By Chris Johnson


WILMINGTON – The top seed in the upper bracket of the class 3A State Tournament, the Wilmington Wildcats, fell to the Byron Tigers in the second round of the football playoffs, 42-35.

With the win, the number-eight seed Tigers move on to take on number five seed Kankakee-Bishop McNamara this weekend in the State Quarterfinal.

Working the running game off the legs of Jacob Elsbury and Avery Carlson, the Tigers were able to move the ball through and around the Wildcats offense.

With the defense, at times, struggling to contain the potent offensive attack thrown at them by the top seed, the focus remained high for Byron as they found ways to keep one step ahead, helping to secure the win.

On very few occasions this season have the Tigers faced an offense as potent as what they recently worked through, as they toppled the Wilmington Wildcats.

In their week three game against the Mendota Trojans, Byron scored 49 points.

A week later, they shut out Rock Falls, as thy achieved their high water offensive mark of the season, with 51 points.

Following a one-point win over the Stillman Valley Cardinals, when the tigers scored 41 points, they followed that up with an additional 38 points against Oregon.

Over the past four games, Byron has averaged six touchdowns and successful point after tries, with the current path not showing any reason that trend won’t continue.

However, Bishop McNamara is dangerous, they advanced to the quarterfinal, round of eight, with a 34-14 win over perennial powerhouse Sterling Newman Central Catholic on Saturday, Nov. 7.

With a record of 10-1, McNamara, which has been averaging over 43 points a game over the past four games, has found an attack that works for them. They are a big team, playing out of a growing conference, the Chicago Catholic White Division, against teams with their own history of success in the post season, including Aurora Christian, Burbank St. Laurence and St. Ignatius College Prep. On Oct. 16, the Fightin’ Irish toppled St. Ignatius, scoring 41 points.

The following week, the final of the regular season on Oct. 23, Bishop McNamara put 43 points up. They followed that up with a Class 3A Tournament opener, 48-0 over Aledo-Mercer County.

The win over Sterling Newman allowed the eastern Illinois team from getting the right to host this weekend.

For the Byron Tigers, a win this weekend will mean a return visit home next week, Nov. 21, in the Class 3A semi-final.

Byron is looking to get their chance as they prepare for this weekend’s win-or-go-home event.

The State Finals will be played at Northern Illinois University and Huskie Stadium during Thanksgiving week.

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