SENECA – Since the IHSA expanded its football playoffs to eight classes in 2000, only one Chicago Public League team – Robeson in 2013 – has won a game in Class 3A.
Only three CPL teams – Raby in 2012 and Raby and Robeson this year – have ever made the playoffs in 3A. CPL teams usually are assigned to larger classes. Robeson defeated Raby 26-16 in the first round last week.
Now, Robeson will face non-CPL school Seneca at 1 p.m. Saturday in Chicago in the second round of the playoffs.
CPL teams are 2-10 versus non-CPL teams in the 2013 playoffs, but Seneca coach Ted O’Boyle is unsure that the rest of the state’s typical dominance will necessarily apply in 3A.
The only such matchup since the last class expansion pitted Raby against eventual state champion Aurora Christian in the first round in 2012. Robeson remains the only CPL team to play in a state championship game, finishing second in Class 5A in 1982.
“Predominantly in the 4A and 5A classes, when [CPL teams] get matched up against a real physical, dominant powerhouse team, they would struggle,” O’Boyle said. “We’re not that type of team, so I’m sure they feel it’s a good matchup for them, as well.”
Robeson went 6-3 during the regular season and was 4-1 during play in the Chicago Public Illini Prairie State Conference. Its only game against a non-CPL opponent was a 45-8 Week 2 loss at North Chicago.
Robeson has allowed the lowest point total (190) in its conference this season.
“They’re very quick, I know that. They use that to their advantage,” said Zach Russell, who rotates with Bo Taylor at quarterback for Seneca. “When I’m under center, they’re gonna be pretty compact, so we’re just gonna try to pound it at them.”
Russell said from what the Irish have seen on video, Robeson alternates between lining its quarterback up under center and a spread formation. The Raiders have scored 210 points this season.
Robeson’s playoff win over Raby was a dramatic reversal from the prior week, when Raby defeated the Raiders 52-0. The Raiders trailed 16-0 at one point, but two Darien Williams touchdown runs got them within two points by halftime. Quarterback Lamont Barnes and Jahad Roundtree added touchdowns in the second half to complete the comeback.
“They do like to run,” O’Boyle said of the Raiders. “It’s just extremely difficult to watch tape on their games and our games and try to compare.
“It’s gonna be an exciting environment. It’s gonna be a once in a lifetime experience for these kids, and hopefully we’ll be fired up and looking forward to it.”