By Christopher Johnson


Historical statisticians may have a decade’s long search attempting to discover the last time, playing through the regular season, the Pecatonica Rivermen either alone or with the help of their nearest neighbor Durand, have taken down the Lena-Winslow Panthers and taken control of the NUIC as a result.

This past Friday every eye watching State Polls followed the Pecatonica-Durand Rivermen into Panthers country for the “showdown of the year” as two undefeated conference familiars faced off for a purpose.

There was no doubt intensity was at its highest in the week seven showdown at Lena-Winslow. The Rivermen came ready to play and ready to prove they could stand with some of the strongest teams in the State of Illinois.

They had already proven that a little over a week earlier when they attempted to tackle the top team in the Class 2A realm, Decatur-St. Theresa.

The Bulldogs pulled out the win by six points and gave Pecatonica-Durand its only loss of the season. At the same time, the Rivermen learned how to play with the best and exploit opportunity.

As the match opened on Friday night, each team discovered why the other was highly revered, by those preparing to stack the polls for the 2021 post-season.

The Rivermen expressed why its defense ranks in the top tier of the NUIC. They controlled their hosts scoring strategies.

The host Panthers found yardage was available, but sustaining drives to pick up points wasn’t happening.

The Rivermen began to exert offensive control as well. Late into the first half of the Friday night match, Pecatonica-Durand had already hit the skies to collect a two-touchdown advantage, 22-8 at the break.

The Panthers adjusted at the half and came back in the third to begin to put on display what its capabilities were.

Grabbing the lead, the Panthers made a mistake. An interception late in the Friday match helped give the visiting Rivermen a six-point advantage.

They held their ground and knocked out the Panthers to attain complete control of the NUIC with two weeks to go.

Post-season play is a guarantee now and how the Rivermen close the season will indicate whether or not they will be home on Friday, Oct. 29.

Home closing action occurs this Friday night. Galena comes in and gives Pecatonica-Durand a good shot to collect their seventh win of the season.

Regular fall games end at Stockton on Friday, Oct. 22. With a win, Pecatonica-Durand, if they knock out Galena in week eight, will be at home to open the State Football Playoffs.

Lena-Winslow with its top placement in the 1A world secured its position in the post-season a week earlier when they upended another NUIC opponent.

That victory gave the Panthers their sixth of the season and allowed their name to already be thrown into the pool for placement.

The Rivermen at 5-1 still hadn’t quite secured their invitation, but were precariously close ahead of the Oct. 8 meeting at Lena-Winslow.

A sixth win now by the Rivermen, courtesy of the knockdown of the conference co-leader, has given the Rivermen free passage into the playoff waters.

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