FLOSSMOOR | Darrion Sole and his Homewood-Flossmoor teammates picked up bulletin board material from some of their former teammates.
It has been a reminder to have faith in themselves.
"Alumni. Last year's seniors said we might go 5-4," Sole said. "We lost a lot of (them) and we lost one of our lineman, Devin Pitts, over the summer (ACL). We were young and with our schedule, it would be tough.
"Well, it has been tough, but we came together, seniors, juniors and sophomores and played hard."
The Vikings are 8-1, with their lone loss to Bolingbrook, as they face Sandburg (5-4) in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs. H-F beat the Eagles 48-10 on Oct. 4.
Sole said he took it upon himself to be a leader and to work with the younger players.
"We have a lot of sophomores playing, so it was a matter of showing them things, keeping their confidence up," Sole said. "We were confident in ourselves and we put in the work over the summer."
What Sole did was work on his strength and technique. Quarterback Isaac Cutrara said Sole is one of the reasons the Vikings are averaging 38.2 points per game.
"He is perfect in his snaps every time," Cutrara said. "I am confident, and we all are, of him. He is a big part of our offensive line giving that big push and why we move the ball so well."
Offensive linemen generally go about their work unnoticed, unless they make a mistake. Some don't want the pressure of the person who starts a play, but Sole said he loves playing center and the fact that he is the catalyst doesn't bother him.
"I know I have to get a good snap for us to have a big play," Sole said. "Everything and everyone has to work together. I do my job, Ike, Vashon Nutt, Deonta (Harley-Hampton) and Devanta (Harley-Hampton) can do theirs and put points up on the board."
Offensive line coach Tom Cicero said Sole just takes the field and does his job.
"He takes his job seriously and works every day on his snaps," Cicero said. "Darrion wants to be perfect."
Sole said it is just not snaps, but calling the huddle. Former Bears offensive line coach Tony Wise would be proud of him.
"I can't stand a sloppy huddle, then guys walking up to the line," Sole said. "I call a go-do huddle because Ike calls the play and if you are sharp on that, it carries over to your running up to the line and being ready to make a play."