Survival and advancement are the only things that matter when it comes to the postseason.
The Fieldcrest Knights and Elgin St. Edward Green Wave can attest to that from their playoff openers this past weekend.
Fieldcrest found itself down two points to No. 15 seed West Carroll through three periods of play before scoring twice in the fourth quarter to finally take the lead and eventually seal the deal.
St. Edward trailed throughout in its contest until getting a late score to defeat Chicago Orr.
"Very similar situations, for sure," Knights coach Derek Schneeman said. "You always like to see your kids overcome adversity; you know, I'm sure (Green Wave) Coach (Mike) Rolando's saying the same thing about his kids.
"We both were fortunate enough to pull it out in the end."
Second-seeded Fieldcrest (10-0) will face No. 7 St. Edward (7-3) in a Class 2A second-round playoff game Saturday afternoon at 1 in Minonk at Veterans Park.
The Green Wave, champions of the Metro Suburban Conference's Red Division, have taken on the likes of 6A Bremen, 5A Elmwood Park (35-34 win) and powerhouse IC Catholic (4A) — all playoff qualifiers.
"They've played some really good opponents and competed really well against them," Schneeman said, "and they were in the 4A playoffs last year. I don't think we're going to throw anything at them that's going to surprise them.
"They're not very big. They are very athletic. They're fast; team speed-wise, they're probably going to be the quickest team we've seen this season. So we definitely have our hands full. They're a good all-around team."
"They look like a really good football team," said Rolando, who checked out Fieldcrest in-person last Friday night. "They're ranked No. 2 (in the final AP state poll) in 2A, so we're going to get a taste of the best (2A) has to offer on Saturday.
"We'll go out there and give it our best shot."
St. Ed's spread attack is averaging 33.1 points and 357.8 yards per game (191 passing, 166.8 rushing), directed by senior QB Anthony Holte (101-of-159 passing — 63.5% — 1,854 yards, 22 TDs, 11 INTs, 114.4 NFL Passer Rating; 3 rushing TDs). Versatile junior Joe Sacco, who rushed for 242 yards on 32 carries vs. Orr, has accounted for 1,232 yards from scrimmage (833 rushing on 120 carries with 12 TDs, 399 receiving on 23 catches with 6 TDs) and 18 touchdowns.
Holte's targets also include Coach Rolando's son, 6-foot-3-inch junior Zeke Rolando (42 receptions, 786 yards, 10 TDs), classmate Liam Pomeroy (19-421-22.3 per catch-3) and 10th-grader Clem McCullough (16-248-3).
The Knights are yielding just 6.6 points and 148.6 ypg (58.5 through the air, 90.1 on the ground). Spearheading that stingy "D" are nose guard Mason Faulk (55 total tackles) and linebacker Travis Sunken (52 tackles). Jaxon Cusac-McKay has six interceptions, a pair of those coming against West Carroll.
"Offensively, they bring a lot to the table," Schneeman said. "They have a pretty good quarterback. They have some receivers who are really good athletes. And they have running backs who are pretty shifty and run hard.
"We've got to make sure that our front seven is able to contain the run and make sure we keep the quarterback in the pocket, and then our secondary's got to make sure that they cover. We've just got to limit the big play."
"The passing game, I think we might have some opportunities there," Coach Rolando said, "but we're going to have to kind of see what we can make happen."
The Green Wave are allowing 15.4 ppg and have 31 takeaways (16 INTs, 15 fumble recoveries). Leading the primarily 5-2 defensive alignment are seniors Luke Breier (102 tackles) at inside linebacker and NG Alex Walser (seven sacks). McCullough has six interceptions.
Fieldcrest is averaging 33.6 points and 356.3 ypg (205.6 rushing, 150.1 passing), paced by the trio of running back Kenton Castrejon (202-1,353-21) — who rushed for 193 yards and pair of TDs on 29 carries vs. West Carroll — quarterback Matt Lorton (95-169, 1,226 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs) and receiver Cusac-McKay (45-586-9). Faulk also anchors the O-line at left guard.
"They like to keep a lot of kids in the box, and they're active; they'll bring pressure up front. They're pretty physical and relentless defensively," Schneeman said, "and the secondary's very athletic.
"We've just got to establish the line of scrimmage and get the running game going early — and make sure we take care of the ball."
"They can run, they can throw," Coach Rolando said of Fieldcrest. "First and foremost, we've got to stop the running game — against a line that's going to have us outweighed by a significant amount — and just make sure that we still have enough left to stop the pass when they go to it."
St. Edward Green Wave (7-3) at Fieldcrest Knights (10-0)
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Park, Minonk
Last meeting: First meeting
FND pick: Fieldcrest