Michael Bellino had given up hope on making the playoffs, dreading to have to turn his St. Bede uniform in for the last time.
Turns out, he will get to wear his No. 45 for at least one more week
The Bruins (5-4) sneaked into the 3A playoffs, drawing a first-round date at No. 1 seed Winnebago (9-0) at 7 p.m. Friday. They were the second to last of 256 teams to get in with 36 playoff opponents (combined wins by opponents).
Michael Bellino, the senior son of Bruins coach John Bellino, said he was really surprised when they got the word during a family dinner from assistant coach Mark Siebert the Bruins had made it.
“I know personally I did (lost hope). I don’t know about the coaches, if they had the math figured out. I was fairly confident we weren’t going to make it,” he said.
Now, it doesn’t matter who they play, “as long as we’re in,” Michael Bellino said. “We’ve got a second chance; got to play your heart out.”
The last team to qualify, Richmond-Burton (5-4), had the same amount of playoff points, with St. Bede gaining an edge in the tiebreaker for defeated opponents’ wins, 11-9. Sterling (5-4) was the first team to be left out with 35 playoff points and 12. Three Rivers member Fulton (5-4, 34) did not get in either despite their Week 9 win over Bureau Valley.
There was no drama for Hall (6-3), which drew a opening round game in 2A at undefeated Bismarck-Henning (9-0). The Vermillion Valley Conference champion is a school of 324 students located north of Danville, about 160 miles from Spring Valley.
Hall coach Randy Tieman said he had a list of about eight teams Hall could play, but Bismarck was not on his radar.
“We are OK with playing Bismarck. I thought we would get a little closer game. But we are playing in week 10 and the kids are very happy about that,” he said.
Three Rivers South champ Rockridge (9-0) gained a No. 1 seed and will host former West Central rival Carthage Illinois West (No. 8, 6-3). No. 5 Sterling Newman (8-1), the Three Rivers North champ, will play at No. 4 Fieldcrest (8-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Also in 2A, No. 4 Annawan/Wethersfield (8-1) will host Lincoln Trail rival Aledo Mercer County (No. 5, 8-1).
In 3A, Kewanee (6-3) drew the No. 11 seed and a trip to No. 6 Seneca (7-2), and No. 13 River Valley (6-3) travels to No. 4 Erie-Prophetstown (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday. It’s the first playoff bid for the River Valley co-op between Midland and Henry.
Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com