Theory of halves made its way through playoffs

Updated 11/21/2017 9:46 PM
  • C.J. West

    C.J. West

The theory of halves, ladies and gentlemen.

DuPage County's playoff football teams withered from 14 qualifiers to seven teams in the second round, four in the quarterfinals and two in last week's semifinals.

With Benet's loss to Batavia and IC Catholic Prep's victory over Byron, the Knights are the last team standing in DuPage County for a second straight year. They'll play Pleasant Plains in Friday's Class 3A title game Saturday in DeKalb.

In this final edition of the football season, Eyes on Five looks at a few ways to say farewell.

1. Adversity:

During its journey to last season's Class 3A title, IC Catholic Prep beat its playoff opponents by an average margin of 51-6.

This postseason's been a different story.

In rainy and snowy conditions on a beaten-up grass field in last week's semifinals, the Knights needed a C.J. West touchdown in the final half minute to survive 7-0 at Byron. Instead of worrying about the lack of dominance, though, IC Catholic Prep fans should embrace the adversity.

Dominant runs like last season are not the norm for champions. It typically takes one or more "survival" games -- similar to last week -- to earn a title.

It builds that championship character.

Last season Class 8A champion Maine South needed to survive 42-40 against West Aurora in the first round. Class 7A champ East St. Louis edged Glenbard North 32-28 in the second round.

Even our local champions usually require a survival game, like when 2015 7A champion Glenbard West beat Mt. Carmel 7-0 in the second round. Or when Naperville Central edged Homewood-Flossmoor 24-21 in the second round on its way to the 2013 8A title.

The list goes on and on.

So don't consider IC Catholic Prep's 7-0 win over Byron a letdown. If anything, consider it a badge of honor.

2. Conference chaos:

Just about every DuPage County conference is changing next season.

Have a seat...this might take a while.

The most talked about change is coming to the DuPage Valley Conference, where Metea Valley, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley will compete as a league of five. Glenbard North, Lake Park, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South are leaving the DVC to form the DuKane Conference with Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North.

The Upstate Eight Conference shrinks from two divisions to one league of 10. As Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North leave the UEC, Glenbard South joins it.

Which leads us to the Metro Suburban Conference. Glenbard South is leaving but St. Francis, Aurora Christian and Bishop McNamara are joining from the Chicago Catholic League.

Those departures are causing a shakeup in the CCL, where Montini is moving from the Green Division to the highly competitive Blue with Brother Rice, Loyola, Providence and St. Rita. Mt. Carmel shifts from the Blue to the Green.

Finally, the Interstate Eight Conference is entering a period of change, starting with Seneca's departure at the end of this school year. Ten of the schools, including Lisle, will stay together next year before Lisle, Coal City, Herscher, Manteno, Peotone, Reed-Custer, Streator and Wilmington continue together.

That'll leave Westmont, Plano and Sandwich looking for a new home.

What does it all mean? Of the seven conferences featuring DuPage County schools, only the East Suburban Catholic Conference and West Suburban Conference are staying the same.

Sign of the times.

3. DuKaned:

The four departing DuPage Valley Conference schools aren't entering a cakewalk in the DuKane Conference. It's more like walking into a buzzsaw.

Just look at Batavia.

The Bulldogs beat future DKC opponents Glenbard North and Wheaton North in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and they're gearing up for Saturday's Class 7A state title game against Lake Zurich.

Six of the eight DKC schools made the playoffs this season including Batavia, St. Charles East and St. Charles North -- teams that combined for a 29-6 record. Geneva just missed the playoffs at 4-5.

Expect the DKC to be one of the state's most competitive conferences next year.

4. Hoopla:

It's that time of year again. Time for a bunch of football players to make the awkward transition into basketball season.

Four DuPage County football teams were still competing in the playoffs when basketball practice began on Nov. 6: Benet, IC Catholic Prep, Naperville Central and Willowbrook.

While Naperville Central's basketball team has no football players, IC Catholic and Willowbrook have four. Benet, meanwhile, is loaded with gridiron.

The Redwings' football team just lost Saturday to Batavia, allowing basketball to finally settle on its roster on Tuesday. Seven football players will be on the team, including five returners from last season's team.

Benet opened with Monday's 87-27 win over Manley, showing the Redwings have plenty of non-football talent led by David Buh and Colin Crothers. Regardless, it may take time for Benet to hit its stride this season.

5. Stat time:

Fourteen weeks. Fourteen Eyes on Five football columns.

That'll do it for this football season, but I'll be back with Orrin Schwarz in January to bring you a bunch of Eyes on Five boys and girls basketball columns.

Thanks for reading!

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