We are approaching the halfway point of the prep football season as area teams gear up for their Week 5 matchups this Friday night.
I was taking a look at my list of results Tuesday when I noticed that nearly every team in The Beacon-News coverage area is in legitimate contention for a playoff spot. Of our 16 football-playing schools, 15 of them own a 2-2 record or better.
We've got seven undefeateds, four teams at 3-1 and another four teams hanging in there at 2-2. Only winless East Aurora can be eliminated from the postseason conversation at this point in the year.
From our perspective, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. There is no shortage of stuff to write about this fall. With nearly every team enjoying at least moderate success, football beat writer Jim Owczarski hasn't had to look far to find good storylines. That said, if we get 12 or 13 area teams in the playoffs, we're gonna have a hard time finding enough reporters to cover all the postseason games!
Alas, we've still got five weeks to figure that out, and a lot can happen between now and then. Here's a rundown of where all our local teams stand:
Geneva (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 9-0) -- The Vikings have a Division I-bound quarterback in Matt Williams and a good running back in Parker Woodworth. Their defense has been spotty at times, but arch-rival Batavia is the only team remaining on their schedule that should test them.
Mooseheart (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 9-0) -- The Northeastern Athletic Conference is not very good, and Mooseheart is a pretty good 1A team. The Red Ramblers would be awesome if star running back Oumaru Abdulahi hadn't hurt his shoulder in Week 2. Even still, they have enough to run the table.
Waubonsie Valley (Current record: 3-1; projected record: 8-1) -- Senior quarterback Mitch Stefani broke his collarbone in a Week 3 loss to Bartlett. But truth be told, the Warriors might be better with junior Dylan Warden at the helm. A Week 7 test against district rival Neuqua Valley awaits.
Batavia (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 8-1) -- The Bulldogs opened my eyes with a decisive 35-13 win over Bartlett in Week 4. The River Division of the UEC will come down to Batavia and Geneva. Mark your calendars for that Week 6 game, which will be played in Geneva. It will be among the best matchups of the year.
Aurora Christian (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 7-2) -- This might be coach Don Beebe's best team. No small statement, since the Eagles did make the state title game in 2008. ACHS has outscored its opponents 183-27 through four weeks. This Friday's game at Montini presents a huge challenge, as the Broncos are two-time defending champs in Class 5A.
Kaneland (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 7-2) -- The Knights have had it easy so far. The combined record of the four teams they've beaten is 3-13. Enough of that. Four of their five remaining opponents are unbeaten. This team is good enough to hold its own, though.
Sandwich (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 7-2) -- After making the state semifinals last year, the Indians lost a helluva senior class to graduation. They've proven they have a good program by getting off to a fast start this season. An I-8 Large championship isn't out of the question if they can win at Coal City this week.
Yorkville (Current record: 4-0; projected record: 5-4) -- The resurgence of the Yorkville program is perhaps the biggest story of the year so far. The Foxes haven't made the playoffs since 2002, but now they have a Hall of Fame coach at the helm in Karl Hoinkes. The turnaround has been immediate, but the toughest part of the schedule awaits. Four of Yorkville's five remaining opponents are also 4-0.
Plano (Current record: 3-1; projected record: 6-3) -- The Reapers won back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007, but they stumbled to a 2-7 mark last year. Of course, Northwestern-bound senior running back Joseph Jones missed most of last season with a broken leg. He's back now, and any team with a future Big Ten back is a legitimate threat in Class 3A or 4A.
Metea Valley (Current record: 3-1; projected record: 5-4) -- The Mustangs lost QB Jarrett House to a knee injury in a Week 4 loss to South Elgin. They will be underdogs in each of their next three games (Waubonsie, Neuqua, Bartlett), but could recover to be playoff-eligible if they can beat Lake Park and Elgin the final two weeks of the season.
Aurora Central (Current record: 3-1; projected record: 5-4) -- A 41-0 loss to unbeaten Immaculate Conception in Week 3 was a real slap in the face, but this might be the year the Chargers finally squeeze into the playoffs. Their last postseason appearance was 1997. To get to playoff eligibility, wins in Week 7 over Walther Lutheran and in Week 8 over Wheaton Academy are musts.
Marmion Academy (Current record: 2-2; projected record: 6-3) -- Are the Cadets out of their offensive funk? They only scored 19 points the first three weeks before hanging 38 on St. Edward in Week 4. A return trip to the state title game seems unlikely, but the Marmion defense is still among the area's toughest. This prideful program will find a way to wiggle into the postseason.
Oswego (Current record: 2-2; projected record: 5-4>) -- The Panthers have been an early-season enigma. They've got a Division I quarterback in Ryan West and an explosive offense. But much like last year, the defense has been spotty at best. I don't think the Southwest Prairie Conference is that strong, however, so I can still find three -- maybe even four -- wins on Oswego's remaining schedule.
Oswego East (Current record: 2-2; projected record: 5-4) -- The Wolves have never made the playoffs in school history, but confidence was building after a 2-0 start. Alas, this team has been knocked backwards the last couple weeks. They lost a pair of one-score games to Plainfield South and Oswego. This week's game against Plainfield Central is very winnable. The Wolves need to stop the bleeding right now to make their playoff dreams a reality.
West Aurora (Current record: 2-2; projected record: 4-5) -- This was supposed to be the year the Blackhawks finally made the playoffs. They haven't qualified since 1995, which was a year after I graduated from West. I assure you that was quite awhile ago. Unfortunately, I'm just not feeling the playoff vibe right now. The West defense is ready to win, but instability at QB has led to an avalanche of turnovers in the early going. It doesn't help that West's two wins are over a pair of winless teams in East Aurora and St. Charles East. Even if the Blackhawks get to playoff eligibility at 5-4, they may be on the outside looking in due to a lack of playoff points.