For the area’s playoff football contingent, the excitement of finding out the postseason pairings Saturday night quickly gave way to the reality of the tough challenges at hand.
For no team was this more apparent than Dundee-Crown, which celebrated its first trip to the postseason since 1994 by gathering at Village Pizza & Pub in Elgin to watch the IHSA’s playoff pairings broadcast.
When the Chargers finally saw their name pop up, they had a No. 13 seed in Class 8A and a first-round matchup on the road against No. 4 Oak Park-River Forest (7-2). The contest figures to be a significant step up in competition for Dundee-Crown (6-3), which is seeking its first-ever postseason win.
“It will be a challenge, there is no doubt,” Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola said. “(Oak Park) will be the fastest team we’ve played all year and it will be the best team we’ve played all year.”
St Edward (5-4) also faces a tough draw after landing a 15th seed in Class 4A. The Green Wave travels to play No. 2 Harvard (9-0) in the first round.
Champions of the Big Northern East, the Hornets are looking to make a deep playoff run in longtime coach Tim Haak’s final year at the helm. St. Edward will have to brace for Harvard’s physical style of play, but the Green Wave is certainly battle tested going into its fifth playoff appearance in program history after playing a grueling Suburban Christian Blue schedule.
“For us it’s a great opportunity to play in Week 10,” St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. “Not a lot of St. Edward teams have been able to do that. We’re here, we’re excited and we look forward to the challenge.”
Hampshire (6-3) will try to prolong retiring coach Dan Cavanaugh’s 25th and final season as long as possible as it makes its first playoff appearance since 2008.
The Whip-Purs landed a No. 12 seed in Class 5A and will make the drive down Route 47 to play No. 5 Kaneland (8-1) in the first round. The Knights are in the postseason for 17th time in 18 years and haven’t lost a playoff opener since 2009.
“We know Kaneland’s reputation,” Cavanaugh said. “We certainly respect their program and what they’ve done. We know we have our work cut out for us.”
Jacobs (7-2) is the only local team playing a first-round playoff game on its home field. Fresh off capturing the outright Fox Valley Valley championship, the Golden Eagles landed a No. 6 seed in the Class 7A bracket and will host No. 11 Conant (6-3).
St. Charles East (6-3) jumps up to Class 8A this year after competing at the Class 7A level in its past six playoff appearances. The 11th-seeded Saints, who play at No. 6 Stevenson (7-2) in the first round, are tied with Oswego as the smallest school in terms of enrollment in Class 8A this year.
In Class 4A, Genoa-Kingston (5-4) landed a No. 13 seed. The Cogs hit the road to play No. 4 Geneseo (8-1) in the first round.
St. Charles North was among the 10 teams in the state to finish with a 5-4 record and fail to qualify for the playoffs. A relatively weak schedule that included two opponents that went winless this season left the North Stars with only 34 playoff points, and 36 was the cutoff for qualification.
The dates and times for all first-round games will be finalized by the IHSA by Monday afternoon.
LOCAL PLAYOFF PAIRINGS
No. 13 Dundee-Crown (6-3) at No. 4 Oak Park-River Forest (7-2)
No. 11 St. Charles East (6-3) at No. 6 Stevenson (7-2)
No. 11 Conant (6-3) at No. 6 Jacobs (7-2)
No. 12 Hampshire (6-2) at No. 5 Kaneland (5-4)
No. 15 St. Edward (5-4) at No. 2 Harvard (9-0)
No. 13 Genoa-Kingston (5-4) at No. 4 Geneseo (8-1)