Leyden had one streak stopped when it dropped a 49-6 West Suburban crossover decision to Lyons last Friday night in Western Springs, but the loss did not have much of an effect on the bigger picture.
Before Friday’s contest, the Eagles had won six straight games and already knew they were qualified for the IHSA state playoffs.
With a 7-2 record, Leyden was rewarded with a seven-seed in Class 8A and will host 10-seed Bartlett in the opening round. Bartlett finished with a 6-3 record, and was 4-2 in the Upstate Eight (Valley) Conference.
“We know that they (Bartlett) are a power football team from a good conference,” said Leyden coach Tom Cerasini, who has led the Eagles since 2005. “It has been a great season for us, winning the conference championship and we are really excited to host a (playoff) game.
“Obviously now the sense of urgency is a lot greater. We have kind of been waiting to get to this game for the last three weeks. Now that we are here, I know that the kids will do a great job preparing.
“We are excited to host a home game. That was one of our goals this year, to host a home playoff game. We have accomplished everything we set out to do now.”
There were a few injured players watching last Friday’s loss on the sidelines, but Cerasini does not think that will have an impact when the playoffs start.
“We are beat up just like everyone else, some bumps and bruises,” Cerasini said. “I think that adrenaline of playing in a playoff game will overcome a lot of that.”
Cerasini does not think that last Friday’s loss, where the Eagles trailed 42-6 at half-time, will have any lingering effects against Bartlett.
“We talked a little about it last night, it is one of those things that happened and we put it behind us,” he said. “We are concentrating on the next game. I think it will be a wake-up call as far as how we prepare to play this (playoff) game. This (Leyden) is a good team and they know how to prepare and win and that is what we are going to do this week.”
For a team that only won three games last season and had not made a playoff appearance since 2009, the Eagles six straight victories was quite an accomplishment. The run allowed Leyden to capture the West Suburban Gold crown with a 6-0 record.
The Eagles had not run the table in the conference since 1979, when East Leyden won all seven games in the Des Plaines Valley.
“Absolutely, it (the winning streak) felt like nothing could stop us,” explained Eagles offensive lineman John Dyer. “We were having some ups and downs, that is going to happen, but we had a good season obviously. Sticking together helped a lot, nobody knew that (winning six straight) was going to happen, but that was our goal from the beginning of the season.
“People knew what we were playing for, we were playing for a home game in the playoffs.”