TUSCOLA -- The Warriors never panicked.
Tuscola (5-2, 3-2 CIC) lost consecutive games in Week 3 and 4 this season but since then have put together three straight wins, including a 40-7 victory over Warrensburg-Latham on Friday.
"We just got in some really bad situations in the (Week 3) Central A&M game, and that snowballed on us, but I have been really happy with our seniors and really happy with our resilience," Tuscola head coach Andy Romine said. "We played better the next week against St. Teresa, and I think we are really starting to make some steps forward and hitting our stride in practice.
"I don't think our kids ever got too down about getting beat, and our guys know our goals to improve everyday, and we want to be playing our very best football in Week 9."
It was the defense's time to shine against the Cardinals as corner Jalen Quinn grabbed three interceptions.
"We were very gap sound against (Warrensburg's) run game and we forced them to put the ball in the air, and they were in situations where they really didn't want to put it in the air," Romine said. "We made an adjustment and put Jalen on their sideline where they seemed liked to throw the ball, and he is athletic enough to go up and make a play on a ball for sure.
"He's got eight interceptions, so he's got about an interception a game, and if teams are going to go at him, we are pretty confident he will make some plays against them in the air."
Tuscola's defense finished with four interceptions and had a blocked punt from an unlikely source. Point-after kicker Aiden Beachy has been demonstrating his tackling skills on JV special teams plays, and so Romine added him to the punt return team. Beachy responded by blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the third quarter.
"That set up a score for us and put the game out of reach. He's got a great leg strike, and he's pretty aggressive but hasn't played a lot of football," Romine said. "He blocked it and probably could have scooped and scored, but he just did the safe thing and dove on it. I was fine with that; we will just take the ball there."
Shelbyville keeps playoff hopes alive
SHELBYVILLE -- Shelbyville kept its playoff hopes alive with a 37-21 victory over Meridian on Friday.
"It was a big game, and it put us in the position to win one more, and you can get into the playoffs. It was definitely a must-win," Shelbyville coach Bill Duckett said.
Quarterback Kentrell Beck accounted for five touchdowns for the Rams (4-3, 3-2 CIC). He ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns and also had a strong night passing, throwing 16-for-25 for 184 yards and two scores.
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"Offensively, we were pretty balanced. We threw the ball well and ran it well. It wasn't just Kentrell; Rope Hatfield had a good game running (57 yards) and Colten Reed has continued coming on as a receiver for us," Duckett said. "He made a lot of big plays and in the run game, his stock blocking has been as good as I've seen in years for our team.
"Lineman blocks can give you three or four yards, but a receiver block can spring you for a touchdown. He's done a lot of that for us."
Shelbyville kicker Seppe Vitale connected on a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter, which was the first Rams' field goal in a long time.
"As far back as I can remember, that was our first field goal. It has been a long time since we kicked one. I don't remember us kicking one in the last 15-20 years," Duckett said. "(Seppe) has done a really good job this year kicking extra points, and it was something that was nice to see."
Shelbyville will have to grab a victory against Tuscola (5-2, 3-2 CIC) in Week 8 or St. Teresa (6-1, 4-1 CIC) in Week 9 to become playoff eligible.
"Hopefully this game will give us some confidence going into these last two weeks. We know Tuscola and St. T are always good, and so we have to be as perfect as we can, and we can't make any mistakes," Duckett said.
Knights' run game gets 5th win
ARTHUR -- The wet and cold weather on Friday had Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond turn to its running game, led by Kaden Feagin and Billy Fifer, in the team's 44-13 win against Sangamon Valley.
Fifer ran for three touchdowns and 108 yards, while Feagin had 76 yards rushing and a touchdown.
"We attempted just one pass with the varsity, and so we wanted to run the ball. We can be two-dimensional, but last night the game plan didn't call for it," ALAH coach Ryan Jefferson said. "(Billy's and Kaden's) running has been awesome this year. Billy has gotten a lot better and stronger this year, and Kaden has been exceptional. He is very hard to bring down and teams are noticing that."
The fifth win makes the Knights playoff eligible, and a win against Argenta-Oreana in Week 8 or Villa Grove-Broadlands Heritage in Week 9 would give ALAH its first playoff appearance since the 2014 season. It has been quite the improvement this season from a 2-7 campaign in 2018.
"Going into Week 5, we knew we had to clean some stuff up and be playing our best football by the time we got to Week 8 against Argenta," Jefferson said. "It's been a huge turnaround, and the leaders of the team really bought in, in the offseason, and they are seeing the rewards now."