Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 10/3/2013 9:12 PM

Just kickin' it at the halfway point

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  • Video: Wheaton North vs. Lake Park

  • Video: Benet's John Duvic


Halfway home means different things to different teams.

For football teams with glowing potential, you definitely don't want to be halfway home after Week 5. Save that for after Week 7 and a trip to the state title games Thanksgiving weekend in DeKalb.

"Eyes on Five" grinds through another week in hopes of also making it to that 14th game in DeKalb.

1. Kickin it:

Benet kicker John Duvic is on the kind of roll that'd be the envy of everyone from George Blanda to Jan Stenerud.

Thought it was impressive when Duvic hit a state-record 5 field goals in a 30-6 victory over Crete-Monee in Week 4? Last week he followed up with four more field goals, including a program-record 54-yarder, which tied Duvic for the ninth longest in state history.

Not only is Duvic 11 of 15 on his attempts this season, he's flat out booming his kicks. He has 3 field goals of 50 yards or greater and four more that went at least 40 yards.

By season's end Duvic may challenge the state record of 19 field goals in a season and the state record for longest field goal -- a 59-yarder by Lockport's Nick Setta in 1996.

What's in store for the senior in the future? Duvic took a visit to the University of Illinois last weekend, so you may see some movement on the college front.

2. Five or five:

There's 5-0, and then there's 5-0.

If you're unbeaten at this point, chances are you're already on your way to the playoffs. Regardless of the past, however, everyone wants to get that sixth win and a guaranteed postseason berth.

The reason five wins is not a guarantee is because typically there aren't enough spots in the 256-team playoff field to admit every 5-4 team. Sometimes five-win teams are left out of the postseason based on a tiebreaker referred to as "playoff points," or the total number of victories by a team's opponents.

"Playoff points" are a way to reward teams based on strength of schedule. Basically, a five-win season against strong competition is more deserving of a playoff berth than a five-win season against not-so-strong competition.

Montini (5-0), for example, could lose the rest of its games -- although there's probably a greater chance of getting struck by lightning while winning the lottery -- and still make the playoffs because of its 29 playoff points. That means every team on its schedule has an average of at least three wins.

For another unbeaten team like Glenbard South, however, getting that sixth win is not only a very good bet. It's also a must because of the Raiders' 11 playoff points.

With all that in mind, we can pretty much welcome Montini to the playoffs. Fellow unbeatens Benet (26 playoff points) and Naperville Central (26) are also virtual locks.

Look for more teams to punch their virtual playoff tickets this weekend.

3. Wait...was that another 15-yarder?:

I've never seen anything like it. And judging by the reaction of others in attendance at last week's Wheaton North-Lake Park sophomore and varsity games, I'm not alone.

The sophomore game seemed never-ending even though Wheaton North won by a comfortable margin of 45-6. The varsity game didn't begin until after 8 p.m. because of an incredible number of penalties.

Equally distributed, the teams combined on 42 penalties for nearly 350 yards. The varsity game wasn't much better: 30 penalties for 300 yards, also equally distributed.

Pretty shocking numbers that don't include declined penalties, offset penalties on both teams, or multiple penalties against one team on a play.

Before we start branding either team as undisciplined or chippy, they aren't.

It just seemed like a frustrating aberration. Or maybe a bad dream.

4. Lending a hand:

Ever notice how many coaches prowl the sidelines for different teams? Some teams seem to have too many to count, others seem to have too few to imagine.

Another of my informal polls turned up some interesting information regarding the number of coaches at different programs. Athletic budgets allow for a certain number of paid coaching stipends divided throughout the different levels in the program.

Some programs are allowed to divide stipends among their coaches, others either distribute a full stipend to a coach or no pay at all. Many programs rely on volunteer coaches to fill the gaps at different levels.

Naperville Central has a total of 12 full stipends for six levels of football, but the athletic department divides the stipends to allow additional coaches to be hired. With some coaches receiving a tenth or a quarter stipend, the Redhawks are able to double their number of coaches.

Some districts, however, do not divide stipends. Glenbard West allows for 13 stipends, but the Hilltoppers also have four volunteers.

It's a puzzle put together like a game plan. Athletic programs need to ensure every level has an ample number of coaches, and sometimes it takes creativity.

With six total stipends at Lisle, including three for varsity, there's clearly a lot of multitasking going on with the Lions' staff. Lower-level coaches need to contribute greatly to the varsity effort, especially on game nights.

It's quite a contrast to the nearly quadruple number of coaches at some of the bigger programs.

5. Stat time:

Naperville Central (5-0) is scoring points at a crazy pace, and the Redhawks are also riding a streak of three straight shutouts heading into Friday's DuPage Valley Conference showdown at Wheaton Warrenville South (4-1).

Including three games scoring at least 50 points, Naperville Central is averaging 46 points per game.

More impressive, the Redhawks are averaging 36 points in the first half of games.

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit

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