The last time Crystal Lake South was not in the IHSA football playoffs, this year’s seniors had yet to attend kindergarten.
The Gators’ remarkable postseason run will come to an end at 12 seasons. Their 21-14 loss to Cary-Grove was their fifth loss, knocking them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
South (3-5) had the longest current streak for area teams; now C-G will hold that honor with its 10th straight trip.
“Our conference is pretty darn good, top to bottom, so it’s a battle every week,” Gators coach Chuck Ahsmann said. “We’ve come up just short. It’s not like teams are blowing us out. We’re probably six or eight plays away from being with one loss.”
Ahsmann is right. South will look at tight losses to Dundee-Crown, Prairie Ridge, Jacobs and even C-G on Friday and lament what could have been.
It was a great run for the Gators, who were rarely in trouble of missing the playoffs. Only three times did South finish the regular season 6-3; they were never 5-4 in those 12 seasons.
South’s run makes McHenry’s 20-year run from 1988 through 2007 look even more amazing.
Wolves find their offense: Managing to produce only 77 points through its first six games didn't create much optimism for a Prairie Ridge team that opened the season 2-4.
The Wolves had no room for error, but now are on the verge of making the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years. A win Friday at McHenry should get the Wolves in, because they have 36 playoff points already. The highest the cutoff ever has been was 40 and Prairie Ridge is guaranteed two more points from Fox Valley Conference Valley Division games.
Plus, C-G, Grayslake North and Niles Notre Dame will be decisive favorites in their games.
"I think, with our wins and playoff points, history says we should be in (with a win)," Wolves coach Chris Schremp said. "You never know, but at least we're giving ourselves a chance."
The Wolves' improved rushing attack within the option offense has fueled a turnaround that has produced 98 points and 955 rushing yards during wins the previous two weeks.
"I've always said this: we've always had good kids to work with," Schremp said. "They've always come to practice and worked hard. They're starting to see the results. I'm really happy they've fought through it and got to see it. That's the impressive thing, really."
D-C is in: Dundee-Crown enjoyed the moment after reaching 6-2 and guaranteeing a playoff spot Friday night with a 49-21 victory over McHenry. Chargers guard Jeremy Marshall does not want to stop there.
“It feels really good, but we always remind ourselves to never be satisfied,” Marshall said. “Our goals are to make the playoffs, host a playoff game and win a game.”
D-C would need to beat Jacobs (6-2) Friday to have any shot at hosting a game. Still, it will be fun for the District 300 fans to see a rivalry game that really means something for both teams.
Clutch players: Harvard has shown a penchant for coming through in tight games, which it displayed again Friday night in a 22-21 victory at Genoa-Kingston.
Defensive back Justin Nolen knocked away a pass on a two-point conversion attempt, then the Cogs recovered an onside kick for another shot to win. But Harvard’s Zach Martin sacked quarterback Griffin McNeal and forced a fumble that the Hornets recovered.
Harvard (8-0) clinched a share of the Big Northern Conference East Division championship and kept its unbeaten season alive. The Hornets can win outright if they beat Richmond-Burton on Friday.