Five Fox Valley teams face must-win games in Week 9

  • Crystal Lake South quarterback Justin Kowalak throws to a pass last week against Prairie Ridge. The Gators are one of five area teams sitting at 4-4 and needing to win in Week 9 to become playoff eligible.

    Crystal Lake South quarterback Justin Kowalak throws to a pass last week against Prairie Ridge. The Gators are one of five area teams sitting at 4-4 and needing to win in Week 9 to become playoff eligible. Paul J. McKenna/for Shaw Local Media

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/20/2021 8:45 AM

Here's a look at some of the Fox storylines heading into Week 9 of the high school football season.

Fox Valley Playoff Synapse -- The Final Push:


In the playoffs: Batavia (8-0), Cary-Grove (8-0), South Elgin (8-0), Aurora Christian (6-2).

Can guarantee a playoff spot with a win Friday: Marmion (5-3), Jacobs (5-3), Hampshire (5-3), Larkin (5-3).

Have to win Friday and hope they make it in with 5 wins: Geneva (4-4), St. Charles North (4-4), Crystal Lake South (4-4), Kaneland (4-4), Bartlett (4-4).

We'll focus on our third and final category here, the 4-4 folks that need to win and then hope they have enough playoff points to qualify. Playoff points are simply the sum of your nine opponents' wins this season.

Throwing out 2019 (the playoff point cutoff was 29 due in part to factors with the Chicago Public Schools strike), in 2018 the playoff point cutoff was 38 and 18 teams that had 5-4 records did not make it. In 2017, the number was 39 and 17 teams were sent home. In 2016, the number was 37 and only 10 teams did not make it in with a 5-4 record.

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Geneva hosts 1-7 Lake Park Friday and already has 39 points -- the Vikings should be in good shape with a win. Also of DuKane significance, St. Charles North hosts unbeaten Batavia. The North Stars have 41 points and an upset of the Bulldogs and that point total (with one more week of additions to it) should almost certainly get them in.

Kaneland hosts 5-3 LaSalle-Peru and heads into Week 9 with 38 points. Crystal Lake South hosts 3-5 Huntley and has 36 playoff points. Bartlett hosts 4-4 East Aurora and has 36 points as well.

Of further note, the IHSA's playoff outlook Web page had a scenario where if the season ended after eight weeks, all the teams mentioned above would have made the playoffs in either Class 5A, Class 6A or Class 7A.

Stay tuned for playoff pairings Saturday night. One of the best times of the year in high school sports.

West side story:

Larkin's continued resurgence under coach Grant Dietz has been made possible by the likes of players such as junior linebacker/running back Chevelle Clements and sophomore backer and running back Kevin Malone.


"Chevelle Clements is one of our leading tacklers on defense and is carrying the ball well for us," Dietz said. "He is one that we are counting on during this stretch. Kevin has been turning heads on the lower level and we felt it was time to bring him up and he did very well in his first varsity contest. He had a few tackles, a big interception and played on special teams (in Week 7 against East Aurora)."

Dietz also lauded the efforts of defensive coordinator Bill Murmman, noting three of the Royals' first four wins were by shutout. "Bill has them dialed in and is calling outstanding games," he said.

Praise also was heaped upon offensive coordinator Bob Slania.

"Our passing game was big for us to start the season," Dietz explained. "We were one dimensional and teams picked up on that early in the season. Now, our run game has caught up and teams now have to honor both. Bob Slania deserves credit. He puts together a great plan each week to get our athletes the ball. It's a tough job with only one football and a lot of hungry players to feed."

Dietz said beating Elgin last week was a huge for obvious reasons and now the Royals face another critical contest against fellow U-46 member Streamwood. A Larkin wins guarantees them a spot in the playoffs with 6 wins.

"Streamwood will be a tough one that again has playoff implications," Dietz said. "There's more than just pride to play for and we must keep riding the momentum wave. We must take care of our business, play hard and not be afraid of success. I'm very proud of what we have done so far, but there is still a long way to go and a lot more left for us to achieve."

S. Elgin number-crunching:

Here's a pretty staggering stat from the South Elgin camp. Heading into its Week 8 contest, the Storm had scored 44 touchdowns and allowed only four.

That's a product, coach Dragan Teonic said, of a special group of players.

"I'm looking forward to a strong push from this senior class because they have been wonderful to have here over the past four years," Teonic said. "I couldn't think of a better group to have started together with at South Elgin High School and our coaching staff is cherishing every moment with them because we have been spoiled."

Model of excellence:

Elgin coach Anthony Mason has not been shy about sharing his thoughts on standout Clem McCullough this season.

"Clem has established himself as one of the best players in this conference and state," he said. "Even with teams knowing we are going to use him, he is still making plays, scoring touchdowns and rushing the ball at a high level. We have used him everywhere on offense to try and get him the ball and he does great things with it."

Paving the way:

St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said a big factor in the team's recent offensive success has been the play of its offensive line. Pomazak noted the North Stars rushed for more than 200 yards in each of a recent 3-game stretch.

That line includes junior Henry Warsaw, senior Austin Griffeth, senior Mike Whitted, junior Cole Shertz and senior Paolo Genarrelli.

"Our offensive line is doing great things," Pomazak said.

Tackle machines:

West Aurora's defense features Austin Pierce, Tim Hancock and Matt Tarr -- three players who each noted double-digit tackles during each game of a recent 3-game run.

"The double-digit tackles by those guys sticks out," Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer said. "That has not happened since I have been here and it happened a lot in two weeks by multiple guys."

Eimer also has been thrilled with quarterback Gino Martino's play.

"Let's be honest, we have been a program that has run the ball and Gino is on his way to moving far up the record books in passing yards," Eimer said.

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