Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/7/2016 1:14 AM

Some playoff paths are closing already

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  • Naperville Central's A.J. Deinhart navigates his way through the defense during the first week of football practice.

      Naperville Central's A.J. Deinhart navigates his way through the defense during the first week of football practice.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


It's amazing how only two weeks of football can make an entire season seem vivid.

As Friday's Week 2 results started to roll it, I could picture team after team planning -- and canceling -- postseason celebrations.

This week's Eyes on Five column looks at where some playoff paths stand after two crucial weeks.


Starting a DuPage Valley Conference season with two losses can be lethal.

With all due respect to the talent at Metea Valley, Naperville Central and Wheaton Warrenville South, where will their five victories come from in the next seven weeks to push them into the playoffs at 5-4?

Naperville Central has four games remaining against unbeaten teams, including a Week 6 trip to a nationally ranked Ohio team. Wheaton Warrenville South still must play three unbeaten teams and a state-ranked Michigan team. Three unbeatens remain for Metea Valley.

Nothing is over for any of those three teams. It's too early in the season for that kind of talk.

Let's just say the margin for error is slim. Mighty slim.


Meanwhile, all is still well for the winless West Suburban Conference Gold Division teams.

Well ... maybe not well, but not quite as dire as the winless DVC teams.

For Downers Grove South and Hinsdale South specifically, the path to the playoffs remains viable despite the struggling start. They face each other this weekend in a game that obviously takes on enormous importance.

The winner will become a favorite to win the Gold title while the loser -- at 0-3 -- must recover immediately to maintain any playoff hopes.

Catching up:

Many of you remember Fabian Kratz, a foreign exchange student from Germany who last season started as a junior on Naperville Central's offensive line.

Due to extreme amounts of red tape not worth talking about, Kratz couldn't return to the Redhawks for his senior year. It's a shame because Kratz really wanted to return, and his talents garnered numerous scholarship offers.

After committing to Oregon State, Kratz found a way to stay in the United States for his senior year. Only he'd have to play in Connecticut, and he'd have to be away from his family for another year.

According to Naperville Central coach Mike Stine, who still regularly speaks with Kratz, it was too much to ask.

Kratz decommitted from Oregon State and remains in Germany.

Had he played college football after spending his junior and senior year in America, he'd likely get to go home to Germany for just a week in each of the next four or five years -- a total time at home of about three months during a possible seven-year span.

The decision closes the door on Kratz's near future in football, but Stine said there's a chance Kratz might someday return to to the sport.

Batter up:

I know, I know ... this is a football column. Allow me, however, to digress into some baseball talk.

Last week the IHSA's baseball advisory committee passed along recommendations for creating a pitch-count limit that'd take effect this spring. More than likely the IHSA Board of Directors will approve the recommendations.

Without going into extreme detail, the bottom line is that varsity pitchers will be limited to 115 pitches in a given outing. The pitch count for future outings depends on the amount of rest in between appearances.

I applaud the spirit of the limit as a way to hopefully limit the number of arm injuries. Last season a Genoa-Kingston player threw 167 pitches in an April game, something that's simply not acceptable.

If the pitch-count limit eliminates situations like that, then I'm all for it. My issue with the mandate, though, goes beyond IHSA baseball.

The IHSA is correct in enacting a limit, but it leaves the impression that high school baseball coaches are to blame for the increase in arm injuries. Despite the extreme example mentioned above, I firmly disagree with placing the blame on them.

At what point will the issue of year-round pitching be addressed? Between fall ball, summer travel ball, personal pitching coaches -- you name it -- athletes are putting way too much stress on their arms by never giving them a needed, extended rest.

Until we start limiting that, I'm afraid the IHSA mandate will be irrelevant.

Stat time:

Pardon me if you've heard this one before, but the West Suburban Conference's Silver Division just dominated the Gold again.

In the annual Week 2 crossovers, the Silver topped the Gold in six of the seven meetings for the fourth time in five years. For the second straight year, Willowbrook was the Gold's lone winner with a victory over Proviso West.

The Silver holds an amazing 53-10 Week 2 record against the Gold since 2008. The Gold last posted a Week 2 winning record against the Silver in 2000.

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