By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
The drama had started before the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced the 2011 playoff field. And when the dust settled, one area team had lost the first unofficial game of these playoffs.
Rockford Christian did everything they could, beating Christian Life to get five wins to qualify for the playoffs. But after tying for the final playoff spot with Princeville, neither team could separate after the three tiebreaking scenarios.
After that, it meant a coin would be flipped to determine who would get the spot. And Rockford Christian lost that coin toss, leaving them out of the IHSA playoffs.
But plenty of area teams are ready to roll in the playoffs in all of the eight levels of the field.
In a loaded 1A field, Lena-Winslow sits as a No. 2 seed and will see a familiar foe in the first round, facing Durand. Le-Win had a great season, but enters the playoffs banged up after running back Quinn Hass dislocated his elbow in the final game.
Forreston, Dakota and Stockton all sit in the bracket as well, giving one of those teams a great shot at a trip down state in 1A.
In 3A, Winnebago sits as a No. 3 seed in their bracket, where they will take on Immaculate Conception in the first round. The Indians were much improved this year, nearly knocking off perennial power Stillman Valley, and are viewed as a very dangerous team in their class.
Stillman Valley returns to the playoffs this year after a slow start, entering into the 4A field. But for the Cardinals, it is a bit different, as they enter as a No. 10 seed and on the road in the first round at Plano, despite winning the Big Northern West.
Belvidere landed in 5A as a No. 16 seed, where the 5-4 Bucs will take on 9-0 Kaneland. The Bucs will have a tall order taking on the top seed on the road. But after a season of playing schools bigger than they are, the Bucs will be one of the biggest schools in 5A.
The rest of the NIC-10 has settled into the 7A field. There was a lot of talk of whether Rockford Boylan Catholic would play down into 6A or Machesney Park Harlem up into 8A, but they are both in the same bracket.
Boylan is a No. 2 seed and will face Libertyville. It was a bit of a down season for 5-4 Libertyville, but a typically strong football school will provide a stiff opening test for the Titans as they look to repeat as state champs.
The game of the first round for the area, however, will take place at Harlem. The Huskies are a No. 5 seed and will take on fellow conference member Rockton Hononegah in the first round.
That will be a rematch of a week six game, which saw Harlem top the Indians 41-7.
From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2011, issue