What the Washington football coach learned from playing Morton and Kankakee
Common opponents litter the football schedules of Morton and Washington.
Obviously, the six league members appear on each of the Mid-Illini Conference co-champion’s slate. However, since entering the Class 5A playoffs, Morton will face both of Washington’s nonconference foes — Highland and Kankakee.
Washington beat Highland 30-20 to open the season. The Panthers then lost to Kankakee, 28-14 in Week 2. Three weeks later, Washington claimed a 35-14 win over Morton.
Following that loss to Washington, Morton has reeled off seven successive wins highlighted by three postseason victories including a 56-33 win over Highland in the Class 5A opening round. The Potters (10-2) now will play at No. 2 Kankakee (12-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the state semifinals.
IHSA football playoffs 2021:Playoff pairings, schedule, game times
Kankakee's speed poses a threat
Washington coach Darrell Crouch has game-planned for both 5A final four participants, so he has some pretty good insight on what the teams can expect from each other. One of the biggest factors, according to Crouch, is the speed Kankakee possesses at all positions.
Kankakee all-state defensive back Jyaire Hill covered an incredible amount of ground, going from one hash mark to the other for a one-handed interception early in the game against Washington.
“He was pretty special,” Crouch said. “Their defensive line is super athletic besides the linebackers and secondary, so that made it tough. They pressured us pretty well.”
Kankakee boasts a trio of three-year starters on its defensive front seven in lineman Jospeh Shannon, end Marques Covington and linebacker Nick Hall. The Kays have been stingy on defense, allowing 11.2 points a game including three shutouts and allowing over 20 points just one time.
Morton quarterback Layne Kaufman, all-state running back Seth Glatz and his offensive line will be in for a big test, said Crouch.
“Maybe Seth will be fast enough that he can go the distance,” Crouch said of the all-stater with 3,064 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns. “If (Morton) can run the ball ... I think they're going to have to throw the ball some. But I don't know, maybe they're just going to say that, ‘This is what we do, and we're going to do it and see what happens.’ ”
Crouch had another look at Kankakee when preparing for last week's Class 6A quarterfinal against Crete-Monee. The Kays beat C-M, 28-20, in Week 9 for the first time in three seasons and claimed their first-ever Southland Conference championship.
These teams — Kankakee and Crete-Monee — are a lot alike in Crouch's mind.
"Crete was maybe a little bit more physical," Crouch said, "but very similar in the speed aspect of what (Kankakee) were."
Coaches share some insight
Morton coach Tim Brilley says he and Crouch exchanged a few text messages, but nothing in-depth about Kankakee. That's one problem with trying to get a scout on a team from 10 weeks ago — a lot has changed.
Plus, being inundated with film can almost be detrimental, Brilley said.
“Everybody is so much different than they were Week 2 — us included,” Brilley said. “We got the last few games (from Kankakee on film) and try to go off that.
“It's a blessing and a curse to have 1,000 films … obviously, you want to look at everything and make sure you got everything covered, but at the same time it just increases your workload a great deal and you got to just kind of keep focusing on what you do well.”
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.