LAST MEETING: Vandalia won 33-13 last season.
LAST WEEK: Pana beat Litchfield 26-20; Vandalia beat Piasa Southwestern 47-32.
KEY PLAYERS: For Pana, Brody Carls, Sr., OL/DL; Kyle Gibson, Sr., WR/DB; Paul Rhodes, Jr., FB/LB; Rhett Zahradka, So., QB/DB; Evan Harbert, Sr., OL/DL
For Vandalia, Jake Stone, Sr., OL; Rodney Tedrick, Sr., WR; Dalton Smith, Sr., RB; Tristin Long, DE;
KEYS TO THE GAME: Pana has faced a rough go of it this season in a tough year in the South Central and has losses to Gillispie (7-0), Greenville (7-0), Carlinville (5-2) and Staunton (5-2). That leaves the Panthers’ five-year streak of playoff appearances under head coach Al Stupek on the line. Wins against Vandalia and Hillsboro, though, should be enough for a playoff berth with opponents wins not an issue. Stupek put that playoff streak in the hands of Zahradka, installing the sophomore at quarterback in Week 4 against Carlinville. Zahradka is 14-of-32 for 368 yards and five touchdowns in his four starts for a team that still runs the ball first and hasn’t thrown an interception since two picks against Carlinville.
Vandalia picked up its first win last week against winless Piasa, a sharp turn for a team that finished 7-3 last season. But that Vandals’ team had veteran players like standout running back Ryan Ambuehl. Vandalia’s offense has picked up steam the last four weeks, scoring 36.3 ppg compared to 8 ppg in the first three weeks, but the Vandals’ defense is still giving up points in bunches at 45 per game.
Herald & Review/Lisa Morrison Pana High School Jon McLeod, Brody Carls, Kyle Gibson, DaSheng Lin and Evan Harbert