The potential for distraction is high. So is the potential for some spectacular to happen. With that in mind, the Quincy High School football players weren’t going to let any shenanigans go on Friday night at the hotel to ruin their chances in today’s Class 6A first-round playoff matchup with Chicago Morgan Park.
“We’re here for business,” senior fullback D.J. Powell said. “We ain’t here for fun.”
There’s potential for fun if the Blue Devils pull off the upset. For Quincy (7-2) to potentially come home for a second-round game, a lot has to go right. Here are three keys that could determine if the season of dreams continues:
1. Churn, baby, churn
Morgan Park has an explosive offense, with lots of speed and lots of athletes. How do you control that? Keep them on the sideline. Quincy needs to have exhaustive drives, the kind that last six, seven, even eight minutes. If the Blue Devils can pick up 3 or 4 yards a play and methodically move the chains, they might just frustrate the Mustangs.
“It’s a good matchup from the standpoint what we do they may not like,” Little said. “They want the ball quick and we try to go on long drives. We’re not going to get into a toe-to-toe matchup and try to duke it out. We’re going to do what we do and try to hang onto the football as long as we can.”
2. Take away big plays
The Blue Devils have not been beaten by the big play this season, and it’s critical the defense continues to be sound and forces Morgan Park to beat it with a methodical drive. It’s a simple philosophy that has led to Quincy’s defensive success — everyone flows to the ball.
“It’s how we all try to get there, every hat on the ball every play,” said senior linebacker Reed Cox, who leads the Blue Devils with 78 tackles. “It’s about trying to beat the other guy there basically.”
3. Ignore the skeptics
At the end of practice Thursday, Little made a simple request. If you don’t believe, don’t make the trip. In essence, he wanted to find out if any of the Blue Devils were listening to the skeptics who think Morgan Park is an overwhelming favorite or those who say Quincy has the toughest first-round draw of any opponent. He found out the Blue Devils believe they are as good as advertised and can complete with a Chicago Public League team.
“We play to win,” Powell said. “We feel like we’re going to win every game. We haven;t gone into one game yet thinking we were going to lose. This isn’t any different. It’s a playoff game, but we have the same attitude.”