Eliminated from postseason contention, DeKalb looks to stun No. 2 Neuqua Valley

DeKalb's Ethan McCarter (12) makes some yardage against Waubonsie during a game in DeKalb on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

DeKALB – For the first time since 2012, the DeKalb football team will not qualify for the postseason.

But the team still has two games remaining and has lofty goals in mind when it faces off with the No. 2 team in Class 8A, Neuqua Valley, on Friday night.

Lineman Christian Lorenzo said the teams have played a pair of tight games since the Barbs move into the DuPage Valley Conference, including a 34-30 contest won by the Wildcats in 2019 and a one-touchdown game in the spring 2021 season.

“We know that we owe it to them,” Lorenzo said. “We lost last year, 28-21. The first year we played them we were up 9 at the half I believe or something like that, and they came back in the last second. So we really owe it to them this game. We’ve been playing well. We know they’re a great team, they’re going to come out and play hard. We’re going to execute and do what we’re taught.”

The Barbs (2-5, 0-4) joined the DVC three seasons ago, finishing above .500 and earning a Class 7A playoff spot after getting through the 8A conference. But their second full season this fall – after last season was pushed to a limited schedule in the spring – hasn’t been as successful.

DeKalb has played one-touchdown games against Metea Valley and Waubonsive Valley, but lost big to Naperville North and last week to Naperville Central, 48-20.

Neuqua Valley (7-0) rolls into the game with two shutouts in a row against Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley.

“We feel like we just play hard, play tough, do our jobs, not have any mistakes that we’ve had the previous weeks, we can do really good against a top team in the state,” DeKalb linebacker Toriano Tate said.

Lorenzo said finishing the season strong means a lot to the program.

“We’re all we got,” Lorenzo said. “We want to finish the season the best we can, hopefully come out with these last two wins and just play together.”

With a large junior class, including quarterback Adrien McVicar, Tate said the final two weeks are about providing a foundation for the team next year.

“It’s just rebuilding honestly,” Tate said. “At the beginning of the season I said it was going to take the seniors to step up this year. They did their job, but we had all those injuries and people out. We’ve been doing good with whatever we had against all the 8A teams we played. But right now is more of a rebuilding year for next year.”

First-year coach Derek Schneeman said the team is focusing on the positives as it plays its final two games – Week 9 is a still-unannounced game against a DVC foe.

“It’s the last two guaranteed weeks to play the best game in the world with your buddies,” Schneeman said. “The season hasn’t necessarily gone our way, especially in the win-loss column, but we still have this opportunity. We’re finally relatively back to normal after the last year and a half to two years, so just look at the bright side and the opportunity on Friday to play one of the best teams in the state.

“It’s disappointing to say the least, but at the same time I love these guys. It’s a great group, and they’ve done a great job of working hard, practicing hard all year. Looking forward to two more games with them.”