The IHSA football playoffs start today.
No, you didn't miss anything. The playoffs are indeed still three weeks away.
This is simply the mantra that Antioch head coach Brian Glashagel has been using with his team all week in preparation for tonight's game against Wauconda.
To have a chance at the playoffs, the 2-4 Sequoits need to win out. One loss and, as in the playoffs, they would be done.
By winning out, Antioch would be 5-4 and likely in possession of enough playoffs points to make the cut.
"Our guys definitely get it," Glashagel said. "The sense of urgency is there. We've had some games where we played very good teams and we played pretty well. We've talked about how we are battle-tested because of those games.
"But it can't be about that anymore. Now, it's just about winning games, and our guys know that. I expect a really great game from them (tonight)."
Antioch already has 31 playoff points, most in the North Suburban Prairie and third-most in the North Suburban overall. Playoff points are awarded based on opponent wins. Undefeated Glenbard South and Lake Zurich, both 6-0, have provided the Sequoits with 6 points apiece.
Known for its option offense, Antioch has been going with some other options this season.
The Sequoits are trying to pass the ball more.
Quarterback Zach Andre is about 100 yards away from breaking Antioch's single-season record of around 700 passing yards, set a couple years ago by Tom Sears.
"I like the way we're throwing the ball," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "We're throwing the ball more this season than in any season since I've been here."
This is Glashagel's seventh season. In a win over Round Lake two weeks ago, the Sequoits passed for 194 yards and ran for 271 yards.
"Zach (Andre) is doing a great job for us. He can throw really well and he's got some really good receivers to throw to," Glashagel said. "I like Tyler Lazarz and Cam Corey and Griffin Hill and Alan Taylor and Jacob Lanahan and Destiny Dickson. All of those guys have good hands and can catch the ball. We are trying to take advantage of that."
Part of Antioch's struggles this season can be traced to injury.
The last two weeks, the 2-4 Sequoits have been without five starters, including linemen Malik Jackson, Cody Zick and John Haeffele and defensive back Patrick Krause.
The good news is that everyone should be back for Antioch's key stretch run. The Sequoits need to win the rest of their games to have a chance at the playoffs.
After a 42-point loss, some coaches obsess about all the things their team did wrong.
Antioch coach Brian Glashagel took the opposite approach after his team got drilled by Lake Zurich 49-7 last week.
"Lake Zurich is just a really good team," Glashagel said of the 6-0 Bears. "All of us coaches were getting ready for our next practice and as we were walking down to the field, we were going over the game and talking about how good Lake Zurich was, comparing Lake Zurich to other really good teams we've played over the years."
The discussion morphed into whether or not this Lake Zurich team is the best team the Sequoits have played in Glashagel's seven-year tenure.
"We talked about when we played Lemont in the semifinals (in 2008), and some of the other really good teams we've played in the past, but by the time we reached the field for practice, we all agreed that Lake Zurich team is the best team we've ever played.
"They've got so much team speed and the amount of really good athletes they have on that team is amazing."
Glashagel theorizes that if Antioch had never split into two schools to create sister school Lakes, that Antioch could be a speedy power similar to a Lake Zurich.
"Lakes has some fast kids and we do, too," Glashagel said. "You put that together, that would be one fast team, just like Lake Zurich."
The strength and muscle is now there for Mundelein.
Now, George Kaider, the Mustangs' second-year coach, has to work on the speed.
"I'm really proud of our play on the line and I think that has a lot to do with the lifting program we did in the off-season," said Kaider, whose Mustangs are 1-5. "We've been able to go toe-to-toe with every team this year, whereas last year, we looked like a freshman or sophomore team.
"Now, we've got to work on our speed. We are a very slow football team. We've got to work on our speed so that we can make plays, finish plays, break away and score. Every team in our league has someone who can score every time he has the ball in the open field because he can just outrun people. We need that."
Kaider plans to kick up his off-season running program.
"Some people have speed or they don't, but there are things you can do to get faster," Kaider said. "You can do that through weight lifting and stretching and running form and working on your fast-twitch muscles."
Kaider says there are some speedy sophomores in the program who should help increase the Mustangs' team speed dramatically by next season.
Speaking of sophomores, Mundelein already has six sophomores starting and another just got added to the mix.
Cornerback Johnny Czarnota was promoted this week from the sophomore team to give some depth to the defensive secondary. He joins classmates, Gavin Graves, the starting quarterback, guards Antoine Hicks and Jay Cox, linebackers Jake Gokan and Dustin Shultz and cornerback Colton Fisher.
"We've got a lot of young players on this team and everyone understands that," Mundelein coach George Kaider said. "Losing is difficult, but we know this is part of a process we're going through in order to create a winning program."
There's never a break in Carmel's grueling schedule.
Add in a long list of injuries and it's no surprise the 1-5 Corsairs are struggling again in the rugged East Suburban Catholic Conference.
"I don't think we've ever been 1-5," said Carmel coach Andy Bitto, now in his 16th season. "We've also had more injuries this season on all levels than we've had in the last five years. It's been a really tough season."
The Corsairs, who will miss the playoffs for the second straight season after 12 straight makes, have been without key starters for most of the season.
Halfbacks Mitch Zovnic and Jake Kane each missed the first four games, Zovnic with a hamstring injury and Kane with mono.
Tight end Noah Turner is now out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and linebacker Cal Coughlin is nursing a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, one of Carmel's projected starters on the offensive line decided not to come out at the beginning of the season.
"And on the first day of summer camp, with no hitting or anything, our best receiver on the sophomore team dove for a ball and broke his collar bone and he's still out," Bitto added. "That was kind of the beginning of the beginning for us with all the injuries. It's been tough (to compensate). But as coaches, we've just been trying to re-direct our energies to all the good things that are happening for us."
Even though Carmel suffered a 35-23 loss to Marist last week, head coach Andy Bitto quickly found the positives.
"I think in the second half, we actually played the best half of football we've played all season," Bitto said. "We shut them down three times, we scored 3 touchdowns, we passed the ball well, we ran the ball well, we converted on third downs, we even recovered an on-side kick.
"We got down 28-10 and we could have quit but our guys didn't. They were in the game and you could tell they've still got fight in them. That's what we're talking up for these next three weeks."
Grayslake North was on the wrong side of history last week.
The normally high-octane Knights were stymied on offense in a 35-6 loss at Crystal Lake Central. In their five previous games, the 5-1 Knights were averaging 41.2 points per game, tops in the Fox Valley Fox.
"That was the first time we hadn't scored a touchdown in a game since 2010, in a game against Prairie Ridge," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "Obviously, that's not something we're used to. We didn't play like ourselves.
"I knew Crystal Lake Central was good, but I never would have thought we would score only 6 points on them. I would have never imagined us losing a game like that."
Crystal Lake Central keyed on versatile quarterback Merrick Gentile and made his life tough. It also didn't help that North running back Titus Booker is still not entirely healthy after suffering a high ankle sprain in the Knights' season opener against Lakes.
"Crystal Lake Central knew that Titus still wasn't himself and they really focused on Merrick," Wood said. "He was rushed and sacked and tackled for loss at least a dozen times. We also had receivers drop catchable balls. It was just a very uncharacteristic game for us."
To take some of the pressure off Gentile, Wood is looking to add to his rotation on the offensive line. He wants Gentile to have more time after the snap.
Sean Pearce, a 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is being brought up from the sophomore team this week to provide some depth to the line.
"He's fitting right in," Wood said of Pearce. "We just need to make sure (the linemen) aren't wearing down. I think the physicality of the Crystal Lake Central game bothered us and we just started wearing down. Hopefully, if we've got more depth there, that won't happen again."