A preview look at Pontiac at Olympia for Week 6 of the football season.
Pontiac’s magic number to clinching a football playoff berth is one. That number will be reached on Friday with a victory over Olympia.
But, just because the Spartans have just one win, and the Indians are unbeaten, doesn’t mean it will be easy. Sure, the PTHS folks are hoping it will be, but the coaching staff knows better.
“We’ve been focusing not taking these guys for granted,” PTHS head coach Alan Kuchefski said on Wednesday. “We talked about this game, it’s one of those classic ones; we just got done beating a real good St. Joe team on our homecoming (and) the temptation is to look ahead to next week and we have Monticello coming in. This is your definition of a ‘trap’ game.”
By defeating St. Joseph-Ogden last week, the Indians put themselves in a position to be considered with their fifth win. A 5-4 record and 40 points is a good spot to get in. However, at this point, if the Tribe finishes 5-4, there are greater concerns for the coaches to consider. But Kuchefski and the Indians aren’t looking at that aspect. The focus is Olympia and get that sixth win — and not fall into that trap.
Pontiac almost fell into trap against Olympia a number of years ago, when the Spartans came to PTHS and nearly pulled off an upset in the first round of the playoffs. The Indians, playing without a number of regulars, escaped with a 28-21 victory to move on to the second round.
The Indians placed second in Class 5A that season, but the playoff run nearly ended before it really got started.
“Coach (Buck) Casson pointed out the peril of taking an Olympia team lightly and what it almost cost. You cannot overlook this team,” Kuchefski said. Casson was a senior starter on that PTHS team.
Olympia is coming off a 45-0 loss to Tolono at Memorial Stadium in Champaign-Urbana. The Spartans lone win is a 22-15 victory over Central Catholic two weeks ago. Oly also has one-touchdown setbacks to St. Thomas More and Rantoul.
Matthew Cooksey is the top player for the Spartans. The senior back is the leading rusher and receiver, so Olympia tries to get him the ball as much as possible.
Eric Lyons is the new coach for Olympia. Kuchefski and Lyons are familiar with each other’s ideas and coaching styles.
Kuchefski believes the Spartans will throw a number of looks at his club, including the possibility of running some mid-line option.
“We have to play good assignment football, communicate with one another,” Kuchefski said.
Offensive success hasn’t been that great, however, as Olympia has scored 82 points through five games — all coming in games 2, 3 and 4. Monticello and Tolono have posted shutouts against the Spartans.
Pontiac has allowed 81 points this season, with a high of 30 coming two weeks ago at Prairie Central.
On defense, Olympia has seen 185 points scored against it. Pontiac has put up 173 points this season, which is third highest in the conference.
As for what to expect, Kuchefski has just the two game films that were traded. Still, he is expecting to see his team run as diverse an attack as possible. This means being able to throw and run the ball with equal aplomb, regardless of the defensive look the Tribe gets.
“We’re preparing for a couple different things to cover our bases,” Kuchefski said. “We’ve seen just about everything, so it’s more of a review than having to teach something new.”
As for not being prepared for this week, that’s just not going to be an issue. Kuchefski felt that planning one week at a time is what needs to be done because of the strength of the Illini Prairie Conference schedule.
“We have quality enough opponents, I think (playing one week at a time) takes care of itself,” Kuchefski said.