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Playoff picture: Princeton is in, St. Bede is close

The playoff picture is getting clear through the first seven weeks of the 2021 season. Here’s a rundown of the Three Rivers Conference and other area hopefulls.

Who’s in

Kewanee (7-0): The Boilermakers are enjoying their first 7-0 start since 1943 and looking to win out to clinch a No. 1 seed in 3A and the Three Rivers East championship. Kewanee plays Rockridge Friday and Newman next week, both fight for their playoff lives at 4-3.

There’s a good chance there will be a rematch of the Princeton-Kewanee Week 5 game which the Boilermakers won 49-21.

Princeton (6-1): The Tigers punched their ticket for the third straight year by defeating St. Bede 47-20 Friday to gain its sixth win. The Tigers seek to finish out 8-1 to improve their playoff seeding with games left with Bureau Valley (2-5) this week and Monmouth-Roseville (6-1) next week.

Princeton reached the 3A semifinals in 2019, falling to Byron 7-3. It also lost to Byron 28-0 in the second round in 2018.

Monmouth-Roseville (6-1): The Three Rivers West league leaders look to improve their seeding with games with a home game Friday vs. E-P and a Week 9 showdown at Princeton.

Sterling (6-1): The Golden Warriors have won five straight and clinch a bid with a big win at Rock Island last week.

Who’s close

St. Bede (5-2): The Bruins became playoff eligible with their Week 6 win over Bureau Valley and can clinch a playoff bid with a win at rival Hall Friday. The Bruins’ losses have come at the hands of state-ranked Princeton and Kewanee.

Dixon (5-2): The Dukes fell to Genoa-Kingston last week and face another tough task at home Friday vs. Byron (7-0), but can clinch a berth by beating Rock Falls (1-6) in Week 9.

Erie-Prophetstown (5-2): The Panthers face a tough matchup at Monmouth-Roseville Friday, but close out at home vs. Morrison (1-6).

Mendota (5-2): Like St. Bede, the Trojans’ losses have come at the hands of state-ranked Princeton and Kewanee. They are playoff eligible, but have two tough assignments ahead with games at Newman (home) and at St. Bede.

L-P (5-2): The Cavaliers need one more win to clinch a bid with games this week at home vs. Morris (7-0) and Week 9 at Kaneland (3-4).

Who’s on the bubble

Annawan-Wethersfield (4-3): It’s been a struggle, but the Titans can become playoff eligible with a win at home Friday over Oneida (2-5) and clinch it by following up with win at Mercer County (4-3)

Newman (4-3): The Comets’ task is simple. They must beat either Mendota Friday or Kewanee at home in Week 9 to become playoff eligible and win them both to clinch a spot.

Rockridge (4-3): The Rockets have been on a roller-coaster ride with a pair of two-game win streaks around a two-game losing skid. They play at Kewanee Friday and at Orion (3-4) the last week.

Orion (3-4): The Chargers must win out at Sherrard (0-7) and Rockridge (4-3) to become playoff eligible.

Who’s out

Bureau Valley (2-4), Hall (1-6), Morrison (1-6), Riverdale (0-7) and Sherrard (0-7) are all out.