So it’s all come down to this for a handful of local football teams?
The offseason weight training, summer workouts, 7-on-7 passing camps and eight regular-season games all culminate with 48 minutes of a do-or-die ultimatum: Win in Week 9 and receive an invitation Saturday evening to the playoff party, or lose and draw the curtain on the 2013 season.
That’s the reality of being 4-4 or, in the case of one team, 5-3 and lacking enough playoff points, as we enter the final week of the regular season.
It’s judgment day.
By my count, eight Southland teams are on the playoff bubble: Providence, St. Laurence, T.F. South, Eisenhower, Reavis, Stagg, Lincoln-Way Central and Morgan Park.
You’re probably aware, to qualify for the playoffs with five wins a team must accrue enough playoff points. That number, based on the amount of wins by a teams opponent, won’t be determined until the seedings are announced Saturday night.
Bracketologist Steve Soucie, of the Kankakee Daily Journal, however, has indicated the cutoff for playoff points for the 256-team field will be 38. That means all teams with 39 or more points should get in.
That’s good news for Providence (50 points), St. Laurence (44), Lincoln-Way Central (40), Eisenhower (39) and T.F. South (38). A win and they’re in.
The bad news? Each has a formidable opponent to beat to register that coveted fifth win. Not a “cupcake” among ’em.
Let’s take a closer look.
Providence vs. Brother Rice. Celtics coach Mark Coglianese may be a Rice graduate, but the Crusaders (3-5), who gave Mount Carmel and St. Rita fits during losses, would like nothing more than to deny their Catholic League Blue foe from qualifying for the postseason. It could happen.
St. Laurence at Fenwick. The fact the Vikings are even in position to qualify is momentous, considering they were 1-8 a year ago. They’ll need significant assistance from the football gods Saturday in Oak Park to derail the first-place Friars in the Catholic League White.
T.F. South vs. Lemont. Sure, the Indians are 3-5 and for the first time in 10 years not a part of the playoff scene. Don’t think, however, coach Eric Michaelsen’s club is going to roll over here.
Richards at Eisenhower. As an Ike alum, I’ve witnessed many of these rivalry games through the years. Including 2012, when 4-4 Eisenhower needed a Week 9 win at Richards to qualify for the playoffs. The result? A 42-0 shellacking by the Bulldogs. That’s par for the course when the District 218 rivals compete on the grid.
Lincoln-Way Central vs. Lincoln-Way North. On paper, the Battle of New Lenox appears one-sided. The Knights are 4-4, the Warriors 7-1, with their only loss coming to undefeated Sycamore in Week 1. Don’t count out the Knights. This game will be much closer than many suspect. Central might even pull the upset.
Two other local teams, Morgan Park (35) and Stagg (33), not only need wins Friday, they also need teams on their schedules to win to earn valuable playoff points.
Morgan Park takes on Harper, which is 6-2 and has lost to a pair of 7-1 teams, Dunbar and Brooks. Hardly a lock for the Mustangs.
Stagg vs. Homewood-Flossmoor. After years of suffering, there is optimism in Charger Nation under the guidance of first-year coach Mike Fahey. However, don’t expect Homewood-Flossmoor, intent on improving to 8-1 and securing a top seed, to get caught up in the drama. H-F will be all business.
Then there’s Reavis, which already has five wins but just 31 playoff points. That’s the consequence of having three 0-8 teams — Joliet Central, Hillcrest and Shepard — on the schedule. Those three teams have provided zero playoff points to the Rams’ cause.
With undefeated Evergreen Park arriving Friday to Burbank, Reavis better bring its “A” game.