Jacobs set a school record last week by qualifying for the state playoffs for a third straight year.
The Golden Eagles now seek a milestone they have yet to achieve since hall-of-fame coach Bill Mitz took over three years ago, something the program has done only three times in school history: win a playoff game.
To do so, No. 15 Jacobs (5-4) would have to pull off a first-round stunner at No. 2 Rockford Boylan (9-0) in a Class 7A playoff game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
It won't be easy. NIC-10 champion Boylan enters with a 37-game winning streak. Along the way the Titans won the Class 6A state title in 2010 and the Class 7A state title in 2011.
Do the Golden Eagles have an upset of this magnitude in them?
"No one's giving us a chance, but we think we can do some things," Mitz said. "We have improved on defense a lot. If we're on catching the ball and running the ball, it'll be a great battle. We get an opportunity to play this weekend against a great team and we have a lot to prepare for, but we worked hard this week to improve what we're doing, and we're just excited as heck to be playing.
"We're 0-0. Anything can happen."
The Golden Eagles must limit the effectiveness of Boylan running back DeMarcus Vines. The senior has rushed for 1,243 yards and 21 touchdowns on 153 carries. Titans quarterback Brock Stull has completed 50 of 102 attempts for 845 yards and 8 scores.
The Jacobs defense is coming off its best game of the season after holding Dundee-Crown to 232 total yards and no touchdowns last week. That unit gets a lift this week from the return of starting defensive end Tim Regan (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), who recorded 10 tackles in a Week 6 loss to Huntley. He bookends Toledo recruit Adam Kulon (6-4, 240).
Offensively, Jacobs quarterback Bret Mooney has been hot down the stretch. He threw for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns two weeks ago against Crystal Lake South. Against Dundee-Crown he tossed 2 touchdown passes to junior Hunter Williams (28 rec., 695 yards, 7 TD) and avoided interceptions.
Mooney (6-4, 210), who has completed 118 of 219 passes for 1,938 yards and 16 touchdowns, can also zero in on senior receiver Jake Gierlak (37-495-3), Sidor (18-192-1) or 6-2, 210-pound junior tight end Jake Dziewulski (4-72-3).
The Jacobs running attack is led by senior Greg Sidor (101 carries, 559 yards, 5 TD). He gained 100 yards and scored a touchdown last week. Complementing him is speedy sophomore Josh Walker, a midseason call-up. Senior Connor Conzelman has been uses as a weapon in short-yardage situations late in the season.
"They seem to be a run-first team, but they are very explosive when they throw the ball because they have some explosive kids," first-year Boylan coach John Cacciatore said. "(Mooney) is a big kid and those receivers go up and catch the ball. Often we've seen their receivers covered but they still outjump the defender at the point of attack.
"But the strength of what we do is on defense. If we can bottle those guys up on offense, we can play to our strengths, including our kicking game."
Boylan has limited opponents to 79 points this season, led by senior free safety and team captain Pete Cimino. The Golden Eagles are familiar with the Titans' 3-3-5 scheme, which they face regularly in Fox Valley Conference play.
"They remind us a lot of Crystal Lake South on defense," Mitz said. "We're hoping to move the ball on them. We feel we have some things on offense they have to stop."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.