Preps Talk

Edgy Thoughts: The issue with Saturday IHSA playoff games


Edgy Thoughts: The issue with Saturday IHSA playoff games

While it makes total sense for all of the state playoff games to be played on Saturday this week, playing on Saturday's in general definitely has its disadvantages.

Scheduling football playoff games on Saturday seems to impact student attendance in the stands. Whether it's weekend job responsibilities, participating in other sports, playing in the band or simply have something better to do, Saturday playoff football — in most cases — means lots of adults and fewer and fewer students.

A solution? How about a mid-week playoff game?

OK, I'll admit it. I'm old school. I still miss the Wednesday playoff game.

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Yes, back in the stone age, the first round of the IHSA football playoffs started on Wednesday. Coaches and players would find out on Saturday who they would play, then scramble to get ready just four short days later.

The Wednesday IHSA playoff game eventually ended for several reasons, most important of which was player safety (an issue no one would argue against). Yet what the Wednesday game brought to IHSA football was special: a one time only, high profile day for IHSA football.

Several schools would play a 1 p.m. Wednesday playoff game. Kids would get out of school early and, in many cases, you would have — literally — the entire student body in the stands. I know, I know — how would parents get to a 1 p.m. Wednesday playoff game? Come on parents, you don't have a vacation day or a sick day you could burn?

The mid-week playoff game avoided (what has now become) butting heads against a non-stop weekend sports schedule. From college football to playoff baseball, pro football and so on, the weekend sports landscape is more loaded now than ever. Anyone else remember when all of the major Chicago TV stations would lead off their sports coverage with the IHSA playoff games? It used to happen when the sports landscape was much less congested on a Wednesday in the fall. Coverage and exposure on that day was at an all time high.

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I'm also a realist and know the Wednesday IHSA football playoff game will most likely never come back.

Yet I challenge the IHSA to think about ways to get the kids back to the playoff games. Maybe restructure the playoff schedule? Make that opening round playoff game on a Wednesday — or another day perhaps?

The bottom line is this: it's all about the students — and getting them interested and more involved. We need as many students, not necessarily in a uniform, but simply "at" these playoff games. Because without them, it's just not the same.

Power Rankings: #7 - Glenbard West

Power Rankings: #7 - Glenbard West preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Glenbard West

Head coach: Chad Hetlet

Assistant coaches: John Sigmund, Jon Schweighardt, Joe Kish, Chris Van Dyke, Rick Heckman, Mike Hofland and Tad Keely

How they fared in 2017: 9-2 (6-0 West Suburban Silver Conference). Glenbard West made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Bloom Township and then lost to Oswego in second round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Maine South

Aug. 31 @ Proviso East

Sept. 8 vs Addison Trail

Sept. 14 @ York

Sept. 22 vs Downers Grove North

Sept. 29 vs Lyons Township

Oct. 5 @ Hinsdale Central

Oct. 13 vs Oak Park-River Forest

Oct. 19 @ Proviso West

Biggest storyline: Can the Hilltoppers get their swagger back in 2018?

Names to watch this season: RB Tyquan Cox and DE Mark Winters

Biggest holes to fill: The Hilltoppers will be a bit green on the offensive side of the football. Only three starters return from a season ago. 

EDGY's Early Take: Whenever Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet welcomes back experience on defense, expect the Hilltoppers to be strong. As mentioned, West’s offense will be a bit inexperienced. But senior RB Tyquan Cox is back from a strong junior season. He is a big play threat with every carry. The defense brings back seven returning starters from a season ago; they were a unit that improved greatly as the season wore on last season. Senior DE Mark Winters is a name to watch along with four returning starting linebackers in the fold from a season ago. If the offense can develop sooner rather than later, expect Glenbard West to again challenge for a state title in 2018. 

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stein

Assistant Coaches: Mike Ulreich: (DC/Inside LB), Tim Boecker (DB) Marc Anderson (DB), Adam Pucylowski (Outside LB), Eric Novak (DL), Pat Watson (OC/OL), Phil Allen (OL), Ryan Clifford (TE/H-backs), Adam Freed (RB), Chad Bradley (QB), Josh McLeod (WR) and Kofi Hughes (WR)

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (7-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the 8A state playoff field and defeated West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor. In the quarterfinal round, they lost to Maine South. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Hinsdale Central

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way East

Sept. 7 vs Naperville North

Sept. 14 @ St. Matthews (Trinity) Kentucky

Sept. 21 @ Metea Valley

Sept. 28 vs Naperville North at NCC

Oct. 5 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 12 vs Waubonsie Valley

Oct. 19 @ Cary-Grove

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Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Redhawks survive a grueling regular season slate and go deep in the Class 8A playoffs?

Names to watch this season: QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan) and OG Luke Hallstrom (Air Force)

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Welcome to the new-look DuPage Valley, Naperville Central fans. The Redhawks will face a stiff test for all nine weeks of the regular season. It includes back-to-back games against fellow Class 8A state title contenders right out of the gate: Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East. But Naperville Central features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Payton Thorne. He has capable targets in senior WR Cade McDonald and senior TE Jared Suchevits. As for the defense, they'll feature senior DB Jack Jopes along with senior LB Matt Oliver. A major plus to help Central's cause: they always have a deep roster and strong overall program numbers year in and year out.