Argo football coach Phil Rossberg talks with the players after they beat TF South to notch their fifth win and a likely playoff berth. Photo by Mike Walsh
Argo makes Class 7A playoffs, will open against top-seeded Normal
By Mike Walsh
After addressing his Argonauts following their comeback victory over T.F. South in the regular-season finale — a win that two days later officially punched their ticket to the IHSA playoffs for a second straight season — Argo head coach Phil Rossberg stood by himself in the south end zone.
Rossberg, standing on the “A” of “Argonauts,” looked to the sky and wiped his eyes as Prince’s “Purple Rain” played over the PA system. The late musical artist was the favorite of Rossberg’s father, who passed away earlier this fall.
“Yeah, I was thinking about my dad,” said Rossberg, who noted his family was in attendance. “This is a culminating thing. I soaked it in, literally, and with the song playing and the rain coming down, I had to thank him. Football was our thing together.”
Proceeds from the sale of purple T-shirts sold that evening went to the American Cancer Society, according to Rossberg.
The game, played Thursday, Oct. 19 in Summit, was meaningful in another context as well, as the Argonauts (5-4, 2-4 South Suburban Red) were seeking a fifth win and playoff eligibility. They withstood a tough start and came from 14 points down to top the Red Wolves, 17-14, with the winning margin provided by Kacper Lobas, who drilled a 22-yard field goal with 2:59 remaining.
The boot sent Argo — albeit unofficially at the time — into the Class 7A playoffs, marking the first time the program has made the postseason in consecutive years.
“It felt good coming off my foot,” said Lobas, whose 42-yard attempt earlier during the same drive fell short, only for Argo to get a fresh set of downs because of a roughing-the-kicker penalty. “But the pressure was there, too. It’s all mental, and I visualized making the kick before; and then when I went out there, I made it.
“The pressure went away and it felt amazing. All the work that I’ve put in paid off for this moment.”
Junior running back Steven Holmes ran for 152 yards and backfield mate Javoris Cotton ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns. The duo accounted for all but 8 of the Argonauts’ 235 rushing yards.
“We know what Coach went through with his dad,” Holmes said. “Coach has given me a lot of opportunities. He’s always looking out for me and he saw better in me.
“That’s my guy.”
Argo had been a win away from playoff eligibility since entering Week 6 at 4-1, but lost three consecutive games heading into the regular-season finale. Rossberg was proud of the way his team battled and ultimately triumphed while facing a win-or-go-home situation.
“We talk about having resiliency and handling adversity all the time,” Rossberg said. “The focus all week was showing what you’ve got.
“We asked the kids, ‘Do you want another week? This may be the last time you wear the maroon.’”
Trailing 14-0, Cotton capped a seven-play, 71-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run with 1:37 to play in the first half. Cotton struck again with 2:33 to go in the third quarter when he concluded a 12-play, 62-yard march by scoring on a 4-yard run to level the score at 14.
Argo is seeded 32nd of 32 teams in the 7A bracket and will travel to face top-seeded Normal (9-0) in the first round this weekend. The IHSA had not date released the date and time of the first-round matchups as of this publication’s deadline.
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