Look in the mirror.
That's all St. Charles East coach Mike Fields will ask of his team after Saturday's Class 8A first-round playoff football game at No. 6 seed Stevenson (7-2). Look in the mirror and say they left it on the field.
"We're going to put our best foot forward and execute," said Fields, whose 11th-seeded Saints (6-3) enter the playoffs off their highest-scoring game this season, a 55-12 win over Larkin. It came one week after being drubbed by Batavia.
"It's a very resilient bunch of kids," Fields said. "They're enjoying themselves. I'm proud of them and what they've accomplished. Our seniors made the playoffs two years in a row. We hadn't done that in my time here."
The Saints, in 8A for the first time since 2001 with six 7A appearances in between, have made the playoffs three times in Fields' five seasons. As in last year's appearance against Wheaton North, Fields admitted his team will have its hands full against Stevenson.
The Patriots dealt 7A power Lake Zurich its sole loss last week to win the North Suburban Conference Lake Division title for the fifth time in nine seasons. In top receiver Matt Morrissey and Cameron Green they field the sons of former Chicago Bears players Jim Morrissey and Mark Green; Morrissey's headed to Michigan State while Rivals.com lists an Illinois offer for Green with interest by much of the rest of the Big Ten.
Stevenson's 25 consecutive playoff appearances are the most of all 8A teams and trail only Mt. Carmel (28) and Bloomington (27) across any class.
"I think it's going to be a great challenge for us. The kids are excited," Fields said.
Helping the cause will be the return of junior linebacker Parker Vidmich from injury, out since Week 3. That allows Michael Candre and Jon Finn to resume their normal roles on the outside.
St. Charles East can certainly rack up points, and could try to engage Stevenson in a shootout. Senior tailback Erik Anderson comes off his top game of the season in what's been an injury-plagued career, 120 yards rushing and 101 receiving against Larkin. Targeting Brannon Barry, Phil Hopper, Mo Flanigan and kick-returner deluxe Mitch Munroe, quarterback Jimmy Mitchell looks to add to his 2,152 yards and 26 touchdowns.
"We're just going to do our thing," Fields said. "Just go out and play hard-nosed football and may the best man win."