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Football: Don Beebe puts Immaculate Conception win on his Aurora Christian list

AurorChristian coach DBeebe talks strategy with Eagles' offensive players.  | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe talks strategy with the Eagles' offensive players. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 6, 2013 6:29AM

Big games are nice, but getting there is the thing, Don Beebe says.

The Aurora Christian coach and former NFL veteran should know. He played in six Super Bowls, and in nine years leading the Eagles, he has coached in three state championship games (2008, ’11 and ’12), winning two of them.

“I would definitely put it, in the history of Aurora Christian (football), top three. And that includes the state championship games, just because of everything we’ve endured with the injuries,” Beebe said of Saturday’s 24-3 first-round Class 3A playoff win by his Eagles over Immaculate Conception.

The two-time defending 3A champs, Aurora Christian (7-3) came in as a No. 10 seed against the No. 7 Knights (6-4), who had thrashed the Eagles 48-8 three weeks earlier in a Suburban Christian Conference crossover.

Nine players who normally accounted for a dozen or more starting positions missed that game and several others as Beebe’s club lost three of its final four regular-season games.

“I told ’em, ‘Everybody’s counting you out’ and boy, did I build on that all week. The kids played hard,” he said.

Beebe said a state semifinal or NFC/AFC title win in the pros usually top the lists.

“It’s never the big game you remember, (those leading to it are) the most satisfying, gratifying reward because you knew you were in,” he said. “I think back to (beating) Richmond-Burton to get us into the 2008 title game (they lost) or last year’s win over Sterling Newman.

“And this one here, because we knew how good this (IC) team was. To play them here after we just got killed (by them) a few weeks ago was just a mental thing we had to get over.”

Standout DE/TE Jackson Carpenter reinjured his shoulder late in the game and WR/DB Noah Roberts injured his ankle in the first half but returned in the second. The Eagles’ other walking wounded appeared to get through the game OK.

“I’m kicking myself. Two plays earlier I thought about getting (Carpenter) out of there. I was two plays late,” Beebe said.

Tough to miss

Early in the second half, Beebe’s assistants informed him that his son, Chad, had scored his first collegiate touchdown in Northern Illinois’ win over UMass in a game played at Foxboro Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. The TD came on an 81-yard pass play.

“They told me on the sidelines and I started crying,” Beebe said. “I felt horrible that I wasn’t there. That was hard. I knew I was gonna miss it, but that’s difficult for me. I’m a family guy, No. 1.”

Running back Joel Bouagnon, one of three AC grads who are true freshman on the NIU team, scored his first TD the previous week. Barring injuries, defensive back Brandon Mayes likely will be redshirted this season.

One that stings

One man’s sweet is another’s bitter.

King coach Lonnie Williams got his first playoff win in 44 years at the school with Saturday’s 36-6 victory over Aurora Central in Class 4A.

Chargers coach Brian Casey will continue his quest for a first playoff win next fall.

“We turned the ball over four times and allowed some big plays,” Casey said Monday. “Ultimately, we didn’t play as well as we could have.”

Even so, his second straight playoff team is one Casey will remember with pride.

“These kids certainly raised their game over the course of the year. We competed better and with more resiliency,” he said. “They battled and got to 6-3 and earned an automatic playoff berth. That’s a much more enjoyable situation to be in than to be sitting there having to count (playoff) points the last day of the season to see if you’re in or not.”

Williams never responded to Casey’s phone and email messages requesting an exchange of video, generally common practice among playoff coaches.

“We did get some film from Joliet West and West Chicago (King’s first two opponents), but there were seven players Saturday who weren’t there in Week 1 or 2,” Casey said.

“I certainly wasn’t happy it went down like that but would the film have made that much difference? Probably not in a 30-point game. The reason we lost wasn’t because we didn’t have film on them.”

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