Goss: Local prep football schedules offer quality match-ups
July 12, 2012 10:26PM
Ty Isaac and his Joliet Catholic teammates will open the 2012 football season vs. Providence. | File photo
Updated: August 14, 2012 6:05AM
High school athletic directors and football coaches have myriad reasons for scheduling nonconference games the way they do.
Don’t play too difficult a nonconference schedule or you may spoil your chances of finishing 5-4 (or 6-3) and making the playoffs.
Don’t play too many physical opponents early on, thus taking a chance on being physically beat up before you begin conference play. This is all the more important if yours is an extremely physical conference.
Don’t schedule private schools because, without boundaries, they are not on a level playing field.
Sometimes, it comes down to scheduling whatever relatively similar-size school you can. Sometimes, it means a little longer road trip than you would prefer.
In the midst of our summer heat, the IHSA recently released the entire schedule for 2012. With most conferences, league play begins in Week 3 and carries through Week 9.
So the debate over which opponents should be scheduled and which should not generally is confined to Weeks 1 and 2. The purpose here, other than to give an overall thumbs up, is not to cast judgment on anyone’s scheduling decisions, on whether this guy or that guy did a good job.
Instead, let’s slip on our local football fan’s hat and review which match-ups we will be dying to see.
In Week 1, most games are Aug. 24, which is only six weeks away. Here are five you will want to note:
1. Joliet Catholic at Providence: Yes, indeed. Two of the most successful programs in the state. For varying reasons, they do not play every year. When they do, wow!
One of the ESPN stations will televise the game. It’s that big. Plus, Joliet Catholic’s Ty Isaac is playing. Everyone wants to see Isaac and whether Providence can devise a plan to slow him down.
2. Coal City at Wilmington: If you have any feeling at all for football below the Class 5A level, this is nirvana. The teams are rivals, and so are the townsfolk. This is small-town football at its most exciting. Besides, both teams should be pretty good again, which only make the game all the more attractive.
3. Plainfield South at Bolingbrook: Our first look at Bolingbrook after the Raiders and Illinois-bound quarterback Aaron Bailey won the Class 8A state championship. However, the Raiders will have lots of new faces on defense, and always-athletic South could offer a challenge.
4. Morris at Minooka: If Coal City at Wilmington is not your idea of Army-Navy, then how about this one? The Battle of Grundy County always is special, and this may be a game either or both winds up needing later for playoff purposes. Minooka coach Paul Forsythe will debut on an electric night.
5. Lincoln-Way North at Lincoln-Way Central: An in-district match-up is always a good way to start a season.
Now, my five favorites for Week 2, Aug. 31.
1. Minooka at Providence: Another huge game for Forsythe’s Indians before they get into Southwest Prairie Conference play. Two good, physical teams that like the running game but can hurt you with the pass usually makes for a fun battle.
2. Bolingbrook at Romeoville: Drum roll, please. The Valley View School District rivalry is renewed. At this point, you may wonder if Romeoville is capable of staying with Bolingbrook. That may be a legitimate concern. But you know what? The Spartans may get up for this one and surprise some people.
3. Joliet West at Plainfield South: I’m not sure how much we will learn about West in Week 1 against Thornridge. But rest assured, the battle with South will be a good one. Many players on the two teams grew up competing with and against each other in the athletic arena.
4. Lockport at Plainfield North: These two area teams usually are pretty good. As we said about the Morris at Minooka game in Week 1, this also shapes up as one both may need for playoff purposes later in the season. Don’t you just love SouthWest Suburban Blue vs. Southwest Prairie match-ups between two area teams?
5. Lincoln-Way West at Lincoln-Way Central: Another in-district get-together, and this time, it’s two schools relatively close geographically. New West coach Dave Ernst used to coach at Central, as if anyone needed extra incentive.
So there you have 10 special games before we arrive at conference play. From a fan’s perspective, I must say, I like it.