If there is something like a good loss, perhaps Kaneland experienced one Week 8.
The Knights' 35-game regular-season win streak ended in Sycamore, 31-21, whereupon Kaneland started a new streak last week, 49-14 over Morris.
Friday night they'll take their 8-1 record, a fifth seed in Class 5A and a mess of playoff experience against No. 12 Hampshire (6-3).
"I think we felt a lot better after that (Morris) game," said Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly, who has directed six straight playoff campaigns with 5A semifinal appearances in 2010 and 2011.
"We had some question marks coming into the Sycamore game with injuries and guys filling in. We made some mistakes, and I really felt a lot better, so did the kids. We were able to run and pass fairly well, and we gave up only three first downs."
Defensive coordinator Keith Snyder said the defense went "back to basics" against Morris. Hampshire may present another throwback week as Snyder said the Whip-Purs run an offense similar to one Kaneland sees annually, the double-wing/Wing-T set of Rochelle.
If the defense draws too close against Hampshire backs Nick Kielbasa and Chris Calvin, dynamic receiver Tim Jansen can make teams pay. Kaneland cornerback Grant Wooten, safety Isaac Swithers and linebackers Tyler and Cole Carlson -- who each made an interception against Morris, Cole's fifth of the year -- are on the job.
Hampshire certainly will be fired up to continue the career of 25-year coach Dan Cavanaugh, who will retire after the season. He's in his eighth playoff season, facing a team steeped in postseason play.
Knights quarterback Drew David, who has passed for 2,033 yards and run for a team-high 507, has 10 playoff games under his belt. So does middle linebacker Gary Koehring, who brings in 17 tackles for loss. They are two of many. Alex Snyder, the rare four-year varsity starter, centers an offensive line where Justin Diddell, Shane Jorgensen, Sam Bower and Joe Komel are either two- or three-year starters. Two-year starting tight end Tyler Slamans returns after missing seven games to injury.
This is a huge advantage. Kaneland has seen it all -- except until just recently a regular season loss that may have sharpened their focus.
"We wanted to see our kids have some character and bounce back," Fedderly said. 'We want to build on that this week and be the hot team going in."