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Morris’s quarterback Zach Cinnamon (15) takes a snap. | Ray Luna~For Sun-Times Media
Joliet Catholic scored 51 first-half points in a 58-0 Round 1 romp over Elmwood Park.
Morris’ defense dominated in a 44-0 shutout of Rich East.
Lincoln-Way West pulled a stunner. It wasn’t necessarily that the Warriors won at Rochelle, but did anyone see 35-0 coming?
All three area entries in the Class 5A state football playoffs will run into stronger opponents as they continue on in the do-or-die postseason. So a combined 137-0 should not happen again.
However, we can have a scenario where Morris reaches the 5A title game as the representative of the southern bracket, and who knows, the Redskins may face a “neighbor” in the title game.
Might we own 5A?
In the northern bracket, most observers believe Joliet Catholic will visit Kaneland next week for a blockbuster quarterfinal. Don’t be so sure.
Kaneland first must win at Lincoln-Way West at 1 p.m. Saturday. The quarterfinal next week could be Joliet Catholic at Lincoln-Way West. In fact, that’s the way I see it.
The semifinal in that bracket will be difficult, with Marian Central or Montini the likely opponent. However, I anticipate one of our teams being in that game, and if our guys win, Morris indeed would get a nearby opponent in the title game.
Look for Joliet Catholic (6-4), which will handle visiting Tinley Park (6-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday, to be that team. Of course, that is based on the Hilltoppers maintaining the health they finally have regained.
When wingback Ty Isaac plays and is relatively healthy, Joliet Catholic is a different team, although the Hilltoppers were not bad offensively without him, typically scoring four or five touchdowns per game. But keep the group out there that destroyed Elmwood Park, keep Isaac running, and there may not be anyone in 5A more capable of winning it all.
With respect to the 5A field, the run through Providence, Robeson and then the East Suburban Catholic schedule probably was more difficult than what the 5A field offers overall.
Yes, the Joliet Catholic defense has gone through times where nonexistent was the kindest word used to describe it. But it has reached a level where it can contribute to victories against good opponents. There was a time we were not sure that would happen.
The story for Lincoln-Way West (7-3) and Morris (9-1) is opposite that of Joliet Catholic. The dependable element for each of them is defense, as last week’s results reinforce. But both have running games that are improving as we get into the playoffs, as the weather gets more iffy. The timing could not be better.
Kaneland (10-0) escaped Morris 33-30 in Week 9. That alone tells you that Lincoln-Way West has quite an assignment this week. But combine a rock-solid defense with how well the Warriors, especially Javier Montalvo, are running the ball now, and the leadership Notre Dame-bound Colin McGovern has brought to the line and the entire offense, and you see why West could be the team hosting Joliet Catholic next week.
In our other 5A game this weekend, Morris welcomes Urbana (9-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Urbana scored its first-ever playoff victory in Round 1, and the Tigers may not realize what they are in for. Let’s just say the track record for visitors at Morris is not the best.
If all goes according to the master plan, Morris will need a road quarterfinal win at Normal University or Washington to set up a semifinal collision with mighty Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Yes, that match-up would be at Morris.
Around the area
Good match-ups in store this weekend for all our other area teams, topped by Providence at Lincoln-Way East in 7A and Neuqua Valley at Bolingbrook in 8A. Lemont at Richards in 6A, Coal City at Geneseo in 4A and St. Joseph-Ogden at Wilmington in 3A all should tight but are games our teams can win.
Meaning? Realistically, we should have at least three alive for the quarterfinals — I’m counting Joliet Catholic, Morris and the Providence vs. Lincoln-Way East winner in that group — and may have as many as eight.
We have discussed this not being our strongest season overall, but after this weekend we may want to reconsider.