Champaign or Bust!

Is this the year that "The Brook" breaks through? John Ivlow has had some good teams in his tenure as head coach of the Raiders but this could be the team that ends up hoisting the big trophy in Champaign.

Bolingbrook was pasted last year in the state-playoffs by Mt. Carmel. A re-match between the two powerhouses could happen in round 2 and that game would be in Bolingbrook.

"We just weren't very good last year," Coach Ivlow said. "It's just that simple. We were young and didn't have a lot of experience on either side of the ball.

"We needed a year to mature and right now, we're a very good football team but we're not looking past tonight. Bolingbrook is a feeder for Neuqua Valley. There are kids with Bolingbrook addresses on their team.

"They don't like us and they want to beat us. Neuqua Valley is 5-4 but they've lost some close games to some play-off caliber teams and we won't look past them."

Coaches never want to look past the game in front of them. That's my job. I see Bolingbrook playing Loyola for the 8A state championship.

The Raiders have arguably the best football player in the state in dual-threat quarterback Aaron Bailey. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is absolutely electric when he runs and he has a cannon for an arm.

Back from injury is the best kept secret in the state, 6-foot-3, 200-pound wide receiver Xavier Perkins. The Brook's only loss came to 7A #1 seed Lincoln-Way East. Perkins didn't play in that game and he definitely could've played a big role in the outcome of that game.

The Raiders don't have a Dale Martin or an Eric Smith in the backfield but they have a stable of outstanding running backs in Omar Stover, Jaden Huff, DJ Pruitt & Plainfield South transfer Darien Brown.

The offensive line is anchored by three-year starter and D-1 prospect Robbie Bain.

As impressive as the offense is at Bolingbrook, it's the Raiders defense that opponents will have nightmares trying to figure out.

The Brook has the #1 defensive player in the state with Florida bound linebacker Antonio Morrison and he's surrounded by a bunch of hard-hitting playmakers.

Greg Gordon has had a very good year at defensive end and the middle of the d-line is manned by 6-foot-4, 330-pound Anthony Sharp, also having excellent seasons are Erik McDowell and Anthony Harris.

The Raiders defensive backfield is coached by former Bolingbrook and University of Michigan star cornerback Todd Howard and he's had some good ones to work with this year.

Opposing receivers and quarterbacks will have to deal with 6-foot-3, 180-pound assassin Tevin Teamer as well as Diaron Rhodes and Phillip Wilson.

If there's one thing I've learned in 35 years of watching high school football is that in state play-off action, anyone can win or lose on any given day.

You need some luck; a few breaks and you have to stay healthy. It also doesn't hurt to have the horses and Bolingbrook has the horses to win its first state championship.

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