SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Red Devils are nearing a plateau they have aimed for the past four seasons. The Kewanee Boilermakers are already there and it may be of a surprise to many.
They will meet Friday at Hall’s Nesti Stadium for the BCR Game of the Week.
A win Friday would make the Red Devils (4-3, 2-2) playoff eligible for the first time since the 2009. But first, Randy Tieman and the Red Devils know they have to get past a 6-1, 4-0 Boilermakers team to get there.
“Kewanee plays hard-nosed discipline football. Their defense plays fast and physical,” he said. “We will have to keep playing the way we have the last two and a half games to have a chance to win this week.”
In those past two weeks, the Red Devils posted an impressive 47-24 win at Sherrard and downed rival St. Bede 27-20 at home.
Kewanee has taken off under first-year head coach Tyler Nichols, a former Boiler assistant, winning six straight since dropping their season opener to Erie/Prophetstown 33-19. The Boilermakers moved into the AP State rankings for the first time since 1993 this week at No. 8 in 3A.
“I’m not sure if we’ve surprised others or not. Our guys knew going into this season that every week was going to be a dog fight. Every team in this conference is full of tough well-coached kids,” said Nichols, who succeeded Princeton native Chris Waca, now on staff at Plano, as head coach.
The Boilermakers have outscored their opponents by a 205-125 margin so far this season. A win Friday would set the Boilermakers up for a Week 9 showdown with Rockridge for the Three Rivers South Division championship.
Like Tieman, Nichols said Friday night is going to be a “physical, tough” football game.
“Those young men at Hall are extremely hungry and Randy and his staff do a great job of preparing them to play. Hall plays all three phases very well, and we completely expect to be in another dog fight,” he said.
The former NCIC foes renewed their rivalry a year ago when Hall joined the Big Rivers. Hall has won 11 straight games over Kewanee and 16 of 17 dating back to 1993. Both now are members of the Three Rivers South Division.
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