Jacobson: Even with two weeks left, our local playoff picture is set. Kaneland is 7-0 and most likely will be one of the top seeds in the postseason. Sycamore is 5-2 and will make the playoffs based on playoff points. DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston and Hiawatha are eliminated with at least five losses.
One of the big questions remaining is whether Kaneland will end up in Class 5A or 6A when the playoff brackets are released next weekend. The Knights have lost in the 5A state semifinals the past two seasons. Do you think Kaneland would rather be in 5A or 6A this year?
Nitz: Obviously, conventional wisdom says Kaneland would rather be in Class 5A with smaller schools. However, I think the Knights’ best shot at a state title is if they’re in Class 6A. Sure, in the higher class Kaneland probably would have to get through top-ranked Crete-Monee, a team that features Laquon Treadwell, who Rivals.com rates as the top receiver in the country. However, the Warriors probably will be in the lower half of the bracket, so Kaneland would avoid them until the title game.
The thing is, Class 5A features private-school powerhouses such as Montini, Joliet Catholic, Marian Central and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin.
If Kaneland is in 5A, the Knights probably would have to get through either Marian Central or Montini, if not both teams, just to reach the title game. Then, Joliet Catholic very well could be waiting for them in Champaign. The Hilltoppers’ top running back, Ty Isaac, is one of the top backs in the country and has committed to USC.
Ross, which class gives Kaneland its best shot at its first state title since 1998?
Jacobson: I would rather be in 5A. I know there’s a lot of name recognition in 5A, but I think a lot of those teams are down this year. Montini, a Kaneland nemesis over the past two seasons, already has two losses this year and current Nebraska receiver Jordan Westerkamp has graduated. Joliet Catholic also is 5-2, and the Hilltoppers haven’t exactly been dominant in their five wins.
To me, it’s a different animal when a team jumps up a class. Kaneland would be one of the smallest teams in 6A. Plus, after falling to Westerkamp and Montini the past two years in the playoffs, I don’t think Kaneland wants to face another out-of-this-world wideout in Treadwell.
You’ve seen Kaneland play this season. Do you think the Knights’ are better than last year’s team?
Nitz: I do think the Knights are a better team this season. Quarterback Drew David is a year older, and he has a nice group of playmakers at his disposal. What is underappreciated about this Kaneland squad is the defense, which has pitched three shutouts so far this year. I see Kaneland making a nice postseason run, no matter what class the Knights are in.