NEW LENOX – Sycamore football coach Joe Ryan always knew his team’s weaknesses would be exposed in Week 1 against Lincoln-Way West.
He just didn’t know when Week 1 would take place.
After camping out for a few hours waiting for a storm to subside, the schools decided to postpone Friday’s 7:30 p.m. kickoff until 6 p.m. today. And one day after the high school football season kicked off, either the fifth-ranked team in Class 5A, Sycamore, or the 10th-ranked squad, Lincoln-Way West, will have a loss.
“They’re going to expose anything that’s not very good,” Ryan said. “If you’re not very good in an area, you’re going to find out Week 1.”
Ryan said there was no intention of setting up a clash of two state title contenders when the Spartans scheduled the Warriors a few years ago. But both teams suffered heartbreaking close losses to state powerhouses in last year’s Class 5A playoffs – the Spartans to state champion Montini, and the Warriors to semifinalist Joliet Catholic.
“We probably didn’t think they were going to be as good as they were, and they didn’t think we were going to be as good as we were, but that’s OK,” Ryan said. “You’ve got to be careful about that stuff, because you can drive yourself crazy, which opponent there, which opponent there, and then the next thing you know, you’re looking for three games and you can’t find any.”
Last year, the Spartans came away with a 19-13 win over Lincoln-Way West in the opener, spring-boarding Ryan’s team to a 7-4 season.
“You find out early where you stand,” athletic director Chauncey Carrick said. “They’re a good team, we’re a good team, and when you play good teams, your weaknesses are exposed and you can fix those weaknesses sooner.”
The Spartans had to drive back to Sycamore on Friday night before making the haul back to New Lenox today, making a difficult start even tougher. But Ryan doesn’t seem to think the adversity will hinder his team.
“If you have stuff like this bother you, hey, when it gets tight in a game you’re going to have a lot of trouble. You just let it roll off your back,” he said. “Like I tell the kids, ‘We still get to play the game, that’s what we have to do. They didn’t take the game away from us.’ ”