ELMHURST – Sometimes the IHSA playoff pairings machine does some funny things.
IC Catholic locked up its playoff spot with a 56-20 win last Friday at Chicago Christian and a day later learned its Class 3A first round opponent was an all-too-familiar opponent.
The 6-3 Knights will host a 6-3 Aurora Christian team that they know all too well. The rival Eagles knocked IC out of the playoffs last year in the second round en route to a second straight 3A state title.
In Week 7 the Knights blew out an AC squad missing several key players, 48-6. Those players, including quarterback Austin Bray, are expected to play in the playoffs.
IC coach Bill Krefft said after the regular season win that he expected the Knights to play AC again in the postseason. He probably didn't think it would come in the first round, though.
"AC is a good team," Krefft said. "They were a good team last time. They're going to be a better team this time."
Krefft is confident his team will still be able to overcome the Eagles in the playoffs. IC won the battle in the trenches in the regular season and most of AC's absences were at the skill positions.
The question is whether the players that missed the regular season meeting can make up 42 points.
"We're going to prepare for them at 100 percent," Krefft said. "I don't know that that's much different than how we prepared for them last time. A couple kids might be faster and we're going to face someone that has more experience at quarterback."
The Knights enter the playoffs with a three-game winning streak and won the Suburban Christian Gold title outright after Aurora Central Catholic lost to Montini last week with a chance to share the title. At this time of year it's just about extending the season.
"Our kids are excited to be in the playoffs and competing," Krefft said. "The kids just love being around each other and they're having fun. They're happy to be around each other for another week."
IC Catholic 56
Chicago Christian 20
Passing: Jack Copher 3-for-5, 76 yards, TD
Rushing: Randy Leslie 8-204, 3 TDs; Frank Damato 13-51; Liam Hipskind 8-50; Leo Guzman 11-44; Brendan O'Brien 5-31, TD; Max Eichhorn 2-31, TD
Receiving: Rhashaun Epting 1-56, TD
Playoff opener: Aurora Christian at IC Catholic
When: 1 p.m. SaturdayWhere: Lewis Stadium, 150 S. West Ave., ElmhurstRecords: No. 7 IC Catholic 6-3; No. 10 Aurora Christian 6-3Outlook: It's no surprise that these two teams are meeting again in the playoffs, but that it's in a first round game is. Since Aurora Christian played without many players down the stretch the Eagles slipped down the seeds and open the postseason on the road. When the two met in Elmhurst in Week 7 the Knights won 48-6, but this game should have a different feel with AC expected to be close to 100 percent.