As a player at Immaculate Conception, Bill Krefft came close to a 9-0 regular season. Fourteen years later he could do it as the Knights' coach.
Krefft started at offensive guard and defensive end on a 13-1 team that won the 2002 Class 3A championship. The Knights' sole loss that season came in Week 9, 35-7 to Driscoll, on its way to the second of a state-record seven straight titles.
"I remember coming in and driving it down their throat and then not scoring again," Krefft said of the Driscoll game.
Scoring hasn't been a problem this season for the school now called IC Catholic, which averages 52 points. No. 1 in Class 3A, the Knights (8-0, 4-0 Metro Suburban Blue) visit Fenton on Friday seeking the first 9-0 record in program history. The late Jack Lewis' 1971 team went 8-0-1.
"I'm just kind of a passenger on this ride," Krefft said. "The kids have taken over the show, leading it and running it. If there ever was a group of guys talked about having the best season in school history, they deserve every accolade."
Running back-cornerback Jordan Rowell and quarterback Luke Ricobene are potential all-state picks. Krefft stressed the efforts of many other players including two-way linemen Jim Kenneally and Robert Vitek, unsung defensive back Khalil Saunders and Kemon Reese, who started at nose tackle as a freshman and now starts on the offensive lineman and at linebacker.
"Kids across the board are embracing their roles. It's an honor to have the opportunity to coach a group like that," Krefft said.
It's a group with legs. In addition to Reese and brothers Khalil and Khali Saunders, sophomores are rampant. Ryan Kenneally, Ricky Mysliewiec, Mike Johnson and David Vargas and junior Dylan Packer all rotate on the line.
They're set on making school history and taking it from there.
"I think that's one of our goals, but it's not the goal," Krefft said.
Addison Trail (4-4) must win this weekend to become playoff eligible. Unfortunately, the opponent standing in the way is Glenbard West (6-2), a team the Blazers haven't beaten since 2006.
Despite the nine-game losing streak to the Hilltoppers, Addison Trail welcomes the chance to earn a postseason berth with a big upset.
"We've got to put all the eggs in the basket and see how it goes," said Blazers coach Paul Parpet Jr. "All we can ask for is a chance."
With a win Addison Trail should garner an at-large playoff bid because of its 36 playoff points entering the weekend. That strength-of-schedule tiebreaker number is expected to be at around 36, so the Blazers should be safely above the minimum.
On the heels of two straight wins over Morton and Proviso East, confidence is high with Addison Trail. Nick D'Ambrose rushed for 387 yards and 6 touchdowns the last two weeks while Darrion Conrad has excelled on both sides of the ball.
Expect to see as many as six players joining Conrad in double-duty action as the Blazers do everything they can to come out of Glen Ellyn with a win on Saturday.
"Our kids are dialed in and ready to go," Parpet said. "We've had some of our best practices all season this week. When you have something to play for going into Week 9, that's a plus."
Grant Ericksen did it again.
For the third time this season, last week Naperville North's senior cornerback snared two interceptions in a game to give him seven on the season. His second pick came on the Huskies' 5-yard line in the waning seconds to help them secure a 17-14 DuPage Valley Conference win over Waubonsie Valley.
"He makes plays when they need to be made," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "That's what good players do."
If Ericksen gets two more interceptions, he'll break the program record of eight in a season. The way Naperville North (7-1, 6-1) has been creating turnovers -- especially in clutch situations -- expect it to happen.
"If you're in a situation where you have to throw the ball, he's ready for it," Drendel said. "He's in full attack mode. He makes things happen."
Benet (6-2, 5-1) knew it'd be facing a tough defense against Marist (7-1, 6-0) last week, but the RedHawks were even better than advertised.
The Redwings allowed 10 sacks in their 31-14 East Suburban Catholic loss that earned Marist at least a share of the conference championship.
Third-year starting quarterback Jack Sznajder didn't play in the second half because of injury, forcing junior Matt Boyle into action.
"We struggled all night trying to block those guys and we just couldn't do it," said Benet coach Pat New. "We tried max protection. We tried everything. It was a tough night."
New was impressed with Boyle's performance, particularly when he guided Benet on an 80-yard scoring drive to pull Benet within 17-14 in the third quarter. Sznajder's expected to return for this weekend's regular-season finale against Carmel.
"As good as Marist was, we still had a chance to win that game," New said. "Boyle played well. Our defense only allowed 2 touchdowns. It just wasn't enough."
Did you say, Over?
Nothing is over until Glenbard East coach John Walters says it is.
Despite carrying a 2-6 overall record into Week 9, the Rams are 2-2 in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division. A victory over Bartlett Friday at Streamwood's Millennium Field would give Glenbard East its first winning record in three seasons in the Valley.
"I think that gives a team that obviously doesn't have an opportunity for a 10th game this year reason to really fight for Week 9. They're playing for something," Walters said.
Glenbard East has been plagued by injuries and mistakes all season, but recently has figured some things out. It's also rallied around the linebacker play of senior Zach Netchin and sophomores Jack Baka, Josh Landolina and Anthony Shockey, whose brothers -- junior linebacker Matt and senior lineman Andrew -- are also on the squad.
The return from injury of junior running back Jack Oberli, who lends a ground punch with senior Scott Szabo, sophomore quarterback Bret Bushka and, on occasion, sophomore Jeremy Johnson, has the Rams as healthy as they've been.
Too bad Walters can't strap it on himself. He has no problem getting up for this game.
"Not if you love your job, love your kids and you're always striving for something," he said.
One more time:
The 2016 campaign hasn't been kind to Westmont (1-7, 0-5 Interstate Eight Small), whose season ends Friday at 6-2 Plano. As Sentinels coach Otto Zeman noted in preseason, this year's team was small, young and inexperienced. Not a great trifecta.
Sometimes it works, as with junior T.J. Bueser and sophomore Gavin Carr, a pair of cornerbacks listed no larger than 5-foot-8, 140 pounds.
"They're both smaller kids, but they're doing a great job," Zeman said.
Westmont didn't suffer a lot of injuries but on a small roster they were huge, including middle linebacker and offensive tackle Liam Slaga and, before the season even began, projected two-way starter Tanner Plowman.
In preseason practices Zeman commented on this group's persistence. The good news is despite a difficult season seniors such as running back Robbie Russo and receiver Marquis Thomas have stuck with it.
"Under adverse conditions we've battled," Zeman said, "and that's important."
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