Some local football teams are left playing for pride in their regular-season finales.
Some can try to spoil another team’s celebration. Others are already in the playoffs and looking for better seeds and a first-round home game.
Woodstock North has more at stake than most teams when Grayslake North comes to town for their 7:15 p.m. game today. The Thunder (6-2 overall, 4-1 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division) can share the division championship and perhaps get a first-round home game with a victory over the Knights (7-1, 5-0).
“It’s better [having the opportunity] than not having it,” Thunder coach Jeff Schroeder said. “The kids have worked really hard and earned the opportunity to be in this position. Our goal has been to play the best we can every week, but when you win a share [of the division] last year you’d like to see it happen again.”
Woodstock North shared the FVC Fox title with Crystal Lake Central and Grayslake Central last year. If Woodstock North wins and Crystal Lake Central defeats Hampshire, the Fox would end in a three-way tie between Central, Woodstock North and Grayslake North.
The Thunder must find a way to slow down Grayslake North quarterback A.J. Fish, one of the FVC’s most dynamic players. Fish has thrown for 1,672 yards and 13 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,332 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“All you can do is try to slow him down,” Schroeder said. “You’re not going to stop him. You have to defend him twice because they’ll run the play they have called, but if it breaks down or you defend that, he’ll just freelance. We’re peaking now too and should provide a challenge for them too.”
Cary-Grove and Marian Central, both undefeated, will be playing for top seeds. The playoff pairings for the eight classes will be announced Saturday night.
Crystal Lake South, Huntley and Alden-Hebron, all 5-3, should have enough playoff points to get in right now. They all would prefer to get another victory and improve their seeds.
Jacobs and Harvard, both of which are 4-4, need a win and some help to get in.
Jacobs plays at Dundee-Crown (3-5) in the District 300 rivalry game and the Chargers, who won three of their first four games, could be a spoiler with a victory. Jacobs needs a win and help from Marmion and Grayslake North to possibly reach 41 points. The IHSA playoff cutoff was 40 points last year, the highest it ever has been.
Harvard plays at Richmond-Burton, which is playing its best football at 6-2 with five consecutive victories. The Hornets have 32 playoff points and need a victory and help from their opponents to get into the postseason.
If R-B wins, it will tie for the Big Northern Conference East Division title with the winner between today’s Burlington Central and North Boone game. It would be the Rockets’ fourth consecutive championship.