Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss which teams have the best chance to make the prep football postseason.
Jacobson: Kickoff for the season is days away, and I’ve been anticipating it since I left the field at Montini after Sycamore’s 24-22 loss to the eventual Class 5A state champions.
This season the state title games for all eight classes come to Northern Illinois’ Huskie Stadium for the first time in IHSA history.
But to get to Huskie Stadium on the final weekend, our area teams have to make the playoffs first. Which teams will be playing past the regular season?
Nitz: I think the outlook is solid for all our area teams. Kaneland is Kaneland, Sycamore has been a solid program for the past few seasons, and DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston and Hiawatha all could be improved.
I’m going with the Cogs, Knights and Spartans as playoff teams. Kaneland is a virtual lock, and I could even see the Spartans challenge the Knights for the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title. G-K has a talented senior class and lost some close games last year. I think they play into November.
Last year, the area had only two playoff teams. That number has to improve, right?
Jacobson: I think so. I predicted at the end of last season that all five teams could improve upon their regular-season records from 2012. Although that might be tough for Kaneland, which has been 9-0 the past three years.
I’ll also go with three playoff teams. But I’m taking Kaneland, Sycamore and DeKalb. I know the Barbs have a new coaching staff and play in one of the toughest 5A conferences in the state, but the talent is there. Just from going to practice and talking to a few of the players, it seems like they are buying into coach Matt Weckler’s system.
What do you like about G-K?
Nitz: G-K should be a lot better on defense with a more experienced defensive line and secondary. Griffin McNeal has some experience at quarterback and the Cogs are stronger at the skill positions. Plus, running the ball should be the Cogs’ bread and butter, and they can do that with Sal Lopez. G-K also lost two games by a touchdown or less last season. I think the Cogs have enough to get to five wins.
Jacobson: That’s a great point. After winning only one game in their first season under Travis Frederick, the Cogs’ win total jumped to three. Another two-win improvement would get them to five. The only reservation I have is their schedule, where they play five road games, including three of their first four. It’s imperative for G-K to get off to a good start and not have consistent must-win pressure late in the season.