By Chris Johnson


PECATONICA – The Pecatonica Indians pushed the Forreston Cardinals into a game that could potentially push the Cardinals into finding the focus they need for a shot at a repeat visit to the Class 1A Football Championship in Champaign.

The 36-6 win over Pecatonica could be misread as a dominant night by a lot of fans, but won’t be for Cardinals Head Coach Denny Diduch. A 30-point win is a lot, usually. On Friday night, the Indians weren’t allowing the defending champs to get their offense in gear.

Leading 12-0 in the third quarter, the Pecatonica offense broke through, scoring at the 6:38 point in the period.

The Indians were within a touchdown and an extra point, from upsetting the 7-2 Forreston Cardinals.

Forreston had to work hard late, to come away with the 30-point win and the lock-in to second place to close the regular season in the NUIC Northwest.

Second was the best they could have hoped for this season, after suffering earlier losses to fellow conference powerhouses, Dakota and Lena-Winslow.

On Friday, Sept. 11, the Dakota Indians defeated the Forreston Cardinals 34-0, during the regular portion of the NUIC schedule.

On Friday, Oct. 9, the Cardinals picked up their second loss of the year, 40-20, to Lena-Winslow.

With the season closing win over Pecatonica, Forreston has a little momentum back, having won five of their last six games. Their focus also seems to have been restored, courtesy of the Indians’ play.

On Friday night the Cardinals found themselves pushed by the Pecatonica defense. The Indians were doing their job up front, according to Head Coach Eric Bergin.

“We did play well. The defense played really well the first half and we forced a couple turnover-on-downs on them. We kind of fouled up the run game there for a little bit. Into the third we were only down 12-6. We had some chances later, but we made some mistakes.”

Fumbled snaps and penalties stuffed the momentum the Indians had built, late in the game, the team just couldn’t keep up with the hurry-up offensive strikes by Forreston, according to Bergin.

“You can tell we were getting worn down there in the second half. We came out in the third quarter and forced Forreston into a turnover on downs right away. Pretty soon, the style of offense they run, that was giving them two and three yards at a time, was starting to give them six and seven yards. For a while we matched up with them pretty well.”

Bergin said the pace of the Cardinals’ offense, became too much to overcome.

If the offense is working, Forreston will score a lot of points. Prior to the Pecatonica game, the last time the Cardinals offense struggled it was against the team they will have to face this Friday night to open the Class 1A State Tournament, Dakota.

Similar to what Pecatonica did early in the regular season finale, Dakota did earlier in the season, Diduch recalled.

“I haven’t forgotten that game. Dakota was strong and disciplined. They were six inches to a foot lower than us on every play.”

The regular season now consists of the collection of equipment and the preparation for winter and spring sports.

Bergin said his players will get a little time off before they are to get back to work, in anticipation of what lies ahead.

A lot of changes will greet the Indians next season, according to Bergin.

“We will lose most of our starters at the skill positions. Our running backs and quarterback and receivers, many are seniors. Next year we won’t have quite the speed we had this year, but we will look at that later in the year. We’ll get the kids back in the weight room on Monday, Nov. 2 and start working towards next year.”

For Forreston, a long run into the post season won’t be easy. Upsets will have to be recorded and earlier season losses will have to be avenged.

In order for the Cardinals to get a chance to redeem themselves for their second loss of the season, against Lena-Winslow, they will have to work past this weekend’s game in Dakota as the Class 1A State Tournament begins and they will have to win next week as well.

A NUIC showdown in the Class 1A State Semi-final still exists as a very good probability, based on the number of qualified schools form the Northwest and Upstate Divisions which have been invited to play, beginning this weekend.10-23 Pec vs Forreston

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