Althoff and Belleville West head a local contingent of 14 teams that qualified for the Illinois High School Association football playoffs.
First-round games will be played Friday and Saturday, with many of the start times to be announced about 3 p.m. Monday.
Althoff, which finished 8-1 after its 42-14 victory Friday at Houston Christian in Texas, is the No. 8 seed in Class 4A and will play host to ninth-seeded Carterville (7-2).
If the Crusaders win, they could play defending Class 4A state champion Rochester (9-0), which is seeded first and will play No. 16 Prairie Central (5-4) in the first round. Last year, the Rockets defeated the Crusaders 48-47 in the quarterfinals.
Althoff and Rochester have met in the playoffs in three of the past four years.
“The only thing we can think about is Carterville right now,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “I don’t want to look past them. We played them last year (a 53-14 victory) in the playoffs, and we kind of know each other.”
Turner said reaching the postseason “never gets old.”
“It’s the best time of the year,” he said. “The first day of practice, the first game, the pairings show and the first playoff game are some of the biggest days of high school football. We’re excited.”
West (6-3) drew a No. 23 seed and will travel to 10th-seeded Buffalo Grove (8-1) in Class 7A. It’s the sixth consecutive year the Maroons have been in the playoffs. They are seeking their first postseason victory since 2014 when they defeated Bradley-Bourbonnais 24-7.
“It’s nothing new to our line of work,” West coach Cameron Pettus said of traveling north for a road game. “Hopefully, our experience of going (to Chicago) in years past and our nonconference schedule will make us ready to go.
“We know they’re a good team. We’re used to being in the playoffs now. It’s about taking that next step. Our program continues to evolve and grow. We want to go deep in the playoffs, not just be happy to be there.”
Seventh-seeded and defending state champion East St. Louis (8-1) is back in Class 7A and earned a home game against 26th-seeded Libertyville (5-4). The Flyers, who won the Southwestern Conference, would play West if both teams win their opener.
East Side closed its season Friday with a narrow 22-19 win over Alton. In the process, however, the Flyers lost senior quarterback Christian Perez to an ankle injury. Perez’s status for the game against Libertyville is in question.
Alton (5-4) received a 28th seed and will travel to Chicago for a game against No. 5 Morgan Park (8-1).
Edwardsville (6-3) is the lone Class 8A team in the metro-east. The Tigers, who lost their first three games, are seeded 26th and will play at seventh-seeded Huntley (8-1).
The Tigers closed their regular season with a 70-0 victory over visiting Collinsville.
“We’ve been preparing for good competition all year; we’ve played good competition,” Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said. “So we’ll see what happens. If we win, it’s going to be a little harder. Then if you win again, it’s going to be a little more difficult. We’ve been here enough. It doesn’t really matter.”
Wesclin wasn’t the Cahokia Conference favorite in the preseason, but the Warriors won the league for the first time and also finished 9-0 for the first time in school history.
The Warriors were rewarded with a No. 1 seed in Class 3A and will play host to 16th-seeded Pleasant Plains (6-3).
“I’ve been at this for a long time,” Wesclin coach Ric Johns said. “To have a team go 9-0 doesn’t happen often, and these kids have done a tremendous job all season.”
If Wesclin wins, it would play Alton Marquette or Newton in the second round.
Johns wasn’t surprised to be placed in Class 3A.
“As the season went on, we felt that we would either be at the top of the Class 2A bracket or on the bottom of Class 3A,” he said. “Wherever we were, we just needed to enjoy being in the playoffs and start preparing for next week.”
Highland (9-0) won the Mississippi Valley Conference and earned a No. 2 seed in Class 4A for the first time in school history.
The Bulldogs will play host to 15th-seeded Quincy Notre Dame (5-4) at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We kept hearing late in the season that we could possibly drop to Class 4A,” Bulldogs coach Jimmy Warnecke said. “But it really doesn’t matter a lot because there are a lot of really good teams in both classes. It’s more about us and going out and playing good football.”
Highland clinched an undefeated regular season by defeating host Charleston 63-6 on Friday.
“It’s been a great season and I’m very proud of the kids,” Warnecke said. “But this is a special group. I think they feel they have some things they want to accomplish yet.”
Warnecke said Quincy Notre Dame is “a good football program with a lot of tradition.”
“They played the team we ended our season with on Friday (Charleston) in Week 7,” Warnecke said. “We got to see them on film a little bit and see what they like to do.”
Also in Class 4A is Columbia (5-4), which received a 14th seed and will play at No. 3 Herscher (8-1). The Eagles made the cut despite a 31-13 loss at Jerseyville on Friday.
Triad is the only metro-east team in Class 5A and the Knights (8-1), seeded second, will play host to Peoria Richwoods (5-4), seeded 15th. If Triad wins, it will play seventh-seeded Centralia or 10th-seeded Morton.
“Wow, that’s really surprising,” Triad coach Paul Bassler said of being a No. 2 seed. “(The IHSA) must have sent all the 9-0 teams to the upper half of the bracket. I’m very pleased with our bracket. I’m so pleased that the IHSA did away with playing the same teams you have played in the regular season and playing them again.
“Part of being in the playoffs is having the chance to play different teams from around the state. We have played Joliet Catholic before and we played Geneseo last year.”
Bassler has led Triad to the postseason 14 times. The Knights defeated Geneseo in the first round of Class 5A last year, then were eliminated by Morris.
In its first season of football since 1992, Madison qualified in Class 1A and is in the playoffs for the first time since 1986.
The Trojans (6-3) are seeded 13th and will face a difficult road game against fourth-seeded Carrollton (8-1).
“I’m sitting here almost in tears,” said Madison coach Mike Hill, who was satisfied with the No. 13 seed. “We can live with that. I’m going to see what I can find out about Carrollton, and we’ll get to work.”
Hill said a lot of hard work went into earning the playoff spot.
“There are a lot of teams in the state that are blessed with talent who get into the playoffs because of that,” Hill said. “We, down here at Madison, were not as fortunate. The credit goes to the kids who have worked so hard and believed in what we were telling them.
“My coaching staff and the amount of time and sacrifice that these guys gave of themselves and this football program is amazing.”
Carlyle and Red Bud were each placed in Class 2A.
Carlyle was 3-3 and had to win its last three games, all on the road, to qualify for the playoffs. The Indians (6-3) are seeded 10th and will play at West Prairie (7-2) in the first round.
Red Bud (6-3) is the No. 12 seed and will play at No. 5 Eldorado (7-2). The Musketeers are in the postseason for the second straight year. Their last playoff victory came in 2009 when they defeated Chester.
Football playoff games
(13) Madison (6-3) at (4) Carrollton (8-1)
(12) Red Bud (6-3) at (5) Eldorado (7-2)
(10) Carlyle (6-3) at (7) West Prairie (7-2), 2:30 p.m. Saturday
(16) Pleasant Plains (6-3) at (1) Wesclin (9-0), 2 p.m. Saturday
(9) Alton Marquette (8-1) at (8) Newton (8-1)
(12) Wood River (7-2) at (5) Carlinville (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday
(14) Columbia (5-4) at (3) Herscher (8-1)
(15) Quincy Notre Dame (5-4) at (2) Highland (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday
(9) Carterville (7-2) at (8) Althoff (8-1)
(15) Peoria Richwoods (5-4) at (2) Triad (8-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday
(28) Alton (5-4) vs. (5) Lincoln Park (8-1) at site TBA
(26) Libertyville (5-4) at (7) East St. Louis (8-1), 3 p.m. Saturday
(23) Belleville West (6-3) at (10) Buffalo Grove (8-1)
(26) Edwardsville (6-3) at (7) Huntley (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday