Unbeaten Ironmen kick off Class 7A playoff quest against Argo Argonauts

The Ironmen look to improve to 10-0 when they host the Argo Argonauts in the opening round of the IHSA playoffs.
The Ironmen look to improve to 10-0 when they host the Argo Argonauts in the opening round of the IHSA playoffs.
Mr. Jeff Christopherson

The undefeated Ironmen begin their playoff run at home against the Argo Argonauts of Summit (5-4) tonight after finishing the regular season 9-0 with last week’s 42-0 win over the Peoria Manual Rams.

The Big 12 Champions earned the top seed in Class 7A after favorite Chicago Mt. Carmel suffered their first loss of the season, falling 23-21 to 8A Loyola Academy on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Argo, the 32-seed, became playoff eligible in the final week of the regular season, earning their fifth win with a 17-14 victory over the Thornton Fractional South Red Wolves on Oct. 19.

The Argonauts overcame a 14-point deficit, scoring 17 unanswered points to punch their ticket to the postseason.

The victory came on Argo’s Senior Night, snapping a three-game losing streak, guaranteeing the Argonaut seniors four more quarters of play.

Friday’s playoff appearance is historic for the Argonauts, as it marks the first time in school history they have made the playoffs in consecutive years.

Last season, Phillip Rossberg took over coaching duties for the Argonauts, leading the team to back-to-back playoff appearances.

Before 2022, Argo last played in the postseason in 2013.

In two seasons under Rossberg, Argo has two playoffs appearances. In 51 other seasons, Argo has made the playoffs just three times.

Rossberg’s accomplishments? Historic? Yes. Impressive? Maybe slightly less so, as all of Argo’s victories this season came against opponents with losing records. The Argonauts’ five wins came against opponents with a combined season record of 15-29.

Making it to the postseason isn’t a problem for the Ironmen, who have 27 straight playoff appearances.

But history is just that–history, according to Ironmen head coach Mr. Jason Drengwitz.

Previous playoff experience? Records? That’s “irrelevant.”

“We know we’re going to get the best version of them. They have really good players,” Drengwitz said. “They’re really well coached.”

Some of those players Community has to account fo include South Suburban Red All-Conference selections like senior wideout Beandre Dugans, defensive lineman Jacob Fries, junior running back Steve Holmes and linebacker Maciej Jarosz.

Jarosz jas led the team in tackles for two consecutive seasons, and looks to be a factor in trying to control Community’s run game.

Argo’s inside linebackers, Drengwitz said, “are both really good downhill physical players that will hit you.”

But the head coach is less concerned with the opponent’s scouting report than his own team.

An Iron victory isn’t about the matchup, the experience, the opponenent…

“We have to be the best version of ourselves. Regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of how many times they’ve been in a playoffs…,” Drengwitz said.

“Our kids know it’s the playoffs; they know the stakes are raised.”

But, the coach said, the Ironmen always try to treat each game with a playoff mentality.

“How we prepare, how we practice,” Drengwitz said, “we feel like we prepare that way all the time.”

The winner of Friday’s contest advances to round two of the IHSA playoffs, taking on the winner of Bradley-Bourbonnais (16)/St. Charles North(17).

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