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Playoff variety spices up postseason
By Ryan O’Gara | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 10/25/2012 10:29 PM

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For most coaches in the area, part of the reward of the playoffs is the opportunity to step outside your conference and play someone unfamiliar.

None of the teams in the immediate area — Mid-Suburban League schools, St. Viator and Leyden — got stuck with a rematch.

But other teams in 8A and 7A playoffs weren’t so lucky. Among them are Lake County teams and North Suburban Lake Division rivals Warren and Stevenson.

When they first heard their draw, Palatine and coach Tyler Donnelly knew absolutely nothing about their first-round opponent, Niles West. And that’s the way they like it.

“It’s nice to see a different team,” Donnelly said. “It’s fun because you don’t know much about them. You don’t grow up around them and they don’t grow up around you.”

St. Viator and coach Brandon New are hoping a strong East Suburban Catholic league has prepared them for the postseason.

“It’s fun to go to see different places and different towns,” New said. “And it’s neat to see how your conference fairs against other conferences.”

Memories: Most of Fremd’s current team was in junior high when Glenbard North beat the Vikings 32-28 in the 2007 Class 8A quarterfinal and some made the trip to Carol Stream that afternoon. According to Fremd coach Lou Sponsel, that game has turned into somewhat of a legend throughout the program.

What took place after the game that led to sanctions being placed on Glenbard North also ended up overshadowing a pretty good football game.

“It’s not so much as what happened after the game but how good of a football game it was,” Sponsel said. “It was just a great high school football game. It wasn’t good how it ended.”

Next opponent, please: Leyden entered Week 9 against Lyons not having allowed more than 21 points in a game all season. With the Eagles having locked up the West Suburban Gold and the Lions needing a win to secure a playoff spot, a letdown wasn’t too unusual.

“It’s one of those things that we told the kids that we are putting it behind us,” said Leyden coach Tom Cerasani of the 49-6 loss. “We didn’t talk about it too much other than the fact that it’s over with. The only way you get that taste out of your mouth is to play the next game.”

Two-minute drill: It wasn’t that much of a surprise that Tim Manczko played through an ankle injury last week that forced him to miss most of Week 8 against Fremd. And Conant is sure glad he did as he caught 2 touchdowns, including the game-winner with 25 seconds left. “He has nine high school games in his senior year,” said coach Bill Modelski. “Do you want to sit one out and save yourself for whenever? He came to me and said he wanted to go. Who am I to say no?” ... Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling played his high school ball at Marian Central, but grew up admiring the work of former McHenry coach Mike Noll. Now he gets another chance to coach against the Glenbrook South coach tonight. The first time went pretty well for Stilling and the Saxons, a first round victory in 2008. “I have a ton of respect for Mike and the way that he approaches things,” Stilling said. ... After failing to pick up their sixth win in Week 9, many inside the Elk Grove locker room seemed resigned to their fate of being left outside the playoffs. But the Grenadiers snuck into the postseason with 38 points, earning a No. 16 seed. Said coach Larry Calhoun: “Everyone is reenergized, and I think we have a real good handle on the fact that we’re blessed to be playing another week while other teams are sitting at home.”