Two area football teams – La Salle-Peru and Princeton – extended playoff steaks this fall while a pair of others – St. Bede and Mendota – ended playoff droughts.
Here is a look at each of the four area first-round playoff games:
No. 15 La Salle-Peru (5-4) at No. 2 Morris (9-0)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
About the La Salle-Peru: L-P is in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2003-04. … The Cavs lost to Morris 31-7 in Week 8 and enter the postseason on a two-game losing streak after losing to Kaneland 55-13 on Friday. “We’re excited to have another opportunity to play Morris,” L-P coach Jose Medina said. … L-P did not score an offensive touchdown against Morris. The Cavs’ lone points came on a 98-yard fumble return touchdown by Ethan Bell that gave L-P a 7-0 lead. … L-P managed just 186 offensive yards and had five turnovers against Morris. Matt Carrico led the Cavs with 82 rushing yards on 20 carries.
About Morris: Morris enters the playoffs coming off a 28-21 win over Sycamore on Friday to win the Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight Conference White Division championship. … In a 31-7 win over L-P in Week 8, Morris QB Zach Romak ran for 53 yards and threw for 155 yards and a touchdown, while Ashton Yard for 95 yards and a TD on 16 carries. Morris also scored on a 1-yard run by Jorge Loza — set up when he recovered a fumble — and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Sam Reddinger on a bad punt snap.
No. 12 Chicago Hope Academy (6-3) at No. 5 St. Bede (7-2).
When: 7 p.m., Friday
About Hope Academy: The Eagles played an independent schedule, losing to the only two playoff teams they faced - Kankakee (56-20) and Ottawa Marquette (62-42). They only beat one team (Walter Christian) with as many as three wins with two wins over 2-7 teams and another over a winless team. ... Hope Academy accumulated only 29 playoff points (opponents wins). ... The Eagles outscored their opponents 308-141 (34.2 to 15.7).
About St. Bede: The Bruins are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016, when they went 7-4, falling in the second round in 2A to Three Rivers rival Sterling Newman 49-20. “We are excited and can’t wait to play in front of our incredible fans,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. ... The Bruins went 4-2 in the TRAC East, placing third. They have beat three playoffs teams - Erie-Prophetstown (15-13), Newman (13-7) and Mendota (33-15) while losing to two playoff teams - Kewanee (51-27) and Princeton (47-20). ... The Bruins have outscored their opponents 223-173 (24.8 to 19.2). .... St. Bede went 5-1 this spring, running their overall 2021 record to 12-3. ... St. Bede has won just three of their last 11 first-round games, including 2003, 2011 and 2016. The Bruins deepest advancement in the playoffs was a 2A semifinal appearance in 2001.
No. 14 Mendota (5-4) at No. 3 Durand-Pecatonica (8-1)
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
About the Trojans: Mendota is in the postseason for the first time since 2014. Before this fall, the Trojans have not won more than one game in a season since their last playoff berth. “We’re excited,” Mendota coach Keegan Hill said. “We earned the opportunity to play a real good opponent in the postseason. We’re looking forward to prepping and coaching our guys.” … Mendota enters the postseason on a three-game losing streak, falling to Kewanee (56-7), Newman (24-7) and St. Bede (33-15). … The Trojans average 29.1 points per game while allowing 25.7 per contest.
About the Rivermen: Du-Pec went 8-0 in the powerful Northwest Upstate Illini Conference Illini Division. The Rivermen’s lone loss was 28-22 to perennial state power Dectur St. Teresa (9-0). … RB Trenton Taylor has rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 touchdowns, while H Hoffman has thrown for 1,186 yards and 19 TDs. … The Rivermen average 31.8 points per game while allowing 11.9 points per contest.
No. 15 Poplar Grove North Boone (5-4) at No. 2 Princeton (8-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
About North Boone: The Vikings won their final three games to make the playoffs at 5-4, defeating Rock Falls, Winnebago and Oregon in Big Northern Conference play. ... They finished fifth in the Big Northern with all of the top five teams reaching the playoffs, led by undefeated Bryon, the No. 1 seed in the northern bracket. ... The Vikings have outscored their opponents 244-200 (27.1 to 22.2). ... North Boone has made 19 playoff appearances, including three straight. The Vikings also went 5-4 to make the playoffs in 2019 only to lose at Princeton 61-26 in the first round. ... North Boone has an enrollment of 466. ... The Vikings were 4-0 this spring.
About Princeton: The Tigers made school history by making the playoffs for the third straight year for the first time. They reached the quarterfinals in 2018 and the semifinals in 2019, falling to Bryon each year at home. ... PHS is the second largest school in 3A with an enrollment of 546 behind Benton (548). ... The Tigers also gained a share of their third straight conference championship with Kewanee’s loss at Newman Friday night, both finishing 5-1 in TRAC East play. ... PHS has not lost since its Week 5 49-21 loss at Kewanee, winning its final four games. ... PHS has 45 playoff points (opponents wins). .... The Tigers have outscored their opponents 390-137 (43.3 to 15.2), scoring 41 points or more in every game except the Mendota and Kewanee games.