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In this state, the magic number for high school football teams is “6.”
As in, six wins guarantees a team a spot in the playoffs. Some five-win teams will get in as well on a tiebreaker, but that’s an iffy proposition.
Six wins is the sure-fire road to glory.
We’re heading into Week 5 of the season, and of the 20 area teams that started the season dreaming of the playoffs, 12 have two or fewer losses.
Teams in great position right now include Lakes, Grant, Libertyville, Grayslake North, Lake Zurich, Lake Forest, and Stevenson.
Also in good shape will be the winner of Saturday’s game between 3-1 Wauconda and 4-0 North Chicago.
The area’s 2-2 teams are Waukegan, Antioch and Warren. Waukegan has no margin for error — it must beat Niles West on Friday, as it still has to play state superpower Maine South.
Warren hurt itself with a loss to Libertyville last week, but is capable of beating Lake Zurich, Stevenson and Lake Forest.
Antioch could do itself a lot of good by beating Lakes in its rivalry game on Friday night.
Already, some early-season losses are coming back to haunt area squads.
Antioch lost a 6-3 game to Waukegan, Zion-Benton lost a winnable game to Deerfield, and
Waukegan stumbled inexplicably against Niles North.
Antioch would look way better at 3-1 right now with games to go against Lakes and Grant.
Waukegan would be in a nice spot a 3-1, since it still has to run the Glenbrook South/New Trier/Maine South gauntlet in the Central Suburban South.
Carmel is 1-3 but will only need five wins to make the playoffs due to their difficult schedule.
They need to beat Nazareth on the road Saturday.