The IHSA announced its 2019 football playoff pairings on Oct. 25. Several local teams will be see their seasons continue in post-season play.
Forreston (7-2) is hitting the road for its first-round game, as the Cardinals earned the No. 9 seed and will play at No. 8 seed Ottawa Marquette (7-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The defending Class 1A champs lost two of their last three games, but bounced back with a Week 9 win over rival Eastland-Pearl City.
Morrison (9-0) is taking on a virtual unknown with the Ridgewood co-op (6-3), based in Cambridge. Mustangs coach Ryan Oetting noted he is going in virtually blind.
“We don’t know a whole heck of a lot about Ridgewood,” Oetting said. “They were on our radar, and a few people suggested they would be a possibility for us, but we haven’t done a lot of homework on them as of yet. We’re just happy to still be playing football after a little bit of a hiatus from the playoffs here in Morrison.”
The Mustangs last made the playoffs in 2012, when they finished 6-4.
Fulton (5-4) is back in the playoffs for the fourth straight year, and the Steamers’ first-round draw is a 9-0 Freeport Aquin team that ran the table in the NUIC South this season. The Bulldogs’ potent aerial attack is led by quarterback Will Gustafson.
“We don’t know a lot about [Aquin], other than that they’re a spread team, and we’ve heard about their quarterback,” Fulton coach Patrick Lower said. “First and foremost, they’re a good football team, because anybody that can go 9-0 – especially in this part of the state in 1A – has our attention and respect.
“We’ve lost our last two games to two very good, quality playoff opponents [in Newman and Hall], and we really feel with the schedule that we’ve played this year ... that we’re ready for just about anything. I really feel we are battle-tested and playoff-ready, and we understand that we’ve earned our spot in Week 10.”
The Steamers will travel to Freeport on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff.
West Carroll (5-4) is in the playoffs for the third time in past 5 years.
The Thunder will hit the road for Minonk and a game against Fieldcrest (9-0) at 6 p.m. Friday.
Byron (8-1) hosts Alleman on Saturday, Nov. 3. Game time is 1 p.m.
Stillman Valley (8-1) hosts Big Northern Conference rival Dixon on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. This is the fourth time in the past two years the teams have played each other in the playoffs.
The Dukes opened this season with a 37-12 loss to the Cardinals. A year ago, Stillman Valley defeated Dixon in the regular-season opener and the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
There will be few secrets between the teams.
“It’s a Big Northern team, a playoff Big Northern team, which makes it pretty special,” Dixon coach Dave Smith said. “They know us. We know them. We were looking at other possibilities and driving someplace far, and not knowing who they are. You know who Stillman is.
“Coach [Mike] Lalor’s teams – there’s a reason why Coach Lalor is in the hall of fame. He’s one heck of a coach. He’s probably the best coach I’ve ever coached against. His kids will be ready to go. It will be a fun game. It will be at Stillman Valley, and it will be an awesome environment to watch that football game.”
The Illinois 8-man Football Association also held its draw on Saturday, seeding six of the 14 teams in the bracket, then determining where other teams slot into the bracket by drawing names out of a bucket.
Polo (9-0) is the No. 2 seed and will have a first-round bye. The Marcos await the winner of a first-round game between Lowpoint-Washburn (3-4) and Metro-East Lutheran (5-4).
“We’re going to take a day off or so and work in the weight room,” Polo coach Jeff Bumsted said.
The Marcos have already had a week off, when Illinois School for the Deaf elected not to play their scheduled Week 2 game.
“That is a big concern, will we lose our edge?” Bumsted said. “We’ve never really had that. We had Week 2 off and didn’t really come out Week 3 that great.”
Metro East Lutheran will host the first-round game in Edwardsville. The Marcos beat them 52-8 on Sept. 27.
Polo has continued to cruise since then.
“They’ve stepped up to every challenge that’s put in front of them,” Bumsted said. “We played [Saturday] in the rain, cold, wind, and played a really good game.”