The Wilmington Wildcats take the field for their opening-round playoff game last season in Wilmington.
The Wilmington Wildcats take the field for their opening-round playoff game last season in Wilmington. — For Shaw Media | Larry W. Kane

Streator will look to rebound from a frustrating loss at Morton last week that evened its record to 1-1 when it entertains state-ranked Wilmington (2-0) at the SHS Athletic Fields at 7 p.m. on Friday in both team's Illinois Central Eight Conference opener.

The Wildcats — a 27-0 winner in last season's Week 8 matchup and who moved up three spots to No. 2 in this week's Associated Press Class 3A poll — opened this season with a 32-0 win over Evergreen Park and then last week earned a 58-28 triumph on the road against Oak Lawn.

Streator head coach Brian Hassett says the formula on both sides of the ball for his club to be successful against a Wilmington program which has earned a trip to the playoffs the past 23 years is pretty simple.

"The biggest key for us is we are going to have to control the clock," said Hassett, his club falling to the Potters 42-12 last week after winning its opener over East Peoria. "For us that means using the pass to set up the run. I thought we did that pretty well last week, but we had way too many drops. I also thought, other than the fumble in the end zone on our first possession last week, our pass protection was good.

"We think we are going to face a lot of blitzes and man coverage against Wilmington, so we have a scheme in that we think will keep getting our kids open and protect (quarterback) Jimmy (Tredway) too.

"(Wilmington) is a power-run team with a three-back, two-tight end set. They want to run to set up the pass, so we'll need to stop the ground game, plug the holes and make tackles for minimal gains. It's nothing fancy from them, just straight-forward, smash-mouth football."

Wilmington comes into the contest having run the ball 84 times for 572 yards (6.8 avg.), led by senior back Jake Rodawold. Rodawold has 232 yards on 30 carries, including 156 yards in Week 1, and six touchdowns.

The Wildcats will also feature back Cody Franzen (16 carries,132 yards, 8.3 avg., 2 TDs), who caught a pair of scoring passes from senior quarterback Keaton Hopwood (4-of-8, 107 yards, 3 TD) last week. Defensively, Wilmington has allowed just 122 yards (3.6 avg.) on the ground in two games, but did give up 263 yards passing against Oak Lawn.

"Our first couple of games things have went really well for us," said Wilmington head coach Jeff Reents. "We've been able to combine staying relatively injury free with playing good defense and running the ball effectively. Anyone who follows us knows that is what we want to do, so its been a good start.

"A big key for us come Friday will be not giving up the big play and we did that a couple times last week against Oak Lawn. With Coach Hassett and the spread offense Streator runs, our kids are going to have to be aware were everyone is at each and every play. Streator has some kids that can make things happen if they have space and their quarterback throws a really nice ball and stands tall in the pocket. Their defense does a good job of getting after the football."


Wilmington Wildcats (2-0) at Streator Bulldogs (1-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday at the SHS Athletic Fields

Radio: WSPL-AM 1250

Last meeting: Wilmington 27, Streator 0 (2018).

FND Pick: Wilmington