The playoff picture with two football games remaining


The Trojans football team has done some amazing things over the last two decades. 

They have made it to six state championships, winning half of them. They haven’t had a losing season since 2003, and since that time, they have qualified for the playoffs 18 years in a row. 

That streak will restart, however, if the Trojans aren’t able to win their last two games against Burlington Central and Hampshire. 

Cary-Grove sits at 3-4 after three straight losses to Prairie Ridge, Huntley, and Jacobs. They have a big challenge in front of them because of this, although the path is crystal clear. 

The Trojans’ season rests on these final two battles, CG needing to come out on top in both. 

“If we don’t win, we don’t make the playoffs, so that’s our goal now, to win,” Coach Seaburg said. 

Just to make sure we all realize how big a SINGLE loss in the last two games would be, here are the concrete records and season outcomes from last year to this year alone. 

2021: 9-0 regular season, 14-0 overall, 6A State Champion 

2022: 4-5 or 3-6 

That is certainly a huge swing in less than 365 days, and even if the Trojans end up qualifying for the playoffs at 5-4, a four-game difference in two years, especially for a program like Cary-Grove’s, is monumental. 

Ok, so now that we know the big pendulum swing for this team, let’s look at the games ahead. 

This Friday, the Rockets of Burlington Central play host to the Trojans. BC comes in with the same mark as the Trojans, and this is the first test for Cary-Grove in their quest to possibly take part in a 10th game once again. 

If the Trojans get it done against Central, they will battle Hampshire, currently at 0-7, who will definitely come in with a fire lit as they try to knock CG out of playoff contention. 

Cary-Grove will have the support of Trojan Nation in this game, and that can make a huge difference when it comes to whether or not the Trojans take part in an extra bout days from Halloween. 

If CG does what they need to, we could witness a 10th game this season. 

You probably noticed I didn’t use absolute language, right? That’s because of the IHSA rules for playoff football. 

The 2022-23 edition of the rulebook says that 5-win teams do qualify for the playoffs, but they aren’t guaranteed a spot. Only 256 of the 481 squads in IHSA football contend for a slot, with a handful sporting the same 5-4 record. 

As expected, there is an extensive process that is conducted to determine the official teams. 

Here is a quick rundown below: 

  • When ties need to be broken, each win by every team marks a point earned 
  • If there is still a tie, only note games won by the remaining tied teams, and award a point for each of their wins 
  • If two teams are left standing, use head-to-head competition
  • Note playoff teams the tied teams beat, and award a point 
  • Eventually, if all 256 slots are not filled, there will be a blind draw for the remaining teams 

Based on all of that, and much more from the IHSA football playoff conditions, Cary-Grove may just miss out, even with a 5-4 win-loss mark. 

That is why it is key that the Trojans save these last two games for their best performances of the season, and with those performances, a little bit of luck could come their way.