they have more championship
teams than anyone else. Unfortunately for Joliet none of those teams
will be around come semifinals time, and with a 6-2 record they might
not have to worry about the semis. JCA or Catholic High as they still
are referred to from time to time have more to worry about from the
2nd round & quarter finals then they might if they are in the semis
or finals. With a possible matchup between Morris
&New Lenox (Providence)Joliet's quest for it's fourth title in a row might be in jeopardy.
(8-0) - Benji Kennedy id probably the best team leader in the state.
With state final experience in his pocket & tons of talent, no one
is more equipped to lead a team to a title. The biggest problem the
Redskins face though is the loss of key players from last season, but,
this hasn't affected their play during the season though.
(8-0) - Rochelle had their best season ever last year, only to belly
flop in the semis with 44-8 loss toJoliet (Catholic).
The Hubs have beaten a state champ already and are looking tough in
their division. The only problem is the NCIC (Southwest)
features teams 30 to 50% smaller than the Hubs. Will give credit where
credit is due & Spring Valley
a tough team, but the Hubs have yet to win a convincing game against
a winning team.
(8-0) - The Redbirds may have played against up to 6 teams that
could qualify for the playoffs this season. The new playoff format could
put them in the winners seat for a title shot, but Metamora has this
two headed problem it can't seem to get around calledJoliet (Catholic)/New Lenox (Providence)which it may have to play again for finals glory.
class that had the best finals game last year is looking to have one
of the best races to the finals this year. With Mt. Carmel
(Driscoll)still forces to be reckoned withBreese (Mater Dei),
Princeton &West Frankfort (Frankfort)
looking for their piece of the pie.
(Driscoll)(7-1) - While no one reported any heart attacks at last year's finals
game, Driscoll might want to keep the paramedics close by come playoff
time. While handling bigger schools like Olympia
Fields (Rich Central) &
Maple Park (Kaneland)
Driscoll will still face a big challenge in 8-0
in what may be a good test for playoff performance. Driscoll's biggest
worry on it's drive to protect it's title, making sure it doesn't lose
another game to a team like 5-3 Lombard
(8-0) - While second guessing went rabid after last years 4A Final
game, the only guessing going on in Mt. Carmel now is whether they can
beat a good team. The Aces may be Golden at 8-0, but their schedule
is anything but. They have yet to have one opponent who has a lock on
a playoff spot, with exception to next weeks game against 6-2 Robinson .
Last years game against Robinson was a double overtime victory.
(3-5) - Huntley is talking about Thanksgiving Shootouts.
(5-3) - The Rangers are struggling this year, after a big undefeated
season, they are 1-3 versus winning teams. With winning teams being
the only type of team that makes the playoffs, things won't be looking
good for the Rangers if they go 5-4.
first of the real small school classes, nothing is more exciting than
traveling to to the middle of no where to see good football. It truly
is what the game is all about. And of course there's always the pork
chop sandwiches. 2A may only have 1 team that is 5-4, with the
other teams finishing 6-3 or better.
- With 2 losses Hall is still in a good place if you consider their
losses came to teams outside of 3A. Their not sitting pretty if you
consider that this means they have a lot more work to do to return to
the state finals. If the Red Devils do make it they will have earned
(8-0) - The Panthers may just be a sure bet in 1A. Yes that's right,
1A, because of Downs
starting their own varsity football program the 2001 3A runner-ups are
getting a chance to try their luck in 1A. Best reason why they may not?
started it's own program, meaning it took kids off the team. Come one
follow along why else would they be playing in 1A.
Valley(6-2) - Stillman has a big game againstByron(7-1) in week #9. A win places them on the higher seeded side of the
bracket, a loss may put them in harms way come round one.
(7-1) - The Indians looked to be a the top contender on paper in
the preseason, but a surprising loss to Herrin
(6-2) and a near loss to Pinckneyville
(3-5) has the tribe faithful crossing their fingers as they head into
the playoffs most likely 8-1.
no class may have more undefeated teams, they have 6 as of week #8.
Aledo(8-0) - The Green Dragons rules & so does their defense. They're
definitely on their way to a couple of post season victories, but with
5 other possible undefeated teams it will be a hard fought battle to
return to the top. Especially when you consider that all 5 teams have
a higher playoff points total than Aledo (22 as of week #8). WithCarthageleading the pack with 32.
(Central A &M)
(7-1) - A week #8 loss toArgenta
(A.-Oreana)(7-1) and a week #9 matchup against undefeated Decatur (St. Teresa)
could but the 2A Runner-up in a sticky situation come round one or two
of the playoffs.
(5-3) - Being in the lower seeds of 16 Forreston will be looking
the whole time it's in the playoffs for the light at the end of the
forest. Unless another low seeded team pulls an upset, the Cardinals
could make an early exit.
(3-5) - Officially talking about next season. Actually St.
Bede has a chance only if they win & conference teams Manlius
teams likeFreeport (Aquin)(8-0) with a total enrollment of 101 kids don't be surprised to see
a some one like 5'7" 150 pound running back like Cort Jackson of
of 2002) score two touchdowns in a finals game. 1A is similar to the
biggest class in the respect that the title game is usually not the
teams everyone expected. With sizes ranging from extra large to puny
and maybe one D-1 prospect in all of 1A, execution is the name of the
game. Teams here are only as good as their worst player & one mistake
is all it takes to seal your fate.
(7-1) - The defending 1A Champs are back in the hunt for the title
again. But a week #9 matchup with 2001 semifinal opponent could mean
a 7-2 record for the Geese if they're not careful. And with the 1998,
1999, & 2000 ChampionCarthagelooking strong, be sure the Blue Boys will be looking to knock off all
challengers after they faltered after a teacher's strike filled season
(4-4) - The Minutemen are looking more like thirty second men. Now
you can take that as half of a minute or as 32nd as in the place they
may be hoping to slip into after taking a bruising 49-0 loss from Tremont in
week #8. If Lexington has any idea of being a playoff caliber team they'll
have to step on 6-2 Colfax
or it's all about basketball season for them.
-1) - Warren will be looking for some revenge as it gets an early
shot at revenge in week #9 as it takes on 1A Champion (and the team
that knocked them from the playoffs last year) Kewanee (Wethersfield)
If the Warriors falter next week it could be rough sailing to return
to the semis let alone making the finals this year.
Cambridge(4-4) - Cambridge faces 3-5Alexis (United)in week #9. A loss almost definitely places them in singlets for wrestling
while a win just puts them in harms way as the Vikings best games were
in week 1 & 2. They've lost their last 3 straight by a combined
Orland Park (Sandburg)
(1-7) - 18 years and two coaches. That's how long it's been since
the Eagles haven't made the playoffs. Most of the kids on the team weren't
even born yet & 6A was still a new thing. This leaves 8 teams left
who have qualified for the playoffs for at least the last 13 seasons.
Although with it's loss to Wheaton
at 4-4 may be joining the ranks.