SENECA – A win Friday night at home over 2-5 Herscher is likely necessary for Seneca to realize its new goal of hosting an opening-round playoff football game.
The game also presents another kind of opportunity for the Fighting Irish. They faced a spread offense similar to Herscher’s in Week 4 against Westmont. In that game, Westmont led for most of the game before Seneca pulled out a stunning 29-28 victory.
Lineman Chance Gonnam thinks the Irish can, and will, prove their ability to defend better against the spread this week.
“It’ll show, probably get a word out there that we are a team to reckon with, and we can play against any offense – our defense is able to step up,” Gonnam said. “We had a few mishaps on the long balls [against Westmont] and we didn’t cover them right, but our DBs will pick it up this week.”
Herscher quarterback Brendan Powell has completed 101 of 202 pass attempts for 1,348 yards with 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. Blake Patchett has provided another 259 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Collin Glas has been the duo’s favorite target, catching 28 passes for 649 yards and seven touchdowns.
One major difference between Herscher and Westmont, Seneca coach Ted O’Boyle said, is the Tigers have a tailback who has had success running the ball. Jordan Lamie has 480 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries, though nobody else on the team has totaled more than 51 rushing yards.
“It’s another good challenge,” O’Boyle said. “As you’re getting ready to prepare for postseason-type things, it’s good to see as many different offenses as you could see, and [Herscher] is definitely one that’s pretty effective.”
While Herscher has scored 165 points, ranking third in the Interstate Eight Conference Large, the Tigers are in last place largely because they have allowed a Large-high 216 points. Seneca ranks second in the I-8 Small in both points scored (198) and fewest points allowed (111).
The Seneca offense is built around the rushing tandem of Bo Taylor (110 carries, 1,099 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Tommy Lovett (123 carries, 774 yards, 9 touchdowns). Taylor is 14-for-46 passing for 252 yards, with two touchdowns and six interceptions.
“They’ll be quicker on the edge than some of the other teams that we’ve played in the past few weeks,” O’Boyle said of the Tigers. “We’ll have to make some adjustments, and I know coach [Terry] Maxwell will do that with our line.”
Seneca (6-1) ensured a playoff berth with its 37-6 win at Dwight last week, but with 27 opponents’ wins, the Irish likely need to defeat both Herscher and Manteno on the road in Week 9 to host their first playoff game.
That reality is keeping them motivated.
“The only thing [different] is people outside of the team and our coaches, they say good job more and stuff, but as a team, we’re exactly the same,” Gonnam said. “We’re doing everything we’ve done every other week, just taking it one game at a time because our big goal is a home playoff game, so the season’s not over yet. We can’t celebrate too soon.”