Fans might love them but football coaches are rarely fans of first-round rematches.
And when Elk Grove beat Schaumburg 36-34 in a Mid-Suburban League crossover, no one thought much about their paths crossing again.
But the Saxons' drop from their preseason projection of Class 8A to 7A has led to the rematch at 6 p.m. Saturday at Elk Grove.
"The thing we've been focusing on with the kids is it's not about what happened the last time," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "Over the course of the season you want to get better each week and play your best football this time of year."
And the Saxons didn't feel they were at their best with 3 turnovers and some mistakes against dual-threat quarterback Nick Meyer in round one.
"There is a natural temptation when you go up against a playmaker like Nick, you want to be the guy to make the play," Stilling said. "That hurt us more than anything going up against him the first time defensively."
Stilling thought Mark Iannotti's perfect 12-for-12 passing performance last week exemplified Stilling's approach.
"He didn't try to do anything spectacular," said Stilling of the senior who also caught a touchdown pass from running back Shepard Little.
"Mark is running the ball a lot more … and he hurt us in our game," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "You have to cover the whole field with them now."
But it's been no different with Elk Grove even though Meyer has been the central figure. His deep crew of receivers Joey Bishoff, Eddie Solorio, Eddie Stahl, Mike Wary and Fernando Lozano will stretch any defense.
"Nick spreads the ball around pretty nicely to everybody," Doll said. "People have to cover the whole field because you can't just focus on Bishoff anymore."
Saturday's matchup will also be the latest get-together between Doll and Stilling. They went to see Glenbard West play Saturday, were at the MSL all-conference meeting Wednesday and will be scouting their potential second-round opponent when St. Ignatius plays unbeaten Simeon tonight at Gately Stadium in Chicago.
"We've been seeing a lot of each other," Doll laughed.
Wild and wacky ending: Just looking at the final score of Evanston's 34-31 win over Glenbrook South in their Central Suburban South finale would indicate it was a heck of a game.
Looking at the video of the game as Fremd coach Mike Donatucci and Barrington coach Joe Sanchez did of their first-round opponents produced an entirely different story.
"I couldn't believe it … it was as bizarre as could be," Sanchez said of Glenbrook South, his first-round opponent, leading 31-0 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
"It was phenomenal," Donatucci said of a comeback that sent Fremd to Evanston tonight. "It was the goofiest game I've ever seen.
"They're just crushing them, then there were two fumbles inside the 20 and they scored 'boom-boom.' Then the running back (Rendell Massie) had a long run, they hit a fade in the back of the end zone and it was a game."
Glenbrook South coach Mike Noll the only time his team has put together 48 minutes of good football was against New Trier.
"We just went flat and Evanston got it rolling," Noll said. "It's not acceptable and it's never happened in my 23 years of coaching. It was us. We turned the ball over and stopped playing and that's what happens."
It also capped Evanston's three-game run to its first playoff spot in seven years.
"We just got a surge of momentum and we were able to capitalize on it," said third-year Evanston coach Mike Burzawa, who came over after winning three straight state titles at Driscoll. "It was a great victory for us and it gave us an opportunity to play at home against Fremd. Fremd's a playoff-experienced program and coach Donatucci has done an outstanding job. They have a lot of experience back from last year's quarterfinalist so we have our hands full."
Any Chance to catch him?: One thing Prospect may not want to get into in Saturday's first-round game is a footrace with Rockford Guilford running back Dontrell Chance.
The 5-foot-5, 160-pound Chance has been timed at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
"He does look fast and for a little guy he looks powerful," said Prospect coach Brent Pearlman. "He doesn't go down with one tackle."
Chance has rushed for 899 and 13 touchdowns on 118 carries in a balanced attack.
"If there's a faster kid in the state of Illinois, I'd like to meet him," said Guilford coach Mel Gilfillan. "He can flat-out go.
"He'd probably be a 1,500-, 1,600-yard rusher if we didn't have the other two kids getting carries. But we've never had the luxury of having three different guys we felt comfortable giving the football."
It's led Guilford to its seventh straight playoff berth, the longest current streak in the NIC-10.
Pirates don't sink: Letting teams back in games or coming back to win them has been an issue for Palatine this year.
But Palatine rewrote that script in last Friday's 21-10 must-win at Barrington to get into tonight's first-round matchup at Glenbard North.
"The encouraging thing was we didn't crumble," Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly said of a 14-0 lead dwindling to 14-10.
But junior linebacker Kurt Becker came through by returning one of his 3 interceptions for a decisive 48-yard touchdown.
"That was huge for the defense to get more confidence," Donnelly said.
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