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DECATUR -- "Well, we're official."

That's what MacArthur coach Derrick Spates told his team after their 45-9 victory against Springfield Southeast (1-6, 1-6) Friday night. 

"This moment has been two years in the making," Spates shouted as his team surrounded him. "You are now officially a playoff team."

The Generals (6-1, 6-1) replied with a cheer loud enough to wake the neighbors.

Amir Brummett, the Generals' quarterback, then stepped into his role as team leader and brought the team back down to earth a bit. 

"We still need to keep it rolling, we made some mistakes," he told his team. "We still haven't played that perfect game but we are going to get it." 

He concluded his speech with a team-wide chant of "family."

As important as it was for MacArthur to get that sixth win, it also needed to bounce back with a strong offensive performance after its 56-14 loss to Rochester last week. 

Amir Brummett was happy to oblige with his own personal aerial show during the first half. 

The scoring started with a 68-yard bomb from Brummett to Ray Neal Jr. that members of the MacArthur team on the sidelines could see coming. 

"I think the corner and the safety were trying to switch at the last moment," Neal Jr. said. "My coach recognized it, called an audible to a streak and I was open." 

One deep pass deserved another and it was one Brummett to another as Amir tossed a 59-yard pass to Armon to give the Generals a 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"Those two deep passes set the tone early," Amir said. "Just to have receivers like my brother and Ray Neal is great. I wouldn't want to play against them."

Amir added a 1-yard rushing touchdown before halftime giving him a first half stat line of 4 of 6 passing with 178 yards and three touchdowns. 

The Generals led 21-3 at the half and continued their offense dominance of the Spartans in the second half, this time on the ground. 

Tre Wade scored on a 20-yard run in the third quarter and Izaiha Johnson and Martiece O'Neal added their own touchdowns in the fourth.

The drives drained the clock and and assured the Generals' date with the playoffs. 

For Neal, making the playoffs was the culmination of a lot of work. 

"We haven't made the playoffs for four years. It's just great to be a part of this program," he said. "We were down in the mud for a couple of years and came back out here and turned it around so this is real nice."

"This was the ultimate goal, this or winning the state championship," he added. 

When asked what he thought his team's chances were of a championship, he stopped and thought for a second. 

"No comment," he said, laughing.

Spates said getting back to the playoffs is rewarding after a two-year drought. 

"I'm happy for our guys, they stuck it out and there was some lean mean tough times around here for two years," Spates said. "This group of guys, they stuck it out and their hard work has paid off being an automatic qualifier. Now we've got some more work to do." 

Amir Brummett played through those lean times and his goal for the season was a little more simple than the playoffs or dreams of a championship.

"Our goal coming into the season was to win more than one game," Amir said. "We were 2-16 the last two years, so just trying to overcome that hump with that one game. All glory to God we got that sixth win." 

Matt's take

Mistake-free football

Amir Brummett is clearly the team leader and his desire to have his team play a mistake-free game is still a ways off for MacArthur. 

Tonight, the Generals were penalized for four personal fouls, costing them 60 yards. These are the kind of mistakes that might haunt them in the playoffs. 

"The officials were just doing their job. This is an emotional game and we've got some aggressive guys," he said. "I've told them, we've got to tone that stuff down and play hard within the rules."

Impressive turnaround

The Generals' turnaround over a single season continues to be impressive.

Watching their offensive play on all cylinders, it is hard to imagine the program had to weather two consecutive one-win seasons. 

But whether or not MacArthur can capitalize with a playoff run remains to be seen. The Generals will find a lot about where their team is at in Week 8 with a game at Chatham Glenwood.



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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