Since picking up its fifth win of the season on Sept. 30, the Waubonsie Valley football team has essentially been counting the days until it could officially find out who it would be playing when the postseason began.
Now the Warriors can turn their full attention to a to-be-named Class 8A playoff opponent after they wrapped up an 8-1 regular season with a 32-8 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division victory over visiting South Elgin on Friday night.
"The goal was get to 8-1 and get the highest seed in the playoffs," said Warriors coach Paul Murphy. "Now we should get a home game and we'll see who they tell us to play next week."
While the Warriors have been making playoff plans for a month, for all intents and purposes South Elgin's playoff began on Oct. 7 when it took a 2-4 record into the seventh week. Subsequent victories over East Aurora and Geneva meant that the Storm could still qualify for the postseason with a defeat of the Warriors.
It was not to be, however, as the Warriors defense smothered South Elgin (4-5, 3-3) all night, holding the Storm to 116 total yards 58 through three quarters while sacking quarterback Zach Gross three times and intercepting him twice.
"We're feeling great, better than ever," said Warriors linebacker Tommy Wooten, who had one of the sacks. "We're playing faster than we ever have before and with great intensity. Now we're going to have to take it to the playoffs."
"That defense is about as solid as we've seen all year long," added Storm coach Dale Schabert. "They're always coming downhill and they're very aggressive."
Both defenses held the opposition scoreless in the first quarter before the Warriors took advantage of a bad punt snap that set them up at the Storm 22, leading to Tyler Mellecker's 20-yard field goal. Waubonsie stretched the advantage to 10-0 at the half when quarterback Dylan Warden found Demitrius Gray for a 28-yard scoring strike. The Warriors opened more daylight with two more TDs in the third quarter, the first Warden's 6-yard sweep followed by Austin Guido's 3-yard plunge for a 24-0 lead.
The Storm avoided the shutout when Gross' 32-yard hookup with Andrew Weedman set up his 4-yard TD pass to Tommy Asa before Waubonsie's Guido closed the scoring with a 4-yard run with 31 seconds remaining.
"It was real big to score at the end," Schabert said. "When you're having a tough night, it's always good to go down and get a score. It's easy to play when you have a great team, but these kids are always fighting to the end and giving a great effort. I'm very proud of my kids."