It's all on the line for Dundee-Crown, Huntley

Updated 10/17/2018 8:15 PM
  • Ricky Ibarra and his Dundee-Crown teammates need to beat Huntley on Friday night to get their fifth win and become playoff eligible.

      Ricky Ibarra and his Dundee-Crown teammates need to beat Huntley on Friday night to get their fifth win and become playoff eligible. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Robert Carne leads St. Charles East in tackles. The Saints need to win Friday to reach the playoffs.

      Robert Carne leads St. Charles East in tackles. The Saints need to win Friday to reach the playoffs. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Two playoff hopefuls enter.

One playoff team leaves.

Those are the all-or-nothing stakes in Friday's Fox Valley Conference finale between Dundee-Crown (4-4, 3-4) and host Huntley (5-3, 5-2).

Dundee-Crown, coming off a 21-13 win over Hampshire, seeks its first playoff appearance since 2013, the last season the program posted a winning record.

"We're playing some meaningful football in Week 9. You can't ask for much more than that," Dundee-Crown coach Mike Steinhaus said.

The Chargers stand a good chance of making the 256-team playoff field if they win. They enter Week 9 with 34 playoff points (wins by opponents). The tiebreaker cutoff for 5-4 teams to make the playoffs is projected at 37 or 38 points by bracketologist Steve Soucie, editor of the Joliet Herald News.

The Chargers are guaranteed three more points Friday from three FVC games. They could end up with as many as 39 if FVC champion Cary-Grove (8-0) wins its nonconference home game against DuPage Valley Conference champion Naperville Central (7-2) and Grayslake North (4-4) wins at home against Grayslake Central (2-6).

"The number one thing is we've got to take care of our business on Friday or none of that really matters," Steinhaus said.

Huntley hopes to nail down an at-large berth with a sixth victory. The Red Raiders have made the playoffs four straight years and seven times in 10 seasons. They enter the finale with 32 points, making this a must-win.

"It's a playoff game," third-year Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "Win this and we continue on. If we lose, we're done for the year. I'm not 100 percent certain of that, but I'm pretty sure. We want to extend our season. The kids have worked really hard all season long and in the off-season before that."

Dundee-Crown's offense averages 160 passing yards and 125 rushing yards per game. Senior quarterback Josh Raby has completed 71 of 122 passes for 1,282 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior running back Ricky Ibarra scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season last week.

Like many teams, the Chargers have battled injuries all season. Steinhaus said D-C has not started the same five offensive linemen in any two games this season and available defensive personnel varies from week to week.

Huntley counters with a talented defensive line that features senior end Kaden Alther (6-0, 215), junior tackle Matthew Burba (5-11, 245) and sophomore end Brad Walker (6-1, 240).

Senior linebacker Michael Talesky cleans up anything that gets past the line. His 13 tackles per game lead the team by a wide margin. Talesky is credited with a team-best 6 sacks.

So you're saying there's a chance: Larkin gave itself a shot at playoff qualification with last week's 52-14 victory over Elgin.

The Royals blew open a 3-point game with 35 fourth-quarter points.

"Everybody did their job and we got the outcome we were looking for," two-way lineman Isai Rios said.

Larkin (4-4) has not reached the postseason since coach Dave Bierman guided them to the 2006 playoffs.

The Royals have not finished with a winning record since 2009, when a team coached by Matt Gehrig -- now the offensive line coach at South Elgin -- finished 5-4 but was left out of the field due to a lack of playoff points.

The Royals enter the weekend with 36 playoff points. The cutoff is expected to be 37 or 38. Thus, the mission is straightforward. Larkin must find a way to defeat Upstate Eight Conference leader Glenbard East (8-0, 8-0). The Rams have outscored their UEC opponents 330-72. The Royals have been outscored 239-196.

"They are a very good team," Larkin acting coach Jason Aubry said of Glenbard East in the aftermath of Friday's victory. "I'm sure our guys will give it everything they have. We are in a position to put ourselves in the playoffs. It's a huge week."

High alert: It's all or nothing for St. Charles East in Friday's DuKane Conference finale at Norris Stadium.

The Saints (4-4, 2-4) must defeat Lake Park (2-6, 1-5) to extend the program's streak of consecutive playoff appearances to three.

The Lancers have been outscored 188-116 but have been competitive. They dropped a 7-6 decision to Wheaton North in Week 4, when the potential game-winning 2-point conversion was intercepted in overtime. Last week, they were defeated 27-23 by Geneva despite driving into the red zone in the final minute.

"They say you are what your record says you are, but there are a lot of good teams in this conference that have been beating up on each other," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said. "They have been in a lot of close games. It's not a team you can look past by any means.

"We haven't had the year we expected of ourselves. Hopefully, we can claw back to 5-4 and be eligible for the playoffs and see what we can do."

Senior linebacker Robert Carne leads the Saints with 27 solo tackles and 66 assists, including 5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Superstitious: Larkin quarterback Jaxon Aubry logged some extra steps in last Friday's victory over Elgin at Memorial Field.

Each time Larkin kicker Adrian Jaramillo put the ball through the uprights -- which the junior did on 6 extra points and a field goal -- Aubry jogged from his own sideline to retrieve the ball himself.

Why put in the extra work to fetch the game ball?

"It's my favorite ball," a smiling Aubry explained. "I don't want anyone to touch it."

Aubry threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for another to help Larkin (4-4) maintain possession of the traveling Town Jug trophy.

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