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Waubonsie Valley's Austin Guido breaks open into the clear on a third-quarter touchdown run Friday in Aurora. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Rattling off its second straight 8-1 finish to close out the regular season, finding success within the confines of the regular season isn’t becoming an issue for Waubonsie Valley.
For the last 10 years, it’s finding postseason success that has eluded the Waubonsie Valley program, evidenced by owning just one postseason victory since 2001.
With last season’s 14-7 upset at the hands of 16th-seeded Belleville East serving as a grim reminder all year for the 2012 Warriors and the time is now at hand to see how they have taken to that harsh lesson last October.
“Absolutely (I’ve seen a different mentality). Practice (on Monday) was the way I’d expect of practice for the playoffs to be,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. “Lot of energy, lot of enthusiasm. Kids paying attention to detail and kids wanting to know particulars about our opponent.
“Our kids are watching Hudl video to even learn more about the guys they’re going against. I think because of that experience from last year, we had definitely more focus and all we’re thinking about is Proviso West.”
Thirteen-seeded Proviso West is the first obstacle lying in front of the fourth-seeded Warriors in what they hope will be a long postseason run in the Class 8A playoffs.
The Panthers went 6-3 while competing in the West Suburban Silver, a conference that includes the likes of Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central and Oak Park-River Forest, and has put up an average of 26.9 points per game on offense.
Defensively is where Proviso West has earned its calling card as it has posted four shutouts behind a defensive unit led by the 2011 West Suburban Silver Defensive Player of the Year, Jamaal Payton, and safety Jameer Thurman.
Payton has recorded team-highs in both tackles and sacks with 103 and eight, respectively, while Thurman is second to Payton in tackles on the Panthers with 86.
“Every team in the playoffs is a good football team because you gotta earn your way in. So, yeah, it’s a good opener in the fact that we feel that we match up well with them,” Murphy said.
Competing within the West Suburban Silver and playing six teams that reached the postseason in 2012, seventh-year Proviso West coach Famous Hulbert knows his team has seen quite a lot this year, in terms of schemes and formations.
But perhaps seeing the likes of Dylan Warden, Austin Guido and Troy Fumagalli running the triple-option might be a different element for the Panthers’ defense.
Averaging 41.2 points a game, the Warriors’ potent offense has been led by Guido, who has rushed for a program-record 1,826 yards and 27 touchdowns, another program single-season record.
“Waubonsie Valley, they’re a solid football team. I really like several of their players,” Hulbert said. “They’re a solid football team. I can say that. We’re not intimidated. We compete in the West Suburban Silver. We’re battle-tested.”