Belleville East coach Tim Funk has been quoted as saying that 5-4 football teams don't deserve to make the playoffs.
His 5-4 team made its own statement Friday. Winning 14-7, the 16th-seeded Lancers eliminated Waubonsie Valley, the No. 1 seed in the upper bracket of Class 8A, at Dick Kerner Stadium in Aurora.
"I don't really look at us as a 5-4 team, but we are what we are," Funk said of the Lancers, who will visit Naperville Central, a 40-13 winner over Minooka, in the second round.
"We made some plays tonight. That's a good football team and these kids played their butts off," Funk said.
Out of the Wildcat formation Belleville East back Chase Allen straight-armed his way 7 yards to the left pylon for the game-winning touchdown with 9 minutes, 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
"We've been working on (the Wildcat) all year, but last week was the first time we broke it in," said Allen, who ran for 70 yards. "We just needed something different."
Waubonsie Valley (8-2) answered with runs of 11 and 18 yards by quarterback Dylan Warden and Warden's 37-yard pass to Austin Ameri to reach first-and-goal at the Lancers' 10-yard line.
Belleville East (6-4) pushed back. Warden took a third-down sack, and on fourth down from the 22, Belleville East defended the junior's pass to Demetrius Gray in the end zone.
"Even though we didn't score there was seven minutes to go in the game," said Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy. "Get a stop, get us the ball back. We never got the ball back. They chewed up the last seven minutes of the game, we never saw it again.
"That's not been our defense all year, but tonight it was," he said. "Tonight their kids ground it out and did a great job against us."
No one did better than Belleville East tailback ReShawn Bean. The senior ran the ball 39 times for 248 yards, earning the Lancers' single-season rushing record in the process.
Waubonsie's 1,000-yard rusher, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:15 before halftime, Drew Ellam's kick giving the Warriors a 7-0 halftime lead.
On Belleville East's fourth play of the third quarter Bean bounced to the left sideline and sprinted 63 yards to tie.
Belleville East may have won more comfortably had it not fumbled twice inside Waubonsie's 13-yard line in the first half.
"I said we're right where we need to be," Funk said.
Not so the host Warriors.
"We took their 16th seed for granted and that's what went wrong," said junior linebacker Austin Lacke. "We just didn't come out like we usually do. It's going to motivate me for next year."