Buffalo Grove makes history as first at-large 4-win playoff team

Buffalo Grove coach Jeff Vlk is sending out thank you notes.

His Bison became the first ever 4-5 at large team to qualify for the state playoffs as the field of 256 was announced Saturday night by the Illinois High School Association. The Bison had 56 playoff points to be the best 4-5 team in the state.

Vlk will need to send notes to Maine South, which eliminated New Trier in overtime last night. Another will head to Grayslake Central, which scored a touchdown and a successful two-point conversion with 24.7 seconds left to eliminate Lakes. The final note should go to Glenbard West, which beat Hinsdale Central on Saturday, giving the Bison the final at large spot in the field.

Buffalo Grove will be in 7A and seeded 32nd. Their reward will be a trip to 65th an Dante where they will take on state power Mt. Carmel.

"To make it as 4-5 is wild right now," Vlk said. "We are making IHSA history. When you look at our schedule and who we have to play. In a different season we think things would be different. I don't think we are playing like a team that is 4-5. We are excited about it. It is a new experience for our kids. We are going to fight hard and see what happens."

Barrington, which also had a 4-5 record, just missed qualifying. The Broncos needed at least one of three 4-4 teams to lose on Saturday. Unfortunately for Barrington, all three won, leaving the Broncos out.

Here are other area teams that received invitations. Game dates and times will be announced by the IHSA on Monday.

Class 8A:

Palatine (8-1) captured the MSL West title on Friday with a win over Hoffman Estates. The Pirates have allowed just 44 points in their last five games. The Pirates claimed a 7th seed and will host 26th-seeded Downers Grove South.

"I don't know that much about them," Palatine coach Corey Olson said. "But I know the conference they are in. We are executing when we have to and that is huge. We are excited to be in the playoffs."

Warren (8-1) has been on coast mode the past four weeks, outscoring their opponents 171-14 during that span. Now the second season begins with Warren a 10th-seed. The Blue Devils will host 25th-seeded and North Suburban Conference rival Stevenson.

The Patriots (6-3) are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Warren beat Stevenson 36-16 in week four.

Glenbrook South (8-1) is hoping to have another deep run in the playoffs like last season when the Titans went to the quarterfinals. The Titans are a 12-seed and will host 21st-seed Homewood-Flossmoor.

Maine South (7-2) finished second in the state last year. The Hawks wrapped up their 21st CSL South title with their win Friday. The Hawks received a 13th seed and will host 20th-seeded Bolingbrook.

Conant (5-4) had lost four straight before Friday's win over Schaumburg put the Cougars in the playoffs. The Cougars will be the 32nd-seed and will play at top-seeded Lincoln-Way East.

Class 7A:

Hersey (9-0) earned the second seed by streaking through the MSL East and going undefeated for the first time since 1975. The Huskies, which won the state title in 1987 have outscored their opponents 390-85 this season. They will host 31st-seed Argo.

Prospect (8-1) was a state 7A semifinalist last season. The Knights have scored 399 points this season, and earned a five-seed. They will host 28th-seed Reavis.

Lake Zurich (8-1) won the North Suburban. The Bears nearly dropped to 6A but stayed in 7A and are the smallest enrollment team in the field. The Bears are an 11-seed and will host 22nd-seeded Larkin.

Elk Grove (7-2) is back in the playoffs and the Grenadiers are hosting a game for the first time since 2011. The Grenadiers are the 13th seed and will host 20th-seed Hoffman Estates.

"I think our kids are fired up and so is our community," Ek Grove coach Miles Osei said. "It is a familiar face that we have played. It should be good, and it will be lots of fun."

The Hawks (6-3) had their six-game winning streak broken on Friday with their loss to Palatine. It should be a fun matchup between a pair of teams who can score lots of points. Elk Grove beat Hoffman 24-14 in week two.

"We don't have to travel far," Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse said. "Nice and close. For us it is a little bit of a revenge game."

Libertyville (5-4) is back in the playoffs for the 7th time in the last 8 playoff seasons. The 26th-seeded Wildcats will play at seven-seeded Yorkville.

Maine West (5-4) is back in the playoffs after winning their way in over Highland Park on Friday. The Warriors will travel to play fourth-seeded Maine West.

Class 6A:

Antioch (6-3) is heading back to the playoffs for the fifth playoff season in a row. The Sequoits, which have won six of their last seven games, received an eight-seed and will host 9th-seeded Niles Notre Dame.

Grayslake Central (6-3) is back in the playoffs for the second year in a row. The Rams are a 12-seed and will play at fifth-seeded Belvidere North.

Wauconda (8-1) will look to bounce back after Friday's loss to Grayslake North. Despite the loss, the Bulldogs still received the top seed in the North bracket. They will host 16th-seeded Schurz.

Grayslake North (8-1) claimed a share of the Northern Lake County title. The Knights were awarded a three-seed and will host 14th-seeded Senn.

Class 5A:

Carmel (6-3) is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The Corsairs, who are seeded 9th in the North bracket, will travel to Chicago to play 8th-seeded Chicago Noble.

St. Viator (5-4) earned its way back into playoffs for the first time in five years with a thrilling overtime win over St. Patrick Saturday afternoon. Now it is déjà vu for the 11th-seeded Lions as they travel to fifth-seeded Sterling - the same team St. Viator played in its last playoff visit.

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