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.

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR since 1986 and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member.