Countdown to FNL: Downers Grove North

With a tough fall schedule ahead and plenty of experienced talent on the roster, Downers Grove North looks to prove that their run into the playoffs last season wasn't a fluke.

Last season, Downers Grove North entered the Illinois High School football playoffs as one of the last few teams in as an 8-seed. But They didn't waste any time making a statement in their first game, knocking off 1-seeded Batavia and campaigning all the way to the state quarterfinals where they fell to Benet Academy on a last second touchdown.

The West Suburban Silver Conference is one of the toughest conferences in the state from top to bottom, featuring teams like Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Oak Park-River Forest, Lyons, and Proviso West. So it's understandable why Downers North entered the playoffs with a couple losses, including one to eventual state champions Glenbard West.

But this year, with junior quarterback David Edwards leading the charge again, and several talented seniors on defense such as linebackers Vontae Diggs and Richard Olekanma, the Trojans are ready to keep the momentum rolling.

Here's a look at a few key games on their schedule this year:

Toughest Game: 9/13 - Glenbard West

The Hilltoppers are the defending state champions and had one of the nastiest defenses in the state last year. Downers North won't back off from West's smashmouth brand of football, but they'll need to be almost flawless on offense to overcome the West defense.

Because It's a Rivalry: 10/4 - Downers Grove South

These teams don't like each other, and if last year's cold wet thriller was any indication of how every year is, this one again shouldn't disappoint. The players are into it, the fans are into it, and it's a model cross-town rivalry.

Crunch Time: 10/25 - Hinsdale Central

After almost getting them last year, North takes another shot at Hinsdale Central. But this game has a lot more significance than just getting retribution for last year's contest. As the last game of the regular season, it could be a make or break game for either team in terms of their playoff futures, whether that means seeding or even getting a spot. Regardless, it's a must win.

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