Hall has suddenly put itself on the threshold of its first playoff berth since the Gary Vicini era in 2008 after defeating rival St. Bede 27-20 Friday to improve to 4-3.
The Red Devils can clinch a playoff spot by winning out in its games with Kewanee (6-1) this week and Princeton (0-7) in Week 9. Hall started off the year 0-2, but has won four out of their last five.
Sterling Newman clinched the Three Rivers South Division title with Friday’s win over Erie/Prophetstown. The Comets stand 5-0 in division play with a crossover contest vs. Sherrard this week and a league game with Amboy/LaMoille the next week. Even with a loss to Amboy, the Comets would own the head-to-head tiebreaker over E/P, which has claimed its second straight playoff bid.
Rockridge (7-0, 4-0) and Kewanee (6-1, 4-0) have also clinched playoff bids with six wins. They will meet for the Three Rivers North championship in Week 9.
River Valley (6-1) has clinched its first playoff bid in program history with its sixth win Friday. They are joined at 6-1 by Lincoln Trail foes Annawan/Wethersfield and Stark County.
St. Bede and Orion also stand 4-3, needing one win to become playoff eligible.
Five area teams have to win out to make the playoffs with 3-4 records — Bureau Valley, Fulton, Sterling, Sherrard and Mendota.
• Dickens home: Princeton senior captain Caleb Dickens came home Friday night after being carted off by an ambulance with a neck injury during Friday’s game at Orion. Craig Dickens said Saturday his son was sore, but doing better and had movement in his arms.
• Break up the Bulldogs: After five losses to open the season, the Streator Bulldogs have come alive, winning consecutive games for the first time since 2008. Their first victim was Sterling in a stunning 21-2 defeat. Friday they knocked off host LaSalle-Peru 30-20, to keep what was a highly unlikely playoff hopes alive.
While they can’t win five games, at 2-1 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 West, Streator (2-5) could sneak into the playoffs as the conference champions. To make that happen, they’d have to knock off Geneseo (6-1) this week and Dixon (2-5) the next.
Stranger things have happened.
The Bubba tradition: Princeton football fans have undoubtedly heard Tiger coaches calling out for Bubba on Friday nights. That would be for PHS sophomore Jacob Smith.
Smith’s dad, Bill, played football once upon a time for Randy Swinford, who returned to the Tiger staff as an assistant coach in 2012. Swinford is well known for giving kids’ nicknames and dubbed the elder Smith as Bubba, a back in the ‘80s in reference to one of this Swinford’s favorite pros, Hall of Famer Bubba Smith.
Now Jacob has become the second generation of Bubba Smiths, thanks to Swinford’s wit.
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