Football playoff previews

(2) GCMS Falcons

vs.

(1) Sterling-Newman Comets

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Records: GCMS 12-0; Sterling-Newman 12-0

What’s next: Winner plays either (4) Maroa-Forsyth (12-1) or (6) Shelbyville (10-2) in the 2A state title game at 1 p.m. Nov. 24

Fast facts: This is the Falcons’ second state semifinal appearance. The last time they made it this far was 2009, when they held a halftime lead over Morrison but eventually let things get out of hand in a 42-18 loss to the eventual state champs. The program is 10-16 in the playoffs. … The Comets, well, have had a bit more success in the postseason, with five state titles and two runner-up finishes.

Prediction: Sterling-Newman 35, GCMS 14. The Comets bring that vaunted 63-23 playoff record into Gibson City along with the second-most active consecutive postseason berths at the 2A level (17). This might be the best Falcons’ team assembled by Mike Allen, right up there with the 2009 group. But I don’t see them getting past Newman, even with homefield advantage. GCMS had a very easy schedule and was only tested once this year (against West Carroll in the second round). Of course, it’d be great to see my alma mater reach DeKalb, but I think it will get down a couple touchdowns early and things get out of hand from there.

(1) Tuscola Warriors

at

(6) Athens Warriors

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Records: Tuscola 12-0; Athens 10-2

What’s next: Winner plays either (1) Lena-Winslow (12-0) or (3) Forreston (11-1) in the 1A state title game at 10 a.m. Nov. 24

Fast facts: Tuscola is 50-25 all-time in the playoffs with a pair of state championships and two runner-up trophies. It breezed to a pair of big wins over Chester, 56-0, and Brown County, 50-13, before defeating Carrollton 48-20 in a game that was close early. … Athens has built its program up, and this semifinals appearance is the fruit of that labor. It owns an 8-8 playoff record across nine appearances.

Prediction: Tuscola 34, Athens 20. Another instance of the IHSA’s playoff hosting rules screwing over the top-seeded team as Tuscola must go on the road despite going 12-0 and being a No. 1 seed. It won’t matter in the end, but two road games in the playoffs for arguably the best team in the field is preposterous. Tuscola marches onto the state championship game, where it will fall to Lena-Winslow in what will be a fantastic matchup between state powers.

(4) Maroa-Forsyth Trojans

at

(6) Shelbyville Rams

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Records: Maroa-Forsyth 12-1; Shelbyville 10-2

What’s next: Winner plays either (1) Sterling-Newman (12-0) or (2) GCMS (12-0) in the 2A state title game at 1 p.m. Nov. 24

Fast facts: I picked West Hancock to beat Maroa last week, but it wasn’t exactly a highly confident pick. There was talk this Trojans team was another one that could be bound for the state semifinals, and those prognostications were proven correct. They hold a 57-20 record in the playoffs with two state titles but six runner-up finishes. … The Rams win with offense, putting up 44, 50 and 51 points this postseason and is coming off back-to-back shootouts.

Prediction: Maroa-Forsyth 44, Shelbyville 35. The Rams have put up 44 or more in all three playoff games, and the Trojans have scored 48 and 56 points. So … it’ll probably end up being a defensive slugfest, right? I’m not feeling gutsy enough to make that prediction, but the Trojans will advance to take on Sterling-Newman in the 2A state championship game. This has the potential to be the most entertaining small-school battle, and Maroa will escape with a couple plays late. Unfortunately for the Trojans, their run will come to an end with a seventh second-place finish.

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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