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An early look at Round 1′s Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland vs. South Beloit matchup

I8FA Playoffs

Opening round

South Beloit (5-4) at Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland (7-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday at Woodland, rural Streator

Last meeting: FCW 44, South Beloit 38 (Week 3, 2021)

About the SoBos: Much of Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland’s turnaround this season has been built on the muscle of its linemen. South Beloit offers those FCW trenchmen a good test with a powerful line of its own anchored by senior center Bradley Knepper. Since suffering their first loss of the season to Falcons a month and a half ago, the SoBos have played .500 football — wins over Hiawatha (50-26), Alden-Hebron (30-0) and Blue Rudge (28-0); losses to Orangeville (57-24), Freeport Aquin (42-22) and in the regular-season finale to one-loss Milledgeville (58-16). QB Kaden Myhres is a dual threat, a big part of the running game along with RBs Rence Kostka and Fernando Balderas.

About the Falcons: FCW won a road game at South Beloit earlier this season, and now gets to host the SoBos at the Wood Shed to open the postseason. The Falcons tend to play close games, with four of their seven victories as well as their only on-field loss both coming by two scores or less. That includes Saturday’s regular-season closing 36-20 win over St. Thomas More, a decision that propels the Falcons into the postseason on a four-game winning streak and winners of seven straight on-the-field games, excluding the COVID-caused forfeit to undefeated Polo. FCW has been playing awfully good football, and if the Falcons win this one a rematch with the only team to have defeated them on the field — West Central — likely awaits in the second round. But the Falcons need to worry about this one first against a South Beloit team hungry for vengeance itself.