AMBOY — A round of bronchitis is making its way through the Amboy football team this week, resulting in a host of missed practices from some key personnel.
The Clippers have been suffering from another malady of late that could be detrimental to their playoff life – fumbleitis.
Amboy (8-2) has fumbled 10 times the past two games, losing seven, and is looking to shore up that troublesome area heading into the second round of the Class 2A playoffs on Saturday at Orion.
In a Week 9 showdown for the Big Rivers Conference championship against Newman, the Clippers fumbled five times and lost four of them. An interception added to that messy mix, contributed mightily to a 13-6 defeat.
A week ago, against North Shore Country Day in the playoff opener, Amboy again fumbled five times, losing two. The Clippers scored the last 22 points on their way to a 36-12 win.
“It bit us in the rear end a little bit against Newman,” Amboy coach Gary Jones said. “We got away with it last week, but we can’t put the ball on the ground that much. That’s something we’ve got to work on.”
Amboy quarterback Tyson Powers couldn’t quite put his finger on the reason why the team has had trouble holding onto the ball of late, but ball security is something that has definitely been stressed this week.
“We’ve got to take more pride in having the ball,” Powers said. “Those can be big plays for teams – momentum swings and momentum builders. We’ve got to cut down on that if we want to stay in the playoffs.”
Saturday’s game was pushed back to 7 p.m. to accommodate the potentional postseason run for Orion volleyball team.
• The Amboy/Orion contest is one of three clashes between two area conferences, the Big Rivers and West Central.
The conferences clashed in 3A where the West Central’s Monmouth-Roseville Titans knocked out the Big Rivers’ St. Bede Bruins. The Titans win set up another West Central-Big Rivers clash at Sterling where Newman will host M-R at 2 p.m. Saturday at Sterling High School’s Roscoe Eades Field.
Five schools from the West Central Conference reached the postseason and four won last week’s playoff openers. The Big Rivers advanced just two of its five playoff teams.
WCC league champ Macomb beat Quincy Notre Dame for the second time in seven days 21-19 and now travels to Peoria Notre Dame (7-3) on Saturday. Carthage Illini West (8-2) knocked out Tremont 24-6 and will have a stiffer challenge Saturday when it hosts No. 1 seed Clifton Central (9-1).
Newman knocked out Big Rivers rival Erie/Prophetstown 21-6 and Amboy/LaMoille beat Winnetka North Shore Country Day 36-12 while Morrison fell to Aledo Mercer County 25-14.
Other area teams remaining in the playoff hunt with Saturday contests are Ottawa Marquette (10-0), which hosts Forreston (8-2) and Stark County (8-2) which travels to Mooseheart (9-1) in 1A, Annawan/Wethersfield (9-1), which travels to Downs Tri-Valley (9-1) in 2A, Geneseo (6-4) which hosts Coal City (9-1) in 4A and Ottawa (10-0)), which hosts rock Island (8-3) in 6A.
• 50 and counting: The mighty Geneseo Maple Leafs may have sneaked into the playoffs, defeating LaSalle-Peru 28-0 in the regular season finale to finish 5-4, but they added to its program’s legacy. The win clinched the proud Geneseo program’s 50th straight winning regular season.
The last time the Leafs failed to be on the winning side of things was in 1962 when the Quad Cities Times noted, gasoline was just 28 cents a gallon; JFK was our nation’s 35th president; and a group called the Beatles recorded their first song titled, “Love Me Do.”
Leafs fans have been loving their football team ever since. Of course, winning four state championship with five runner-up finishes cements the love affair.
Bearing down: North Shore Country Day football staff comes with some pedigree. Assistant coach Fred Miller was a fifth-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams out of Baylor University in the 1996 NFL Draft. He was a member of the Rams’ Super Bowl champions in Super Bowl XXXIV and then joined their opponent, the Tennessee Titans (2000-04). He most recently played with the Chicago Bears (2005-08).