Jacobson: We’re through the regular season and into the first round of the playoffs. Coincidentally, our two local playoff teams both have rematches with their first-round opponents from 2011. Sycamore plays host to Chicago King while Kaneland will play Belvidere in Maple Park.
Who has the tougher first-round opponent in your mind?
Nitz: I think Kaneland faces the tougher team, although that’s not saying a whole lot. The conference Belvidere plays in, the NIC-10, is an interesting one. The Bucs have been challenged by teams such as Rockford Boylan, Hononegah and Harlem, But Belvidere has beaten only one team with a winning record (5-4 Rockford Auburn).
I think both Sycamore and Kaneland win fairly easily. Ross, do you expect either team to be challenged at all tonight?
Jacobson: Both Kaneland Sycamore are dealing with some injury issues to key players. Sycamore quarterback Devin Mottet left last week’s game with an ankle injury and Kaneland QB Drew David returned last game after missing Week 8 with a wrist injury. In playoff time, I never like to say anything will be a blowout. Funny things can happen in the postseason, and last year’s first-round matchups with these four teams are a prime example of that.
That being said, I don’t expect either Sycamore or Kaneland to be upset on their home turf. Is there something that Belvidere might be able to take advantage of against Kaneland?
Nitz: The only way Kaneland loses to Belvidere is if the Knights beat themselves. The Bucs need to control the clock and keep David and Kaneland’s explosive offense off the field. If Belvidere can do that and force the Knights to turn the ball over a few times, maybe the Bucs can stay stay in the game and have another shot at the upset.
Jacobson: The same can be said about Sycamore. Last year King was able to force a couple of turnovers in their first-round matchup and kept it close. If both Kaneland and Sycamore take care of the ball, we’ll likely see them move on to the second round, something both teams have done each of the past two seasons.