As they slug it out in the trenches, offensive linemen typically do the "dirty work" in football.
Wide receivers are the ones who usually get the style points. They use pretty moves to catch pretty passes.
On Friday night in Wauconda, Austin Williams was a hybrid.
The Libertyville wide receiver commanded his usual oohs and ahhs as he came down with spectacular catches that probably should have never been made. But he did so by getting his hands dirty. His jersey, his pants, his shoes and his helmet were dirty, too.
Make that muddy.
"I'm going to need a lot of soap and detergent to get clean," said Williams, whose number on the back of his jersey was concealed by all of the mud smeared on top of it.
Yet, in a slippery, sloppy Week 9 mudfest, Williams somehow kept his traction and his wits to roll up 7 catches, including 3 pretty touchdowns, in the Wildcats' decisive 40-20 victory over host Wauconda in North Suburban Conference crossover action.
The victory moves Libertyville to 7-2 and into contention for a home game in the first round of the playoffs next week. Wauconda drops to 5-4, short of the 6-win mark that guarantees a playoff spot. But the Bulldogs believe they have a great chance of making the cut for the postseason based on their ample playoff points.
The IHSA will announce the 256-team, eight-class playoff field tonight
"We got a lot of confidence out of this," said Williams, whose 7 catches totaled 114 yards for an average of 16.3 yards per catch. "Our offense played extremely well. We played well as a team. We're really focused going into next week.
"The quarterback (Jack Deichl) we have, the weapons we have, the protection we get from the line, it's hard to stop us."
The Wildcats finished with 448 yards of total offense, 231 of which came through the air as Deichl completed 16-of-23 passes and spread his attention among four receivers. Bryan Scanlan also had a big game with 4 catches for 52 yards.
"Our guys are hoping for a home playoff game and they didn't want to just limp into the playoffs, so this was a big game for them," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "They wanted to go in on a roll and I think we've done that."
The Wildcats, who also got 127 hard-fought rushing yards out of Conor Simpson, jumped all over Wauconda right out of the gate. They scored on their first three possessions and were up 19-0 by the end of the first quarter.
"Offensively, they have so many talented weapons," Wauconda quarterback Austin Swenson said of Libertyville. "Early on, they moved the ball really well and it was too much for us.
"We wanted to get some momentum for going into the playoffs. But we made some mistakes and just came up short."
Swenson, who completed 12-of-34 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, got Wauconda on the board 30 seconds into the second quarter with a 9-yard touchdown pass to David Starkey. The score capped a six-play drive that included some clutch receptions by Chris Kass, who finished with a team-high 4 catches for 61 yards.
Swenson also scored Wauconda's other two touchdowns on rushes.
"Our kids' effort is always outstanding," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We just didn't make a few plays when we really needed to."
The Bulldogs failed twice to punch in the ball from inside Libertyville's 10-yard line. They also missed a field goal attempt.
"Those are plays you have to make going into the playoffs," Mills said. "We have to learn from that."