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With playoff spot secure, Jayhawks seek more improvement in season’s final third

By Mike Moore
Staff Writer

Jackson – You would think there’d be a mini parade, a celebration to rid the mind of so many tough memories and close calls over the past 17 seasons.

In fact, for a program like Vandercook Lake, that’s had a playoff ticket virtually in hand before it was whisked away, you’d even understand said celebration given the guys in red and white are 6-0 and have officially punched one of those tough-to-come-by spots for Week 10.

“I think one kid brought it up last week after the game, but that was pretty much it,” coach Steve Wolvin said simply and calmly Tuesday morning while speaking about his undefeated Jayhawks. “I know this sounds boring, but once you obtain one goal, it’s time to set new ones.”

So no parade? No confetti falling from the skies?

“We’re excited. The playoffs are a huge deal,” Wolvin added. “But truthfully, we enjoy each game for 24 hours and then we refocus. Our attention is on Michigan Center, and nothing else.”

Vandercook had come close to the postseason in the past, going 5-4 in 2014 and 2008, even going 6-3 in 1997 before the automatic qualifier kicked in.

But a 7-2 regular season in 1996 was the last time the Jayhawks found themselves beyond the first nine weeks.

Still, Wolvin’s calm demeanor, his straight-ahead focus, tempered any thoughts of the Jayhawks being content with a 6-0 start in 2015.

“Probably what’s more gratifying than actually clinching a playoff spot is seeing how these kids have matured,” Wolvin said. “We’ve been so close with this group for the past five years, or so. To see them grow up and mature and change is pretty special.”

So too, have been the first six weeks of the season.

The Jayhawks started 2015 with a hard-fought victory against Springport (27-14), but then kicked things into high gear.

Vandercook cruised past East Jackson (41-0), Addison (41-7), Hanover-Horton (46-14), picked up a huge victory at Grass Lake (44-26), before last weekend’s 61-39 triumph against Napoleon.

The team is rolling on both sides of the ball, passing and running to the tune of roughly 43 points per game, while the swarming defense is giving up just 16.

“We’ve divided the schedule into thirds and we’ve played two, good thirds,” Wolvin said. “Now it’s a matter of driving on the fact that we’re not good enough to look too far ahead. We can’t get too excited for any one game.”

And the next challenge is a 3-3 Michigan Center team that must win out to make the postseason.

“They have their backs against the wall with three losses, but they have some skilled players that really concern us,” Wolvin said of the Cardinals. “They have a quarterback who is a dual threat, some guys on the outside that are dangerous. They are going to be fired up at their home field. They want to win and keep playoff hopes alive.”

So the approach is a simple one, from a coach who’s done wonders for this program, especially this year and with this year’s group.

“We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Wolvin said. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

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