Glenbard North’s football program made plenty of history the last couple of weeks.
In Week 7 the Panthers beat Wheaton Warrenville South for the first time since 2003 and followed up with last week’s 17-15 last-second win over Wheaton North that sealed at least a share of the Panthers’ first DuPage Valley Conference title since 1991.
The buzz around Glenbard North has been tremendous, although coach Ryan Wilkens is making a point to temper the enthusiasm a bit.
“Time and place, that’s what I told the team,” Wilkens said. “There’s going to be a time and place to reflect and think about it. Now’s not the time to celebrate conference titles, not with what we still have in front of us.”
Wilkens brought up the 2007 season with his current team. In the Class 8A playoffs Glenbard North beat Whitney Young, York, Fremd and Mt. Carmel — all conference champions — en route to the state title game.
Neither Glenbard North nor 8A final opponent Naperville North won the DuPage Valley Conference crown that year.
The message was clear: the proof is in the playoffs.
“The big thing is don’t count your chickens,” Wilkens said. “After the season we’ll celebrate all we’ve accomplished. Right now it’s all about performing in the playoffs.”
After decades of competition, West Chicago’s football team is playing its final DuPage Valley Conference game Friday at home against Naperville Central. Mixed emotions abound in the community, but everyone has an eye on the future.
“There are people who may not like the move,” said Wildcats coach Bill Bicker, “but I think everyone’s looking forward.”
That means looking forward to joining the Metro Suburban Conference. Not just a change of scenery, the move also represents a change in the level of competition.
Instead of competing against schools with much higher enrollments like in the DVC, West Chicago will be the largest school in the MSC and will rejoin Glenbard South, which left the DVC about 15 years ago.
For Bicker and the Wildcats, their DVC finale is not about nostalgia. It’s about turning a page.
“I’m treating this week and last week as the start of our move forward,” Bicker said. “At the very least it gives us an opportunity to start new. We have no history in the Metro Suburban, and we can start over.”
Just another game:
Wheaton North (7-1, 5-1 DVC) has not beaten Wheaton Warrenville South (4-4, 4-2) since 2002.
No need to remind the Falcons.
“The kids know the situation, it’s not something we have to talk about,” said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski.
While Wheaton North tries to improve its playoff seed in Class 7A, the Tigers are trying to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since that same 2002 season. The stakes are high on both sides, but history’s definitely on WW South’s side.
“We’re not going to talk about Wheaton South,” Wardynski said. “We’re going to focus on what we need to improve on from (last week’s loss to Glenbard North).”
Wheaton North’s struggles against the Tigers go all the way back to the 1980s, so a victory Friday would exorcise a bunch of demons. The psychological effect of a win would be as powerful as the tangible impact on the Falcons’ playoff seeding.
“Everything’s been tried over the last 20 years against them, so I think the best thing to do is just focus on ourselves,” Wardynski said.
Here’s the kicker:
Montini coach Chris Andriano said Broncos kicker Andrew Harte has now successfully kicked 88 straight extra points, which would stand as Illinois’ record over former Driscoll kicker Rick Albreski’s 64 straight PATs spanning 2002-03.
Harte, a senior, is 29-of-29 this season and 77-of-81 last year. According to the 2011 National High School Sports Record Book, Harte’s feat ranks fourth in history. Jason Bondzio’s 93 straight from 2001-03 for Humble, Texas, is third.
And the quote:
Andriano said Joey Borsellino’s caused fumble and recovery late in last week’s 31-27 win over Aurora Christian may have been the play of the Broncos’ season.
The mayhem that occurred in pursuit of the football was not for the squeamish.
Andriano said Borsellino told him: “I can’t tell you what was going on at the bottom of that pile. It would have put us all in jail.”
SCC Gold quandary:
Immaculate Conception coach Bill Krefft brought up an odd scenario with playoff ramifications in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division. Speculating on Week 9 results, there’s a good chance of a three-way tie for first.
Aurora Central Catholic, which has clinched a playoff berth with 6 wins, is 4-2 in league play going against strong Montini. IC (5-3, 3-3) hosts 2-6 Chicago Christian and would seem on track for a sixth win. Wheaton Academy (4-4, 4-2) visits 8-0 Marian Central.
At issue is the conference’s procedure for breaking a three-way tie and thus determining the conference representative into the playoffs. The IHSA administrator in charge of football, Craig Anderson, said league rules stated a team with fewer than six wins could be the representative. That could allow a potential 4-5 Wheaton Academy team to go.
The main issue, Anderson said, is the way the rule was presented in writing does not conclusively show how to break a three-way tie, as would head-to-head results in a two-way tie.
The bottom line is the IHSA will have the final say.
“If it ends up in a three-way tie the IHSA will determine the automatic qualifier from the conference,” Anderson said.
Reached before this was brought to light, Wheaton Academy coach T.J. Ragan addressed the prospect of facing Marian Central.
“There’s no question on paper and on film they’re an excellent team,” he said. “We can not show up or we can prepare to win, and our guys are excited to do that. We’ll take it five seconds at a time, take it each play and each player, and see what happens.”
Playoff points and the CPS strike:
On paper, 4-4 St. Francis looks good to beat 2-6 St. Edward on Friday. Should they win, however, the Spartans face a challenge they can no longer control.
St. Francis has 32 playoff points, the total number of victories by a team’s opponents, the first tiebreaker to fill the 256-team field after conference champions and teams with at least six wins. The Spartans could reasonably expect five more points then (sorry, Bison) and will hope for Riverside-Brookfield to beat Fenton for a 38-point total.
Last year’s playoff-point cutoff was 40, highest since the eight-class system debuted in 2005. Matt Troha, the Illinois High School Association executive director in charge of media relations among other things, said he expects the cutoff to again be near 40.
The cutoff has increased by a point each of the last three seasons. Reasons could include more teams scheduling tougher out-of-state foes for nonconference games and more large conferences that generate more wins within conference play.
Wheaton Warrenville South (41 points) and aforementioned Wheaton Academy (39) are 4-4 teams that seemingly would have no problem qualifying if they pull off big tasks by beating Wheaton North and Marian Central, respectively. Lisle is in a huge bind, 4-4 with 32 playoff points in an Interstate Eight Small Division whose members went 0-6 to Large teams last week and face Large teams again.
Hinsdale South is 5-3 but with just 26 playoff points really needs to beat 6-2 Willowbrook. Even tough Downers Grove North, 5-3 but with 35 points headed into Glenbard West, could be on edge.
Among all this are the affects of the Chicago Public Schools teachers strike which wiped out the CPS’ Week 4. Troha said four of the CPS’ 12 conferences limit playoff representation to two teams; another four, the Inter-City conferences, don’t advance teams to the playoffs. Six-win Westinghouse and Payton and even 7-0 Taft are on the bubble.
Even the best CPS teams will receive lower seeds, lacking the chance at another win. There are an abundance of 5-3 and 4-4 teams that, losing that one week to generate points, may be left behind. Troha anticipated at least three CPS teams may not make the field due to points lost by the strike week and potentially more.
Still, in the IHSA’s projections Lisle is No. 40 in 3A, St. Francis No. 38 in 5A. They’ll need help to get in.
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