MACHESENY PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Harlem Huskies know playoff football. What Harlem teams haven’t known is recent years is what it feels like to win in the playoffs. This Harlem team will be out to change that starting Friday night.
Each of the last seven years Harlem teams lost in the first round of the playoffs. The last postseason win for the Huskies was eight years ago in 2011.
“We don’t really worry about the past,” said Harlem senior guard Recil Hensley. “I mean we have to worry about today, tomorrow, focus on the upcoming days. Coming out Friday and taking care of business.”
“We don’t really talk about it a lot,” said senior receiver/cornerback Jalon Benson. “It’s a new coach, a new era.”
“I would say this year’s Harlem team…it’s a new team,” said quarterback James Cooper Jr. “We’re just different and with the seniors we have right now motivating us every day. It just makes everybody work hard.”
The Huskies will host Wheaton Warrenville South in a Class 7A matchup Friday night. That’s a school that has a storied football tradition that includes seven state championship teams. The Tigers won six games this season competing in the DuKane Conference.
“We got a draw this week that’s a good draw. It’s tough,” said Harlem coach Boy Moynihan. “They’re a powerhouse from the past. So we know they’re going to come in committed and we know they’re going to be disciplined.”
The Huskies are more concerned with executing their own game on a high level rather than focusing on their opponent. They went 7-2 during the regular season with the two losses being close ones to Boylan and Hononegah that were decided late in the game. The Huskies learned from those battles. The Huskies also like the improvement they’ve gotten from their run game this season and the big strides they’ve made on defense.
“I feel like everything is working really well,” said Cooper. “At the begining of the season we had penalties and everything cost us a lot of yards.”
“I think our boys have played very well this year,” said Moynihan. “I think our defense has proven itself this year and I think our offense is ready to hit its stride.”
Benson is extra motivated for this game because he had to sit out last year’s playoff game with an injury.
“This year I’m hungry because it’s my last year at the same time, so I’m like bringing over that fire from last year into this game.”
Kickoff Friday night at Harlem will be at 7:00 p.m.