It's been a long season in IHSA football. Some teams have been declared dead (Wheaton Warrenville South), only to come back to life. Some players have exploded and become stars (Aaron Bailey). Some stars have gone down with injuries (Antonio Morrison). Some stars have become legends by breaking records (Jordan Westerkamp). There have been upsets (Stevenson over Maine South) and perfect seasons (Loyola — so far). And now it's time for the survivors to play one more game.
State championship matchups were locked in over the weekend, as an exciting semifinal round produced some very intriguing title games.
Bolingbrook needed a late touchdown run from junior quarterback Aaron Bailey to finish off Naperville Central, 22-19. Bailey ran 27 times on the game for 183 yards, and he'll need another performance like that if the Raiders are going to topple Loyola in the 8A title game. Loyola fell behind Glenbard North, 13-0, before scoring the next four touchdowns and rolling, 28-13. One storyline to watch this week will be the status of Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison. The Florida-bound senior missed the semifinal game with a broken foot, but he's hoping to be ready to take on Loyola.
Wheaton Warrenville South hasn't quite finished it off yet, but the Tigers are on the verge of winning a third consecutive state championship. And this would be the most unlikely of the three, by far. The Tigers lost three of their first four games this season, but they're playing like one of the best teams in the state right now. Even down to their third-string quarterback, WWS was able to edge past St. Rita, 21-4, in the semifinals. Up next is Boylan, which is also looking to repeat as state champion — the NICKNAMES won the 6A title last year.
I'll be taking a look at the other state championship matchups throughout the day, with more analysis coming during the week. Keep checking back here for more, and follow me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) for the latest updates.