Brad Dixon wasn't worried about the potential monster that lurks in the third round. Central's football coach also wasn't concerned about the rivalry game that could materialize in the second round.
After the IHSA Class 1A football playoff pairings were released Saturday night, Dixon didn't waste time trying to find information on the Panthers' first-round opponent, Heyworth.
A few of Central's assistants met Heyworth's coaches in Havana, Ill., about a 124-mile trip, to exchange films Saturday night. The Panthers, who are 9-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state, were awarded a No. 3 seed and will host
No. 14 Heyworth (5-4).
"In today's day and age, with access to computers, it played out how we thought it would be," Dixon said. "Our only question was about which one seed would be in our side of the bracket. We knew we'd be feeding into Carrollton or Brown County in the second round."
Looming for Central in the second round is a rematch with Brown County (8-1), which was seeded sixth and will host Mt. Olive (7-2) in the first round. The Panthers beat Brown County 27-6 in Week 4. Should Central reach the third round, they would likely have to play second-seeded Maroa-Forsyth (9-0), which finished the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and are the defending Class 2A state champions. Central reached the semifinals in Class 2A last season.
"Before we get there, we have to worry about Heyworth," Dixon said. "They play in a tough conference with good competition. Three of their losses came against teams that were 9-0, 8-1 and 7-2."
Brown County, which finished the season on a four-game winning streak, is excited for the possibilities of its draw.
"We're just excited to get someone new in that first-round game," Hornets coach Tom Little said. "There is a talented pool of opponents this year in Class 1A. The second round will be a tough one on the road."
Mt. Olive, which closed the season on a five-game winning streak, scored 46 points or more in all seven of their wins this season. Illini West, which is making its 23 straight appearance in the playoffs including its time as Carthage, drew a No. 8 seed in Class 2A. The Chargers (6-3) will travel to top-seeded Rockridge (9-0) in the first round.
Illini West coach Lyle Klein said the Chargers familiarity with Rockridge, which is ranked No. 3 in Class 2A, should help. Illini West best Rockridge 32-22 last season.
"When I mentioned to the kids who we were playing, their reaction was 'Oh, cool.' That's how we are," Klein said. "These boys have all been in the playoffs before. It will be a good matchup. Either way, it will be exciting to still be around Saturday night."