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FEATURE ARTICLE

 

The "Biggest" Game of the Season

By Aaron Brown

 

With the sectional quarterfinals beginning on Wednesday, most teams will spend Monday afternoon getting prepared with a practice session to go over scouting reports about their opponents later in the week. The most important week of the season calls for as much preparation as possible as teams face the realization that a loss means their season is over.

 

Yet, Monday night also marks some of the most important games of the season for certain teams. Most of the games on the schedule are known as play-in games between the lowest seeds in each sectional. While many of the teams playing in these games have records that are below .500, these contests provide plenty of incentive to the participants when they play what could be the final game of their 2010 season.

 

In taking a close look at one example from tomorrow night's schedule, one realizes that two teams will be playing with a difference in motivation in order to achieve the same goal: WINNING!

 

Tomorrow night at 5:45pm, Hoffman Estates plays host to Rolling Meadows in a game between the eighth and ninth seeds within the Barrington Sectional. The winner earns the reward of facing top-seeded Palatine on Wednesday night at Barrington. The two teams come from the Mid-Suburban League and are relatively close to each other in proximity, yet they did not face each other in the regular season.

 

Rolling Meadows features a pair of seniors that could be playing in their last high school competition. Both Damian Fitzsimons and Dan Briggs have led the way offensively for the Mustangs this season, so they head into this game simply hoping to see their season last another two days if they can earn a win over the Hawks tomorrow night.

 

On the other hand, Hoffman Estates enters the contest with a lineup that does not contain one senior. That means that head coach Chris Fetterman can prepare his team to use this game as a springboard to the 2011 season. The team gets to play in an important game with everything on the line, knowing full well that they can use this experience when the following season rolls around. A win in this game could give a young team the motivation it needs to improve in the offseason and come back better prepared  to achieve better results the following year.

 

In fact, I talked to Chris over the weekend and he shared those exact thoughts about his team. To paraphrase, he stated that this game feels more like the beginning of better things to come instead of the end of the season.

 

(Editor's note: I'm not sure if Chris remembers saying this, since he is from Detroit and was probably sulking after the Red Wings got knocked out of the playoffs. Had to fit that comment in there. Sorry, Chris.)

 

Perhaps earning the eighth seed is a blessing in disguise for his team, since the seventh seed would have meant a first round matchup with #9 McHenry (25-4). Instead, both the Hawks and Mustangs get to battle on Monday night for the fifth win of their respective seasons.

 

The Hawks' feature junior Mike Christen along with a trio of sophomores, Jordan Kathe, Mike Desider, and Sang M. Han, plus three freshmen, Adam Pasnicki, Logan Gizel, and Sang W. Han. Their bench also features several young players that should return next season.

 

The Mustangs also have a selection of players that return next season, like juniors Kevin Fitzsimons, Sam Schmid, and Travis Farrell, so they can also use this game as a springboard for bigger and better things.

 

But for now, the main goal remains the same when game time rolls around tomorrow at Hoffman Estates High School. Win and the season continues...

 

 

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