FULTON, Ill. — Heading into the final game with a 4-4 record, coach Patrick Lower knows one thing for sure when it comes to the football playoff picture in Illinois.
“I know 4-5 doesn’t get us in,” he said Thursday night on the eve of Fulton’s trip to Manlius to square off with Bureau Valley (3-5). “(A record of) 5-4 will keep us hanging into it until the very end, for sure. Our goal is to go down there, get the win, be 5-4 and let the IHSA tell us we’re not in.”
The Illinois High School Association announces the 256-team, eight-class playoff field Saturday night. The Steamers know they will need some help to advance since they have only 31 playoff points (based on number of wins by opponents).
“The way we see it, 5-4 keeps us in the picture,” Lower said. “We’ll need some help. We need some 4-4 teams to lose. Hopefully, we can, first and foremost, get the win and then have some things go our way.”
Things have been going about as well as possible recently for the Steamers, and if they qualify, they’ll enter the playoffs on a roll.
Fulton has won three straight games, outscoring those opponents 129-25.
“We’re playing our best football right now,” Lower said. “That shows the character of the 13 seniors.”
If nothing else, they can take satisfaction out of getting into the playoff picture.
“That’s the first thing we said after the Amboy game,” Lower said, referring to a 37-13 win last Friday, “that Week 9 matters, and that’s huge for any team.”
The Steamers are trying to overcome a four-game losing streak after they knocked off a then-ranked Orion team in the season opener. Senior quarterback Ethan Jones was injured and missed games during the skid. And a blocked field goal attempt in the final minute was costly in a one-point loss to Morrison.