By Christopher Johnson


Indians football seniors set for final assault

How a senior-athlete recalls a career is what some members of the Winnebago Indians boys football team will work through as the final week of the regular season approaches.

Following a loss to another team facing the exact same season ending scenario, seniors on this year’s football team were forced to turn their focus to the surrealism of the reality of the end of a career.

That is, unless post-high school collegiate plans allow the continuance of organized game play.

With a five-loss season, following the 47-10 decision to the North Boone Vikings in the week eight game, the post-season options vanished for Winnebago.

Graduating seniors get the final chance to play along with classmates, who rode with them since days of middle-school, this Friday night in central Rockford.

In the Friday knock-out, North Boone, at 3-4 entering the match knew that if it picked up its fifth loss, it was done for the season, outside of this Friday’s game against Oregon.

Now, a win over the Hawks and with a regular season closing mark of 5-4, a visit to the second season might be possible, delaying the Vikings entrance into the basketball pre-season camps.

Winnebago, with a 3-5 record, faces Rockford Lutheran on the road to wrap up its fall campaign, with the chance to move back to within one game of the break-even season mark. Then they can get to winter practice and basketball game-planning.

North Boone started fast in the Friday match-up with Winnebago in western Winnebago County. 27 points on the board set the tone for what would end up being a very quickly played match.

First downs fell with regularity through the first quarter as the offensive assault of the Vikings worked down the field and over defenders for big gains.

Controlling how far Winnebago was allowed to enter the visitors backfield became a task, well-managed, by the North Boone offensive line.

By the break, North Boone had collected a 40-7 advantage, meaning there would be a good chance a running clock would be in effect over the final two periods of play.

North Boone continued its attack, kept the host Indians scoreless and added to its insurmountable advantage with another seven-points in the third to climb to the 47-7 edge and start the non-stop clock.

Through the fourth quarter, a lot of players got the chance to spend time on the field for both teams. Starters were protected with the Indians chief signal caller Mark Helm dictating how things would progress over the final frame.

The Indians defense was staunch in the fourth. It beat back all attempts at scores by the visiting Vikings and managed to work itself into scoring territory, allowing some final marks to be collected.

As the final horn sounded, North Boone found its playoff season still in place, potentially, with playoff points becoming significantly important. They moved to 4-4 on the fall and dropped Winnebago out of secondary contention.

The Indians will close down the regular season, with seniors expected to be featured in the final game of the football year.

Rockford Lutheran will host this Friday night. The Crusaders, statistically, match Winnebago’s season tally of 3-5. The winner in the Friday night finale could move up the standings and finish in the top-five in the Big Northern this season.

Winnebago volleyball falls in key Big Northern battles

Winnebago has had to deal with two of the toughest teams in the State of Illinois this past week and it has put a stall in its late-season advances in the volleyball world.

Rock Falls and Rockford Lutheran, two teams that have won over 47 games combined this season stand at the top of the Big Northern Conference. 

Yet their efforts are only good enough for runner up status in the top-end loaded Big Northern Conference.

Genoa-Kingston continues to be the dominant force in the mid-school conference as they streak through the season undefeated and unchallenged, winning every game they have played en route to a 26-0 record at the start of play this week.

In the Tuesday, Oct. 12 face off with Rockford Lutheran, Winnebago stood strong through most of game one before eventually succumbing by a 25-21 margin.

Strong service points gave the Lady Indians a good shot at their early attempts of the upset of the 20-4 Lady Crusaders.

Over time, that edge softened as the visitors put the finishing touches on their game one win and began putting in place the attack plan for the second game of the evening.

Winnebago was slightly off step, which allowed the Lady Crusaders to stay one pass ahead often enough to begin gaining a manageable lead.

The Lady Indians attempted to keep the rhythm they found in game one going through the mid-stretches of game two, but couldn’t maintain the earlier success.

Winnebago dropped game two by nine points, 25-16 and lost the night two-games to none, putting to an end a late-season modest win streak.

The follow-up to the Tuesday meeting with Rockford Lutheran seemed almost harder, even though the Lady Crusaders record of 22 plus over the break-even mark indicated their own effective style of win-association.

Rock Falls was next in line to visit Winnebago and the Lady Rockets carried a formidable 27-1 season mark with them.

They were strong and quick in setting up kill shots. The Lady Rockets pace of play worked and they were rewarded with the game one run away victory 25-17.

Let-up was not something the Lady Rockets have not known how to do this season as they stand in second place behind insurmountable force Genoa-Kingston.

Rock Falls took the early lead in game two this past Thursday and started working towards closing down the night with the two-nothing decision.

The Lady Rockets pulled down the victory 25-16 and gave Winnebago its second loss in a row, following a three-game victory session that followed a loss to the NUIC resident leader Freeport Aquin.

There are less than two weeks to go in the regular season, one that many appreciate just being allowed to experience.

The Lady Indians played at Stillman Valley on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Details of that Big Northern match-up are unfortunately unavailable in this week’s edition of the Gazette Newspaper.

Dixon plays host on Thursday, Oct. 21 to help wrap up the fall sports campaign. Winnebago opened the week one game below .500 in t he win column in the conference chase.

Post-season assignments start with a Monday, Oct. 25 meeting with Big Northern compatriot North Boone.

A win is expected by the seven-seed Lady Indians in the opening round of the 2A Tournament over the eleven-seed Lady Vikings.

Winnebago will face three-seed Byron on Tuesday, Oct. 26 in Byron if they defeat North Boone in the 2A Quarterfinal opener.

Rivermen set for second season football home opener

With only days to go before the regular fall season comes to a close, the Pecatonica-Durand Rivermen look to be sailing home and then into the Class 3A State Football Playoffs after the regular season ends on Friday night.

All it will take will be a take down of the reeling Blackhawks this Friday night on the road in Stockton. The NUIC member fell out of consideration for post-season placement after collecting its fifth loss of the season.

Stockton has nothing to play for, outside of attempting to take down one of the strongest NUIC teams they have had to face in years. They will be home, that could give them a slight boost at times.

It hasn’t mattered lately as to where the Pecatonica-Durand Rivermen have been playing. The wins have accumulated and now with a mark of 7-1 the NUIC-leaders look to lock down at least one of their first two second season games at home.

There really wasn’t a question that the Rivermen would take down Galena in the co-ops final regular season game of the season 48-15. The question will be, will it cost the Pirates too much to be considered for second season play because of the loss.

Galena fell to 4-4 this year after losing to Pecatonica-Durand by better than 30-points and must win its week nine showdown at East Dubuque against a Warriors team that, similar to Stockton, has nothing to do but play the role of spoiler.

A 5-4 mark for the NUIC’s fifth-statistically most successful team, when playoff points are calculated, which is the combined wins of the opponents the Pirates have played this season, they could get in and participate.

Considering that list includes 7-1 Pecatonica-Durand, 7-1 Lena-Winslow, Forreston and five-win Fulton, the numbers might be enough to allow entrance for Galena and, more than likely, a date with a powerful 9-0 opponent.

That would give the NUIC at least five entrants into the field of champions this season.

Pecatonica-Durand deals with Stockton on Friday night and must find a way to clip the Blackhawks wings and force them to attempt to drive through the Rivermen front.

Stockton has not been overpowering on offense, but has found enough ways against nightly opponents to turn its 101-144 scoring dis-advantage to its favor.

The Rivermen defense is the best in the conference in many categories and can share the defensive distinction with the 7-1 Lena-Winslow Panthers.

Through its eight games played, Pecatonica-Durand has given up eight points a night and has supported its defense with a nearly 200 point scoring differential.

Pecatonica-Durand with a win this Friday night will have to be considered no less than a three-seed in the upcoming Class 3A State Tournament.

Given the fact they have defeated former State Champions Dakota, Forreston and Lena-Winslow by a combined 104-24 margin, which includes shut-outs of the Cardinals and Indians, and have held the top team in 2A, Decatur-St. Theresa to 28 points in the team’s only loss of the season, Pecatonica-Durand could be a strong candidate for a two-seed at the onset of the 3A State Football Playoffs.

On Saturday, Oct. 23, members of the IHSA Selection Committee will gather and begin filling the field for the eight class 2021 IHSA State Football Playoffs which open on Friday, Oct. 29.

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