EUREKA - None of the current Eureka players were around the last time the Hornets had hosting duties as it relates to the playoffs. That was back in 1989 when Terry Aldridge was the coach and the present one, Jason Bachman, had recently obtained his driver’s license.
Eureka snaps a near three-decade drought Saturday when Chicago Urban Prep/Englewood makes the two-plus hour trek to McCollum Field for a 2 p.m. game.
“We’ve very proud of the kids and what they have accomplished to this point,” Bachman said. “Our hope and goal is to continue to get better with every practice, every rep, every snap, every play. We feel like we have a favorable draw.”
The Lions (5-4), who are members of the Windy City division inside the Chicago Public League, shut out Goode 35-0 in the regular season finale just to reach the postseason. They posted a 2-4 record against teams in the playoffs. CUP/E finished fourth in the division. Junior Donovan Turner returns at quarterback, while their largest lineman is senior Guyon Cyprian, who stands 6-foot-5 and tips the scales at 320 pounds.
“They’re kind of a spread team but they’re run first,” pointed out Bachman. “They have some big play capabilities. Their running back (Daveon Carter), he’s elusive. He’s not a big dude, but he’s shifty.”
Like Cyprian, Carter is a senior, one of eight on the roster.
They have scored 150 points on the season, which is the fewest in the three A field.
“Last week was the first time we did not allow a big play of over 15 yards. If we can limit big plays, we should be in good shape,” Bachman commented.
CUP/E, who sports a 3-2 road record, has allowed 154 points on the campaign.
According to Bachman, the Lions will vary between an even (four) and odd (five) front. Carter and Turner are starters in the secondary.
Meanwhile, Eureka (8-1) enters on a seven-game winning streak and has not lost since the final day of August.
“They feel like they can play with anybody,” Bachman said. “We want the kids to be humble. We do not take anything for granted. We cannot take anybody for granted.”
According to Bachman, he listed Brady Lenover (knee) as probable.
The Lions are under the direction of first-year coach Dedrick Dewalt, who went 7-11 the previous two seasons at Chicago North Lawndale.
The winner moves onto the second round next weekend. A win means the Hornets would face Wilmington or Monmouth-Roseville. If Wilmington prevails, they’ll host Eureka, while the Hornets would stay home if M-R is victorious.
Notes: CUP/E, an all-boys’ school with an enrollment of 520, is on the southwest side of the city near St. Bernard Hospital. The Lions are making their fifth playoff appearance and have yet to win. Over that span, they have been outscored 200 to 53, including 88-0 in the last two, 2017 at Johnsburg (47-0) and ’14 at Arlington Heights St. Viator (41-0). Dewalt went to another Chicago school, Simeon, and played wide receiver at Boston College before three seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Tennessee Titans and the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams. Eureka is in the playoffs for the 13th time (3-12 record). They are 2-3 in home contests with victories over Bushnell-Prairie City (20-6, two A in ’75) and Dunlap (14-7, three A in ’85).