PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Morton is back in the playoffs after a year absence.

But the Potters are a playoff time for the fifth time in six years, this fall led by first-year coach Adam O’Neill. He said he pursued the Morton job because he knew he didn’t have to rebuild the program.

The pieces for a successful season were already in place.

“It’s been a perennial playoff team.” O’Neill said. “The kids here the last five or six years, (Nolan) Donald, (Jared) Crider, (Seth) Glatz, they’ve had a ton of athletes here. We just want to make it one percent better every day.”

Certainly the signature touch O’Neill has put on the team is an aggressive defense that lead the team to an 8-1 regular season and a first round home playoff game.

“I love defense. Coach O’Neill loves defense,” said senior Brett Michel. “He’s making the team better. We worked a lot this summer for this opportunity.”

Morton hosts New Lenox Providence in a class 5A playoff opener Saturday at 2 p.m.

“Coach O’Neill has pushed us to be better and be the best version of ourselves,” said senior Clint Teater. “And it shows.”

The Potters improved from a four-win team to eight wins this season. The players say the regular season was great but now it’s time for a postseason run.

And O’Neill doesn’t feel like his team is finished improving.

“We’re not done getting better. Our best football is ahead of us,” said O’Neill. “We want to continue to improve. We want to be better each week.”