BELLEVILLE — The Oswego East Wolves present somewhat of a wild card for the Belleville West Maroons.
There's no common opponents between the teams. And, there's no common opponents between their two conferences -- the Southwestern Conference and the Southwest Prairie Conference.
"All we can hope is that being battle-tested in our conference pays off well for us because we don't know them and we don't know their conference very well because they are so far away,'' West coach Cameron Pettus sad. "It's exciting because it's somebody new, and it's the playoffs.''
The five-hour bus ride to Belleville probably won't seem so long for the Wolves, who will be traveling to their first-ever playoff game.
"Our kids are excited being the first time in school history, and we're just going to come down there and give it our best shot,'' Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc said.
Oswego East has existed for only 10 years, and the Wolves have been playing football for only nine years.
"When I was looking at the job, I knew it was a good situation,'' said LeBlanc, who is in second season at Oswego East after coaching previously at Chicago Curie. "I played football here at Aurora University right next to Oswego and I knew that the Oswego community was a very big football community.
"I had some friends that were in the building already, and they gave me an indication of what kind of athletes were here. It was one of those program from the outside looking in, you said, 'I wonder why they are not better than what they are?'"
The Maroons were forced to reinvent themselves on offense after quarterback Sherand Boyd went down with a knee injury in Week 6.
Running back Brian Hill shifted to quarterback and the Maroons became a run-oriented team.
"Like I told those guys, football is a lot like life,'' Pettus said. "You're going to fall down, bad things are going to happen that you don't see coming. You have to pick yourself up and you have to adapt to overcome. They've done a nice job. I'm proud of the seniors for continuing to lead the way they have.''
Today's Class 7A playoff game: Oswego East (6-3) at Belleville West (7-2), 1 p.m.
Oswego East coach Tyson LeBlanc: "The games we haven't turned the ball over, we've won. We've had some turnover issues. Part of that was because our starting running back and our starting slot receiver were both out with concussions earlier in the year and we struggled through the two games that they missed. That was two of our three losses (Plainfield South 34-3 and Oswego 44-10).
"The last game that we lost was to Romeoville (21-13), which is an athletic team a lot like West. They gave us a little bit of trouble up front and caused our quarterback to make a couple of errant throws, and that cost us that game.''
West coach Cameron Pettus: "They're a spread team. Their quarterback leads them -- he can sling it around -- and they can run the ball as well. Defensively, they like to attack you, they like to blitz. They run a 3-4 on defense and they like to bring a lot of different combinations under that 3-4, so they can get mismatches and blown assignments. That's what they do, and they do a good job.''
Key players: Oswego East -- QB Tyler Kennedy (120 of 243 passing for 1,320 yards with 10 TDs and 12 Ints.); RB Khalil Driver (111 carries for 596 yards and 7 TDs); TE Conor Nally (26 catches for 480 yards and 4 TDs); LB Zach Prinz (52 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and PK Jason Evans (6-for-8 FG, 24-for-26 PAT). Belleville West -- QB-RB Brian Hill (79 carries for 730 yards and 15 TDs); RB Antoine Davis 120 carries for 697 yards and 8 TDs); WR Brendan Saak (26 catches for 384 yards and 2 TDs); LB Tori Millender (97 tackles) and DL Ricky Nelson (six sacks)
Notes: The Wolves are balanced on offense with 1,320 passing yards and 1,323 rushing yards. ... The Maroons are making their 11th playoff appearance in school history, including their fifth appearance in the last six years.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.