Princeton, Kewanee square off in key conference clash

Princeton and Kewanee will be meeting for the 121st time in their storied football rivalry Friday night.

The Tigers have won 61 games, the Boilermakers have won 55 and there have been four ties along the way.

Many of the games have been close games, many have been blowouts, all exciting dating back to the days of the old North Central Illinois Conference (NCIC) and before.

Friday night's renewal of the longtime rivalry promises to be another classic.

The Tigers (5-1), the defending champion, and Boilermakers (4-2) stand tied atop the Three Rivers Mississippi Conference at 3-0. The winner will move into the driver's seat to take the conference crown.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Kewanee High School.

"It's gonna be another tough one. We gotta work the extra mile in practice this week and execute flawlessly. If we can do our jobs and work as a team, it will be another good one," PHS senior captain Sammy McClure said.

First-year Kewanee head coach Brad Swanson is excited to take part in the longtime rivalry for the first time.

"Princeton is a playoff caliber team, we are preparing for this week like a playoff type game," said Swanson, who was formerly assistant coach at Galesburg, the Mid-County co-op and Monmouth College.

"There is a lot of excitement in the school and community this week with such a long tradition in this rivalry. Very exciting and fun to be a part of."

The Boilermakers ride a three-game win streak since falling by just one point (27-26) to Newman in Week 3. Their only other loss came Week 2 to Orion, 35-27.

"We feel that we have been very competitive in every game all six weeks," Swanson said. "Our two losses are by a combined nine points. My guys have prepared and played hard all six weeks and see no changes this week."

Princeton coach Ryan Pearson said the Boilermakers will pose a formidable foe.

"Kewanee is extremely athletic. They will be one of the toughest opponents we have seen up to this point." he said. "Offensively, they have a lot of weapons who can hurt you at any given time. Their backs and receivers are very slippery and make a lot of guys miss. We have to gang tackle this week and not give up the big play due to poor fundamentals.

"Defensively, they are very big up front. An absolute key for us to have success this week is sustaining our blocks up front and blocking out on the perimeter."

Other than a second-half stumble in Week 2 at Sterling Newman, a game in which they led 21-10 at half only to fall 25-21, the Tigers have been dominating on the gridiron this year.

They have outscored their five other opponents 228-28, an average margin of victory of 45.6 to 5.6. Their 41-0 rout over rival Hall last week was their second shutout of the year.

Swanson said the Boilermakers must continue to play their brand of football that has been successful this season.

"On offense, we have been able to run the football with success and not turn it over. On defense, we have been tackling well and getting 11 hats to the football," he said.

BCR Game of the Week

Princeton (5-1, 3-0) at Kewanee (4-2, 3-0)

Game time: 7 p.m. at Kewanee.

Note: The Tigers and Boilers will meet for the 121st time with PHS leading the all-time series 59-55-6. Both teams stand 3-0 in TRAC Mississippi play.