Tim Racki told people over the summer he would have a good team this season if his young guys grew up fast enough.
After allowing 42 points in each of its first two East Suburban Catholic Conference games this season, Nazareth has been a different team.
The Roadrunners (6-2, 3-2) remain in contention for a share of the league title heading into the final week of the regular season.
If Nazareth beats Marian Catholic (2-6, 0-5) and Benet (6-2, 3-2) knocks off Joliet Catholic, as few as four and as many as six teams will finish tied atop the conference standings with two losses.
"The experience, especially coming back after those games against Marist and Joliet Catholic, was beneficial," Racki said. "We have a great group of kids. They listen, they are coachable. That makes my job a lot easier.
"I was pretty firm the week after JCA (a 42-0 loss), pretty demanding. These guys have responded. They have gotten better each week. That is our goal. When you have high-character kids, it makes it special."
Nazareth gave up 42 points again following the loss to Joliet Catholic, but it came together during the next four games.
Joe Dmitri, Will Colmery and Decxavier Kelly-Martin have been applying consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and Racki said cornerbacks Doug DiFusco and Jack Dolan have been unsung contributors to the unit's success.
It is not yet clear whether Nazareth will be placed in Class 5A or Class 6A, but the Roadrunners will play in the postseason.
Oak Park (7-1) and Fenwick (7-1) both will as well, while Lyons (4-4) needs to win this week to qualify for its fifth consecutive Class 8A bid.
Because of their strong schedule, a 5-4 record will be good enough for the Lions to make the playoffs if they beat Proviso West at home Friday night.