It was a balmy 63 degrees at kickoff of No. 7 St. Charles East's 45-0 home win over No. 27 Lockport in Friday's Class 8A playoff opener at Norris Stadium, but at least one Saint won't mind chillier game-time temperatures in the near future.
"To be 10-0 and keep going and keep playing football longer? I mean, I want to play in the snow," St. Charles East middle linebacker Abe Swanson said. "That's my ultimate goal so I hope that happens."
Swanson and unbeaten St. Charles East will play November football. That much was guaranteed by the lopsided victory over Lockport (5-5).
Up next is a second-round game in Winnetka against No. 22 New Trier (8-2). The Trevians, champions of the Central Suburban Conference South Division, notched a 31-24 upset at No. 11 Marist (8-2).
St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said his team is up for the challenge after outgaining Lockport 331 total yards to 132.
"Everybody's good in the playoffs," Farquhar said. "Lockport's a good team and we just beat them. I still feel when it comes down to it we're not getting the respect that a lot of people should give us, maybe because of our conference. Who knows? We're a good football team. I think, if anything, people should be worried about us."
Lockport had reason to worry once the St. Charles East triple option offense fully uncoiled. Quarterback Zach Mitchell rushed for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries and sophomore Justin Jett carried 14 times for 93 yards and 3 more scores.
Mitchell did much of the heavy lifting in the first half, when he rushed for 95 yards, including scoring runs of 42 and 2 yards.
"Initially, they were taking away the middle and Zach was having great success running the ball," Jett said. "Once they started keying on him, that opened it up for us." Jett gained 72 of his 93 yards in the second half.
"We were trying to take away the first two phases of the option, the quarterback and the fullback, and make them pitch the ball," Lockport coach Dan Starkey said. "Initially, I thought we did pretty well at that, but as the game went on our kids started to overcompensate and do some different things and weren't disciplined enough. They found some spots and were able to execute."
Mitchell's 2-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left in the first half came 5 plays after the Porters attempted a fake punt run near midfield. Swanson was there to stuff Austin Hoffman for a short gain and a turnover on downs.
Swanson later intercepted a pass from sophomore quarterback Jake Karli to help St. Charles East win the turnover battle 2-1. Josh Luedtke had the other St. Charles East interception. It was the first shutout for the Saints since a 30-0 win over Geneva in Week 3.
"I thought we schemed perfectly throughout the week, brought the intensity in practice," Swanson said. "Honestly, I think we knew every play they were going to run and we just played almost to perfection."