The Watch List: Local sports stories to follow in the week to come


The IHSA made it official Saturday that 15 teams from the metro-east have reached the playoffs in their respective classes. As athletic directors get talk, the times and locations of the games will be settled. Here’s what we know for sure: Six games will be played at metro-east home fields; at least two local teams will be eliminated in the first round because they play other metro-east teams; three teams from the region — Althoff, Columbia and Edwardsville —will start the playoffs undefeated; The area is represented in six of the eight enrollment classes.


Behind rookie running back Todd Gurley and a fierce pass rush, the St. Louis Rams have evened their season record at 3-3 with their win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday. The struggling San Franciso 49ers will be in the Edward Jones Dome next Sunday, 2-6 after their loss to Seattle. Another win would represent a better start than expected for the Rams, whose early schedule was stacked with some of the NFL’s top teams. It also would preserve an unbeated record in the NFC West Division for St. Louis, which already has posted wins over the Seahawks and Cardinals.


The Waterloo Bulldogs and Columbia Eagles may be a on a crash course for an all-Monroe County Class 2A Columbia Sectional soccer championship showdown Friday. Waterloo advanced to the semifinals Tuesday by virtue of its 3-0 regional-championship win over Carbondale on Friday. The Bulldogs will face Quincy Notre Dame at 5 p.m. Columbia, champion of its own regional with a 3-1 defeat of Marion, will play Jacksonville Regional champion Marquette in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. If both win, the Eagles and Bulldogs square off for the sectional title Friday night. Edwardsville also continues in Class 3A sectional play Tuesday with a 6 p.m. game in Collinsville against Quincy.


One of the best and balanced seasons for prep volleyball in the metro-east is about to push into playoff mode as teams will be competing in four classes for a shot at the state tournament. Pay particularly close attention to the two Class 4A regionals at Belleville West and Granite City, where four of the area's top teams will meet. Belleville West and Mater Dei are expected to battle it out for the title at Belleville West, while it could also be an all-Southwestern Conference final at the Granite City Regional if O'Fallon and Edwardsville advance. Mascoutah and Columbia are among the top 3A contenders with Gibault always a threat to make a long run in 2A.


One of Illinois’ most time-honored high school football traditions, the annual Rotary Football Banquet, will be celebrated for the 71st year Tuesday night at Fisher’s Restaurant. The banquet brings together players, coaches and cheerleaders from Althoff, Belleville East and Belleville West for dinner, speeches and the awarding of the All-City Football Team. This will just the fourth time the banquet has advanced the appearance of all three Belleville teams in the IHSA playoff and the first time that’s happened in consecutive years. Previous seasons all three Belleville schools appeared in the post-season were 2001, 2009, and 2014.