They've waited almost 365 days for this game and it is here.
The Crete-Monee football team couldn't wait for a chance at redemption against Peoria Richwoods. Last year, in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, the Knights ended Crete's dreams of a state championship and an undefeated season with a 56-35 win in Peoria. The game was not as close as the final score indicated. Crete was the No. 1 team in the state and was 10-0. It beat Bloomington easily in the first round.
So here we are today. At about 1 p.m., the two will go at it. Crete-Monee is again 10-0 and looking for a program-record 11th win. It is the favorite to win Class 6A again and was ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll. Last week, it blew out Springfield 41-7. Crete hosts Peoria Richwoods in a second-round game . After having to bite their tongues and hold their feelings, the Warriors know what they have to do. What they didn't do was go all over social media and run their mouths. This group is mature and focused enough to do their talking on the field.
Another thing. Peoria Richwoods is a pretty good team to say the least. The Knights are defending state champs and the program has won four titles. Crete is looking for its first one.The Warriors have talked about that nothing short of winning the state title would be deemed a failure. That might be putting a little bit more pressure on themselves, but it's better to have that attitude than one of being satisfied.
Going 9-0 is not good enough for this program anymore. Since Jerry Verde took over in 2007, the standard has been raised and there are certain expectations and the players know it. I am not so sure that everyone in the communities that feed into the high school appreciate what he has done or what the football team has done for community and school pride.
That means having senior leadership, which Crete has. That means getting out of the gate fast and keep going against a team which has shown it can take advantage of turnovers and lackluster play. Crete-Monee has not had fast starts in Saturday afternoon games this season. Just because they have been waiting for Richwoods for almost a year, doesn't mean they are entitled to a win unless the Warriors go out and earn it.
That also means the Knights are taking this game seriously and they will not back off.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.