Unbeaten local teams chasing playoff berth

Unbeaten local teams chasing playoff berth

It can take time for a high school football coach to gain the trust of players, instill a desired culture and make a team worrisome for opponents.

Don't tell that to a handful of local leaders.

Eleven area programs boast a 3-0 record entering Week 4 action. Five of them are helmed by a man who is in his first, second or third season with that squad.

"I think every coach thinks that if everything goes correctly, you can win every game," said Clinton boss Chris Ridgeway, who took control of the Maroons last April. "Did I think if we executed, we could be in this spot? Yeah."

Ridgeway is joined by Tri-County's Brian Anderson in the category of first-year perfection through three tilts.

Both Argenta-Oreana's Steve Kirk and St. Joseph-Ogden's Shawn Skinner carry a 3-0 mark to begin their respective second seasons, and Prairie Central head Kirk Brandenburg is spotless to start his third campaign.

The kicker is, only Kirk's Bombers and Brandenburg's Hawks even qualified for an IHSA postseason bracket in 2017.

In Ridgeway's situation, he feels assistants who stuck around from the previous year have made easier his desire to build "on the culture we wanted to get started."

"There's been moments not just at practice, but some of our social media things we do where we communicate with the kids," Ridgeway said. "I think we've really preached family and (that) football is more than just going out and trying to win games."

Each of these clubs is just two triumphs away from garnering playoff consideration, and three from guaranteeing a postseason spot.

And though all five have experienced a recent berth — Tri-County's "drought" is the lengthiest at three years — these relatively new coaches' strong results matter beyond what happens in 2018.

"Especially with some of our younger guys, they really thrive on momentum," Ridgeway said. "It's sort of like they have to have that success to feel they can build (more) success."