Just over 150 teams reached the 2-0 mark on the young season over the weekend.
That number isn’t at all uncommon. In most years, you could fill in many of those blanks before the games were even contested, but this year’s group includes more than a few surprise 2-0 teams.
The work is far from done for many of these programs, which obviously have many more challenges to undertake, but let’s take a closer look at some of these teams that are trying to carve a path into the playoff field and possibly do even more.
What does this say moving forward? Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for almost everyone.
Geneva: The Vikings have been struggling near the bottom of the DuKane Conference for a few years, and trends indicated things probably wouldn’t fall in their favor. It was a good start when they toppled Metea Valley in Week 1, but the eyebrow really got raised when they toppled Kaneland, a perennial playoff component, in Week 2.
There is no rest for the weary though, because the DuKane looks as deep as ever. Even with two wins already in the bank, the Vikings need to go at least 3-4 in league play to earn a playoff berth. This won’t be easy, but it doesn’t look as ominous as it did before we kicked off the season.
Pekin: Despite being the largest school in the Mid-Illini Conference by a significant margin, Pekin hasn’t been able to gain a foothold for quite some time. But things might be turning in the right direction for the Dragons, who pulled out an impressive win over a well-regarded Rock Island team and then followed that up with a victory over Belleville East. All of the sudden the Mid-Illini slate looks much more manageable.
Naperville Central: This isn’t about a team that has struggled to get into the postseason, because that’s certainly not the case here. But the Redhawks put together what appeared to be a far too ambitious nonconference schedule with back-to-back dates against Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East.
But the Redhawks came out with wins in both, setting themselves up quite nicely even though a difficult DuPage Valley schedule still looms.
Iroquois West: The Raiders program reached its apex in 2003 with a Class 2A state championship. Since then, it has disappeared from the postseason landscape other than a 2006 playoff bid. But the Raiders have enjoyed wins in each of their two crossover games in Vermilion Valley Conference play and could be on the right track.
Plano: Is it time to fear the Reaper again? Plano had scuffled recently since the Interstate Eight alignment change, but the Reapers are in good shape early on after claiming wins over Aurora Central Catholic and former conference rival Manteno.
Reed-Custer: The Comets haven’t made the postseason since 2008, but two high-scoring wins over Elmwood Park and Arcola make it appear that they might be able to snap that string of postseason absences.
Plainfield Central: Not including the spring season, where the Wildcats showed some signs of turning the corner, the program had won just seven games in seven fall seasons.
The Wildcats still face an uphill climb, but the two wins, especially the Week 2 victory over Yorkville, is a very encouraging sign.
• Several conferences have made early statements by stacking up nonconference wins in bunches. The CCL/ESCC Blue (Loyola, Marist, Brother Rice, Mount Carmel) has all four of its members out of the gates with 2-0 records. Thee same can be said for the CCL/ESCC White (De La Salle, St. Ignatius, Fenwick and Marmion), while the Illinois Central Eight has six of of its eight members with 2-0 marks.
On the flipside, six of the seven members of the Western Suburban Gold Division haven’t managed to earn a win yet.
• Surprising teams at 0-2? Nazareth, Bishop McNamara, Phillips, Waubonsie Valley, Palatine, Fremd, Highland, Antioch, Hillcrest, Oswego and Willowbrook make up some of the notables on that list. For some of these schools that early hole will be pretty difficult to dig out of considering the remaining obstacles on the schedule.
• Most pivotal win? Montini’s victory over Sterling might be the one we look back at in regards to how the Broncos ended up finding their way into the Class 3A playoff field, because if they do, they’d likely become one of the favorites.
After dropping the season opener to IC Catholic, Montini was staring at a schedule that still included the aforementioned game with Sterling, and the back half of a slate that has Providence, Joliet Catholic, Nazareth and Marist to deal with. There’s no guarantees here, but that schedule would look almost impossible if Montini was trying to navigate it after starting 0-2.