Looking at their first-round playoff matchups, Marmion’s Dan Thorpe and Yorkville’s Karl Hoinkes are hoping their defensive units are as driven as a traffic cop intent on making his quota.
“Speed, speed, speed,” Thorpe said Monday of his primary concerns about his team’s Class 6A first-round foe DeKalb (8-1). “They have speed and size.
It’s not just (Illinois commit, running back) Dre Brown. Tony Tate will be a ton and their quarterback is good, too.
“They have a very explosive offense and they’ve played some quality programs in Sycamore, Yorkville, Kaneland and Geneseo. They’re battle-tested. I’m just hoping we’re more battle-tested.”
The 15th-seeded Cadets (6-3) travel to second-seeded DeKalb for Friday’s 7 p.m. game. For years, the Barbs played home games at Northern Illinois, but this is their fourth season playing on the FieldTurf surface of their stadium at their high school building that opened for the 2011-12 school year.
“In the films we’ve seen, they often have one- or two-play drives of 70 yards,” Thorpe said. “It just can’t be a high-scoring game.”
Hitting the brakes will also be a priority for the Foxes’ defense as they make their second straight playoff appearance with a home game at 6 p.m. Saturday against Crete-Monee.
“They have really good team speed,” Hoinkes said. “That’s a problem for us, but we worked to get a home playoff game and we earned it (going 7-2). Now, we have to play up to the task. Both our losses are to teams that earned high seeds, Geneseo (top seed in 5A) and DeKalb (second seed in 6A).”
Yorkville and Crete-Monee have a common opponent in Sycamore. The Warriors dropped a 33-6 decision in Week 3 to the Spartans, who fell to the Foxes 14-0 in Week 7.
“They’ve made a lot of changes since that Sycamore game,” Hoinkes said of the Warriors (6-3). “It’s a lot different team when you get to Week 10.
“Two years ago (Crete-Monee) won a state championship (in 6A) and least year they were 8-2. They’re used to winning and they have a very good support system in place. Their fans come out and their band will be here, too.”
DeKalb’s lone loss came in Week 9 when the Barbs fell 21-7 to Geneseo, but coach Matt Weckler limited Brown to just one series of that game and also rested one of his offensive linemen, wanting to make sure they would be ready to go full-strength in the playoffs.
“I’m not saying DeKalb wins (with Brown),” Hoinkes said. “But he’s really, really good.”
Having a first-round matchup in 8A with District 204 and conference rival Metea Valley did not surprise Paul Murphy, coach of top-seeded Waubonsie Valley.
“I don’t think there’s any plan as far as not having conference opponents play that early,” Murphy said. “There’s several of those matchups, like Edwardsville and Belleville East. Part of the plan is geography equity and close proximity.
“Once we saw how the points broke out, we knew there was a good chance we’d play Metea Valley. The only way we wouldn’t would have been if they had placed Glenbard North in our side of the bracket. They did it all by geography.
“This is now Week 10. (The Mustangs) are gonna be better and you hope you’re better, too.”
IHSA first-round football pairings
(8) Metea Valley (5-4) at (1) Waubonsie Valley (8-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(8) Joliet West (5-4) at (1) Oswego (8-1), Saturday, 7 p.m.
(14) Mt. Carmel (5-4) at (3) Batavia (8-1), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
(13) Hersey (6-3) at (4) Geneva (8-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(15) Marmion (6-3) at (2) DeKalb (8-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
(5) Crete-Monee (6-3) at (4) Yorkville (7-2), Saturday, 6 p.m.
(13) Aurora Central (6-3) at (4) Johnsburg (8-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.
(12) Plano (6-3) at (5) Phillips (8-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
(8) Aurora Christian (5-4) at (1) Sterling Newman (9-0), at Sterling High School, Saturday, 2 p.m.