Twelve football teams in Southern Illinois hope they’ll have a November to remember.
They are the ones who were selected for the IHSA playoffs Saturday night. Seven are playing their first round games at home, including unbeaten Fairfield, SIRR Mississippi champion Du Quoin, SIRR Ohio co-champ Benton, and South Seven tri-champs Carbondale and Marion.
Not playing at home for starters is SIRR Ohio co-champ Murphysboro, due to its forfeit loss in Week 6 to West Frankfort because of a teacher’s strike. The Red Devils must travel to Bethalto Civic Memorial in a matchup of 8-9 seeds.
Below is a quick look at all 12 contests:
Eldorado (5-4) at Bismarck-Henning (8-1): The Eagles are in the postseason for the seventh straight year, but this game will be a tall order. The Blue Devils are 8-1 and have outscored their opponents 412-81. The lone defeat was a 33-28 decision at Chicago Hope Academy.
Villa Grove-Heritage (5-4) at Nashville (8-1): For the Hornets, it’s a chance to erase the memories of last year’s surprising 14-7 loss to Tri-Valley. They face a Blue Devils team that went 1-4 against winning teams, the four losses coming by a total of 113 points.
Sesser-Valier-Waltonville (5-4) at Maroa-Forsyth (8-1): The Red Devils routed Vienna-Goreville Friday night to qualify for the postseason, but this is a tough draw. The Trojans are playoff perennials and have outscored the opposition 376-110, losing only to 3A power Williamsville.
Auburn (6-3) at Chester (7-2): Six consecutive wins enabled the Yellow Jackets to stay at home next weekend, although the Trojans won’t exactly be an easy out. Auburn competed with Maroa-Forsyth in Friday night’s regular season finale before falling 28-14.
Hamilton County (5-4) at Decatur St. Teresa (8-1): The Foxes are playing in Week 10 for the first time in 13 years. But they are matched with a perennial power in the Bulldogs, whose defense ceded just 74 points this year. Their only loss was against 1A top seed Moweaqua Central A&M.
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Alton Marquette (5-4) at Fairfield (9-0): The Mules seem to have a good draw on paper, as the Explorers needed a win earlier Saturday over Kincaid South Fork to qualify. Fairfield has allowed only 30 points all year behind a speedy defense that tackles very well.
West Frankfort (6-3) at Breese Mater Dei (8-1): It’s the third playoff appearance in four years for the Redbirds, but they will be a heavy underdog next weekend. The Knights have won eight straight after an opening loss to Effingham, but were pushed Friday night by 1-8 Waterloo in a 35-28 decision.
Monticello (6-3) at Du Quoin (8-1): Tough task for the Indians, who must open up with the defending 3A champs, albeit at home. Du Quoin’s seeding was hurt by the fact it played only two winning teams all year. The Sages average nearly 37 ppg, but can be exploited defensively.
Murphysboro (7-2) at Bethalto Civic Memorial (7-2): The Red Devils probably would have played at home were it not for a Week 6 forfeit to West Frankfort because of a teachers’ strike. They face an Eagles’ team whose only losses have come against Cahokia and Highland, the latter by a stunning 64-28 count.
Salem (7-2) at Benton (8-1): The Rangers’ reward for a turnaround season – they were 1-8 last year – is a home date with a Wildcat squad that’s making its second straight playoff appearance. Salem has won six straight, including a 28-14 triumph Friday night at Massac County.
Mascoutah (6-3) at Carbondale (8-1): The South Seven tri-champs start at home for the second straight year against the Indians. This could be a very high-scoring game. Mascoutah has scored at least 42 points in each of the last three games, while the Terriers have rung up at least 50 in each of the final four games.
Troy Triad (6-3) at Marion (8-1): This looks like a good draw for the Wildcats on paper, as the Knights have lost three straight and scored just 37 points total. Marion’s offense has scored at least 24 points in every game, including a 29-7 triumph over Mattoon in Friday’s regular season finale.