There's one in every crowd at least one member of every football staff is compelled to determine the team's first-round playoff opponent.
"We had Lemont as a possibility," Batavia coach Mike Gaspari said of the Bulldogs' first-round draw in Class 6A. "What we weren't sure was if Lemont would slip (from Class 6A) to five."
Some head coaches let others crunch the numbers and watch the websites. It sounds like Gaspari gets in on the action, too. He said the Batavia braintrust pinpointed Lemont, Crystal Lake South, Robeson and Rockford Boylan as potential first-round foes, and settled mainly on the first two.
"They (Lemont) tabbed it smarter than we did because they were at our game (Saturday) filming," Gaspari said.
Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said one of his staff members did in fact pick King as the Knights' Class 5A first-round fodder. Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said Vikings assistant Frank Martin was the winner in the sweepstakes by selecting Oak Forest to start Geneva's 6A run.
"Our coaches were making a lot of guesses, and one of them did (choose right)," Wicinski said. "He doesn't win anything."
Admirer of Fremd's streak: Conant coach Bill Modelski made no secret of his admiration of what Fremd has accomplished before and after their regular season finale.
Fremd completed its recovery from a 1-4 start and capped its drive to extending Mid-Suburban League records for consecutive playoff berths (16) and division titles (eight) with a 31-10 win Friday over the Cougars.
"I have a ton of respect for Mike (Fremd coach Donatucci)," Modelski said as he glanced over at the huddle where the Vikings were starting their postgame celebration. "Mike is the best. He has built a program here. He out-programs everybody.
"For them to pull this off after the way they started, I sat and watched the Palatine film. They were done and they fought and fought and I give them credit."
In Week 7, Fremd trailed Palatine by 11 points at halftime but rallied to win 17-16.
One of the big reasons the Vikings pulled away in Week 9 was the play up front of 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jack Konopka. The senior is committed to Northwestern to play offensive tackle but he made a nice grab of a 3-yard touchdown pass at tight end and wreaked havoc on the other side of the ball with 2 sacks and 2 tackles for loss.
"One of the things that got to us, if you looked at Konopka's defensive stats, he is a mismatch for our inside three on the offensive line," Modelski said. "We thought we could do some things and this guy threw our guards around like they were sacks of flour. That really changed things."
According to Fremd director of football operations Mike Brown, its Class 8A first-round game at Evanston will be at 7 p.m. Friday.
Evanston ended a seven-year playoff drought under third-year coach Mike Burzawa, who led now-shuttered Driscoll to the last three of its state record seven straight state titles (2005-07).
The Wildkits also has a wild regular-season finale where they came back from a 31-point deficit late in the third quarter to stun Glenbrook South 34-31.
Test passing: Early in Friday's game against Naperville Central, Glenbard North football coach Ryan Wilkens couldn't help but notice the defensive alignment facing his offense.
It's safe to say the Redhawks were prepared to stop the run.
"I think there were 20 guys in the box, we couldn't do much running against that," Wilkens said. "I think it's clear you need to stop our run game. That's a big part of our offense."
The Panthers (8-1, 6-1) responded with a strong effort from quarterback Mark Ng and a slew of receivers. Ng completed 11 of 21 passes for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns as Glenbard North beat Naperville Central 21-14.
Five receivers caught passes led by Austin Siperly's 6 grabs for 106 yards. Three players snared scoring passes.
Ng, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior, eluded Naperville Central's pressure all game long. One touchdown pass came on second-and-24 and another came on fourth-and-13. Ng also ran for 24 yards on 3 carries.
Most important, Ng overcame missing a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter. Wilkens said Ng's ability to rebound from that disappointment epitomized his season.
"Calm and cool," Wilkens said. "He's getting better at forgetting the last play and staying focused on what we've got to do next."
And next up for the Panthers is a Friday night 8A opener at home with Palatine.
No Week 10: For all the disappointed teams that failed to make the playoffs, Naperville Central (4-5) might be the most disappointed.
A 21-14 defeat to Glenbard North forced the Redhawks to miss the postseason for the first time since 2002, a loss that looked eerily familiar. Four of Naperville Central's losses came by a total of 14 points and its 51 playoff points are among the highest in the state.
Another long playoff streak ended at Hinsdale Central (4-5). The Red Devils saw their nine-year postseason run come to an end with a 44-20 loss to Proviso West.
Sports writers Dave Oberhelman, Marty Maciaszek and Kevin Schmit contributed to this report.
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