Teams making playoff pitch

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Will Morris play in Class 5A or 4A?

Will Providence and Plainfield North fall into 7A or 6A?

When you hit Week 7, the beginning of the final third of the high school football season, those sorts of “bubble” questions are asked more and more. My opinion — and it is nothing more than that — is all three of those teams will wind up in the higher of the two classes. However, if the final 256-team playoff field includes more large schools than small schools that barely qualify, the scale would move downward.

Oddsmakers might suggest Morris would be more of a threat to go a long way in 4A than in 5A, and the same would apply to Providence and Plainfield North in 6A rather than 7A. In actuality, though, all three are enjoying excellent seasons and probably will be tough outs wherever they play.

First, there’s the matter of getting in. Schools with at least a 6-3 record are guaranteed a playoff berth. Playoff points (the total of your opponents’ victories) determine which 5-4 teams qualify.

The IHSA publishes a playoff outlook on its website. It changes weekly, but if the playoffs were to begin today, here is how it would look:

Class 8A (enrollment 2,439 or greater): Bolingbrook (5-1, enrollment 3,612) would be in for sure with a sixth victory. Minooka (2-4, 2,557) needs five wins. Plainfield South (3-3, 2,439) and Joliet West (2-4, 2,858) may get in with five wins, but it could be close.

Even with quarterback Aaron Bailey sidelined for now with a knee sprain, Bolingbrook could win out. Replacement quarterback Quincy Woods has talent, and running back Omar Stover will pick up some of the slack. He has been in contact with Purdue, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi and Wyoming.

Plainfield South better beat Plainfield Central on Saturday, because the Cougars still have Oswego to play. Joliet West has yet to face Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East.

7A (1,950.30 to 2,424): Lincoln-Way East (6-0, 2,246) is in. Providence (5-1, 1,950.30) should be OK, but a sixth win is not a bad idea. Plainfield North (5-1, 1,954) needs a sixth win. Plainfield Central (4-2, 2,165) also must have six wins, while Lincoln-Way Central (3-3, 1,960) looks OK at five.

Providence, with tailback Brandon Price back in form after an ankle sprain and receiver/running back Chad Weaver making big plays, could clinch its berth Friday night when hosting Lake Forest Academy. Plainfield North gets Oswego this week and Minooka next week, so the Tigers still have work to do. Plainfield Central must beat Plainfield South on Saturday and has yet to play Oswego.

As for Lincoln-Way Central, the Knights are against the wall. They must beat Lincoln-Way East on Friday night or Bolingbrook next week to have a shot at qualifying.

6A (1,350 to 1,950): Lemont (5-1, 1,493) must win six. No problem; winless Hillcrest is the opponent Friday night.

5A (964 to 1,348): Joliet Catholic (4-2, 1,174.80) will be in with five wins, and Lincoln-Way West (3-3, 1,288) should be as well.

Joliet Catholic has wingback Ty Isaac back relatively healthy, and fullback Michael Ivlow and quarterback Craig Slowik continue to do the job for one of the area’s most potent offenses. Wingback Tyler Reitz is out for Friday night, and the Carmel defense will provide a test in the match-up at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

Lincoln-Way West has a couple of games remaining on the schedule that the Warriors should win.

4A (581 to 948): Morris (6-0, 938) is in. Coal City (5-1, 617) probably needs another victory and has games remaining that it should win.

Peotone (3-3, 654) has a good shot at qualifying with five victories. It may come down to having to beat Lisle.

3A (425 to 578): Neither Wilmington (5-1, 459) nor Seneca (3-3, 446) can be comfortable until getting a sixth victory. Wilmington will get there with ease, and Seneca has an outside chance.

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