Pekin aiming to knock off 2011 champ Lisbon
For the first time all season, the Pekin football team struggled to move the ball in a 26-0 loss to BGM last Friday.
The Panthers will look to put that performance out of sight and out of mind with a first-round playoff game vs. defending state champion Lisbon looming.
A week after gaining 83 yards rushing, the Panthers hope to reestablish the ground game and find the magic that helped them down district champ Lynnville-Sully and Sigourney-Keota early in the season.
“We as a team have just lost our focus,” Donovan said following the Week 9 loss. “We need to get back to playing how we were earlier in the year.”
The seventh-ranked Lions (8-1) ran the table with a 14-0 season last fall, but their winning streak ended in Week 1 this year when they dropped a 28-7 game to West Branch. Since then, Lisbon has rolled off eight straight wins and out-scored the opposition 392-49.
Also during that span, Lisbon has ranked 24th in Class A with 2,840 yards total offense, 2,192 of which were gained on the ground. Trevor Moore and Cameron Jorgenson have led a large stable of backs with 684 and 453 rushing yards, respectively.
“Lisbon is very physical up front. Their offense isn’t real complicated but they run it well,” said Donovan. “They’ll try to catch us sleeping and go on top of us. They also have an athletic quarterback.”
That athletic quarterback, junior Logan Rickard, leads the Lions in rushing yards with 688 yards, and he has thrown for another 566 yards and 11 touchdowns.
In order to contain Rickard, Pekin will look to control the line of scrimmage and press him into long passing situations.
The Panther offense, meanwhile, has had no trouble controlling opposing lines for most of the season, and it has amounted to big numbers for their rushing game and Quentin Garrels. The senior running back enters the postseason ranked first in Class A with 31 touchdowns and 1,774 rushing yards. Along with quarterback Graham Wittrock, the Panthers have amassed the second most yards in Class A at 3,724.
It’s Donovan’s hope Garrels, Wittrock and the rest of the senior leaders come through in a big way Wednesday.
“We’ve definitely got to find some leadership out of our seniors,” the third-year head coach said. “We need to focus on doing what we do well — focus on what we’ve been doing all year.”
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Lisbon.