After Two Rounds the IHSA Football State Playoffs leave one SPC Team standing. But let me assure you it has not been for the lack of trying. I know many of the kids playing in the Southwest Prairie Conference from my years of observation and find them to be just as hard-working as those in some of the area's better known (and stronger) conferences.
But hey, the SPC had five IHSA State Playoff Representatives and I am extremely proud of that fact. Even more important, though, is the fact that these five teams have set the tone for future squads who will now want to exceed the successes of their former teammates. And that can only be a good thing.
Of the two teams to advance to the IHSA State Playoffs 2nd Round only the Oswego Panthers (9-2) were able to claim a State Quarterfinal berth as they avenged one of their two losses by defeating the Waubonsie Valley Warriors 33-13. And it was a solid victory too as RB/LB Bryce Holm managed to put up the best game of his High School Football career with a 220 yard rushing performance on 15 carries. But I have to tell you folks, his 68 yard TD Run to give the Panthers a 7-0 2nd Quarter lead was the one that set the tone for the rest of the night.
Of course Bryce Holm is just one piece of the Panther puzzle (and an important one at that) but they also have what I think one of the most potent and balanced offenses the SPC has seen in quite awhile. As such I give the entire squad the Game MVP for this win because it was a total team effort against a very, very good Waubonsie team. And they will need that same effort in their next game versus another powerful opponent, the Chicago Marist Redhawks (8-3). The Redhawks have defeated two very good teams themselves, the Plainfield South Cougars (6-4) in a 64-28 shootout and the Bolingbrook Raiders (10-1) 21-7 and have a real weapon in Notre Dame bound WR/LB Nic Weishar.
In the earlier game of the day, the Oswego East Wolves (7-4) dropped a 57-40 decision to the heavily favored Lincoln-Way East Griffins. But what Head Coach Tyson LeBlanc has been able to do in two short years with the Wolves is just impressive and I tip my cap to him and his charges. This too was a very balanced team with many offensive weapons. And despite a total of 97 points scored between the two teams yesterday, it must be pointed out that was the Wolves defense that made the biggest difference for them this season. And if this year was any indication of things to come for the Wolves - next year will be just as much fun to watch as they will try and repeat this season's breakout successes.
And with Jr. QB Tyler Kennedy coming back well I have to think that the Wolves Offensive leader will be itching to resume his assault on opposing defenses. Kennedy put up a 24/43 - 390 Yds, 5 TDs, 2 INT performance against the Griffins and while he would probably like to take back those picks (especially the one returned for a score) - this was more than a credible performance against a legitimate State Title contender. The Wolves will lose a couple of offensive skill players to graduation but they will be in relative good shape as many remain for another year. Keep an eye on this team!
I would also keep a close eye on the other three teams that qualified for the IHSA Football State Playoffs this year; the Plainfield East Bengals (6-4), the Plainfield South Cougars (6-4) and Romeoville Spartans will all lose many to graduation, but they also have many players waiting in the wings to take their place. Will they show the same success as this past year? Well that is tough to say at this point but I think the quality is there and if they use what was accomplished this past year motivation - they will all be right back in the thick of things again.
But hey there is still one team standing right?
And that is what we must concentrate on the most right now. Oswego versus Chicago Marist is about as tough a match-up as one could hope for at this point and they are both playing extremely well. I also have a strange feeling that this will be a high-scoring, wide open affair and as such could very well come down to whoever has the ball last to determine a victor. Naturally I have to root for the SPC's Oswego Panthers as that is where my heart is at. Besides, I think it is high time we get back to State.
Tags: Bolingbrook, Bolingbrook Raiders, Bryce Holm, Chicago Marist, Chicago Marist Redhawks, Football, High School Football, High School Sports, IHSA, IHSA Football State Playoffs, IHSA State Class 7A Playoffs, IHSA State Class 8A Playoffs, IHSA State Playoffs, IHSA State Playoffs 2nd Round, IHSA State Playoffs Quarterfinal Round, Lincoln-Way East defeat Oswego East Wolves, Lincoln-Way East Griffins, Nic Weishar, Oswego, Oswego East, Oswego East Wolves, Oswego Panthers, Oswego Panthers defeat Waubonsie Valley, Plainfield East, Plainfield East Bengals, Plainfield South, Plainfield South Cougars, Romeoville, Romeoville H.S., Romeoville Spartans, Southwest Prairie Conference, SPC, Sports, Tyler Kennedy, Tyson LeBlanc, Waubonsie Valley Warriors