IHSA 1A & 2A Playoff Preview: Teams To Know
May 16, 2023
The IHSA 1A and 2A state playoffs started yesterday with regional quarterfinal play, and there will be a plethora of teams from the two classifications in action throughout the next few weeks as we wind down the 2023 high school season.
As we continue to extensively cover all areas of the state, below we’ve detailed a handful of 1A and 2A teams to know with the playoffs underway. Listed alphabetically, these programs earned high seeds within their respective sectionals, are hot entering postseason play, or are perennially known to make noise once the calendar flips to June.
For all of the information on this year’s 1A and 2A landscape, including each sectional bracket and individual team seedings, click HERE.
With a trip to Peoria and the opportunity to play for a state championship on the line, learn more about some of the best 1A and 2A teams in the state below.
+ Aurora Christian (18-9): Aurora Christian have established themselves plenty under head coach Andy Zorger, having captured a state championship in 2018 with a third place finish the year after. The Eagles, who are the second seed in sub-sectional ‘A’, carry a pedigree of winning into this year’s playoffs.
+ Brown County (21-10): The state runner-ups had yet another impressive regular season this year, winning 20 games for the second year in row. They earned the second seed in the Mt. Sterling sub-sectional, right behind Routt Catholic, and will look to make another run at the state title in Peoria after falling short last season.
+ Bushnell-Prairie City (30-5): The Spartans earned the top seed in the Mt. Sterling sub-sectional after winning 30 games this year. Dalton Strode (2023; Joliet JC), Dalton Huffman (2024), Lane Huffman (2025), Carter Allaman (2023), and Ben Powell (2023) have all led the way for the Spartans this year. Their offense has scored 297 runs this season which is just above eight runs per game. Currently riding a six game winning streak, Bushnell-Prairie City will be a tough matchup in the upcoming playoffs.
+ Chicago Hope (22-8): Chicago Hope captured a regional championship in 2022 and they’ve now won 20+ games in back-to-back seasons as the second seed in their sub-sectional. They only dropped one game in conference play and picked up wins over Wheaton Academy, Whitney Young, Aurora Christian, and DePaul College Prep this season.
+ Christ Our Rock Lutheran (20-4): The Silver Stallions won a regional last season and improved off that mark in 2023, finishing second in the Gateway Metro conference following a 20 win campaign. Three of their four losses came to 2A schools and they enter the playoffs on an eight game win streak.
+ Farina South Central (21-6): The Cougars captured the state championship in 2021 and are once again having a productive season, winning 20+ games for the 12th time under head coach Curt Jones. They’re the only team to take down 2A powerhouse Father McGivney this spring and have a handful of other impressive wins on their resume, such as victories over Newton, Breese Central, North Clay, Flora, and Effingham. They’re the third seed in sub-sectional ‘A’ for the Altamont Sectional.
+ Goreville (20-12): Goreville is another storied 1A program in Illinois, winning the state championship in 2016 with back-to-back third place finishes in 2017 and 2018. This is head coach Shawn Tripp’s 20th year at the helm and the Black Cats are once again poised for a successful run, earning the top seed in sub-sectional ‘A’ of the Cobden Sectional.
+ Harvest Christian Academy (22-5): Head coach Matt Ellett has found great success at the helm of the Lions’ program - they won the state championship in 2019 and have captured back-to-back regional titles under his tutelage. This year’s group eclipsed the 20-win marker and swept their way to a Northeastern Conference title. Jacob Janisko (2023; University of Indianapolis), Emin Hartigan (2024; Alabama-Huntsville), Gavin Duran (2025), and Benjamin Mitchell (2025) lead a Harvest Christian squad that’s ready to make a run deep into the postseason.
+ Illini Bluffs (13-7): The Tigers are the second seed in the Mt. Sterling sub-sectional after a 13-win season that includes a 6-3 record in conference. Josh Vaughn (2024) will look to lead the Tigers through the playoffs after having a dominating spring on the mound, including a 20-strikeout performance and a perfect game.
+ Mt. Pulaski (26-4): Four 20-win seasons in a row for Mt. Pulaski, who’s offense is scoring nearly 12 runs a game, while surrendering only 86 runs to their opponents over a 29 game sample. They earned the top seed in the Champaign sub-sectional this year, hoping to make a comeback from their loss in the regional championship last season.
+ North Clay (21-9): The defending 1A state champions are the second seed in the Carbondale sub-sectional. Though they lost a large chunk of that medal-winning group, the Cardinals have a history of success, and this group will look to defend their title with the playoffs upon us.
+ Ottawa Marquette (26-2): The perennial 1A powerhouse, finishing third at state last year, has had yet another impressive season, including winning the Tri-County Conference regular season title. Marquette have won 17 games in a row, including a win against Joliet Catholic, one of the top 2A programs in the state. With Taylor Waldron (2023; John A. Logan) back this season after an injury last year, along with Logan Nelson (2023; Lewis), and transfer Krew Bond (2023; Wabash Valley JC), the Crusaders are one of the state’s best 1A teams that will look at making a potential deep run in the state playoffs again this year.
+ Routt Catholic (26-5): Routt Catholic outscored their opponents 335-117 this season. They had a perfect 9-0 record in the Western Illinois Valley - South conference, winning the regular season title. Routt Catholic won their last regional title in 2019, falling short in the regional finals in 2021 and 2022. The Rockets will look to turn things around this postseason after earning the top seed in the Mt. Sterling sub-sectional ‘B’.
+ St. Anthony (Effingham) (23-4): St. Anthony’s was one of the premier programs at 1A this year, as the Bulldogs’ resume is as impressive as any team in this classification. They have wins over Flora, Tolono Unity, Shelbyville, North Clay, Farina South Central, Newton, and Effingham within their sample of 23 victories. Beau Adams, Eli Levitt, Connor Roepke, and Brock Fearday lead the Bulldogs’ offense, with Fearday, Levitt, and Brock Jansen getting it done on the mound. St. Anthony is the top seed in their sub-sectional.
+ St. Bede (20-6): The Bruins won the Three Rivers conference title this season, going 11-1. They won 20 games for the first time since the 2017 season, with coach Bill Booker collecting his 500th career win this year. The Bruins have finished this season on a high note, going 10-1 in their last 11 games.
+ Breese Central (19-11-1): After a relatively slow start by their standards, Breese Central turned things around at the halfway point of their season and will enter the playoffs eight games above .500 and on a five game winning streak. Chase Lewis (2023; Kaskaskia JC) is leading the charge on both sides of the ball in a season that saw the Cougars’ senior set the school’s career hit record.
+ Brimfield (21-8-1): Brimfield has predominantly been one of the top 1A schools out of Central Illinois in recent years, having yet another impressive season in 2023. They have outscored their opponents 246-130 this season. Kyle Binder (2024) and Landon Binder (2024) are both talented names to know from this year’s team.
+ Carlinville (20-2): It was a successful season for the Cavaliers, who finished second in the South Central conference and won 20 games in a season for the first time since the 2019 season. Their only two losses came to top-ranked Father McGivney and league foe Gillespie, and the Cavaliers enter the playoffs on a seven game winning streak in which they’re out-scoring their opponents 86-13.
+ Columbia (27-4): Coming off a state playoff appearance in 2022, Columbia is once again a force to be reckoned with at the 2A level. Slotted inside our ‘Power 25’, the Eagles won 20 games in a row at one point this season, and they’re capable of taking anyone down when Dominic Voegele (2023; Kansas signee) is on the rubber. Aside from his talents on the mound, Voegele’s a dynamic offensive threat too, and this Columbia lineup is littered with returning talent from their 2022 state squad, such as Alex Schreckenberg (2023; McKendree), Reed Drabant (2023; Vincennes JC), Jack Steckler (2023), and impact newcomer Brody Landgraf (2026). Their path back to Peoria isn’t an easy one, but there’s no doubt that the Eagles are amongst the most complete teams at the 2A level.
+ DePaul College Prep (18-14): DePaul College Prep enters the playoffs as the three seed in their sub-sectional with a roster that’s talented and capable of making some noise throughout the postseason. AJ Garcia (2023; Michigan) and Dylan Kaminski (2023; Michigan State) are two high-end seniors to know, as Luke Oblen (2024; Louisville), Vance Kurokawa (2025), and Addison Latko (2026; Illinois) are talented names to know for the Rams.
+ Eureka (28-2): The Hornets started out the season 3-2, and then they went on to win 25 straight games, only allowing five or more runs four times within that span. They have scored 336 runs this season (11.2 runs per game), and they have allowed only 89 runs against them. Slater Wilcox (2023; Eastern IL) has played a large part in their success as he has been dominant on the mound this spring. Austin Wiegand (2023; Carl Sandburg), Drew Dingledine (2023), Ben Jablonski (2023), and Zech Lapp (2023) have all played major roles in their offensive productions.
+ Father McGivney (34-1): The Griffins have been the state’s top 2A team all season, finding themselves inside the top-10 on our ‘Power 25’ rankings for six consecutive weeks. They’re as good as anyone in the state, especially when ace Gabe Smith (2023; Ole Miss signee) is on the mound, and their lineup is a gauntlet for opposing pitchers from top to bottom, with names like Jackson Rodgers (2023; Western Illinois), Daniel Gierer (2023), Jacob McKee (2023), Nicholas Franklin (2024), Kannon Kamp (2025), and Drew Kleinheider (2025) making up a fierce order. The Griffins earned the top seed in their sectional and have their eyes set on Dozer Park come the first weekend of June.
+ Flora (23-12): Flora’s the second seed in their sub-sectional after a 23-win campaign that included a Black Diamond East conference crown. They lost just one game in conference play, as opposed to nine victories, and rattled off two different five-plus game win streaks this year.
+ Freeburg (21-13): Freeburg can’t ever be counted out when it comes to the playoffs. They won the 2A state championship in 2021 and appeared in a Super Sectional last season, winning 21 games in 2023 with five straight victories to end the regular season. Luke Isaacs (2023), Jack Barlow (2024) and Lain Krauss (2024) are all having productive years offensively. Freeburg has seven different arms that have thrown more than 20 innings this year, with Krauss and Christian Giovando (2025) leading the way.
+ Gillespie (29-0): The Miners didn’t lose in 2023, concluding the regular season with an undefeated record as one of the top 2A programs in Illinois. They’re a talented bunch led by a strong group of upperclassmen, with names like Kamryn Link (2023; Johnson County CC), Tristen Wargo (2024), and Bryce Hohnsbehn (2024) leading the offense. Link, Colton Bultema (2023), Bryce Jubelt (2023; McKendree) and Bryce Buhs (2024) anchor the pitching staff, all of them throwing over 30 innings this spring. They’ll be tested early on in the playoffs and will have to fight their way through a talented group of opponents, but the Miners have the talent to find themselves playing in Peoria come June.
+ Harrisburg (29-3): On the other side of the DuQuoin Sectional are the Bulldogs, who earned the top seed in sub-sectional ‘A’ after one of the more successful seasons across the 2A landscape. Harrisburg, who’s won 29+ games in each of the last four years, didn’t lose a game in the month of April, rolling their way to a conference title with a near perfect finish. They lost to a Freeburg squad that came a game away from the state playoffs last year and the Bulldogs fully have their eyes set on Peoria from here on out.
+ Holy Trinity (22-9-1): Holy Trinity earned the top seed in sub-sectional ‘B’ for the Lombard Sectional. The Tigers finished second in the Chicago Prep Conference with a 12-2-1 record, capturing 22 wins on the year.
+ Joliet Catholic (19-8-1): The reigning 2A state champions are once again primed for a positive playoff run, earning the top seed in their sub-sectional. They finished first in one of the state’s toughest conferences with notable wins over multiple quality opponents on their schedule, and they spent some time inside our ‘Power 25’ earlier in the year, too. A deep pitching staff, headlined by TJ Schlageter (2023; Louisville), Aidan Hayse (2024; Tennessee), and Jacob Gimbel (2024) lead a Hilltoppers’ squad that’s amongst the favorites to make their way back to Peoria.
+ Maroa-Forsyth (24-4): After a trip to state last season, the Trojans are once again a contender at the 2A classification. It’s been back to back years of 20+ wins, with this year’s Trojans’ squad finishing second in the Sangamo Conference. Winners of 10 straight at one point, this roster is headlined by names like Evan Foster (2023; Navy), Jacob Blunck (2023; Monmouth College), Kaiden Maurer (2024), and Zayn Giles (2024).
+ Monticello (21-4): Monticello earned a late tight-knit win on Monday afternoon to conclude their season, one that included 20+ wins and an outright share of the Illini Prairie conference title. They’ll enter postseason play on a 10-game win streak and it’s a talented squad, headlined by star Luke Teschke (2024; Illinois State), who’s been dominant on both sides of the ball this spring.
+ Montini Catholic (18-13): The Broncos play a tough schedule that consists of multiple 3A and 4A opponents, including some of the top programs in the entire state. They’ll enter these playoffs as battle tested as anyone, and they earned the top seed in their sub-sectional, too. It’s a talented lineup capable of doing damage with bats such as Cash Campbell (2024; Iowa), Dominic Catalano (2024; Illinois-Chicago), Quinn Boyer (2024), and AJ Manganello (2024).
+ Nashville (26-6): It was another successful season for the Hornets, who won their conference and earned the top seed in their sub-sectional. They won 12 games in a row at one point this year, following that up with five wins in a row a few weeks afterwards. Nashville has a legitimate ace in Trey Reinburg (2023; Wabash Valley JC) on the hill and their lineup is littered with upperclassmen throughout.
+ Newton (18-10): The Eagles have two remaining games on their schedule before the playoffs start, though they’ve already earned the top seed in their sub-sectional. They finished undefeated in Little Illini conference play to take home the league’s crown and have notable wins on their schedule over Flora, Effingham, North Clay, and Teutopolis.
+ Orion (22-9): With back-to-back 20+ win seasons, Orion finished one game back of the Three Rivers’ conference title, and their success this spring earned the Chargers a top seed in sub-sectional ‘A’ of the Knoxville Sectional. Offensively, Orion is led by Cole Kratzberg (2023; Black Hawk JC), Alex Edwards (2023), Drake Gunn (2023), and Gavin Awbrey (2025). Their pitching staff features two sophomores, Maddux Anderson (2025) and Nolan Buchen (2025), who have thrown a bulk of their innings, with senior Andrew Meiresonne (2023) seeing success on the bump, too.
+ Quincy Notre Dame (30-1): Currently the 12th ranked team on the Illinois’ Power 25, the Raiders have been one of the hottest teams in the state this season, regardless of class. They’ve lost one game all season, it was on March 27th, and they’ve rattled off 27 straight wins since then. That lengthy win streak included a clean sweep of the West Central - South conference as well. There aren’t many 2A teams with as much positive momentum headed into the playoffs as Quincy Notre Dame, who is the top seed in sub-sectional ‘B’ of the Pleasant Plains Sectional.
+ Rockford Christian (15-5): Rockford Christian is the other top seed inside the Stillman Valley Sectional. They finished second in the Big Northern conference and, at one point in the season, won 11 games in a row.
+ Shelbyville (22-6): After winning 29 games in 2022, the Rams are once again a team to know headed into the postseason. Slotted at third in sub-sectional ‘A’ of the Pleasant Plains Sectional, the Rams finished the season with 12 conference wins. They’re a senior heavy group with experience that’s led by Ty Brachbill (2023; Illinois-Springfield), who’s one of the premier two-way talents in the classification.
+ Sherrard (22-6): The Tigers had their most successful season in recent memory this spring, totaling 22 wins and finishing towards the top of a competitive Three Rivers’ conference. They rattled off four different win streaks of four-plus wins at various points throughout the year. Maddux Harksen and Aiden Terronez anchor Sherrard on the mound, with Kyler Schmidt and Cam Davis doing so at the plate.
+ St. Joseph Ogden (28-7): Perennially one of the state’s most successful 2A programs, the Spartans have now won 25+ games in three straight seasons, and they wrapped up their 2023 campaign with a 28-7 record and a second place finish of the Illini Prairie conference. They won 15 games in a row at one point this spring, including victories over Tremont, Williamsville, Normal U-High, and Tolono Unity.
+ Tolono (Unity) (23-8-1): Is seeded number three in the Decatur sub-sectional, right behind St. Joseph-Ogden and Monticello. Brock Suding (2024) has powered the offense this season for the Rockets. Tre Hoggard (2026) has impressed our staff in limited action and will potentially find innings on the mound in the playoffs. The Rockets are outscoring their opponents 260-144 so far this season.
+ Tremont (19-5): The Turks were led by a strong group of underclassmen this season in Blaine Williams (2025; Illinois), Brady Booth (2025), and Griffin Meeker (2026). They finished second in the Heart of Illinois conference, going an impressive 10-1. The Turks are a well-rounded team that plays quality defense, has pitching depth, and they have the ability to produce offensively. Tremont finished the season going 10-2 in their last 12 games played with their only losses coming to Eureka and Morton.
+ Wesclin (23-6): Wesclin won the Cahokia Conference this year with a 9-1 record in league play. Winners of 11 straight at one point this season, the Warriors’ offense is led by Payten Mugele (2023; Lincoln Land CC) and Hayden Bernreuter (2025), who are two left-handed thumpers nestled directly in the middle of this lineup. Hayden Hoerchler (2023), Evan Wessel (2023), and Seth Woodall (2023; McKendree) are all having big years on the mound, giving the Warriors depth within their pitching staff for the playoffs.
+ Wheaton Academy (26-6-1): The Warriors regular season was a productive one, as they rattled off 16 wins in a row at one point of the season, taking down some quality opponents in that stretch to earn the top seed in their sub-sectional. Eric DeCosta (2024), Andy Roman (2023; Bossier Parish CC), Grant Rojek (2023), Hudson Williams (2023), and Alex Bagley (2023) lead this Warriors’ squad.
+ Williamsville (22-6): Williamsville captured the Sangamo Conference title with an undefeated record in league play. They won 22 games this spring with key victories over Tremont, Monticello, Maroa-Forsyth, Pleasant Plains, and Springfield. The Bullets are the second seed in sub-sectional ‘B’ of the Pleasant Plains sectional.
+ Zeigler-Royalton (25-8): Another program to know in the state’s southeastern spot are the Tornadoes, who won their most games in a single season under head coach Page Kirkpatrick. They have three legitimate arms in Trey Cole (2023; McKendree), Scott Hudgens (2024), and Connor DeWeerdt (2025), and a productive offense that’s led by Briar Rowland and Chase Freeman.
For our continued, and extensive, coverage of the IHSA Season, click HERE.