At the beginning of the 2012 season, head coach Dan Appino’s transition from the two-time defending state champion Boylan Titans to the struggling Auburn Knights was the biggest storyline in the NIC-10.
Auburn’s week one matchup against Belvidere North was the first Prep Corner Game of the Week. The Knights’ win over Belvidere North that night broke a 35-game losing streak, giving them their first win since week one of the 2008 season, when they defeated Jefferson 41-7.
After the win, Auburn head coach Dan Appino emphasized that his focus was on playing good football and "doing things right", and not on the personal significance of the win. Appino said the game was “a vision of what they ccould become.”
From week to week, the growth of the Auburn Knights has been unmistakable. At 5-3, they are currently fourth in the conference. The Knights have earned their five wins by defeating Belvidere North, Jefferson, Guilford, Freeport and East. But even in their three losses, the Knights have put up no less than 26 points. They scored 27 points in their week four loss to Hononegah, more than any (losing) opponent has put up against the Indians all season.
In 2011, the Knights were 0-9, averaged a little over 10 points per game, and were shut out a total of four times, at the hands of Jefferson, Hononegah, Guilford and Boylan.
In 2012, they are 5-3, averaging 24 points per game, and have not fallen victim to a single shutout loss.
But on Friday, in the final game of the season, the Knights will go head-to-head with the team that Appino lead to the playoffs seven straight years, and 56 consecutive conference wins.
While Auburn has seen immense improvement under their leadership, Boylan has continued down the same winning path under new head coach John Cacciatore. The Titans are still unbeaten, and have held their opponents to a collective 29 points in the last five weeks, with Guilford, Freeport and Belvidere all putting up zeros.
When Auburn and Boylan met in 2011, Boylan shutout the Knights in a crushing 56-0 win.
This year, it’s a whole new ballgame.
by Liz Rudolph
ESPN 1380 Prep Reporter
Twitter: @LizESPN1380 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
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