Same old, same old? Well, sort of.
Sandwich’s Dusty Behringer and Plano’s Jim Green couldn’t have been blamed for thinking that Saturday night when the brackets for the IHSA Class 4A football playoffs were unveiled, revealing their teams in the same bracket quadrant.
“We’re in the Interstate Eight quadrant,” deadpanned Green, whose 6-3 Reapers are the fifth seed and travel to No. 4 Stillman Valley for Saturday’s 2 p.m. opener.
“All five of us (playoff qualifiers from the I8 Large Division) are in the same quadrant. We felt it would probably end up that way.”
With a win, Plano would host the winner of I8 rival Manteno vs. No. 1 seed Rock Island Alleman in the second round.
Behringer, whose 6-3 Indians are the third seed, will play host to No. 6 Geneseo (5-4) Saturday at 6 p.m. If they win, they move on to face the winner of a first-round game between I8 rivals Peotone (5-4) and Coal City (8-1).
“I was surprised,” said Behringer, who has had members of his staff trying to come up with playoff scenarios for the team since Week 6.
Sandwich’s staff thought potential opponents could have included Brooks, Richmond-Burton or Stillman Valley.
Behringer did have Geneseo’s final regular-season game scouted, although it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the Maple Leafs.
“I’m very familiar with that program,” he said, noting he grew up in western Illinois and went to ROVA High School. “I would see (the perennial state title contender’s) highlights on television and then I went on to play for Bob Reade, who built Geneseo’s program, when he later coached at Augustana.”
Behringer also interviewed at the school when he was looking for his first teaching-coaching job and his team ousted the Maple Leafs, who have only missed the postseason twice since they started in 1974, from the playoffs in 2010.
“And, I was on Tom Unruh’s staff here 14 years ago when we installed the wing-T offense (that Reade utilized so effectively),” continued Behringer. “And Unruh had connections to Augie, too, his dad coached there. Football coaching is a fraternity and it’s fun to see how the branches are all connected.”
Geneseo’s offense may have a few different twists from Sandwich’s offense, but players on both sides should be familiar with the opposition’s attack.
“We’ve got to play mistake-free football, that’s what you need to get playoff wins,” said Behringer, whose team has lost two of its last three games.
Green thinks his team’s win two weeks ago against Wilmington was important because “otherwise, we probably would have had to travel to Rock Island Alleman, which I know has a win over 6A Rock Island.”
His main concern, though, is Stillman Valley.
“We know a little too much,” said Green. “They kicked us out of the playoffs last year (35-10) in the first round and they’re still pretty good.”
And they, too, run an offense that is similar to Plano’s wing-T.
“We’ve gotta tackle the fullback (on the dive), we know that,” said Green. “The QB will run it, too, and he doesn’t mind pitching it, either.
“But it is kind of nice to play somebody (in the first round) from outside our conference. Hopefully we can give ‘em a better game than we did last year.”