So, I have to let the secret out of the bag here. I am writing this column well before kickoff of Friday’s football games.
Actually, it’s the wee hours of Friday morning. The Friday edition was put to bed a little bit ago, and I can actually hear the press running in the back.
The secret is that we have to get a lot of the regular section for the weekend edition done before kickoff Friday night, so that the greatest number of eyes possible get a chance to give it an edit. So, I have to write this column ahead of time.
This week is extra dicey, since I’ll be headed to Rochelle in the afternoon to cover Sterling’s soccer team in its regional championship match against Freeport. If you look back at B1, you’ll see who won. Don’t tell me. I want to be surprised.
I also don’t know if the Sterling football team picked up its fifth win against Ottawa. That answer is in the 12-page football section inside this edition. Again, please, no spoilers here.
I am going to work under the assumption that the Warriors buckled down and got the job done at King Field.
That means that they reached that magical number of five – wins, that is – to become playoff eligible. If that’s true, congrats Warriors.
If not, hopefully you’ll get there next year.
But again, I am assuming they won.
So they’ll be at five wins, and spending Saturday sweating about whether or not they have enough playoff points to get in.
If I had to wager, I’d say that the five wins won’t be enough for the Warriors to get in. I did the math earlier this week, and the most points they could get is 38.
While 38 might be enough, there’s no guarantee that 38 will be what they’ll have. For one thing, they’d need 1-7 Johnsburg to beat 7-1 Crystal Lake Central to get 38 points.
Odds say that 37 is more likely. Oh, and there’s Metamora, sitting at 4-4, playing at 7-1 Limestone.
Did I just write that? Metamora could be an underdog against Limestone. Wow, what a strange year.
So, it could be 36.
Most likely, it’ll take the high 30s to get in. Now, that’s not to say it can’t happen. As I said, it has been a strange year.
If the answer ends up being “No” for the Warriors, many will point to the 21-2 loss to Streator as the main culprit in derailing the Warriors’ playoff train.
That certainly is the most glaring result that kept the Warriors from getting six wins and not having to worry about playoff points.
But, it wasn’t the only misfortune for the Warriors.
The first mishap, I’ve already mentioned. Metamora going 4-4 is unusual. The last time the Redbirds lost that many games was 2003. Before that it was 1993. A regular year, and the Warriors would have got two or three more points from Metamora. Of course, a regular year, and maybe the Warriors don’t get that win in Week 1. Who knows?
Same goes for pretty much the entire NIB-12 West. Only Geneseo has a winning record heading into Week 9. Usually, there are at least three teams from the division playing with six wins or more. Usually that group is Geneseo, Sterling and Ottawa. The Pirates had a down year with three wins, and no one else picked up the slack.
Second, the Warriors took a few other hits that cost them playoff points.
One is Rochelle going 5-3. The biggest problem with that is it lost to Morris in Week 8, and those Morris Redksins are not very good this year. There’s also no guarantee the Hubs will beat DeKalb (4-4) on Friday.
Even Kaneland – yes the mighty Knights – let the Warriors down by falling to Sycamore in Week 8. It was the first regular-season loss for the Knights in 35 games. Business as usual, and the Warriors would have had one more point.
The Warriors might swallow a bitter pill Saturday night.
But, I have to say this: The dominoes I just mentioned is why I love high school football.
Every game really matters, in some form or another. I wish other sports could figure out a way for the regular season to mean so much.
I can’t wait to see what happens. I am ready to turn the page and see ... are you?