Goss: Joliet-area football team hope their playoff bubbles don’t burst
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org October 23, 2013 9:34PM
Romeoville's Charles Hunter looks for running room against Bolingbrook. | Larry Kane/For Sun-Times Media
The Playoff Picture
Qualified: Bolingbrook (8-0, 8A); Lincoln-Way East (6-2, 7A), Plainfield East (6-2, 6A/7A); Joliet Catholic (7-1, 5A); Lincoln-Way West (7-1, 5A); Peotone (6-2, 4A); Wilmington (7-1, 3A); Seneca (7-1, 3A).
May need to win: Plainfield South (5-3, 7A/8A).
Win and in: Lincoln-Way Central (4-4, 6A/7A); Providence (4-4, 6A); Romeoville (4-4, 6A).
Win and hope: Coal City (4-4, 4A).
Updated: November 25, 2013 1:18PM
Now, what about our final five?
Eight Joliet-area teams are secure in the knowledge they will participate in Round 1 of the state football playoffs next weekend. Bolingbrook (8-0) will be in Class 8A, Lincoln-Way East (6-2) in 7A, Plainfield East (6-2) in 6A or 7A, Joliet Catholic (7-1) and Lincoln-Way West (7-1) in 5A, Peotone (6-2) in 4A and Wilmington (7-1) and Seneca (7-1) in 3A.
If our other five postseason candidates win their season finale Friday night and qualify, it would be a bonanza.
In the hunt as Week 9 arrives are Plainfield South (5-3) and four 4-4 teams: Lincoln-Way Central, Providence, Romeoville and Coal City. Doesn’t it seem strange Morris (3-5) and Lemont (3-5) are eliminated and Providence and Coal City are not in yet?
Everyone finishing 6-3 or better will be in the 256-team field. Most 5-4 teams, but not all, also will qualify. The tiebreaker is playoff points (opponent victories). That’s why Plainfield South is on the Week 9 must-win list. The Cougars’ playoff points are iffy.
South has been to the playoffs three times, including twice in the past three years. This season has been an up-and-down ride, but when the Cougars eliminate mistakes, they can play with anyone. If they qualify, they could land in 7A or 8A.
Lincoln-Way Central was in the postseason every year between 1995 and 2009 but has not been since. Athletic director Hud Venerable took the coaching duties this season and has the Knights, who would be in 6A with 7A a long shot, on the doorstep.
Central, whose defense has been solid all season, boasts quality victories over Sandburg, 26-21, and Thornton, 29-21. Losses of 17-12 to Lincoln-Way East, 14-7 to Andrew and 22-21 to Lincoln-Way North suggest how close the Knights were to clinching earlier. To qualify, they must beat their neighboring rival, SouthWest Suburban Red champion Lincoln-Way West. It’s not impossible, but the Warriors are anything but a gimme.
Good competition? Providence is the poster boy. The Celtics have a state-leading 50 playoff points. Five opponents they have played are a combined 36-4. To get in, they must beat Brother Rice (3-5), which except for a blowout loss to Marist in Week 2 has been competitive against a strong schedule, including a 38-35 Week 8 loss to St. Rita.
Providence’s defeats were 42-35 to Joliet Catholic, 28-16 to Loyola, 37-14 to St. Rita and 14-0 to Mount Carmel. Not many teams in the state would avoid 0-4 against that gauntlet.
In the preseason, Celtics coach Mark Coglianese mentioned how the loser of the opener against Joliet Catholic may have an issue come playoff time because both teams were facing rugged schedules. He was prophetic.
Providence, which missed the playoffs in 2010 but has been in every other year since 1991, likely would be in 6A. The Celtics’ enrollment is smaller than Plainfield East’s and Lincoln-Way Central’s.
Romeoville, another 6A candidate, finishes at Minooka (3-5), which has been no easier to figure than the Spartans in the wacky Southwest Prairie.
The Spartans were winless last season and have not been to the playoffs since 2002, so they are a feel-good story in the making. They stayed alive last week with a 21-14 win over Oswego East (5-3), which could have secured its own playoff berth. Romeoville also has beaten 4-4 Hinsdale South 32-29 and Plainfield South 34-7.
Coal City, a playoff regular, must beat Reed-Custer and hope playoff points suffice, which may not happen. If they qualify, the Coalers probably would be in 4A.
Eight area qualifiers going on 13, or something in between? Week 9 is a playoff week to some.
The IHSA will announce the 256 qualifiers, classes and pairings Saturday night. Some classes tend to have two 16-team brackets, others four eight-team brackets.
Within each bracket, seeds will be according to victories first, then playoff points. The better seed hosts Round 1 games.
The rest is simple: win, or pack up the equipment.