Winless Indians ready for Wildcats

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The outcome of last week’s featured attraction in the Southwest Prairie Conference was difficult to fathom.

Oswego 42, Minooka 0. Running clock before the end of the third quarter. The Indians with 18 total yards and one first down to that point.

Minooka (0-3) was expected to be among the contenders in the SPC title chase, even earning a spot in the Sun-Times Top 25 preseason rankings. The Indians built a six-game conference winning streak a year ago before losing to Oswego 21-7 in Week 9.

Plainfield Central (3-0) will visit Minooka in an SPC battle Friday night that carries all sorts of importance for both sides.

For the Indians, who have lost to quality opponents Morris, Providence and Oswego, the urgency is obvious. They will have a high number of playoff points (opponent victories) so they probably can afford to lose once more. But the only way to guarantee a postseason berth is to win out from here.

For the Wildcats, the sticking point is that the three teams they have beaten are winless. They will need to finish 6-3 to guarantee the playoffs; 5-4 probably won’t cut it.

But before even thinking about that, Central would love to be in the thick of the SPC race. This match-up against Minooka should provide a strong indication of whether that will happen.

Minooka beat Central 52-20 last year and, based on preseason projections, probably would have been favored in this year’s game as well.

The Indians’ only regular-season losses in 2011 also were to Morris, Providence and Oswego. The difference was that the Oswego game was in Week 9 rather than Week 3.

Regardless, an 0-3 record, including a 42-0 loss to Oswego, raises eyebrows. You wonder whether this is the night the Indians will jump-start an offense that is averaging a mere 5.3 points.

Central boasts a strong running game featuring Jordan Ellingwood and Gino Giarratano. If the Wildcats can control the ball and not give Minooka’s offense many good opportunities, they may be able to extend the Indians’ string of frustration.

Herald-News writer Tina Akouris and I pick the outcome of some area games every Friday. I went back and forth on this one, finally choosing Central by a touchdown. If I sound anxious to see how it plays out, it’s only because I am.

Recapping the ‘miracle’

A week ago, Joliet Catholic football coach Dan Sharp said “it would take a miracle” for wingback Ty Isaac to return for last week’s game at St. Viator.

So what happened?

Isaac, who suffered a right shoulder injury late in the first quarter of the season opener against Providence, entered the St. Viator game in the second quarter and rushed for 100 yards in 11 carries, caught two passes for 52, scored two touchdowns and was vital to the Hilltoppers winning 33-20.

So why did the “miracle” happen?

“When we got to the game, Ty said, ‘I could go, I could go,’ ” Sharp said. “I said, ‘Ty, you haven’t even practiced this week.’ But he was so adamant. His dad (Tyrone) brought his pads to the game.

“They had checked his shoulder earlier that day, and he told his dad it really feels good. So we put him in, took him out and put him back in, spotted him. And it turned out to be a good thing. He got hit and he knew the shoulder was OK.”

Sharp said that was the first time in his career he could remember “putting a kid in a game who hadn’t practiced with pads during the week.”

The way the game played out, “thank God he was able to go,” Sharp added.

Sharp and the Hilltoppers are keeping their fingers crossed good health continues for the USC-bound Isaac. The East Suburban Catholic Conference schedule the rest of the way, beginning with Friday night’s Homecoming game against a quick, physical Nazareth bunch, is a gauntlet.

“The conference is probably the best all-around that it’s been since I’ve been here,” Sharp said. “Marist is a great team, the development of Carmel and Nazareth, Benet’s coming on, everyone seems to be improved. There are going to be great games every week, which is nothing but healthy for our conference. There is good football top to bottom.”

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