NORRIDGE — The end result will be the same for the 2014 Guerin football team.
The Gators’ season will be over at the conclusion of its game on Friday night. They won’t finish above .500 or make the playoffs, which has been the case for every football team in Guerin’s 10-year history.
All of that is true, but this season was different for the Gators. The shift from playing in the Suburban Christian Conference to the Metro Suburban East is a big reason why.
“I feel like this conference we’re currently in inspired us to get more hope because teams are a lot more like us,” Guerin senior offensive lineman Ken West said. “The amount of heart in comparison from this year to last year is worlds apart. I believe there’s been an incredible increase [in that] on this team from last year, and it’s only upwards from here.”
The Gators faced many football teams in the SCC that were much bigger and better. That was evident throughout conference play a year ago, when Guerin lost all seven of its SCC games by a 353-77 margin — including 81-7 to Marian Central.
The MSC East has been much more manageable. Guerin (3-5) is 2-2 in the conference, with wins over Elmwood Park and Walther Christian. It will tie the school record for victories if it beats Chicago Christian on Friday night.
West, a three-year varsity player, and many of his teammates have experienced the difference between playing in the SCC and the MSC East. He said the squad’s improved hope, heart and belief — which are all vital attributes in football — are tied to how the Gators’ games have been more competitive this year.
“We were contending with some of the teams that we weren’t before; we were winning,” West said. “Right now, we’re on the road to tie our best school record: 4-5. And on the road to do that, it inspires a lot of hope; not only for us as players, but the school as a whole.”
Guerin will likely play the same conference opponents next year, yet there are still several things it must improve upon in order to qualify for the postseason.
For one, its offense must get better. The Gators’ defense kept them in the game against Ridgewood in the Rebels’ 18-7 victory on Friday, but Guerin’s offense only gained 32 yards. Ridgewood’s defense played well, but the fact is that the Gators need to score more.
Team-wide maturity will also be important.
“We’ve got a long ways to go,” first-year Guerin coach Glen Kozlowski said. “There are some positives, but we don’t do the little things right and that’s why we ultimately lost [against Ridgewood]. You’ve got to take care of your grades. You’ve got to show up to practice. Those little things separate winning and losing. Until we do that, we won’t be consistent winners.”