Penultimate games took place in Week 8 for seven of the area’s 15 football teams.
For Amboy, AFC, Bureau Valley, Erie-Prophetstown, Milledgeville, Oregon and Rock Falls, Week 9 will be the final game of their respective seasons, and that of the team’s seniors for their high school career.
Eastland-Pearl City survived another week with their backs against the playoff wall, and will face a Forreston team that has lost back-to-back games for the first time in 6 years.
Morrison, Newman and Sterling are in, as well as five-win teams Dixon and Fulton.
West Carroll, who also sits at five wins, will need a win over Aquin to qualify, or else they’ll need to hope their opponents this season win their Week 9 games. The Thunder have a low total of playoff points (31); a loss to Aquin will add one point, two more points will be added through divisional games, and they’ll need help from Dakota, Durand-Pecatonica, Galena and Milledgeville for four more points – however, those four teams all face teams with better records than them in the regular-season finale.
With the regular season close to wrapping up, here are some more numbers of note from Week 8:
Erie-Prophetstown and St. Bede have played in three straight games decided by a single point.
The Panthers lost to the Bruins 24-23 on Friday. Last year’s meeting resulted in a 17-16 Panthers win, and the year before that a 27-26 Bruins victory.
This year marked the fifth time in the playoff-era that both Sterling-based high schools, Sterling High and Newman, have combined to win 15 of 16 games after 8 weeks.
Both teams had perfect regular seasons in 1994, 2016 and 2017, making Sterling the only downstate Illinois city to have 3 years of unbeaten seasons from two or more of its high schools.
Newman had one regular season loss in 2005, to eventual 3A champion Bureau Valley, while Sterling went 9-0. The Comets lone loss this season was to Morrison in Week 5.
Riverdale allowed 30 points fewer than the average they had given up per game to Newman since 2002 in a 14-7 home loss to the Comets.
The Rams last beat Newman in 2001, 40-20, and the Comets allowed an average of 44.85 points in the next 15 meetings before Saturday.
The 14 points also is the least amount of points Newman has scored against Riverdale since they lost 40-13 in 2000 and won 14-8 in 1996.
Sterling senior quarterback Cooper Willman tallied 224 all-purpose yards in Sterling’s 49-13 win over United Township. Willman threw for 120 yards and ran 12 keepers for 124 yards.
It’s the third time this season Willman cracked the century mark in both rushing and passing yardage. He amassed 294 all-purpose yards (148 rushing, 146 passing) in a Week 7 win over Rock Island, and 321 (194 pass, 127 rush) in a Week 2 win over Pekin.
Amboy got their first win of the season with a 25-8 victory over Milledgeville. It was coach Gary Jones’ 252nd win in 43 years as a head or assistant coach for the Clippers, and he will retire at the end of the season.
Jones, a 1972 Amboy graduate, joined the Clippers’ coaching staff in 1977 and became head coach in 1994. His teams made the playoffs 19 times, which includes the 1984 2A championship and back-to-back 2A runner-up finishes in 1979 and 1980 under Don Wyzgowski.
Among current local head and assistant coaches, Jones, Newman’s Tim Nelson and Andy Accardi, and Sterling’s Greg King have more than 250 wins in their coaching careers.