By Christopher Johnson


DuPec conquers football Conference; Wins title

An 8-1 record is the exact mark needed for the Pecatonica-Durand Rivermen to achieve the title of undisputed Northwest Upstate Illini Conference Champion.

Following a 22-0 win over Stockton in the 2021 regular season finale on Friday, Oct. 22, the Rivermen moved to 8-0 in the NUIC and immediately secured the crown.

At that point it didn’t matter what happened in the Lena-Winslow match against third place pursuer, Forreston. With a win, DuPec knew it would claim the crown outright with its perfect NUIC mark.

Before Friday ended, the Cardinals had stunned the Panthers again. The former top-ranked team in the Class 1A Realm had fallen for the second time in the final three weeks of the regular season.

Forreston climbed to 7-2 with the win and captured the distinction of sharing second place with the 7-2 Panthers and NUIC-newcomer Fulton.

The Steamers ran into the 2021 NUIC Champion in week three and lost by two touchdowns, 38-24. They closed fall play losing only once more ahead of the 2021 post-season.

On Friday night the Rivermen ran into a team that knew how to move the ball and had a lot of success, in seasons outside of recent memory.

Stockton at 3-5 was already eliminated from post-season consideration as a result of the sub-.500 season. They had a role of spoiler, if they found enough ways to figure out how to beat one of the top teams in Class 3A in the fall 2021 finale.

DuPec got the scoring going in the first period but really couldn’t manage any extra offense that netted points, at least into the halftime break.

The 8-0 first quarter advantage was all the visitors could manage through the first and had to make sure it could carry into the halftime break.

Stockton’s defense played up to the challenge, even as the third quarter opened with the 8-0 edge still in place.

A third quarter effort put on by the hosts was quickly extinguished as the ball became the property of talented running back Trenton Taylor. The fourth quarter began with the score still 8- in favor of Pecatonica-Durand.

The strongest offensive effort of the evening, paired with solid defensive impressionism upon the Stockton front broke the Blackhawks.

A 14-point fourth quarter pushed the lead to 22-0 in favor of the traveling Rivermen. As the final siren sounded the team had secured the title of undisputed champion.

DuPec’s running game carried the team on Friday night and will be of enhanced importance as the Class 3A State Tournament opens this weekend, at home against 14-seed Mendota.

Taylor carried the ball 25 times in the Friday night match, netting 186 yards, which included a break away score of 69 and a second score to accompany it.

Rivermen Junior AJ Mulcahy carried the ball four times for a better than five yards per average strike.

Quarterback Hunter Hoffman struggled to find space to scramble in the regular season closer and ended the night with negative-13 yards rushing.

From the skies, Hoffman carried a quarterback rating of 95.3, which incorporated a 9-11 evening and 86 yards total with a touchdown and pick.

Bo Seaton was the top Rivermen receiver with four offerings captured, netting 48 total yards. Trent Hetland had an eleven-yards per catch average with Will Howard and Bryce Fitzanko helping out the NUIC-Champions lock down the victory.

3A Tournament play begins Friday, Oct. 29 as the Rivermen play host to the post-season for the second time in the past three seasons.

Pecatonica declared volleyball Tournament Champion

This past weekend, senior members of the Pecatonica girls volleyball team spent a lot of time thinking.

The reality of the close of the season occurred this past Thursday. The Lady Indians ran into another of the toughest small-school teams in the State of Illinois.

Pearl City at 26-7-1 this season was a formidable opponent, however they weren’t the toughest Pecatonica players have faced this year.

Playing through the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference is a “playoff-experience” unlike any other across the State of Illinois.

In the conference the Lady Wolves stood in sixth position. Five teams carried better conference marks, season marks or games-won advantages.

At 1-10 in the conference this fall season, Pecatonica could look at the situation and realize they had it against them from the first tip-off in far northwestern Illinois.

The NUIC was loaded and when it came to attempting to beat soon to be Regional and Sectional qualifiers, it couldn’t happen with regularity.

Heading into the final closing stretch of the conference schedule, Pecatonica was hot. They had rolled through tournament play and became a force in the weekend championship get-together.

Game one on Saturday, Oct. 16 was against another NUIC resident, Scales Mound and it proved to be the toughest match of the day.

The Lady Hornets had designs of their own when they set the Saturday opener into action. They pushed the pass and found holes in the Pecatonica defense.

By the time the game wrapped into the latter moments, Scales Mound had taken control and eventually won game one 21-16.

Pecatonica pounced as game two commenced. They beat down kill-attempts and found control becoming something they had gained.

Game two was a matching score, with flipped results. The Lady Indians began their day long winning stretch with the 21-16 final.

The first team to 15 was going to win the match and move on in the championship bracket. The match tied late and a one-point advantage through 15 was gained.

Pecatonica had one more slam in store and powered over the Lady Hornets to win the match two games to one by the 17-16 mark.

Game two on tournament day was against a Big Northern resident and a team that has found itself struggling against teams such as Genoa-Kingston, Dixon, Stillman Valley and Byron all season.

The Lady Vikings were beaten back decisively and without mercy. Pecatonica won game one 21-4 and followed it up with a sinking of North Boone in the clincher 21-7 to move into the semi-final against Amboy.

The Lady Clippers were a much bigger issue for Pecatonica. They were strong at the net and put a little pepper on their set-ups.

Pecatonica stood strong and beat down kill attempts to secure game one 21-18 and move into the potential championship sealer with one more game to go.

Success remained in the semi-final second and the Lady Indians persevered with the 21-17 decision earning the right to face West Carroll in the final.

Similar to what the Lady Indians stood against all day, control and containment were key. Pecatonica took down the Lady Thunder 21-18 and followed it up with a championship victory 21-17, carrying a perfect 4-0 mark through the tournament.

That type of success was needed again this past Monday as the nine-seed Lady Indians faced 13-4-1 Rockford Christian in the Class 1A Regional opener.

A win over Rockford Christian put the Lady Indians in the path of six-seed Lena-Winslow. Unfortunately, details of the post-season’s early games are unavailable in this week’s edition of the Gazette Newspaper, which wishes the Lady Indians success.

Dixon brought down in Indians Big Northern volleyball closer

This past weekend the Winnebago Lady Indians played the final games of the 2021 Big Northern fall sports season and it turned out well.

The knock-out of the Dixon Lady Dukes, Duchesses in certain circles was success in itself. Following the loss of a full season of games and fan interaction one year earlier. Covid19 made sure of that. Recovery got things back on track and the season was allowed.

Now with the Class 2A State Tournament being the main location for all the attention for student-athletes sharing court-time, Winnebago began in its pursuit of a Regional Title.

Closing the season in tournament-style in Stillman Valley, Winnebago got to face one of the stronger teams in the neighboring NUIC. Lena-Winslow picked up the six-seed in the ongoing Class 1A State Tournament.

Prior to that, they had to deal with a couple issues more closely impacting their post-season preparedness.

The stretch started at Stillman Valley as the Lady Indians faced down the Lady Cardinals in an attempt to secure a better closing position in the seriously-talented Big Northern Conference.

Winnebago didn’t get things exactly as they had hoped. A sweep of the neighboring Cardinals is always the goal after winning the opener.

However, the host Lady Cardinals had different plans and pushed Winnebago to a third and deciding match.

Winnebago was better in the third game and clamped down on the 2-1 match winner following the game three knock-out.

Two nights later, the Lady Indians faced the Dixon Lady Dukes, another team fishing for final mid-conference consideration.

With the Big Northern being led by three teams with a combined 85-6-1 record, there was no breaking into the top-three for most teams in the conference chase this season.

Dixon, at 16-14-1 on the year matched up well with Winnebago and the final score indicated that situation.

The hosts were relentless in their opening approach. But, the visitors from the north weren’t impressed.

Each team showcased superior opening shot placement and the defense at the net was aggressively matched by the combatants.

Dixon pulled out the game one winner with a 25-23 decision. Winnebago responded by keeping things in perspective in the second.

The Lady Indians fought into extra time and took out their hosts by a similar two-point margin, 26-24, netting the match at one apiece.

Few fans in the stands expected any less of an effort by the two Big Northern familiars in game three of the night.

Exactly what had occurred earlier continued. The parody of the two teams pushed into double-digits and through the teens into the final stretch.

Winnebago had the shot that counted with the lead in place 24-22. The floor found the contact and the game three victory was secured.

Following the 2021 fall regular season conference closer at Dixon, the Lady Indians turned their attention to the 2A field and the hope for a shot at the Byron Regional Title Thursday, Oct. 28.

For that to happen, success had to continue as the seven-seed Lady Indians took on eleven-seed North Boone on Monday, Oct. 25 to earn a a shot at host and three-seed Byron on Tuesday, Oct. 26.

An upset of Byron on Tuesday night will put Winnebago in the path of two-seed Rock Falls, which pushed into the post-season carrying a 32-1-1 record.

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