Jerry Verde is not auditioning to be in a video for a Billy Joel tune.
The Crete-Monee football coach and his team may have had a little "Pressure" on them, like the tune of the same name.
They were ranked No. 1 by the Associated Press all year and everyone kept telling them how they should win every game by six touchdowns or more.
The Warriors had the top uncommitted wide receiver in the nation in Laquon Treadwell, who has not let the attention go to his head. He just made big plays and took over games while running over opponents.
Saturday at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium is where everyone expected the Warriors to be. They are 13-0 and play 13-0 Cary-Grove for the Class 6A title.
It wasn't an easy ride, but it had been a lot of fun. There were little things that went wrong along the way, but Verde was more like Jerry the Mechanic in fixing things and tweaking some things to make his team successful.
"Yes, there was a little more pressure this year than in the past," Verde said. "We just stayed focused, me and the coaching staff. We made sure the kids did."
He said he felt it before the season opener with T.F. South.
"We were playing a good program, a good team and if we lose, who knows how the season would have went," Verde said. "We play Marian the next week and struggled. The one thing is the kids never lost sight of our goals, but they also focused on the next opponent."
Well, those are one in the same Saturday. One game left. Winner take all.
Verde and his wife Angie will be married two years on Monday. In June, they welcomed their first child in Jaclyn. You could see Angie at the games with Jaclyn and Jerry holding her with her jersey which reads, "Little Verde" on the back. Then Jerry would hold his daughter while doing post-game interviews.
Jaclyn got a bout of the croup in October and the Verdes went through what no parent wants to or should go through.
"She was in the hospital for a few days," Verde said. "It was tough on me and my wife, but thank God Jaclyn is OK."
It pulled him away from football, but he knew the kind of staff he has at Crete.
"I am lucky I have a good staff and they ran things," he said.
Verde spent a lot of sleepless nights staying up with Jaclyn, but it also gave him time be a daddy. He knew he had a commitment to two families -- his and the kids counting on him. He also knew he has a staff which is hard-working, but also compassionate. Verde is the winningest coach in Crete football history with 55 wins and he has been coach for just six years.
There is also the fact that not everyone in the communities which feed into the high school appreciate what he has done. There are more and more wagon jumpers, but that is OK. You have a great team and something to be proud of.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.