Evergreen Park reached the Class 4A state quarterfinals in 2011 and semifinals in 2012 with little fanfare.
The lack of publicity has been a rallying point for the Mustangs, who probably will have to find a new source of motivation after their attention-demanding 35-34 upset of then-No. 14 Richards on Friday night in Oak Lawn.
Evergreen Park is a 4A school, Richards is 6A.
"Our kids sometimes feel we don't get as much media coverage as similar schools, even with those playoff runs the last two years where we won some big games," Evergreen Park coach Dan Hartman said. "We like to play the underdog role. Our kids take to it well."
A month from now, Evergreen Park (5-0) may well be considered the favorite to win a state championship whether or not senior quarterback Jonathan O'Brien returns from the broken collar bone he suffered in the second quarter against Richards.
The Mustangs did not miss a beat with junior backup Sean Ryan, who battled O'Brien for the job throughout the summer.
Ryan (11-for-17, 121 yards) engineered the game-winning 80-yard drive in four minutes, running the final 7 yards for the winning score.
The team's Division I prospect, Jacquet McClendon, had a big game, catching eight passes for 142 yards and two TDs and intercepting a Richards pass on the game's final play.
Tim Walsh also recorded a pick, his fifth of the season.
With four games remaining before the playoffs, Hartman hinted at the motivational chords he will strike.
"We haven't won a (South Suburban Red) conference title since moved from the SICA (in 2006)," Hartman said. "Next week we play another 5-0 team (Argo). It would be real easy for the kids to have a letdown. That will be a big emphasis."
Another upset: Naperville North (2-3) may have saved its season Friday night with a 21-14 upset of then-No. 6 Wheaton Warrenville South that also could impact not only the DuPage Valley Conference race, but the Class 8A and 7A playoffs.
A loss would have dropped the Huskies to 1-4 and forced them to run the table and beat Naperville Central (5-0) in Week 9 to qualify for playoffs.
Instead, North simply must take care of business in winnable games against Lake Park, Glenbard East and West Aurora to put itself in the 8A field.
Every bigger school that qualifies makes it that much more likely No. 1 Mount Carmel, the defending Class 8A champion, will drop to 7A.
Going into this weekend, 43 schools with enrollments larger than Mount Carmel's were 2-2 or better. The largest 32 schools that qualify for the playoffs are placed in 8A.
He's got leg: Benet kicker John Duvic's powerful right leg could loom large in the Class 7A playoffs.
In recent years, 7A powers Glenbard West, Lincoln-Way East, Lake Zurich and Wheaton Warrenville South have consistently won low-scoring games in the latter rounds of the postseason.
Benet (5-0) is also an outstanding defensive team, and its offense won't have to be as productive as the opposition to score.
In the last two weeks, Duvic kicked nine field goals — three from 50 yards or beyond. His 54-yarder in Benet's 40-7 victory over Marian Catholic on Friday night broke his father's school record by 1 yard.
Going for three: Two-time defending champion Aurora Christian looks like the team to beat again in Class 3A despite the graduation of three Division I players.
Don Beebe's Eagles held St. Francis' James Butler to 37 yards on 14 carries in their 24-14 victory Friday night.
Aurora Christian will play host to No. 3 Montini, the four-time defending 5A champ, on Oct. 19 in what could be the de facto Suburban Christian championship game.