Northwest Herald area notes: Offense is king in the FVC this season

Prairie Ridge's Tyler Vasey advances a kickoff return early in the first half against rival Crystal Lake South during Friday night's football game at Prairie Ridge High School on October 15, 2021 in Crystal Lake, IL.

The name of the game in the Fox Valley Conference definitely is offense.

Coaches are correct when they say defense wins championships. To win titles and make deep playoff runs, teams need to offer a great deal of resistence.

Cary-Grove won the FVC title at 9-0 with a defense that yielded 121 points, 95 fewer than Huntley’s 216, which was second-lowest. The Trojans also put up 427 points, 39 more than Prairie Ridge’s 388, which was second.

But the rule this season in the FVC was points. In the 45 regular-season games, teams combined for an average of 59.6 points a game, a touchdown better than any season since 2016.

After Friday’s dizzying 69-48 victory over Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp cracked a smile at his 7-2 team.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had three games like that, and we’re getting used to playing in games like that,” Schremp said. “It’s fun for our offense. The kids are executing really well.”

Prairie Ridge played in all three FVC games this season where both opponents passed 40 points. For the season, an FVC team scored more than 40 points in 31 games.

The question is, will high-powered offenses be enough for FVC teams now as the playoffs start this week?

C-G’s defense, which allows 13.4 points a game, should serve the Trojans well in the postseason. But the other FVC playoff teams’ defensive averages are as follows: Jacobs (28.2), Hampshire (28.5), Prairie Ridge (29.0), Central (33.8) and Crystal Lake South (35.3).

FVC teams scored 2,683 points in the regular season; they scored 2,416 total (including playoffs) in 2019. In three seasons previous to that, the averages were 49.6 (2018), 52.1 (2017) and 49.5 (2016).

After Friday’s high-scoring affair, Central coach Jon McLaughlin spoke of the FVC’s offensive prowess.

“Both sides were trying to play defense the best we can, and it was tough,” McLaughlin said. “We both get to play again next week. I’m sure we’ll both represent the Fox Valley well.”

Rockets ready for another run: Richmond-Burton (9-0) is in the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season and rides a 29-game winning streak into its Class 4A first-round home game. The No. 2-seeded Rockets host No. 15 Chicago Sullivan (6-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.

R-B won the Class 4A state championship in 2019 after losing in the semifinals to IC Catholic in 2018. The Rockets have another productive offense and its defense has allowed 91 points.

“The defense plays hard every down,” Rockets coach Mike Noll said. “We try and not give up big plays. (Defensive coordinator) Steve Wood says all the time, ‘First downs, not touchdowns.’ We try and think defense first because defensive wins championships.

“We really prepare hard each week, lots of film and lots or practice. We are playing well and are relatively healthy, so we feel good about the playoffs.”

R-B beat Marengo, 42-24, on Friday, which was the most points the Rockets defense has allowed this season.

Remarkable run: C-G is ranked No. 2 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll to East St. Louis and is seeded No. 1 in the northern half of the 6A bracket.

The Trojans have been in the playoffs every year since 2004 and have been to at least the quarterfinals 12 times. They never lost a playoff opener during that stretch and only four times (2007, 2011, 2013 and 2017) have they lost in the second round. C-G won state titles in 2009 and 2018 and was runner-up in 2012 and 2014.

Prairie Ridge is in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season and has been to seven semifinal games since 2009 and four state title games since 2011 (winning three).

R-B has been to the semifinals five times since 2008 and to the title game twice (2011 and 2019).

Postseason notables: Marengo is in the playoffs for the third consecutive season and for the fifth time in six years. The Indians lost to Chicago Phillips in the 2015 semifinals.

Marengo missed the playoffs in 2017, but have been back every season since under coach Paul Forsythe.

Crystal Lake South returns for the third consecutive season and Crystal Lake Central is back for the third time in four years.

Hampshire is the local school in the playoffs after the longest stint not in the postseason. The Whip-Purs last made it in 2015 under former coach Mike Brasile, now the head coach at Woodstock.

Jacobs made the playoffs seven out of eight years under former coach Bill Mitz, but missed out in 2018 and 2019. First-year head coach Brian Zimmerman, who was on Mitz’s staff, has the Golden Eagles back in the Class 7A field.

Hurricane force: Marian Central cleaned up on the postseason honors in the CCL-ESCC Red Division, which were announced Monday.

Senior lineman Luke Dalton was named Lineman of the Year, sophomore wide receiver Christian Bentancur was Offensive Player of the Year and coach Darren Fortin was named Coach of the Year.

Dalton will sign with Cincinnati and played on both lines for the Hurricanes (4-5, 2-0 Red). Bentancur, who is 6-foot-3, was a difficult matchup for defensive backs.

Marian beat Chicago Leo, 29-0, and finished the season with a 55-28 victory over Chicago DePaul in its division games.

Fortin led the Hurricanes within one win of making the Class 4A playoffs. They played a difficult schedule that included four teams (IC Catholic, Providence, St. Rita and Fenwick) ranked in the top five in their respective classes.