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Previewing and predicting the Class 8A state football playoffs

Loyola is the heavy favorite, but whom will the Ramblers face in DeKalb?

Loyola’s Mike Regan (22) runs the ball during the game against Rochester.
Loyola’s Mike Regan (22) runs the ball during the game against Rochester.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

If the sight of 32 high school football teams neatly displayed on a clean bracket almost brought a tear to your eye, you probably aren’t alone.

It’s been two long, difficult years since high school football players, coaches and fans were able to look forward to a state tournament.

“Playoff pairing night is always special, but it feels even bigger this time around,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “256 teams and communities are going to get the opportunity to hear their name called and be recognized for the hard work they have put into qualifying for the postseason. It is a major accomplishment and I hope they take a moment to enjoy and celebrate it amidst all the recent challenges.”

Loyola, the top seed in Class 8A, has won 15 consecutive games. The Ramblers went 6-0 in the spring season and are currently 9-0. They will host Downers Grove South in the first round.

Class 8A pairings

#32 Downers Grove South (5-4) at #1 Loyola (9-0), Sat. noon
#17 Naperville Central (6-3) at #16 Naperville North (6-3), Fri. 7
#25 Minooka (5-4) at #8 York (8-1), Fri. 7
#24 Oswego East (6-3) at #9 Lincoln-Way East (7-2), Sat. 1:30
#29 Lyons (5-4) at #4 Lockport (8-1), Sat. 6:30
#20 Oswego (6-3) at #13 Glenbard West (7-2), Sat. 1
#28 Barrington (5-4) at #5 Warren (8-1), Fri. 7
#21 Glenbard North (6-3) at #12 Bolingbrook (7-2), Sat. 6

#31 Edwardsville (5-4) at #2 South Elgin (9-0), Fri. 6
#18 Marist (6-3) at #15 Glenbard East (7-2), Fri. 7
#26 Sandburg (5-4) at #7 Hinsdale Central (8-1), Sat. 2
#23 O’Fallon (6-3) at #10 Glenbrook South (7-2), Fri. 7
#30 Bartlett (5-4) at #3 Neuqua Valley (8-1), Fri. 7
#19 Palatine (6-3) at #14 Taft (7-2), Sat. 1
#27 New Trier (5-4) at #6 Maine South (8-1), Fri. 7
#22 Evanston (6-3) at #11 Plainfield North (7-2), Sat. 6:30

Class 8A Preview

Favorite: Loyola

Top Contender: Maine South

Darkhorse/Bracket Buster: Naperville North

Best first round game: Naperville Central at Naperville North

Toughest path to title game: Naperville Central

Class 8A Predictions

First round

Loyola defeats Downers Grove South
Naperville Central d. Naperville North
York d. Minooka
Lincoln-Way East d. Oswego East
Lyons d. Lockport
Oswego d. Glenbard West
Warren d. Barrington
Glenbard North d. Bolingbrook
South Elgin d. Edwardsville
Marist d. Glenbard East
Hinsdale Central d. Sandburg
Glenbrook South d. O’Fallon
Neuqua Valley d. Bartlett
Palatine d. Taft
Maine South d. New Trier
Evanston d. Plainfield North

Second round

Loyola d. Naperville Central
Lincoln-Way East d. York
Lyons d. Oswego
Warren d. Glenbard North
Marist d. South Elgin
Hinsdale Central d. Glenbrook South
Neuqua Valley d. Palatine
Maine South d. Evanston

Quarterfinals

Loyola d. Lincoln-Way East
Warren d. Lyons
Hinsdale Central d. Marist
Maine South d. Neuqua Valley

Semifinals

Loyola d. Warren
Maine South d. Hinsdale Central

Championship

Loyola d. Maine South