Wild Week 9 will decide which DuPage County teams are in, out of state playoffs
There's always an abundance of compelling stories heading into Week 9 of the IHSA football season.
Who's in ... who's out ... who's still vying for a spot in the playoff field?
This week's Eyes on Five looks at a wild final week of the regular season in DuPage County.
The IHSA said Monday it was working with Proviso East to determine if the Pirates used an ineligible player this season. A ruling was expected Wednesday morning.
It's a feel-good story that may have no happy ending.
After winning six of its first eight games, Proviso East is poised to make its first playoff appearance since 2008 and just its third overall. The Pirates head to Willowbrook on Friday in hopes of claiming a share of the West Suburban Gold title.
Those dreams, however, may fade depending on how the IHSA rules.
If the IHSA decides Proviso East must forfeit some or all its wins, the ramifications would be significant.
Hinsdale South, for example, lost 8-7 to the Pirates in Week 7 and believed its playoff hopes ended with last week's loss to Addison Trail.
But instead of being 3-5, Hinsdale South would improve to 4-4 with a forfeit win over Proviso East. That'd mean the Hornets could get a fifth win and playoff qualification with a Friday victory over Leyden (2-6).
The impact ripples in the distribution of playoff points -- the number of wins by the opponents on your schedule. Playoff points are used as a tiebreaker to separate teams with the same record.
If Proviso East forfeits wins, Hinsdale Central and Glenbard West might gain playoff points while Downers Grove South and Willowbrook lose points.
It's a lot to take in, but we'll see what happens.
Naperville Central had a choice last spring -- accept a Week 9 nonconference game against East St. Louis or play DuPage Valley Conference newcomer DeKalb twice in consecutive weeks to close the regular season.
The Redhawks chose East St. Louis.
Now Naperville Central (4-4) must beat the unbeaten Flyers to earn a spot in the playoffs. It's no easy task considering East St. Louis boasts at least a half-dozen Division I-caliber players and holds an average victory margin of 35 points.
On the other hand, last week Naperville Central pulled away to a 49-16 victory over DeKalb. The Barbs (5-3) are clearly talented but not on the level of East St. Louis.
If the Redhawks lose to East St. Louis and miss the playoffs, it'll be tough to swallow.
But Naperville Central's never shied away from stiff competition, proven by this year's schedule. Five opponent -- Hinsdale Central, Lincoln-Way East, Pickerington (Ohio) Central, Neuqua Valley and East St. Louis -- hold a combined 37-3 record.
Still, should the Redhawks have chosen to play DeKalb twice?
"Obviously hindsight is 20/20," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine. "We knew the challenge heading into the season and we accepted it."
One last thing:
If the Chicago Public Schools teacher strike isn't settled by this weekend, many of its football teams will be shy of the necessary victories for playoff qualification.
Ten schools have the six-plus victories for automatic qualification, and the IHSA said it will seed those teams in the playoff brackets even if the strike continues into next week. But if the strike doesn't end by Oct. 30, those teams will forfeit their first-round games.
Eight other CPL teams have the five wins necessary for playoff consideration and will be seeded if their playoff points merit qualification. Six CPL teams have four wins, meaning they won't qualify if the strike cancels this weekend's games.
Bottom line ... if the strike cancels Week 9 in the CPL, it'll open playoff spots for other teams.
Ninety-six of 256 playoff spots are available heading into this weekend.
Of the teams fighting for those spots, 63 have five wins and 68 have four wins.