Several area teams enter the final week of the regular season with the possibility of finishing at 5-4, which would put them in varying degrees of anxiety when the IHSA announces the 2013 playoff field Saturday night.
Aurora Christian (5-3), St. Charles East (5-3), St. Charles North (4-4), St. Francis (4-4) and Wheaton Academy (4-4) are the five area teams eyeing playoff points especially closely this week, although Aurora Christian is a major favorite to beat Guerin on Saturday for a playoff-clinching sixth win, while Wheaton Academy is a big underdog against Marian Central, with a loss knocking the Warriors from the playoff picture.
Among the other three schools, St. Francis sits in strongest position to make the cut with 40 playoff points (which measures strength of schedule). The Spartans, though, will need to defeat a solid, 5-3 St. Edward team Friday to become playoff-eligible.
St. Charles East also appears to be in good shape for the playoffs even if the Saints were to be upset at Larkin on Friday. East has 37 playoff points leading up to Week 9.
St. Charles North is the area team with most cause to sweat. The North Stars have 30 playoff points, among the lowest statewide total for teams that are on the playoff bubble. Before those calculations come into play, though, North must avoid last year’s scenario of a Week 9 loss to South Elgin, which dropped North to a 4-5 final record in 2012. North visits South Elgin on Saturday afternoon.
Other schools – such as Batavia and Geneva – aren’t monitoring playoff points as much as enrollment numbers. Geneva and Batavia are currently slotted among the largest schools in the 6A field, though either or both could be bumped up to 7A depending on which schools ultimately qualify for the playoffs.
Geneva (1,975 enrollment) is the second largest school listed in 6A this week behind Fenwick, while Batavia (1,964) isn’t far behind.
Respect flows in NI Big 12
Even before Kaneland finally lost its first Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference game in Year 4 of the conference’s existence Friday in Sycamore, Spartans coach Joe Ryan said he thought teams around the conference harbored no ill will toward the Knights’ sparkling success.
“I’m sure it’s respect,” Ryan said of how Kaneland’s rivals feel about the football juggernaut in Maple Park. “There’s no hard feelings from me. Obviously they’ve worked really hard. You get what you earn. When you work hard, you earn things. Their kids have have been working hard.”
Sycamore can seal its first NI Big 12 East conference title and an unbeaten regular season with a win Friday at Yorkville (5-3, 2-2). Kaneland must win at Morris (3-5, 1-3) and hope for help from the Foxes to share in the conference title. The Redskins upset Rochelle on Friday, 31-28.
Batavia coach Dennis Piron has praised the all-around play of his fullbacks this season, and Bulldogs running back Anthony Scaccia joined the chorus after Batavia’s rout of St. Charles East on Friday.
“Our fullbacks are doing a good job,” Scaccia said. “Kevin Green, Anthony Moneghini, are sealing the end or the outside linebacker. I just see a wide-open seam, and I just hit it as hard as I can.”
Through eight weeks, Scaccia has 998 rushing yards and 232 receiving yards. Green has rushed for 123 yards on only 14 carries this season, while Moneghini has chipped in 90 yards on 13 carries.
– Jay Schwab, Steve Nitz and Kevin Druley, Shaw Media
IN THE GROOVE
Daniel Santacaterina, Geneva, Jr., QB
What he did: Santacaterina threw Friday for 369 yards – four different Vikings receivers had at least 50 receiving yards – enabling Geneva to win a high-scoring affair at Metea Valley, 49-45, and clinch a playoff berth.
Roman Padilla, Aurora Central Catholic Jr., LB/RB
What he did: Padilla reeled in a crucial interception in the fourth quarter to help preserve ACC’s 13-12 upset against Marmion. Padilla also scored ACC’s go-ahead touchdown on a 9-yard run.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
It’s difficult to win without generating turnovers on defense, even for Kaneland.
The Knights’ defense was unable to take the ball from host Sycamore on Friday while the Spartans were able to notch a pair of interceptions in Sycamore’s 31-21 win, handing Kaneland its first Northern Illinois Big 12 East loss ever.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
What kind of encore ACC can come up with after the Chargers’ huge win over Marmion.
The playoff pressure is off ACC after the Chargers banked their sixth win at the Cadets’ expense, which is a nice position to be in with 8-0 Montini coming to town Friday night. The Broncos are fresh off a 49-0 trouncing of injury-plagued Aurora Christian on Saturday.
COACH SLY SAYS
Don’t take for granted what the Battlin’ Bulldogs have done each of the past two weeks.
Batavia absolutely shredded both St. Charles North and St. Charles East in back-to-back weeks, both teams that are in playoff contention. By halftime, both of those games were over, practically speaking.
The Bulldogs are improving week to week, and they were pretty doggone good to start with – just ask Glenbard North. That blowout over Geneva is looking better by the week, too.
Friday’s game against Elgin might not be that interesting for the Bulldogs, but everything after that sure will.