And now the waiting begins.
Glenbard North's 24-14 DuPage Valley Conference football victory at Neuqua Valley on Friday night left both teams with final regular-season records of 5-4 and wondering just what their playoff fate would be.
With 38 playoff points entering the game, the Panthers' restless night likely revolved around whom they might meet in a first-round playoff game.
"Our defense has done a good job all year, but we've had issues in the red zone on offense where we couldn't turn yardage into points and we did tonight," said Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens, whose squad needed to win its final two games to become playoff eligible.
On the other sideline, the Wildcats probably had a sleepless night as their 32 playoff points entering the contest meant there's a good chance that they'll be on the outside looking in when the pairings are announced. The Wildcats were hamstrung offensively in the game when running back Will Chevalier couldn't play because of injury before his backfield mate Cameron Raupach sat out the second half after picking up a knock.
"Offensively, it was tough to juggle," said Wildcats coach Bill Ellinghaus. "Our kids grinded it out, they're battlers, but it was just too much to overcome tonight. We were down two tailbacks who accounted for at least 50 percent of our offense, and probably closer to 70 percent, and we fought, but we didn't have enough tonight, so we'll see about the playoffs."
The Panthers (5-4, 4-4) defense was always going to be a tough nut to crack for the Wildcats, and it proved to be just that as Neuqua was held to 18 yards rushing and 188 total, while Glenbard North forced five turnovers. Defensive back Kobie Jamison was responsible for three with a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery.
"We came into the game wanting to be physical and give it our all," Jamison said. "We've been mentally focused, working hard in practice and have had good preparation the past two weeks."
Jamison's fumble recovery in the third quarter at the Neuqua 25 set up Jayleen Fitzpatrick's 16-yard scoring run that tied the game 14-14. Then Jamison's second pick led to Zach Gonzalez's 21-yard field goal that made it 24-14 with three minutes to play. In between those scores the Panthers moved ahead for good courtesy of a 15-play, 77-yard, nearly seven-minute drive that was kept alive by 2 fourth-down conversions -- the second a 33-yard pass from Lee Rady to Josh Flowers on fourth-and-7 -- that led to Fitzpatrick's 3-yard run.
"Our quarterback made some really nice plays, and a really nice throw on that post to Josh," Wilkens said. "This was by far Lee's best game. He showed up tonight."
All of Neuqua's scoring came in the first half. Raupach's 5-yard run midway through the first quarter made it 7-0 before quarterback Jake Eskoff's slaloming 23-yard excursion through the Glenbard North defense gave the Wildcats a 14-7 lead after Anthony Marre's 1-yard run had tied it for Glenbard North 30 seconds into the second quarter.