Coach Bill Mitz has turned Jacobs into a regular postseason participant.
Now, the Golden Eagles want to raise the bar in terms of playoff advancement.
Jacobs forged a 7-2 regular-season record in 2015, good for its fifth playoff berth in six seasons under Mitz, an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association hall-of-famer who made 22 playoff appearances in 28 years at Stevenson.
However, last fall the Golden Eagles were drummed 40-6 in an opening-round playoff game at higher seed Lincoln-Way East, a loss typical of the program's lack of postseason success.
Other than in 2013-14, when Jacobs won the Valley Division of the Fox Valley Conference, it has regularly drawn a middle-to-low seed as the second or third FVC team to qualify.
The result? Jacobs is 0-5 in playoff games in the Mitz era with 4 of those 5 losses coming on the road. The current convocation of Golden Eagles would like to change all that.
Thanks to an offense that boasts a mix of experience and potential and a young, improving defense, the Golden Eagles hope to do better than one and done come playoff time.
"We want to put ourselves in position to do more in the postseason and that starts with doing well in our conference and getting a higher seed," Mitz said. "We're really happy with where we're at as a football team. The kids are excited and we're ready to go."
Optimism is warranted, particularly on offense. Quarterback Chris Katrenick returns for his third varsity season. Committed to Bowling Green, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior last season completed 127 of 233 passes (54.5 percent) for 1,791 yards and 18 touchdowns. He threw 14 interceptions.
Katrenick's third and fourth-leading receivers are back. Trevor Loewen (6-2, 205) last season caught 23 passes for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns while Aidan Ludlum (6-0, 170) finished with 13 receptions for 157 yards and a score.
The receiving group will include juniors Caleb Walker, John Farrissey and Trevor Fitzsimmons, the latter Katrenick's backup.
Senior running back Nick Washington returns. He rushed 55 times for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns in part-time duty.
Washington is the most experienced rusher of a trio that includes junior Loren Strickland and senior Steven Bellefontaine. Strickland is a three-sport athlete with 4.5 speed who also starts at strong safety. Bellefontaine's time of 10.93 in the 100 meters is second in Jacobs history to 2015 graduate Josh Walker.
Three offensive linemen return, led by third-year starter Jimmy Wormsley (6-3, 280). The junior is flanked by returning guard Kyle Vega (6-1, 245), a senior, and junior Dylan DeMuth (6-2, 215), who moves to center after starting last season at tackle. Rounding out the line are juniors Cade Purifoye (6-3, 303) and Kaiden O'Connor (6-0, 215).
The secondary is the most experienced level of the Jacobs defense with three returning starters: Fitzsimmons at cornerback and safeties Strickland and Conrad Beech. The defense is least proven at linebacker, though Mitz said up-and-coming juniors Tyson Pachniak (6-2, 222) and Jacob Hahnfeld (5-10, 180) show promise.
"It's a nice secondary," Mitz said. "We're very happy with the guys going to step up at linebacker. They're all juniors so it'll be interesting to see which one does what."
Up front, lineman Brandon Ceisel (5-11, 210) returns. Also expected to crack the starting lineup are junior Eric Schutt (6-3, 210) and sophomore Nick Zonta (6-1, 225).