Sometimes, going on a road trip can create an "us-against-the-world" approach for a team.
Edwardsville coach Matt Martin hopes that will be the case when his Tigers (10-0) play at Bradley-Bourbonnais (7-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday in a Class 7A second-round playoff game.
"Sometimes being on the road can limit distractions around here," Martin said. "(But) you can make positive and negative cases for it all. The bottom line is you've got to go out and perform. Once you get on the field, it's about you and your opponent. If you have a pretty mature group, I think they can handle everything involved with traveling."
"It requires a little more organization on our part, a little more effort on our part. But if you want to compete for the state championship at this level, at some point you're going to have to travel. You would rather do it sooner in the playoffs than later."
Today's game: Edwardsville at Bradley-Bourbonnais, 3 p.m.
Scouting the Boilermakers: Bradley-Bourbonnais prefers to run but never deserts the pass.
Jarrod Ware is the top rusher with 1,074 yards and 15 touchdowns on 148 carries. Quarterback Gionte Mason is 52-for-99 for 643 yards and four TDs, while receiver L.J. Harris has 29 catches for 371 yards and three TDs while also rushing for 444 yards and four TDs out of the Boilermakers' wildcat offense. Tim Stone has rushed for 537 yards and eight TDs.
"No. 9's pretty athletic and he runs the ball real well," Martin said of Ware. "No. 5 (Harris) is a wide receiver and when he's out there, they want to throw it to him. And they'll put him in a wildcat package. When he's behind center, they want to run with him. You might know what's coming, but you've still got to stop it.
"The wildcat's not real complicated. It just means you're going to have a pretty good athlete with the ball in his hands and he has an opportunity to make plays. You've got to be where you're supposed to be and you've got to tackle."
Martin said Bradley-Bourbonnais reminds him of Belleville East "size-wise, up front, and defensively as well."
"But Belleville East doesn't have the wide receiver/wildcat package like they do, so that would definitely separate them," he said.
Last week: Edwardsville advanced last Saturday by thrashing Tinley Park Andrew 59-28 in the first round as junior quarterback Dan Marinko rushed for five TDs. The Tigers' 59 points were a season-high. Bradley-Bourbonnais had a 17-point lead against Pekin but barely held on for a 24-20 victory.
Marinko mania: Marinko has turned in a remarkable season and will pose all sorts of problems for the Boilermakers defense. He has passed for 2,279 yards and 27 TDs, with just four interceptions. He has rushed for a team-best 416 yards and 14 TDs.
"Usually, when he makes good decisions and plays well, good things happen for us," Martin said.
Marinko's favorite targets are senior Darius Crochrell (54 catches, 746 yards, 13 TDs), junior Isaiah Michl (29 catches, 591 yards, seven TDs) and junior Fontez Davis (26 catches, 441 yards, two TDs).
On defense, the Tigers have a hammer in the middle in junior linebacker Zac Rujawitz (65 tackles, two sacks).
Up next: The Edwardsville vs. Bradley-Bourbonnais winner will play Oswego East or Lincoln-Way East in the quarterfinals next weekend. The Wolves and Griffins will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.