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St. Bede When St. Bede’s football players and coaches left the Academy on Friday night, they thought their season was over. After a 15-14 loss, the Bruins were 5-4 and only had 36 playoff points, which hasn’t been enough to get into the playoffs since 2008. When the IHSA officials crunched the numbers, they extended St. Bede’s season. The Bruins were team No. 255 in the 256-team playoffs, earning the No. 16 seed in the top half of the Class 3A bracket. “I’m happy for the kids,” St. Bede coach John Bellino said. “We worked really hard to get there. We’re real young and nobody thought we were going to get there. We started well and hit some bumps. The kids deserve to have a 10th game.” St. Bede (5-4) will travel to No. 1-seeded Winnebago (9-0) for a 7 p.m. game Friday. “I always like the Saturday afternoon games,” Bellino said. “But Friday night keeps with what we’ve been doing. We’ll play what we have to play.” The Indians won the Big Northern Conference West Division and are ranked No. 3 in the latest Class 3A Associated Press Poll. — Kevin Chlum
Hall In his second year with the Hall football team, coach Randy Tieman has brought the Red Devils back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Hall (6-3) earned a No. 6 seed in the top quadrant of the Class 2A bracket and will travel to No. 3-seeded Bismark-Henning (9-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday. “To me, it’s more about what happened last year and how we turned it around from 1-8 to 6-3,” Tieman said. “Our preseason goal was to get better each week and I think that’s happened for us, especially these last four weeks. The kids took some pride in themselves and turned everything around for them. “I think we’re playing some of our best football right now. I think we can only get better. The longer we can go, the better we can get.” Tieman and his staff began watching Bismark-Henning film Saturday night after the IHSA Playoff Pairings Show and noticed the Blue Devils run an offensive style the Red Devils have not seen much of this season — the Wing-T. The Red Devils will have a long trip Saturday as Bismark is 161.7 miles and 2 hours, 48 minutes from Spring Valley according to mapquest.com. — Brandon LaChance
Marquette In the last week of the regular season, a friend of the Marquette football team predicted to Crusaders coach Tom Jobst that Marquette would play host to Milford in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. Turns out, the friend was right as the Crusaders drew the Vermilion Valley Conference school, which finished 5-4. The first-round game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. Milford — located between Watseka and Hoopeston on IL Rt. 1 — finished fourth in its conference and needed to win its last two games to make the playoffs. The Bearcats are the No. 8 seed in the quadrant. “After looking at some film of them, it looks like they are a spread Wing T type of team,” Jobst said. “It looks like they have some very good athletes who have played some very solid football.” Marquette — which finished 9-0 and earned the No. 1 seed in the quadrant — is making its 10th playoff appearance and second straight. The Cru fell in the second round of last year’s 1A playoffs. “The best part of (being at No. 1 seed) is we get a home game,” Jobst said. “But with that said, even though Milford is the lower seed than we are, they are still a good football team. They’ve played the top two teams in their conference neck and neck.” — Jared Bell
River Valley For the first time, the Falcons had an event on IHSA playoff pairings day. The program’s booster club held a fundraiser while team members and coaches watched the IHSA Playoff Pairings Show on Comcast SportsNet Chicago to see who they would face in the first round. “It was pretty exciting for them,” River Valley coach Galen Noard said. “Not just them, but the parents who were there too. When it happens for the first time, it’s really something else.” River Valley (6-3) earned a No. 13 seed in the top half of the Class 3A bracket and will travel to No. 4-seeded Erie-Prophetstown (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday. “We’re excited to be there,” Noard said. “We’re going to give it a shot, no doubt about it. I believe we’re a real good ball club and we have really good seniors who are going to lead us in this quest. It’s one of their goals, and we want to go after it and go down the line with it.” As of Sunday afternoon, Noard hadn’t had an opportunity to watch film on E-P, but he said some players had familiarity with the Panthers since they had brothers who faced E-P when River Valley was in the Big Rivers. This season, the Panthers placed second in the Three Rivers Conference North Division. E-P enters the postseason on a two-game winning streak. — Kevin Chlum
Fieldcrest The Fieldcrest football team’s coaches and players knew they were playoff bound two weeks ago when they won their sixth game for an automatic bid. What Fieldcrest coach Nate Lorton didn’t know was the strength of competition the team might have to face in its first playoff game since 2008. The Knights (8-1) earned the No. 4 seed in the top quadrant in the Class 2A bracket and drew No. 5-seeded Sterling Newman (8-1). The teams will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday in Minonk. “Obviously, it’s pretty significant to be at home,” Lorton said. “We thought for sure going into this week at 8-1, we’d be at home, but the way things were ironing out throughout the week, we knew there were a lot of 9-0 and 8-1 teams in the upper north quadrant. “We realized that not only were we going to have a home playoff game, but it was going to be a really good team coming down to play us because the quadrant is so stacked.” Both teams won their last eight games after dropping the opener. The Knights earned a share of the Heart of Illinois Conference, while the Comets won the Three Rivers Conference North Division. Newman has advanced to the quarterfinals or better in each of the last four seasons and has four state championships under long-time coach Mike Papoccia. “We’re excited about it. Our kids are ready to go. I’ve had three kids text me already, ‘hey coach, you got the film done yet,’ so I mean, our kids are ready for the challenge,” Lorton said. “Our community is excited, parents, everyone is ready to roll.” — Brandon LaChance
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