With every prep football team in the area, except Morris, beginning conference play Friday, here’s a look at how each has fared and its outlook going forward.
What’s happened: Maybe the Coalers’ 1-1 start isn’t surprising, but the decisiveness of their 22-0 opening-week loss to Wilmington certainly was to me. Coal City bounced back to defeat Dwight 42-0 last week.
What’s coming: The Interstate Eight Conference Large Division truly may be up for grabs this year.
Coal City’s first divisional opponent, Manteno, is one of two teams that are currently 2-0, with the Coalers’ Week 6 opponent, Plano, the other. Every Large team already has at least one win.
I could see the Coalers running the table, and given the score of the Wilmington game, I could see them struggling in the Large.
They finish with very winnable crossover games against Westmont and Reed-Custer bodes well for them if the latter happens, though the Coalers may need a sixth win to make the playoffs.
What’s happened: Given the difficulty of their nonconference opponents, the Indians have to be pretty happy with being .500.
They knocked off Morris 21-14 in their opener before coming back to earth with a 38-21 loss to Providence.
What’s coming: Minooka draws an 0-2 team to begin Southwest Prairie Conference play.
That 0-2 team, Oswego, has gone 14-0 in the conference during the past two seasons and will be desperate to get a win.
It’s the kind of game that could serve as a turning point, good or bad, for Minooka’s season, though I’d stop short of calling it a must-win for the playoffs.
After that, the Indians will face another team that’s currently winless in Plainfield Central, but they will draw two teams that are currently 2-0 (Plainfield East and Oswego East) in the three weeks after that.
What’s happened: A traditional-power-versus-traditional-power Week 2 match-up between Morris and Metamora had heightened importance after both teams lost their openers.
Morris made its path to the playoffs much easier with a 17-14 win.
What’s coming: Speaking of traditional powers, 2-0 Geneseo will host the Redskins in the first of their two Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover games.
Dixon, which has just five playoff berths in its history and none since 2006, will face them in the other crossover game the following week. Morris will then face Yorkville to begin East Division play in Week 5.
Of the six East teams, four are 2-0; only DeKalb and Morris have each sustained a loss. Morris does get the benefit of facing Sycamore, Rochelle and Kaneland at home.
What’s happened: The Fighting Irish haven’t been the only 2-0 team in the area since before the IHSA’s season summaries went online in 1996, if ever.
They are now after beating Sandwich 34-21 and Peotone 12-7.
What’s coming: The winner of this Friday’s game between host Seneca and Lisle has to be considered Wilmington’s biggest challenger in the I-8 Small.
Seneca will take its shot at Wilmington, the winner of five straight Small titles, two weeks after that.
The Irish have a chance to go 3-0 in their other conference games against, in order; Westmont, Reed-Custer and Dwight.
If the Irish lose to Lisle, they may need to beat either Herscher or Manteno in season-ending crossover games to make the playoffs.
If they beat Lisle (and/or Wilmington), they may be playing for seeding by then.