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Bellino: ‘Clippers the real deal’

It’s been a popular belief around north central Illinois football circles that the undefeated Amboy/LaMoille Clippers have not played their toughest part of the football schedule yet. St. Bede coach John Bellino is not buying into that theory.

Bellino, whose Bruins square off against the Clippers Friday in the BCR Game of the Week, doesn’t have any doubts about the Clippers’ strength. He says the Clippers (6-0) are the real deal, and doesn’t put any notion into the idea they haven’t played any strong teams yet, pointing to the Clippers’ 24-12 win over defending state champ Morrison last week.

“They’re a typical Amboy team. They’re tough kids and good football players and going to come right at you,” Bellino said. “They’re a very well disciplined football team. They do their jobs and we don’t see any holes in them right now.”

Amboy’s win over Morrison was certainly an attention getter to any of the Clippers doubters out there.

“Everybody says, now you’re getting into the harder part of your schedule, we’ll see what you’re made of. I think it turned a few heads, yeah,” Amboy coach Gary Jones said of last week’s win.

The Clippers will certainly find out over the next three weeks where they rank in the Big Rivers Conference. After St. Bede, the Clippers will face Bureau Valley (4-2) and a potential winner takes all showdown against undefeated Sterling Newman (6-0) in Week 9.

Jones said the Clippers have to work on getting better each week and “continue to work on our weakest link.”

The Bruins (4-2) will have to play some of their best football Friday, something Bellino said they did not do throughout Saturday’s Homecoming game in which Fulton made a late run to pull within 10 points after trailing by 21.

“We can’t make mistakes. I think the real key will be if we can keep the ball in our hands and play some field position with them,” he said.

Bellino said winning the Bruins’ fifth game would be the next important part to become playoff eligible once again, but noted they will take things one step at a time. The Bruins reached the quarterfinals in 1A a year ago, but this year are ticketed for 3A with the IHSA multiplier now being applied.

The Clippers finished strong in last week’s win at Morrison, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns including Bailey Appleman’s second of the game. The Amboy defense held Morrison to eight first downs, while netting 18 of its own, and just 59 yards rushing. The Mustangs did rack up 153 yards passing, including two TD strikes.

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