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McHenry County notes: Jacobs trending in right direction with postseason looming

Jacobs is headed toward the postseason on an upswing better than any area team not named Cary-Grove or Richmond-Burton.

The Golden Eagles (5-3, 5-3) solidified a playoff spot with Friday’s 49-13 Fox Valley Conference victory over Hampshire and finish the regular season at winless Dundee-Crown on Friday.

“We want to get to six, and now it’s about positioning and seeding,” said coach Brian Zimmerman, who will take the Eagles to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. “It’s been a gauntlet of a conference this year. Our kids want to make their own culture.”

Jacobs lost to Crystal Lake Central and Prairie Ridge in tight games. The Eagles’ third loss came to C-G, 36-22, by far the most highly contested game a team has given the Trojans.

Jacobs had opportunities slip away in the first half against Central that would have made a difference. The Eagles came up short on a 2-point conversion late against Prairie Ridge.

But linebacker Dylann Martinez thought those games still benefited the Eagles.

“We could have won more games, but those losses showed us what we needed to work on,” Martinez said. “We’ve grown a lot from those losses. That’s huge. Those losses were key to our success right now.”

With a punishing running game and an improving defense, Jacobs could be a tough out in the Class 7A playoffs in two weeks.

The Eagles also showed Friday what they can do if teams pack it in too much for the run. Quarterback Max Benner was 5-of-7 passing for 82 yards and three touchdowns. Tight ends Grant Stec (6-6) and Nick True (6-5) are tough matchups for defensive backs.

“We work with Max throwing the ball a lot,” Zimmerman said. “We haven’t been doing that, and that’s partially on me because we’ve been running so much.”

C-G’s Celebrity Night: For the second time in two weeks, a Bears player was in attendance at a local football game. Bears injured running back David Montgomery, his girlfriend and two of their friends were on hand as C-G defeated Burlington Central, 48-7, on Friday night.

The week before, Bears Darnell Mooney, Tarik Cohen and Dazz Newsome went to the St. Rita at Marian Central game.

C-G freshman PJ Brock saw the pictures of Bears’ players at Marian and reached out to Montgomery on Instagram. Former Illinois player Steve Hull, a member of the C-G staff with several NFL friends, also was involved, according to Trojans coach Brad Seaburg.

The C-G athletic director arranged for Montgomery and his friends to hang out during the game along the track on C-G’s side. Before the game, Montgomery signed autographs and spoke with fans for a while.

Quinn Priester, a 2019 C-G graduate, who pitched with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ high Class A Greensboro Grasshoppers this season, also was on the Trojans’ sideline for the game. Priester was taken 18th overall in the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

“This was one time that Quinn didn’t get all the attention,” Seaburg joked. “Our freshman-sophomore guys were pretty excited. Our varsity guys were busy in the game.”

Playoff streaks: C-G, 8-0 and ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll, is headed to the playoffs for a remarkable 17th consecutive season. That ranks second to McHenry’s 20-year run from 1988-2007.

The Trojans went to the playoffs under former coach Bruce Kay from 2004-2010, then have gone in every year since under Brad Seaburg.

R-B, 8-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, has the area’s second-longest current string, which is about to stretch to 14 straight. The first 10 years the Rockets made it under former coach Pat Elder, then one season under former coach Tad DePorter. This will now be the third season they make it under coach Mike Noll, who started McHenry’s streak.

Other streaks: Jacobs running back Ben Ludlum ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s win against Hampshire, giving him 100 yards rushing in every game this season.

Going back to the spring season, Ludlum has rushed for 100 in 11 consecutive games.

Crystal Lake South junior wide receiver Cooper LePage had his streak put on hold for Week 7 by a sprained ankle, but resumed it Friday night with a 54-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Justin Kowalak.

LePage has caught scoring passes in six games and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the other game.

Thou shalt steal: Richmond-Burton defensive back Coleman McDonaugh picked off two more passes Friday in the Rockets’ 49-0 victory over Harvard, giving him seven interceptions for the season.