St. Charles East has the longest Round 1 road trip of any area team, heading to north suburban Lincolnshire to challenge Stevenson in Class 8A. Coach Mike Fields is sweating the caliber of the Patriots’ team much more than the Saturday drive to Lake County.
“We’re just going to try to really let the kids appreciate it and really make it a fun day for all of them,” Fields said.
Remember when …
Batavia has been a heavy favorite by seed each of its past two first-round playoff games, but needed a furious rally to top Niles Notre Dame in 2011 before falling to Downers Grove North last season. Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron isn’t connecting any dots on that front as second-seeded Batavia prepares for 15th seeded DeKalb.
“It’s apples and oranges,” Piron said. “If you’re playing a team from a conference that you know is an exceptional conference and they’re an average team [in that conference], and then if you’re in a conference that maybe isn’t as good and you’re a top team, well, it’s hard to compare. Our kids last year, we lost a game against a a very good football team. We were very good, and so were they.”
Sleeper game of the week
Aurora Christian at IC Catholic Prep in Class 3A, first-round game. Aurora Christian was clobbered by IC Catholic when the Suburban Christian Conference foes met in Week 7. But the Eagles will be healthier this time – it would be hard not to be – and it’s hard to envision a program as prideful as the two-time defending, 3A state champions going down meekly.
Geneva coach Rob Wicinski and St. Patrick coach Dan Galante go back more than 20 years from when Wicinski coached at Niles North and Galante was a college defensive coordinator at North Park. Mutual friend Tim Rucks – then North Park’s head coach – had come to North Park from Niles North. Galante saluted the job Wicinski has done turning Geneva into a west-suburban power.
“It’s a little different when you know the guy that you’re playing, and then talking to him [once the pairings came out Saturday], it’s pretty wild how it works that way,” Galante said.
If Round 1 results go by seed, it won’t be long before the build-up begins for what would be a highly anticipated second-round showdown in 5A between Kaneland and Joliet Catholic.
The Knights and perennial powerhouse Hilltoppers are both one-loss teams, with Kaneland welcoming Hampshire in the first round tonight and Joliet Catholic hosting Chicago Urban Prep on Saturday. A potential Kaneland-Joliet Catholic matchup would be contested in Joliet.