Round 1 of the IHSA football playoffs

Andy Colbert

What did we learn in the first week of the IHSA football playoffs?

The NUIC was impressive in two wins over the BNC. The kingpin of the BNC, Byron, was so dominant against Chicago Noble Hansberry that a running clock was started in the second quarter and the third and fourth quarters were cut to nine minutes.

As a 7-2 team, Rochelle got an absolutely brutal draw against a team loaded with college prospects, losing 45-14. Meanwhile, in the 5A game opposite them, 4-5 Sterling had the good fortune of drawing No. 1 seed and 9-0 Chicago Payton and whipped them 50-0.

That’s a good place to start, with the question being – what is the Chicago Public League doing in the playoffs?

Of the 26 CPL teams in the playoffs, only two of them won games and those were against fellow CPL opponents. In games against non-Chicago Public League teams, they went 0-22 and were outscored 1,079-63.

That ridiculous. It had to be like watching a car wreck at Byron on Saturday. What’s the point of even playing the game?

On another note, Byron does not run up scores. Substitutes see more than enough playing time, as demonstrated by 20 different backs getting varsity carries.

It is also imperative that the starting unit gets sufficient playing time to remain sharp. Just because the other team can’t offer resistance, doesn’t mean Byron is obligated to sit out starters after a specific time or score.

The closest any CPL team came to winning was Noble Johnson, losing to Stillman Valley 21-20.

There are 17 high schools in Chicago with the Noble moniker, which basically signifies an open-enrollment charter school. It’s been around a couple decades and earmarked for minorities and low-income students.

Credit to Noble Johnson for overcoming the odds and giving SV everything they could handle.

I really thought it would have been Oregon matching up with Stillman instead of Durand-Pecatonica. After watching the Hawks against Dixon and Stillman in the regular season, I saw real improvement.

Against Du-Pec, they looked like a different team. Other than their quarterback, Du-Pec wasn’t 34 more points talented than Oregon.

The difference was the Rivermen have a competitive culture instilled and Oregon is still seeking to develop that type of mental fortitude. It’s tough when that hasn’t been the norm for several years.

Compared to Friday Night Lights, it was a listless atmosphere Saturday at Pec, both before and during the game. I think Oregon would have been more jacked up to play Friday instead of Saturday.

Before putting the season to bed for Oregon, credit to them for making the playoffs and putting in a lot of work in the off season. Also, much has been made of the underclassmen, but let’s not forget about a senior class that made valuable contributions.

Another surprising BNC loss was No. 10 Monmouth Roseville taking it to No. 7 North Boone, 35-14. But, they may speak more to the weakness of the league than anything else.

On a personal note to me, NB defensive coordinator Lenny Doetch is stepping down after coaching both his son and grandsons, the last one being star player Chris Doetch this year.

Little did I know back in 1978 when him and I shared a wild drive together from Kishwaukee College to Champaign to pole vault at the junior college state track & field meet, that we would meet again many years later on the sidelines of North Boone-Oregon football games.

The only thing I remember about our road trip 45 years ago was taking his vehicle to a car wash late at night after ending up in a muddy farm field somewhere in central Illinois. I don’t think either of us had a particularly good meet the next day, but there is something special about a couple of teenagers bonding over an adventuresome road trip.

On Friday, it was a much shorter trip for me, to Forreston, site of the Ottawa Marquette 1A playoff game. In covering three of the four playoff games between these two evenly-matched opponents, I’ve come to the conclusion that Forreston wins each time because of superior execution.

On my way to Forreston, I drove by the Polo football field to check out the vibe there. With a 20 minutes to kickoff, I didn’t many fans around.

Was it the cold weather or the fact that Polo was destined to blow out its foe that contributed to the small crowd? There should be a large throng at Milledgeville for the Battle of the Blacktop, though.

Andy Colbert is a longtime Ogle County resident with years of experience covering sports and more for multiple area publications.