Eisenhower's Stephon Bobbitt (4) pulls in a pass for a touchdown against Chatham Glenwood Oct. 16. The Panthers will play Highland in a first round playoff matchup.

Leading contenders

Washington (9-0) – With SHG up in Class 6A, this could be the year. After a couple scares to open the season, Washington has been dominant en route to another unbeaten season. That stretch included four straight wins against playoff teams and the bracket could allow the Panthers to get on a roll.

Joliet Catholic (8-1) – Joliet has had a hiccup this season, two weeks ago in a 24-21 loss to 7A qualifier Lisle Benet. And the Hilltoppers' portion of the bracket is loaded with potential rematches against Woodstock Marian and Nazareth Academy up next. But they are again loaded with the offensive firepower needed to overtake anyone.

Don't rule out

Woodstock Marian (7-2) – Marian had a couple bad losses in the middle part of the season to Joliet Catholic and 8-1 Niles Notre Dame, but QB J.R. Budmayr wants to lead his team deep into the playoffs just as his two brothers have.

Nazareth Academy LaGrange Park (7-2) – Yet another team from the East Chicago Suburban Catholic Conference has a shot at making some postseason noise if it can find the defense that was strong through the first six weeks of the season. Watch out for senior cornerback Julian Love (Notre Dame commit) and defensive end Matt Prendergast (Lehigh).

Burbank St. Laurence (7-2) -- The Vikings are the highest scoring team in the field, averaging 49.8 points. They put up 70 in a win against 8-1 Kankakee McNamara. Their only losses were to 7A Lisle Benet and 8A Chicago Brother Rice.

Area teams

Eisenhower (6-3) – The Panthers could win a couple games but will have to play like it did through the first seven weeks. In Weeks 3 through 7, Eisenhower won by an average of 32 points as the defense was at its best. Special teams can break out a score at any time, as can a passing game that's the best the Panthers have ever had.

Mattoon (5-4) – Mattoon eeked into the playoffs by winning five of its last six games as running back Garett Rice and quarterback Braden Smith took turns having standout games. And the Wave learned to win the close ones. Four of their wins came by a touchdown or less.

Most playoff appearances

Joliet Catholic has been to the playoff 39 times.

Least playoff appearances

Chicago Solorio Academy is making its second straight trip in just its fourth year of existence.

Did you know?

Chicago Lindblom was 2-7 a year ago and had not made the playoff since 1990.

Defending champ

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin 29, Lombard Montini 14

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