As we enter Week 5 of play, it’s quite the understatement that several teams are fighting to stay alive in the IHSA playoff hunt. What's even more startling is that some of these programs are part of the state's biggest names in IHSA football:
Glenbrook South (0-4): The Titans’ longtime head coach Mike Noll retired after the 2015 season. David Schoenwetter, who was formerly an assistant under Noll, stepped in as the new head coach. The Titans have played a very tough non-conference slate to start the year (Barrington, St. Patrick, Palatine and Fremd). Those teams have posted a combined 15-1 record. I fully expect Glenbrook South to win more than its share of Central Suburban South games this season.
St. Francis (0-4): The Spartans also had a sudden head coaching change this past offseason as Mike Fitzgerald left to take a teaching position at Naperville North. Under first year head coach Joe Lepsche, St. Francis has played a tough early schedule which included Loyola (4-0) and Marmion Academy (4-0). But they’ve scored just 14 points in four games along with allowing 215 points in that same span. It doesn't bode well for the remaining CCL Green slate.
Bishop McNamara (0-4): The Fighting Irish, the defending Class 3A state champions also have played a very tough early schedule (Immaculate Conception, Bolingbrook, St. Laurence and Marmion Academy). They have also suffered a rash of injuries including Western Michigan commits senior WR/DB Chris Bell and senior OL/DL Dylan Deatherage. However, I feel that Bishop McNamara still has a fighting chance to make a push for a state playoff spot.
Wheaton South (0-4): The Tigers and veteran head coach Ron Muhitch seemed to be all-go this summer, winning the annual Red Grange 7-on-7 tournament. But Wheaton South has also been a victim of injuries and the always-tough competition in the DuPage Valley Conference hasn’t helped. Most glaring has been a defense that has allowed 159 points in four games. Several Wheaton South teams in the past didn't allow 159 total points against in a full season.
Joliet Catholic (0-4): The Hilltoppers, under veteran head coach Dan Sharp, graduated a ton of starters last spring. Those graduation losses hit hard, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. On top of that, the amount of overall players numbers coming out from the senior and junior class has been down. Joliet Catholic has started up to eight sophomores on the varsity level this season and they’re hoping that the move to go young this season will pay off down the line.
Conant (0-4): Head coach Bill Modelski wasn't kidding this summer when he said he had no returning starters back in 2016. The Cougars have struggled getting the offense on track despite a strong season so far from junior RB Jack Reiger. Next up for Conant is Mid-Suburban West play, featuring a group of opponents with an 18-2 overall record.
Andrew (0-4): The Thunderbolts also have a first year head coach in Adam Lewandowski who was an assistant coach at Crete-Monee. Turnovers and penalties have been an issue for Andrew so far this season and the remaining schedule (Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Thornton, Lincoln-Way Central, Stagg) won't make thingws any easier for the T-Bolts this fall.