Week 9 of the prep football season is upon us, and that means it’s almost playoff time.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, fans can visit www.ihsa.org and watch the Football Pairings Show to see how it all plays out. It can get pretty confusing when figuring out the playoff picture.
We know the Roxana Shells are in for the first time since 2003, so congratulations. The Shells, perched at 6-2, made it easy on themselves by beating Staunton 34-18 in Week 8 at home.
Now here’s where you may need to break out the Excedrin. Roxana will have to wait to see what class it lands in come playoff time. The Shells are teetering between Class 3A and 4A.
Currently they are listed in Class 3A with an enrollment of 532. The enrollment cutoff before being bumped up is 562.
Depending on who qualifies and who doesn’t will determine where they fall. There are 164 of the 256 playoff slots filled in the eight classes entering Week 9, leaving 92 berths up for grabs.
With a win over Southwestern at 7 p.m. Friday at Charlie Raich Field, Roxana could put itself in another conversation, possibly playing host in Week 1 of the playoffs. Keep winning, Shells, and good things will happen.
It gets a little hairy for a couple of other River Bend schools — Alton and Marquette Catholic.
The Redbirds handled their business in Week 8 to move to 5-3, securing their first winning season since 2006. A victory over 5-3 Belleville West on the road in Week 9 will automatically qualify the Birds. Unfortunately, the Maroons are looking for the same thing and flying high after a Week 8 win over powerhouse East St. Louis.
The game between the Redbirds and Maroons is at O’Fallon Township High School at 7 p.m. Friday due to renovations at the West field.
Alton is pretty certain to remain in Class 7A, landing smack dab in the middle of the enrollment stipulations with 2,037 students. The Redbirds currently own 33 playoff points, which are based on their opponents’ wins. If they lose to West, they are guaranteed four more points from the Southwestern Conference. Non-conference opponents Cahokia and Pekin could pad those points with a couple more.
Pekin (3-5) has a good chance against Bartonville (Limestone) (3-5). Cahokia (4-4) has slim hopes vs. Normal University (8-0).
Since the inception of the current system in 2001 the playoff points have been as low as 28 (2002) and as high as 40 (2011). On average it’s 36-38 to get in. It took 36 in 2013 and 38 in 2012.
AHS is looking for its first postseason berth since 2006.
As for Marquette, things are a little sketchier. At 4-4 the Explorers need a win and some help.
On paper it’s a safe bet Marquette should win in Week 9 over Mount Olive (2-6) at home. The Wildcats have allowed 246 points, while only scoring 112 on the season.
The Explorers own 32 playoff points entering Week 9 and will earn three more from their Prairie State Conference companions. They have their fingers crossed they can squeak out a couple more points from the two teams on their non-conference schedule. Quincy Notre Dame (7-1) gets Clearwater (Calvary Christian) from Florida (5-3), while the Civic Memorial Eagles (3-5) head to Mount Zion (5-3) in Week 9. Both games are winnable for QND and CM, which would push the Explorers to 37 points and get them on the bubble. They are in the middle of the enrollment restrictions for Class 4A with 688.
As for our other River Bend schools, CM and East Alton-Wood River, unfortunately it’s better luck next year. Both had good outings in Week 8 to be proud of, though. The Eagles logged a signature 41-28 victory over rival Jersey on their Senior Night, while the Oilers (1-7) battled South Fork down to the wire in a 21-16 loss.
After Saturday all the confusion and fretting will come to an end. Let’s just hope there’s some joy by the big river and not more waiting until next year.
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