Ludlum, Jacobs motivated by underdog tag

  • Jacobs' Ben Ludlum says the Golden Eagles relish the role of underdog. Jacobs plays at Prospect Saturday night in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

    Jacobs' Ben Ludlum says the Golden Eagles relish the role of underdog. Jacobs plays at Prospect Saturday night in the Class 7A quarterfinals. Matthew Apgar/

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 11/9/2021 2:08 PM


Jacobs senior running back Ben Ludlum is having none of that.


"To be honest, I don't really pay attention to that stuff," said Ludlum, who will direct the Golden Eagles in the Class 7A quarterfinals Saturday night in Mount Prospect against Prospect.

Jacobs (8-3) is the No. 19 seed in the bracket, while Prospect (9-2) is No. 11.

"When I see we are projected to lose or how we were projected to go 3-6 this year, it really motivates me more, but I try to stay away from all of that because our team knows what we are capable of," Ludlum said.

Ludlum said nothing has really changed for the Golden Eagles, except one key factor. "I think we've always been a good team," he said. "We were just never reaching our full potential, and I feel like each week we prove to ourselves how good of a football team we are and can be going forward."

Jacobs has won four in a row and six of its last seven games.

Cary-Grove bulldozer:

The area's other remaining playoff team is 11-0 Cary-Grove, which is set to host fellow Fox Valley Conference entrant Crystal Lake Central at 1 p.m. Saturday at Al Bohrer Field in Cary.

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The Trojans are the No. 1 seed in the top half of the Class 6A bracket, while Central is the No. 12 seed.

"At this point, everyone knows their job every week," Cary-Grove senior defensive end-tackle Zach Petko said. "It's not just getting to the right spot anymore. At this point in the playoffs you have to constantly be trying to make a play, and I think that the talent we have this year combined with the preparation that everyone puts in is the main cause of that success."

Petko added familiarity also breeds success in the Trojans' locker room.

"What I like most about this team is the energy every practice and game," he said. "We have all played together since first grade and that creates such a strong bond where I know I can always trust my teammates. When you see us on Friday nights, it's just us living the dreams that we all had watching the Cary-Grove games when we were young."

Breaking records:

South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic liked the way the Storm's defensive line played in the season-ending defeat to Chicago Marist in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs.

"Our defensive line played well," he said. "Very physical and great pad level."

South Elgin finished the season 10-1.

"We had a tremendous season," Teonic said. Multiple school records were broken this season."


Teonic isn't kidding. South Elgin won 16 games in a row prior to last week. The Storm will bring a 14-game Upstate Eight Conference winning streak into next season.

South Elgin also broke single-season school records for rushing offense, fewest interceptions thrown, turnover ratio, total defensive yardage, defensive rushing yardage, defensive passing yardage and quarterback sacks.

The Storm finished second all-time on the single-season charts in points per game, rushing touchdowns and sacks given up, as well as defensive points per game given up and interceptions.

"It was a great group of kids that was focused from start to finish," Teonic said.

Geneva wrap:

From Geneva's 28-7 loss to St. Rita in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, sophomore linebacker Tommy Diamond was cited by coach Boone Thorgesen for strong play. He had 15 tackles, 3 quarterback sacks and 2 tackles for loss on the big playoff stage.

"Tommy was constantly in the backfield, and he was playing in his second varsity game," Thorgesen noted.

Senior quarterback Alex Porter completed 15 of 23 passes for 153 yards. "Alex made some huge third down completions to move the ball," Thorgesen said.

Geneva finished the season 6-5. The Vikings beat Collinsville on the road in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.

"I am very proud of the year we had," Thorgesen said. "We were led by some great seniors on and off the field that we will really miss. They have set the tone for the future and left their mark on the program. They deserve all the credit in the world for what they did on the football field."

Marmion update:

Marmion coach Dan Thorpe took plenty of positives out of his team's 23-14 second-round Class 5A playoff loss to Nazareth Academy.

"Our defense played outstanding," he said. "Everyone on defense played well -- secondary and line and linebackers. We should still be playing. If we play Naz 10 times, they win five and we win five. We picked the wrong game to lose."

Thorpe loved the progress his group made throughout the 11 weeks. "We are a good team with great kids who play hard and smart," he said. "We really improved as a team from Week 1. We had four losses. Three of those teams are still playing in the state playoffs and one of the teams we beat is Bishop Mac (McNamara), which is still playing. This is a great senior group of kids."

Marmion will graduate five three-year starters in Matthew Harris, Jerred Durian, Anthony Kuceba, Jacob Bottarini and Dane Pardridge.

"We have an awesome group of other seniors who accepted their roles and improved as well," Thorpe said. "The junior class is talented and contributed a ton. We're honestly disappointed. We felt we would be moving on."

Marmion finished the season 7-4.

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