What Marian Central could really use this week is some luck.
Not on the field, in its IHSA Class 5A first-round playoff game at Bremen, but leading up to the game with a long list of injured starters.
The Hurricanes (7-2) have played well and have a potent offense, but three offensive linemen – Michael Rechenberg, Tyler Sweeney and Josh Olsen - along with leading receiver Brett Olson, are battling injuries. Also, linebacker Chris Daniels hopes to return from a Grade 2 shoulder separation suffered in Week 7.
No. 9-seeded Marian opens at 7 p.m. Friday at No. 8-seeded Bremen (8-1) in Midlothian. The Hurricanes have not lost a first-round game in their past seven trips; they lost to Winnebago in the first round of 2003.
“I have kind of mixed emotions,” Brucker said. “We have five guys out and we’re hoping to get a couple back.”
Olsen has a hand injury, while Olson, Rechenberg and Sweeney were out with concussions. With quarterback Billy Bahl, the area’s passing leader, and running back Ephraim Lee, who is second among area rushers, Marian can be difficult to defend.
But the Hurricanes need their best linemen protecting Bahl and paving the way for Lee, especially at in the playoffs.
Familiar foes: Richmond-Burton and Evergreen Park have gotten to know each other pretty well over the past three seasons. R-B knocked Evergreen Park out, 7-0, in the 2011 Class 4A semifinals. The Mustangs beat R-B, 34-27, last season.
“The projections had us playing Evergreen Park and that’s what happened,” Rockets coach Pat Elder said. “We’ve seen them the last couple years, so it should be a pretty good football game. If familiarity helps with the preparations, I suppose that it does, they know what we’re all about and we know what they’re all about.”
R-B is in for the seventh consecutive season; the Rockets are 13-6 in the last six years. R-B was the final of 256 teams to qualify at 5-4 with 36 playoff points.
“It’s great for our kids,” Elder said. “They’ve done a good job and we’ve got a great senior class. We’re glad to have the opportunity to play another game.”
Bound for Stockton: Alden-Hebron coach John Lalor figured when his team reached 6-3 it not only qualified for the playoffs, but might have earned a high enough seed to avoid No. 1-ranked Stockton in the first round.
The Giants were not that fortunate. They got a No. 8 seed in an area split into quadrants and play at No. 1 Stockton (9-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I didn’t see that coming at all,” Lalor said. “We’ve been out there before. We know the process.”
The Giants lost to Stockton in 2003 (38-6) and 2004 (37-0), but A-H also got its first playoff victory in school history in 2005, 27-14, in a home game against the Bulldogs.
Back in the playoffs: Hampshire (6-3) returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 as a No. 12 seed in Class 5A. The Whip-Purs play at No. 5 Kaneland (8-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Hampshire fell to Cary-Grove, 33-13, on Friday in a Fox Valley Conference crossover game.
“We got punched in the nose a little at Cary-Grove,” Whips coach Dan Cavanaugh said. “I told our kids that teams don’t get much better than that. Kaneland’s very, very good. It’s a good program and they’ve been doing it a long time.”