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Stellar season in the books for Seneca

11/18/2013, 9:10pm CST
By Tim Tierney

Coming off a 5-4 campaign last year, not many people expected Seneca to have a standout season. But that’s what the Fighting Irish accomplished, and despite a playoff loss, the players have much to be proud of.

Amid the disappointment of a state playoff defeat, Seneca’s Brad Wyss stood in a quiet locker room and put into words what the Fighting Irish accomplished this season.

Wyss, a standout lineman/linebacker and three-year varsity starter, described a successful journey for Seneca, which reached the postseason for the first time in 12 years.

“Coach [Ted] O’Boyle compared it to a book,’’ Wyss said after Saturday’s Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Aurora Christian. “From day one, first game, chapter one, nobody expected us to come out and beat Sandwich.

“Second chapter, held Peotone to seven points. Every chapter then, a magic storybook.’’

A 5-4 record in 2012 didn’t foretell a successful 2013 season for the Fighting Irish.

“It was iffy from the beginning,’’ Wyss said. “We could have been 7-2 or 2-7. We didn’t know at the beginning. We all came out and played together.’’

Seneca won seven of its first eight games, rebounded from a loss to Manteno in the last week of the regular season and defeated Kewanee and Robeson in the first two weeks of the playoffs.

The town of 2,300 was ready for Saturday’s game. Green and gold ribbons lined both sides of Main Street. A prominent “Enter Irish Country’’ sign was positioned at the corner of Main and Scott streets leading to the school.

Aurora Christian struck first in the opening quarter before Seneca answered with back-to-back touchdowns — a 74-yard run by Bo Taylor and an 18-yard pass from Taylor to Austin Applebee.

The Fighting Irish fell behind 36-15 going into the fourth quarter, but rallied with two touchdowns to keep the outcome up for grabs.

The 36-27 final was proof Seneca (9-3) could play with Aurora Christian, the two-time defending 3A state champ with a 26-2 record in those two seasons.

“I don’t think there’s an ounce of quit in this team,’’ Taylor said. “We made a lot of changes from last year, offensively and defensively. Offensively, we went to sort of a read-option team.’’

“Last year’s seniors set some of the groundwork,’’ O’Boyle said. “We were much improved last year. A couple breaks, we’d have been 6-3 and gotten in.

“This group of seniors, they were hurting bad from last year. These kids put time in the weight room. They made themselves better. A quarterfinal appearance is pretty special.’’

Seneca athletic director Steve Haines stood on the sideline as Saturday’s game ended and the players prepared to shake hands.

“I’m so proud of these guys, the coaching staff, our community, our student body,’’ Haines said. “Coming together on a great run in the playoffs, it’s been a lot of fun.

“I’m hurting a little for these guys right now, but I’m sure a few weeks from now, a few months from now, a few years from now, these guys will recognize what they accomplished.’’

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