High-SchoolIllinois: Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)

So... how was your weekend? Mine was thrown into chaos by the IHSA football playoffs, as the top three teams in the POWERADE state rankings all lost their second-round games. No. 1 Maine South lost to Stevenson in Class 8A, while the 7A bracket was destroyed by No. 2 Glenbard West's loss to Lake Zurich and Wheaton Warrenville South returning from the dead to upset No. 3 Lincoln-Way East, 7-0.

What happens next? Your guess is as good as mine. Loyola now looks like the team to beat in 8A, but is that a sure thing? I don't know what to believe in anymore. Stevenson now has Glenbard North in the quarterfinals, and that's a winnable game. Could they keep the momentum rolling all the way into the state semifinals?

In 7A, Glenbard West's loss was perhaps the most surprising to me. I had the Hilltoppers rolling into the finals, where they were set to meet Lincoln-Way East in my mental bracket. Now both teams are out, and Wheaton South looks like the team we thought it could be all the way back in August.

This is all crazy, March Madness-style insanity. I need some time to sort this out. Check in tomorrow for "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)."

Football playoffs: Week 1 review

October, 31, 2011
With the first round of the playoffs in the books, we've learned a lot about which teams are for real, and which teams are not. Let's jump into things with a feature I like to call "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)."


Aaron Bailey and Bolingbrook: The junior quarterback was spectacular in Bolingbrook's 33-14 win over Neuqua Valley, rushing for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Three of the TDs came on huge plays (66, 71 and 80 yards), and that's something Bailey has been able to do consistently this season. Because of that big-play ability, Bailey and the Raiders are definitely contenders in Class 8A.

Lincoln-Way East: The Griffins' passing attack was in high gear on Friday night, as senior quarterback Blake Winkler threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Plainfield South. Senior wideout J.J. Robertson caught a pair of touchdowns and senior Jay Yancy paced the squad with 133 receiving yards and a touchdown. Wheaton-Warrenville South is next on the schedule for the top-seeded Griffins.


Stevenson: The Patriots may have defeated York, 31-28, in the first round of the 8A playoffs, but the win was not exactly impressive. Stevenson entered the fourth quarter leading by 17 points, but back-to-back late touchdowns took things down to the wire. With No. 1 Maine South up next in the second round, Stevenson doesn't look long for the postseason.

Brother Rice rushing TD record: The Crusaders' single-season record for rushing touchdowns fell on Friday night, as senior RB Martez Walker reached the end zone three times to break the mark. Walker ran for 183 yards and three scores to give him 19 on the season.


Simeon: The Wolverines opened the season at No. 7 in the POWERADE state rankings and with hopes of a state championship. Those hopes crumbled in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs, when fourth-seeded Simeon lost to No. 13 seed Lockport, 18-15. Simeon led, 12-0, at halftime before Lockport came alive. The Wolverines gave up the go-ahead touchdown with less than four minutes to play.

Want to play Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).