The message Aurora Central Catholic coach Brian Casey posted on his team’s Facebook page Monday summed it up succinctly.
“Back to work today! A big mental day to help get ready for a ‘Win or Go Home Friday night!’”
The postseason begins early for Casey’s Chargers when they travel to Metro Suburban West rival Wheaton Academy in the regular-season finale for both 5-3 teams. ACC is playoff eligible, likely for the Class 4A field with those five wins, but could lock up a certain berth with a sixth.
The same is true for the Warriors, who would likely end up in 5A.
Close the season at 5-4 with a loss and it will come down to the tiebreaker playoff points, determined by opponents’ wins. The Chargers have 32, and Casey is convinced they won’t have enough to advance in the annual bubble scenario.
Wheaton Academy is in better shape with 35 points.
“It’s pretty cut and dried,” Casey said. “It’s important we play with more urgency. We’re playing a meaningful Week 9 game. We don’t have to sit and hope for someone else to win and help us out. It’s real simple, we control our own destiny.”
ACC opened with four straight wins against opponents of comparable size, dropped a one-score decision to IC Prep, then bounced back to beat Class 6A Fenton before losing two straight to the new league’s top dogs, 5A Glenbard South and 6A Riverside-Brookfield.
Those two league unbeatens will meet Friday to decide the title.
“We’ve played well in key spurts, but mental and physical blunders have hurt us the past two weeks,” Casey said. “I wasn’t happy with the way we competed last week. We got some adversity and I thought we backed down a bit. I thought we played better vs. Glenbard South.”
Changing it up
Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy wasn’t kidding last week after a big win over Neuqua Valley when he said his team’s success with long touchdown runs this season could have slowed the development of its passing game.
“When you’re calling plays and you get a big run when you’re only expecting maybe a five-yard gain, that throws your whole filter out of play calling,” Murphy said. “There are times where I’ve had a pass play all lined up, because I think two or three plays ahead, and I’ve got a pass play in mind, and all of a sudden we’re running for a touchdown.”
Sounds like a nice problem to have.
Airing it out
Waubonsie senior QB Zack Bennema nearly matched his season total of 311 yards passing entering the Neuqua game, completing 14-for-19 for 260 yards. His three TD passes in the game boosted his season total to seven.
Wide receiver Keaton Casey topped his season totals of six catches for 137 yards by grabbing eight passes for 139.
“We changed it up and it worked,” Casey said.
That diversity should be helpful come the postseason.
“You’ve got to be multiple,” Murphy said. “You’ve got to be able to throw and be able to run.”
Neck and neck
Yorkville’s Michael Kurtz and Metea Valley’s Bryson Oliver continue to jockey for the area rushing lead.
Kurtz had 315 yards vs. DeKalb to boost his season total to 1,599 yards. Oliver’s 250 give him 1,468.
Chris Walker contributed to this report.