St. Charles North won’t be lacking motivation when it hosts South Elgin on Friday in an Upstate Eight crossover clash.
In addition to needing a win to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the North Stars (4-4) are also trying to prolong coach Mark Gould’s 12th and final year at the helm.
Gould has led St. Charles North since the school opened in 2000, compiling a 63-55 record while guiding the North Stars to eight playoff appearances. He admits there has been no shortage of nostalgia during the 2012 campaign.
“You kind of look around the field and take in the sights and sounds and smells because you know there isn’t too much time left,” Gould said. “With the coaches on the staff that have been around for a while you start talking about some of the old teams and old players. You just can’t help but go there a little bit.”
Across the field Friday will be a South Elgin squad led by coach Dale Schabert, who surmises he has been coaching against Gould for more than 20 years dating to their days as assistants.
“He has given a lot to that school,” Schabert said of Gould. “He started that place up new, and having done that at South Elgin, I can understand what he’s gone through.
“He’s a good coach and a good person. He’s done a lot for those kids, and they’re going to do everything they can to make sure they get him a victory.”
South Elgin (3-5) saw its chances of reaching the playoffs come to an end with last week’s 27-7 loss against rival Bartlett, but the North Stars expect a good fight from a Storm squad that has remained competitive into the second half of every game this year.
Gould says he is particularly impressed with the South Elgin’s linebackers, who are led by senior Chris Bingham and junior Nate Marotta. On offense, junior quarterback Rob Cuda has thrown for 1,602 yards this year to lead an effective passing attack.
“(South Elgin) is a team that you just kind of hold your breath when they’re on offense because they can move the ball all the way down the field at any time,” Gould said.
Defense has been key this year for St. Charles North, which has held half of its opponents to 14 points or less. Senior running back George Edlund leads a balanced offensive attack with 682 rushing yards.
Junior quarterback Erik Miller started last week in a 33-24 win against Larkin and will be under center again in place of senior Ryan Fischbach. Gould said he couldn’t comment on Fischbach’s status with the team.
The North Stars lead the all-time series against South Elgin 4-2, but Schabert expects his players to be up to the challenge of narrowing that gap.
“It’s disappointing we’re not getting a Week 10 because everybody fights really hard for that,” Schabert said. “At the same time, we get to play a quality opponent that is trying to get into the playoffs.
“So it’s another game where a lot is at stake. For us it would be nice to beat a team to keep them from getting in the playoffs and then take that into the offseason.”